Trump played checkers and they played chess in a checkers year

Donald_Trump_August_19,_2015_(cropped) By Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

If this presidential election were a chess match, somebody like Sen. Ted Cruz would be calling checkmate on the Republican Party nomination about now. Instead, it’s checkers this year, and Donald Trump is winning because he knows that’s the game being played.

What’s the difference? Chess is a game of strategy and subtlety and patience, and it takes a lifetime to master. Many people don’t understand it. Checkers is a simple, straightforward game that moves quickly and can be played decently by everyone. Republican voters this year didn’t want a practiced political master; they wanted someone who spoke their language and played their game. While Cruz and the other Republican candidates have been staring at the chessboard and plotting their next moves, Trump has been bouncing state to state around the checkerboard, reaching the back row, and shouting, “King me!”

Why did Key replace Kurrus?

Johnny Key, left, and Baker Kurrus speak to reporters Tuesday.
Johnny Key, left, and Baker Kurrus speak to reporters Tuesday.

By Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Reporters have biases, and I’ll admit to mine: Two of the government officials I like the most are Johnny Key, the state’s education commissioner, and Baker Kurrus, the soon-to-be-former Little Rock School District superintendent.

The two have been linked together for the past year. Key is a former state senator, not an educator, which a lot of unhappy people noted when Gov. Asa Hutchinson picked him for the state’s leading public schools post. Because the State Board of Education had taken over the Little Rock School District, Key became its de facto school board when he became commissioner, and he appointed Kurrus as superintendent.

The real goal of the private option: Changing U.S. health care

CapitolBy Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Arkansas is the land of the Hogs. When it comes to health care reform, it’s also offered itself up as a guinea pig.

Here’s why. The American health care system was a mess long before President Obama was elected. Costs were skyrocketing, and people were denied insurance based on pre-existing conditions, or they lost their insurance if they got sick. It’s long been unjust and unsustainable.

Along came the Affordable Care Act, which created Obamacare. Among its provisions was expanding Medicaid coverage for Americans with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Medicaid is a federal-state partnership that serves the poor, the aged and the disabled.

The larger debate: How Arkansas works

arkansasFlagBy Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

This debate at the Capitol over health care is difficult to write about day to day because things change quickly. So let’s talk about what it might mean for the future.

First, the background. Legislators are debating the private option, which uses federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for Arkansans with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. It came about as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which created Obamacare. As of the end of January, 267,590 adults were eligible. It has helped Arkansas reduce its number of uninsured adults and gotten hospitals paid more often for their services – probably saving some of them, in fact.