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Arkansas Week July 25, 2014

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(The Cost) Two courts throw a key component of health reform in question, and in Arkansas, we weigh the cost. (The Toll) Is it time to start charging drivers on I-40? And what’s the future of highway funding in the state? (The Proposal) One ballot proposal gets more time, but another draws more opposition. (The Campaign) Courting constituents on the farm as November looms.

TRANSCRIPT

HELLO AGAIN EVERYONE. I AM LANCE TURNER FROM BUSINESS BUSINESS SITTING IN FOR STEVE BARNES. HEALTH CARE REFORM CONTINUES TO BE THE BIG DRIVING OF DISCOURSE OF THE DAY AND WE GOT A COUPLE OF KEY RULINGS IN DISTRICT COURT THAT CREATED FODDER AND DISCUSSION FOR THE CAMPAIGNS. AND THAT'S WHERE WE WILL BEGIN. JOINING US FROM KUAR JACOB KAUFFMAN. INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST RICK FAHR AND FROM THE POLITICAL SCIENCE DEPARTMENT AT OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY HAL BASS. GENTLEMEN THANKS FOR COMING IN. A LOT TO TALK ABOUT, A LOT DEALING WITH HEALTH CARE AND WE START WITH A PAIR OF CONFLICTING APPEAL COURTS RULINGS DEALING WITH OBAMACARE AND HEALTH CARE REFORM AND TWO RULINGS THAT CONTRADICT EACH OTHER AND SUBSIDIES AND WHO GETS THEM AND WHO DOESN'T? HAL WHAT HAPPENED?

ALL RIGHT. WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE IS THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT PROVIDED FOR ELIGIBLE CONSUMERS TO PURCHASE AFFORDABLE INSURANCE IN EXCHANGES SET UP AT EITHER THE STATE LEVEL OR THE FEDERAL LEVEL, AND ALSO PROVIDED FOR SUBSIDIES FOR THOSE PURCHASES. NOW, THE SUBSIDIES FOR PARTICIPANTS IN THE FEDERALLY RUN EXCHANGED I THINK 35 STATES INCLUDING ARKANSAS OPTED TO USE THE FEDERAL EXCHANGES INSTEAD OF THEIR OWN EXCHANGES. THESE SUBSIDYS IN THE FEDERALLY RUN EXCHANGES ARE BEING CHALLENGED AS NOT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR BY THE LAW, AND THERE IS SOME CONFUSION AMBIGUITY IN A PORTION OF THE LAW, AND THIS IS WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT, PART OF THE ENACTMENT PROCESS, WHICH THE RECONCILIATION RULES DID NOT ALLOW FOR A CONFERENCE COMMITTEE TO HAMMER OUT SOME OF THESE NORMAL ADJUSTMENTS NEED TO BE MADE. MOST INFORMED OBSERVERS BELIEVE THAT SUBSIDIES FOR PARTICIPANTS IN FEDERAL EXCHANGES ARE AUTHORIZED IN THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF THE ENTIRE ACT, BUT THIS HAS BEEN LITIGATED AND WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK IS THAT DUELING JUDGE PANELS IN TWO CIRCUITS ADVANCED CONTRADICTORY DECISIONS. ONE IN THE D.C. CIRCUITED AGREED WITH THE PLAINTIFFS THAT THE SUBSIDIES ARE NOT AUTHORIZED AND IN RICHMOND THE FOURTH CIRCUIT AGREED WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND THAT THE SUBSIDIES AND THE EXCHANGES ARE ALLOWABLE OR AUTHORIZED. NOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? WE WILL SEE, BUT CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SUGGESTS THAT THE CASE WILL NOW COME BEFORE THE ENTIRE PANEL OF THE CIRCUIT -- JUDGES IN EACH CIRCUIT, AND AGAIN THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SUGGESTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S ARGUMENT IS LIKELY TO BE UP HOLD IN BOTH CIRCUITS GIVEN THE COMPOSITION OF THE JUDGES ON THE CIRCUITS. IF THE CONFLICT CONTINUES THEN THE SUPREME COURT WILL MOST ASSUREDLY HAVE TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE. EVEN IF IT DOESN'T THE COURT MAY CHOOSE TO DO SO AND THE COURT HAS CONSIDERABLE DISCRETION IN THE CASES IT HEAR S AND THE DECISION IT MAKES. IF THE NARROW INTERPRETATION PREVAILS LIKE THE D.C. CIRCUIT THEN RESIDENTS IN STATES LIKE ARKANSAS THAT USED THE FEDERAL EXCHANGE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAVE THE SUBSIDIES. THAT'S THE BACKGROUND.

