Short hits: Medicare facts, the Republican convention, and voting access

1. The Washington Post has done a great service in presenting a clear, uncomplicated chart that compares what people will receive under Medicare, depending on your age and who is elected president. The chart is worth sharing widely — by email or Facebook and just by showing it to people you know.  Also see this post on how Obamacare affects people on Medicare.

2. According to Politico, the Romney campaign is uninterested in sharing details about their plans on Medicare (or much else).

Advisers say the campaign has no plans to pivot from its previous view that diving into details during a general-election race would be suicidal.

The Romney strategy is simple: Hammer away at Obama for proposing cuts to Medicare and promise, in vague, aspirational ways, to protect the program for future retirees — but don’t get pulled into a public discussion of the most unpopular parts of the Ryan plan.

“The nature of running a presidential campaign is that you’re communicating direction to the American people,” a Romney adviser said. “Campaigns that are about specifics, particularly in today’s environment, get tripped up.”

Republicans have also avoided giving details on their tax policy.

And Paul Ryan, who was purportedly picked because he was able to clearly explain and defend Republican budget and Medicare proposals, is being urged to talk about “camping and milking cows.”

3. While nonincumbent presidential candidates typically use their party’s national convention to introduce themselves as persons, the Republican convention will mostly focus on Romney’s background as a businessman and his economic policies. 

Assuming the Romney-Ryan campaign will continue to obscure policy details, look for a lot of rather broad rhetoric.

4. Pennsylvania’s extremely restrictive voter photo id law was upheld by a judge this week, but the legal fight has not ended. Meanwhile, after state officials told the judge that the law would not limit access, it went ahead and dropped one line of access.

On the same day a judge cleared the way for the state’s new voter identification law to take effect, the Corbett administration abandoned plans to allow voters to apply online for absentee ballots for the November election and to register online to vote.

A spokesman for the Department of State said county elections officials told the agency that implementing the new online initiatives as well as voter ID requirements was too much to handle less than three months before the election.

But Stephanie Singer, the top elections official in Philadelphia, said she was unaware that there was an issue with setting up a system to allow voters to register and apply for absentee ballots online, and said shifting more activity online would actually make for less paperwork.

5. Meanwhile, in Florida, a federal court made voting more accessible via early voting in a ruling that minorities “will be disproportionately affected by the changes in early voting procedures because they disproportionately use early in-person voting.”

6. And here’s a fascinating, if depressing, bit of voting law history. The decision relied upon by the Pennsylvania judge who upheld the voter photo id law was passed to limit voting in Philadelphia and was upheld because residents of the city were judged to have lesser morality.  Here’s more about that 1869 case:

Referring to “the vicious vagrant, the wandering Arabs, the Tartar hordes of our large cities,” the court held that this differential treatment between Philadelphia and the rest of the state was constitutional. According to the opinion:

Where population greatly abounds vice and virtue have their greatest extremes. A simple rural population needs no night police, and no lock-up. Rogues and strumpets do not nightly traverse the deserted highways of the farmer. Low inns, restaurants, sailors’ boarding-houses, and houses of ill fame do not abound in rural precincts, ready to pour out on election day their pestilent hordes of imported bullies and vagabonds, and to cast them multiplied upon the polls as voters. In large cities such things exist, and its proper population therefore needs greater protection, and local legislation must come to their relief.
Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.