by Max Brantley
We're done. Closing out:
* THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR: Curtis Coleman did announce again as a Republican candidate. Hope he stays in. A contested Republican primary will reduce mischief-making in the Democratic primary. Some of his boilerplate:
We’re falling farther behind, and it’s not because we don’t have great people, or abundant resources or even good roads. We’re falling farther behind because Arkansas has the most onerous, anti-business job-unfriendly tax and regulatory codes of any state we touch.
* STRANGLING GOVERNMENT: Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman is still sitting on his bill to arbitrarily cap state spending because of lack of support. (He's talking about changing it, but Gov. Mike Beebe says what he proposes is no fix.) But he's moving on other fronts to reduce government, beginning with a bill that would reduce environmental protection. The linked analysis says his proposal would reduce funding in the Department of Environmental Quality's Solid Waste Division, a move that could cut in half the 35-person staff that oversee landfills and recycling efforts.
* EXPANDING GOVERNMENT: A ray of good news. The Federal Health and Human Services Department has details here on $42 million that Arkansas will receive the next few years to implement an innovative health care plan. This is the system to reward doctors for good results on a continuum of care for health episodes. Arkansas is in the vanguard of six states chosen to develop model programs. Said the announcement: "The six selected states will use funds to test multi-payer payment and service delivery models, including approaches already under way at CMS, such as Accountable Care Organizations, on a broader scale within their state. Through the State Innovation Model Testing awards, CMS will learn whether these new models produce greater results when implemented broadly and combined with additional state-wide reforms." The State announced the news here.
* DEMOCRATS TARGET ARKANSAS REPUBLICANS: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has bought web advertising to target the role of Arkansas Republican Rep. Tom Cotton of the Club for Growth in the coming federal budget cuts. See above. See the jump for news release. They're doing the same on Tiny Tim Griffin of Perryville, too. And also Rick Crawford of Jonesboro.
SPEAKING OF TOM COTTON: I think he's getting attention because of growing belief he'll challenge U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor next year. And I think, in turn, that's why you're hearing more open talk of what Sen. Bruce Maloch of Magnolia has made clear for some time — he's considering a race for 4th District Congress. And wouldn't it be fun if those dominoes fall if Teabagger Nate Bell of Mena takes on Lane Jean of Magnolia in the Republican primary for the seat, as many think might happen.
DCC NEWS RELEASE:
As House Republicans stubbornly stand with millionaires and force potentially staggering job losses for the middle class, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching paid grassroots advertising to hold Congressman Tom Cotton accountable for the thousands of layoffs and other costs in the upcoming sequester.
“Your Pink Slip” begins today and is the first phase of the campaign, featuring a web ad that highlights the consequences of Tea Party House Republicans protecting millionaires instead of the middle class and forcing the sequester to happen.
Congressman Cotton and Tea Party House Republicans left the capital last week without any attempt to negotiate a deal on the sequester — a series of deep and indiscriminate cuts that experts estimate will eliminate more than a million jobs. The cuts will affect areas across the government from defense to domestic spending, including medical research, Army Corps of Engineers projects, federal law enforcement officers, Head Start and services to pregnant women. Republicans have refused to bring up a compromise plan that achieves the deficit reduction by ending special tax breaks for millionaires and corporations.
“Thousands of hardworking families in Congressman Cotton’s district are facing pink slips thanks to his refusal to put middle class families before millionaires,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Americans deserve a solution, not more chaos and manufactured crisis from Congressman Cotton and the Tea Party Congress.”