TPM Cafe: Opinion

Minimum wage debates are stale. Opponents say higher minimum wages kill jobs, while supporters say maintain higher minimums reduce poverty and spur spending, benefitting everyone. But many economists believe both arguments are true: higher minimum wages do cost some jobs, but they also raise the standard of living for large portions of the population.

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“Here at ArborVitae, we recognize that free, timely, top-quality medical services provide indispensable information to women facing unexpected pregnancies who are engaged in what is often a difficult and stressful decision-making process,” reads part of the “Mission and Vision” section of the brochure of a clinic that is located in downtown Ann Arbor, near the campus of the University of Michigan. It’s a location that I know well, having grown up in Ann Arbor and graduated from U of M; in fact, this crisis pregnancy clinic is one floor below a coffee shop where I used to write.

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Over the past couple of weeks, courageous ordinary citizens of Hong Kong are creating a whirlwind of momentum towards staking their claim for a more democratic Chinese society, finally getting another moment in the spotlight nearly 25 years after Tiananmen. Uncertainty rings through the streets of Hong Kong as authorities and protesters alike weigh next steps, as everyone knows that this demonstration will influence political and cultural life in China for years to come. What’s less talked about is how Hong Kong is not an isolated incident: It is joining the ranks of the other landmark participatory democracy movements of our time, a pattern of upheaval witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt, Thailand, Venezuela, and Ukraine.

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The diagnoses of Ebola on U.S. soil brought into sharp focus the weaknesses as well as strengths of the U.S. public health system. Even as national authorities touted America’s capacities to deal with Ebola, the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas, failed to properly handle a man, avowedly recently arrived from Liberia, who arrived at the emergency room complaining of Ebola symptoms. Thomas Eric Duncan was refused admission for two days, putting dozens of contacts needlessly at risk; and even after he was admitted, family members were left penned up in an infected apartment for nearly a week. When Mr. Duncan died his relatives were left to wonder whether the delay in treatment contributed to his death.

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After a blockbuster debut, the Shonda Rhimes-produced “How to Get Away With Murder” is off to an impressive start. But has its creator, Peter Nowalk, gotten lost in the shuffle?

In its first three weeks, ABC freshman drama “How to Get Away With Murder” has lived up to the expectations that its Thursday night predecessors have set. Like Grey’s Anatomy and “Scandal” before it, it is tightly written, driven by intriguing and complex characters, and leaves viewers wanting more at the end of what we’re positive can’t have been a full hour. And like the programs before it, “How to Get Away With Murder” is earning heaps of praise for Shonda Rhimes. So what’s the problem? It’s not her show.

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The up-front case for voter ID laws and other measures inhibiting voter turnout is so weak that it’s generally assumed its proponents just cynically want to skew the electorate in their favor. After all, as a new Government Accountability Office study of Kansas and Tennessee confirm (not that anyone really doubted it), voter ID laws significantly and disproportionately affect young and minority voters. And given the virtual non-existence of in-person voting via a mistaken identity, the “voter fraud” rationale for voter ID is a phantom menace, while ID laws (and for that matter, restrictions on early voting) have no effect on the one area of voting most susceptible to real fraud (not that there are any recent examples of any great note), voting by mail.

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Despite the road bumps and hurdles encountered last year during the first open enrollment period, the numbers show the Affordable Care Act was a success: 7.3 million enrollees and counting. But not everyone who sought to enroll was able to do so. Limited English speakers and immigrants faced major uphill battles that, without action in the next few weeks, threaten to hold them back again from enrolling come Nov. 15.

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As an organization distinct from the Al Qaeda transnational terror network, ISIL is a hybrid terrorist organization whereby it conducts itself more like an army waging a counter-insurgency that uses terrorism as a tactic. This distinction matters just as much as ISIL’s history vis-à-vis Al Qaeda, and it should inform the U.S. government’s response in the weeks, months, and years to come.

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Recently at the United Nations, President Obama vowed to dismantle ISIL’s “network of death.” As the United States returns to a war footing in Iraq and launches airstrikes in Syria against the Sunni militant group that calls itself the “Islamic State”—better known in this country as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shâm (ISIL)—many seem confused about its strategic objectives and its relationship with the transnational jihadist group, Al Qaeda.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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