WHAT IS ARKANSAS DOING RIGHT NOW AND THE IMMEDIATE EFFECT JACOB HOW IT'S APPLIED IN ARKANSAS?

THERE ARE 7 MILLION NATIONALLY AND CLIMBING THAT MIGHT BE AFFECTED BY THIS AND 40,000 WENT THROUGH THE EXCHANGES AND MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY FOR THE OTHER SUBSIDIES AND WE HAVE A NEW DIRECTOR, CHERYL SMITH, AND SHE PROVIDED AN ESTIMATE THIS WEEK PLANNING ASK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR $130 MILLION TO SET UP THE STATE'S EXCHANGE BY 2017. THIS IS SOMETHING THE LEGISLATURE EXPRESSED A DESIRE TO DO EVEN THOUGH THEY DIDN'T SET IT UP IMMEDIATELY BUT THEY HAD A PLAN EXPLORING DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE A EXCHANGE AND SHE EXPRESSED WHAT THAT MIGHT LOOK LIKE FOR ARKANSAS. IT COULD RANGE. VERMONT IS PURSUING A SINGLE PAYING MODEL AND [INAUDIBLE] WITH CONSUMER DRIVEN APPROACH AND EVEN THOUGH SHE ASKED FOR $130 MILLION WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT WE'RE GOING FOR TO SEE WHAT THE MONEY WOULD APPLY BUT SHE MENTIONED THERE IS A CUSHION IN THAT AMOUNT SO IT'S HEADED FOR FURTHER LITIGATION BUT LOOKS LIKE ARKANSAS SINCE WE'RE GOING TO THE STATE EXCHANGE MODEL ANYWAY REGARDLESS OF THE RULING SEEMS LIKE ARKANSAS WOULD BE IN A GOOD PLACE AND IT HAS TO GO THROUGH THE STATE EXCHANGE AND NOT THE FEDERAL ARKANSAS IS SHIFTING THAT WAY ANYWAY.

RIGHT. SO THE GROUND WORK IS LAID. WHEN WE GO BACK AND LOOK AT THE HISTORY AND THE DEBATES AROUND IT ARKANSAS HAD THE CHOICE LIKE OTHERS DID DO WE GO FEDERAL? DO WE GO STATE? I REMEMBER JAY BRADFORD WANTED THAT EXCHANGE BUT WHEN IT CAME TIME THE ARGUMENT WAS FOR A FEDERAL EXCHANGE. WHAT WERE THE REASONS FOR THAT ARGUMENT AND WHY DO WE WANT TO GO TO A STATE EXCHANGE THIS RULING NOT WITH STAND SOMETHING.

I THINK THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF FACTORS AT PLAY AND ONE WAS THE OVERALL GENERAL NEGATIVE ATTITUDE TOWARDS OBAMACARE ON THE PART OF MANY STATE LEGISLATORS HERE AND IN OTHER STATES AROUND THE COUNTRY. THE OTHER ONE THERE WERE SEVERAL OTHER STATES WITH VERY SOPHISTICATED SYSTEMS THAT JUST DIDN'T WORK. THESE STATES SPENT HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO SET UP THEIR OWN EXCHANGES AND WHEN THEY FLIP A SWITCH THEY DIDN'T HAVE A LIGHT COME ON SO I THINK THERE WAS SOME FEAR THAT ARKANSAS WHICH DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY TO THROW AT THIS PROGRAM TO START WITH COULD THROW MONEY AT IT AND THEN THE THING NOT WORK AT THE END OF THE DAY BECAUSE TIME WAS GETTING FAIRLY CLOSE.

