In the News

The Fix is aware that some Americans are inclined to reject, outright, the idea that some words — those that we choose to express our ideas, what we say at critical moments and that which we do not mention — have deeper, often multi-layered meaning. But to believe this, you must reject the field of social psychology — and likely political psychology, too. You must believe that all advertising (or for that matter, campaigning) is pointless and has no impact at all. It is to insist that human beings always mean only what they say.

That's obviously not the case.

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According to Sean McElwee, a researcher who studies voting rights at the progressive think tank Demossome studies suggest up to 2.5% of the population is unable to vote thanks to such laws.

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"The Administration strongly supports the goals of the NVRA and is committed to enforcing its requirements, as applicable," the agency said in a statement.

Jenn Rolnick Borchetta, senior counsel at Demos, called this an "almost hidden voter registration question" that does not satisfy the NVRA.

To comply with the NVRA, she said, the exchange would need to directly ask applicants if they want to register to vote because applicants are less likely to see registration information if they aren't forced to answer a question about it. 

 But there was a time when Republicans took diversifying their base much more seriously.

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"The Administration strongly supports the goals of the NVRA and is committed to enforcing its requirements, as applicable,” Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the HHS' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in an email.

But the current configuration doesn't meet the specific requirements in the law regarding language and other administrative mandates, the groups say.

The voting rights groups say that among other things, the federal exchange should be offering to help applicants complete a voter registration form. Although many applicants use the exchange independently, others turn to its call center or to “navigator” groups that have federal grants to help people apply for coverage.

“The navigators aren’t receiving any training or direction that they have to offer voter registration services,” said Jenn Rolnick Borchetta, senior counsel at Demos.

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Parents and students enter into an often complicated and opaque process when trying to secure financial aid, making some kind of financial discussion essentially a requirement for anyone hoping to successfully pay for college, said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-leaning think tank.

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Clinton supports raising the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour. Despite minimum wage hikes by many state and local governments, and by high-profile employers like Walmart and Target, the federal minimum wage remains stuck at $7.25 per hour, the same rate it has been at since 2009. Many advocates of a higher minimum wage, including Clinton competitor Bernie Sanders, want a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour nationwide.

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“The financial crisis and the Great Recession and its aftermath are hopefully the most significant economic calamity that this generation will experience,” said labor economist and policy analyst Catherine Ruetschlin, a visiting professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City [and Demos fellow].

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Critics — and even some supporters — of the program say its designations are arbitrary, and raise questions about whether the benefit should be rethought, expanded, or even eliminated.

Adding farming to the list could introduce further complexity, since farmers in the U.S. work mainly for for-profit business.

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