Potomac Chronicle

Outposts of Rationality in Our Great Partisan Divide

It’s official: The people who publish the Merriam-Webster dictionary announced in late December that the most searched-for word on its website in 2016 was “surreal.” Though the word attracted heavy traffic all year, the big spike in interest came the day after the election. It reflected a country trying to make sense of an outcome “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.”

Here in Washington, I’ve been reflecting on what it means for Governing’s mission. When we launched this magazine in the latter days of the Reagan administration, our purpose was to document and explain an ongoing significant shift in our federal system -- the ascendancy of states and localities -- that the national press had largely missed. We debated a bit about the relative importance of states versus cities and counties, but basically we felt we were on the mark.   READ MORE

Trump Era May Become the 'Once-Great Society'

The next time you drive by a nursing home, you might want to take a look inside. You’ll be staring at the front line in an emerging battle over the future of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.

If it’s a typical nursing home, Medicaid covers the expenses of half the residents. Those average $91,000 per year, because these residents need long-term care and don’t have enough assets of their own anymore to pay for it. Long-term care accounts for one out of every four Medicaid dollars. As the Trump administration pursues the Republicans’ long-sought goal of turning the program into a block grant to the states, it’s where the toughest decisions lie. READ MORE

Conjectures From the Swamp

Here in the Washington Swamp, January will be a month like no other in recent history. The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, with its assorted swamp-draining promises, we will play host to the Million Women March for female empowerment. Six days later comes the anti-abortion March for Life. All three events are expected to attract, at the least, hundreds of thousands of people. The swamp isn’t draining; it’s boiling over.

In its post-election coverage, the Washington-obsessed media generally neglected to point out how deeply the Republican victory penetrated. While Trump trailed Hillary Clinton nationally by more than 2 million popular votes, the opposite dynamic was playing out at the state level, where Republicans will control 33 of the 50 governorships. The GOP will hold 56 percent of all state legislative seats, nearly 1,000 more than when the Obama administration took office. The GOP victory may have been slender at the top, but it was broad at the base. READ MORE

Trump’s Health-Care Dilemma

The seeds of Donald Trump’s dramatic surge in the presidential campaign sprouted from fields that Barack Obama had plowed. The October “surprise” -- the announcement that premiums for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would increase 25 percent next year for the mid-level program -- helped ignite his turnaround.

For now at least, the ACA is one of the relatively few areas in which President-elect Trump is in sync with virtually all of the Republican Party. He pledged to repeal every word of it, block grant Medicaid to the states, allow insurance companies to sell any policy anywhere, make health insurance premiums fully tax-deductible and expand the use of health savings accounts.  READ MORE

The Upside of Police Chiefs' Recent Departures

My favorite top cop in the nation has just bowed out. Bill Bratton, arguably America’s most effective big-city police chief, retired in September, ending one of the most successful careers in law enforcement in the nation’s history. Bratton’s record wherever he served, including Boston, Los Angeles and two stints in New York City, was impressive. Crime of all sorts, especially violent crime, fell precipitously in each one on his watch.

About the time Bratton was wrapping up his last day on the job in New York, Washington, D.C.’s police chief, Cathy Lanier, was starting a new job in the private sector, as head of security for the National Football League. Almost a decade ago, she took control of a department that was viewed as largely dysfunctional and remade it, strengthening ties between officers and the community they serve. Crime fell substantially during her tenure. READ MORE