SO ON THE POLITICAL ANGLE OF THIS HAL HOW IS THIS RULING RECEIVED IN ARKANSAS FROM A POLITICAL STANDPOINT IN TERMS OF PEOPLE RUNNING FOR OFFICE WHICH THERE ARE MANY? WHAT DOES IT TO DO THE ARGUMENT FOR OR AGAINST OBAMACARE AND IN ARKANSAS AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

I THINK IT SENDS A MIXED MESSAGE AND I LIKEN THE OBAMACARE SAGA TO ONE OF THE OLD SATURDAY AFTERNOON SERIALS WHICH THE HERO HAS A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE AT EVERY TURN AND LIVES TO FACE ANOTHER ONE DOWN THE ROAD AND I SUGGEST FROM THE BASIS OF THIS RECORD SO FAR THIS IS NOT THE LAST OF THE CHRISS THAT WE WILL ENCOUNTER. I DO THINK THAT THE OPPONENTS OF OBAMACARE ARE LOOKING AT THE WHOLE AND THE IMAGE OR THE REPUTATION OF THE WHOLE, WHICH IS IN A NEGATIVE LIGHT RICK AND EXPRESSED THIS, THIS KIND OF PERVASIVE DISCOMFORT, DISLIKE OF OBAMACARE. THE PROPONENTS SEEM TO ME ARE FOCUSING ON THE PARTICULARS OF OBAMACARE, THE SPECIFIC ATTRACTIVE FEATURES OF IT, AND TRYING TO GET THE LARGER PUBLIC TO FOCUS ATTENTION ON IT. THERE WAS A STORY VERY RECENTLY THAT REBATES ARE FORTHCOMING FOR SOME OF 58,000 ARKANSANS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF EXIST 100 A PERSON BASED ON A VERY DIFFERENT PROVISION IN THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT THAT DEMANDS THAT INSURANCE COMPANIES REFUND MONEY IF ENOUGH OF THEIR PROFITS ARE NOT BEING RECEIVED THROUGH -- THE RESOURCE NOT BEING RECEIVED FOR MEDICAL CARE AS FAR AS OVERHEAD SO I THINK THERE ARE SOME PARTS OF OBAMACARE THAT ARE BEING WELL RECEIVED, ARE POPULAR, BUT I THINK THE LARGER PUBLIC ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CONCEPT REMAINS NEGATIVE.

I WAS WONDERING IF WE WERE GOING TO HIT THAT POINT AND ENOUGH PEOPLE HAD ENOUGH PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE WITH THE LAW AND MAKE THEIR OWN DECISION RATHER HEARING ANECDOTALLY FROM POLITICIANS AND POLICY MAKERS.

SEEMS PART OF IT THAT WAY AND ONE PART AND A LOT OF THE POLITICIANS AND HESITATE TO EMBRACE IT FOR SURE AND DO TRY TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES BUT THEY'RE NOT DISPARAGING IT THEMSELVES AND AN ANSWER BUT NOT A REGULAR CAMPAIGN ATTACK.

OTHER QUESTION IS WHETHER COME NOVEMBER AND GOING BEYOND THAT A SINGLE ISSUE LIKE OBAMACARE WILL BE ABLE TO RESONATE WITH VOTERS GOING TO THE POLLS THE WAY IT ARGUABLY DID BACK IN 2010 WHEN ALL OF THIS WAS MUCH HOTTER AND HEAVIER. IS THERE ATTRITION OF PUBLIC INTEREST.

