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IVN Daily Digest -- July 14, 2014

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

1. Plurality of Americans think the election system is unfair to voters.

"A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters now say American elections are not fair to voters, up from 46% in April and the highest finding in surveys since 2004. Thirty-nine percent (39%) think elections are fair, but 14% are not sure."

An additional figure from the survey shows that 68 percent of Americans, a vast majority of the voting population, believe the system is rigged to favor incumbents.

2. Are we fated to remain a divided country?

"Congress needs to work the same five-day week that the rest of us do, and reduce its centralized leadership by empowering committees. Open primaries would help moderate the nation's politics, as would bipartisan redistricting commissions capable of doing away with gerrymandered districts. Increasing voter participation and improving the integrity of our elections would also help."

The opinion piece takes a look at a recent Pew survey, which showed that members of Congress are more divided now than they have ever been and this is the result of increased polarization in the most partisan segments of the voting population, which tend to be the most politically active.

3. A Rand Paul presidency could mean a fundamental shift in how the GOP approaches foreign policy.

"What Paul is proposing is that he is the Republican candidate willing (and able) to handle the party's long-delayed reckoning with the war in Iraq."

Over the weekend, conflicting views within the Republican Party over foreign policy were highlighted in two op-ed pieces. One, published in the Washington Post, was written by Governor Perry, criticizing Rand Paul's position on Iraq. Rand Paul responded in his own Politico editorial on Monday.

4. The future of marijuana legalization may come down to which numbers and facts come out of Colorado.

"But there’s a big problem with the rest of the country looking to Colorado for answers, experts say: There has not been a comprehensive independent study on marijuana implementation in the state. The experts warn that is too early for states to be drawing hard and fast conclusions from the Colorado experience, which only began its implementation in January."

Pro-legalization campaigns and opponents of legalization are both looking at crime, job creation, quality of life, and tax revenues in Colorado, but because both sides are distorting the facts, it is difficult to get a clear picture of how marijuana legalization has impacted the state without an independent study.

5. Improving access to health care does not typically save money.

"One of the most important facts about health care overhaul, and one that is often overlooked, is that all changes to the health care system involve trade-offs among access, quality and cost. You can improve one of these – maybe two – but it will almost always result in some other aspect getting worse."

While the priority of the Affordable Care Act was to increase access to health care for the uninsured, improving access will most likely affect affordability, but not in the way proponents of Obamacare hoped. The hope was that people would stop using emergency rooms for minor reasons if they had greater access to general practitioners, but studies show that there is no indication that trips to the ER (which is expensive) will decline and increasing people's access to care leads to an increase in use of invasive care -- surgery, for instance, which is also costly.

What news stories have you been following?

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