Patching health care

By Steve Brawner

Let’s get real. We’re not going to fix the health care system with this Congress, or maybe any Congress. But this past week, there were at least signs of hope that maybe we can patch it up.

Those signs of hope came when, in both the Senate and the House, some Republicans and Democrats started trying to work together.

That last sentence may dismay you if you believe the other side is evil, and the only way to get anything accomplished is to gain power and then do what you want.

But this is America. That approach might be the norm in Venezuela, where the increasingly dictatorial leader recently held a sham election and then arrested two of his opponents. But here, we don’t imprison each other over politics. We’re a big, diverse, free country, and we’re stuck with each other, so we’d better work together.

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When 3 percent is a big win

Mark West is running for governor as a Libertarian.

By Steve Brawner

How can a candidate win by losing? By capturing enough of the vote to ensure his third party qualifies for the next election and has a better chance to be heard.

In Arkansas, parties must win 3 percent in gubernatorial and presidential elections to automatically qualify for the next election’s ballot, which is why the Democrats will surely find someone to run against seemingly unbeatable Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2018.

Arkansas’ most organized third party, the Libertarians, failed to reach that standard in 2016, when former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson won 2.65 percent of the presidential vote despite a promising start. That meant the state party had to collect at least 10,000 signatures this year at a cost of about $30,000.

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Poll: Few in the middle with Trump

By Steve Brawner

A newly released poll has found that with President Trump, most Arkansas voters have a strong opinion one way or the other, and it’s about half and half. Ideally, those aren’t the results you want in a strong, stable democracy in a big, diverse country.

According to the poll by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, Trump’s approval rating in Arkansas has dropped from 60 percent in February to 50 percent in July, with 47 percent disapproving and only 3 percent having no opinion.

The drop of 10 points is interesting but not shocking. Running for president is easier than being president, which is why all presidents’ hair changes color, including Trump’s. It doesn’t take long for presidents to start offending people, especially when they try to do it.

What’s more notable is the way those numbers break out. Of the 50 percent who approve of Trump, 39 percent strongly approve and only 11 percent somewhat approve. Meanwhile, 40 percent strongly disapprove and only 7 percent somewhat disapprove. Forty percent, the same percentage as strongly disapprove, want him impeached. Continue reading Poll: Few in the middle with Trump

True, fair and unbalanced news

By Steve Brawner

© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Regardless of what one thinks about the accuracy of President Trump’s tweets, there was a lot of truth in this one on June 16: “The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media – over 100 million people! I can go around them.”

Whether or not 100 million distinct individuals follow Trump on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms is debatable. Still, Trump’s larger point, that he can present his message without relying on the mainstream media, is correct, and it’s not limited to him.

In Arkansas, Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman haven’t said much to state-based reporters during the contentious health care reform debate, partly because they don’t have to. Boozman for a time relied on a bland statement posted on Facebook. Cotton has been selective in his media appearances, offering few specifics to Arkansas-based reporters and ignoring a well-known liberal columnist while comfortably chatting on air with Hugh Hewitt, a conservative national radio host. Continue reading True, fair and unbalanced news