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HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace for health insurance policies subsidized by Obamacare.
HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace for health insurance policies subsidized by Obamacare. (Patrick Sison / Associated Press)

It’s almost as if the midterm election escaped the notice of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As you may recall, voters decisively bounced Republicans from control of the House. Democrats had spotlighted Republicans’ attacks on Obamacare, and more specifically the GOP’s efforts to end the law’s protections for millions of people with preexisting conditions. (Those protections apply to the roughly 15 million people who buy insurance directly because they’re not covered by health plans at work; a different federal law provides similar protection to people covered by large group plans.)

Yet here we are, a little more than three weeks from the election, with a new gambit by HHS to promote cheaper, thinner insurance policies — at the expense of people who need comprehensive coverage. You know, like people with preexisting conditions.

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  • Opinion
  • The Golden State
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), called California's voting outcome "strange."
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), called California's voting outcome "strange." (Michael Reynolds / EPA-EFE/REX)

On Thursday, soon-to-be-ex House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the Golden State’s voting system “bizarre” and suggested there was something hinky about how long it took to know the outcome in certain races.

“When you have candidates who win the absentee ballot vote and then lose three weeks later because of provisionals, that’s really bizarre,” Ryan said. “I just think that’s a very, very strange outcome.”

Certainly Ryan and his caucus are dismayed about the outcome in the midterm elections, losing half of the already small number of GOP House seats in California, not to mention control of the House altogether. But if he’s bewildered by California’s voting system, perhaps it is because he’s not used to states that are making it easier for people to vote.

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Twitter's suspension of Kelly was seen by those on the right as another example of a social media outlet trying to silence conservatives.
Twitter's suspension of Kelly was seen by those on the right as another example of a social media outlet trying to silence conservatives. (Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)

Two days after Twitter reportedly slapped a permanent ban on right-wing radio host Jesse Kelly without warning or clear explanation, it restored his ability to tweet a mix of goofy humor, insults (directed mainly at Democrats) and provocations about race, gender and whatever else was on his mind to his 111,000 followers.

No big deal, right? Considering the sort of things Kelly says, he was bound to get grounded by the Twitter enforcement team sooner or later. (This is the sort of thing Kelly says: During his last appearance on Fox News Channel, he described soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by saying, “She has the likability of chicken pox. ... She comes off as somebody who's cooking a stew with small children inside.” Even the Fox host seemed appalled, saying, “Next time we'll try to elevate the level of the conversation here.”)

But for the folks on the right side of the partisan divide, Kelly’s suspension was just the latest example of a dominant social media outlet trying to silence conservatives. A newly elected Republican senator called for a congressional investigation into Twitter’s alleged political bias. Even some of Kelly’s critics cried foul:

  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump with General Motors CEO Mary Barra in 2017.
President Trump with General Motors CEO Mary Barra in 2017. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

For someone who has pushed hard to free U.S. companies from federal interference, President Trump is unusually willing to tell U.S. companies how to run their businesses.

The latest example is General Motors, which announced plans Monday to cut thousands of jobs and potentially shutter a handful of factories in the face of softening car sales. Traditional Republicans might consider this sort of development a painful but necessary part of the business cycle. To Trump, though, it was a needless blow to an important constituency — autoworkers — in Ohio and Michigan, two blue-collar-heavy Midwestern states that were important parts of his winning coalition in 2016. (The company’s updated plans also envision plant shutdowns in Maryland and Canada, plus two unspecified plants outside of North America.)

So Trump hectored and threatened GM’s leadership, both directly and through the media. He raised the stakes Tuesday on Twitter: