Obamacare was meant to help millions of uninsured Americans by creating a subsidized exchange for middle-income earners and by expanding Medicaid to reach more of those in poverty. But solely for ideological reasons, Republican governors in 19 states refused to take the extra Medicaid dollars, creating a coverage gap. In Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback has radically slashed government services, a patchwork of free medical clinics is exploring creative ways to provide medical care to this vulnerable group.
Students in Los Angeles could soon be studying Mexican-American history, while those in Oakland debate the legacy of the Black Panthers, under a California law that will take effect in 2019. While the classes will serve as a modern-day civics lesson, they also have proven academic benefits: according to a Stanford study, ethnic studies classes result in better grades, fewer absences and improved graduation rates.
Income taxes usually redistribute wealth more evenly, as an indirect way to tackle inequality. In Portland, the city council is taking a more extreme step: taxing inequality itself. Any publicly traded company in city limits that pays its CEO a Benjamin for every $1 the average worker makes will be forced to pay an extra 10 percent penalty on their business tax. It won’t generate much revenue for the city, but it sends a signal that grossly unfair consolidation of pay isn’t welcome in the Northwest.