OBAMACARE FATIGUE AND PEOPLE TIRED ABOUT HEARING ABOUT IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

BUT I QUESTION WILL WE HEAR ABOUT OBAMACARE UNTIL NOW TO ETERNITY IN THIS CONTEXT AND YOU TOUCHED ON IT AND PROPONENTS WANT TO TALK ABOUT INDIVIDUAL FEATURES AND HOW IT CAN HELP NOW, BUT OPPONENTS FOCUSED ON THE ENTIRE WHEN HE WILL. WE WANT TO GET RID OF THE WHOLE THING BUT I WONDER IF THE TACTIC FROM PROPONENTS -- OPPONENTS AND ATTACK ON THIS ONE PART AND SEEZ ON THE ONE WORD AND DOESN'T SAY YOU CAN GET A SUBSIDY THROUGH A STATE EXCHANGE. HAS TO BE A FEDERAL EXCHANGE. I WONDER IF THAT ATTACK BY A THOUSAND POINTS --

[INAUDIBLE]

YEAH.

WELL, LET'S SHIFT FROM HEALTH CARE INFRASTRUCTURE TO PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE. THAT WOULD BE ROADS HERE IN ARKANSAS AND PARTICULARLY THIS WEEK WE HEARD FOR THE FIRST TIME -- TOLL ROADS AREN'T MENTIONED MUCH IN ARKANSAS BUT WE GOT A POSSIBILITY FROM I-40 FROM LITTLE ROCK TO MEMPHIS. IS THAT A POSSIBILITY AND IS THE HIGHWAY FUNDING AT A POINT WE HAVE TO START LOOKING AT TOLLS RICK?

IS IT A POSSIBILITY? VERY DOUBTFUL. DO WE NEED TO LOOK AT TOLES OR OTHER MECHANISMS FOR ROADS? CERTAINLY. AND THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF ISSUES AT PLAY HERE. WHAT IS HURTING THE PARTICULAR IDEA OF A TOLL LANE ON THAT STRETCH OF I-40 YOU WOULD HAVE TO ADD A THIRD LANE. YOU CAN'T CHARGE A TOLL ON AN EXISTING INTERSTATE LANE SO THAT PUTS A LOT OF COMPLEXITY THERE. NOW, WE'VE ALSO HEARD ABOUT THE POTENTIAL FOR TOLL ROADS UP NORTHWEST ARKANSAS OR SOME OF THE LANES AROUND THE LITTLE ROCK AREA AND THOSE GENERALLY DON'T GO VERY FAR, BUT THE PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE WITH ROADS HERE IN ARKANSAS IS WE HAVE A SMALL POPULATION BUT WE HAVE ONE OF THE LARGEST STATE ROAD SYSTEMS OF ANY STATE IN THE COUNTRY AS FAR AS MILES, TOTAL MILES GO. IT'S AMAZING HOW YOU CAN DRIVE THROUGH SOME HINTER LANDS IN ARKANSAS AND THERE WILL BE A MAINTAINED STATE HIGHWAY THERE.

RIGHT.

AND IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ROADS YOU'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT SMALL NUMBERS. SOME OF THE STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT'S PLANS CALL FOR $50 MILLION TO BE SPENT HERE, $65 MILLION TO BE SPENT THERE, BUT WE NEED BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO GET ROADS FIXED. THE I-49 CORRIDOR ON THE WEST BORDER OF THE STATE BETWEEN MISSOURI AND LOUISIANA IS ABOUT A 3 BILLION-DOLLAR PROJECT AND WE DON'T HAVE ANY WHERE NEAR THE MONEY FOR THAT. THIS WEEK HIGHWAY COMMISSIONERS KIND OF ALMOST PUNTED AGAIN SAYING "WELL, WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT WE SHOULD DO. HOW DID WE ASK EVERY CANDIDATE RUNNING FOR CONGRESS IN ARKANSAS WHAT WE OUGHT TO BEING DO ?" I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO SAY BUT IF THEY WANT TO MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN ROADS -- $50 MILLION, A LOT OF MONEY TO US, DOESN'T DO MUCH FOR ROADS.

HAL, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR A LONG-TERM PLAN?

TWO QUESTIONS IS ONE WHO IS PAYING FOR THE HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE AND THE SECOND IS HOW ARE THEY GOING TO PAY FOR IT? WHO IS PAYING FOR IT? THE DRIVERS OF THE CARS OR THE TRUCKS AND HOW? CONVENTIONAL TAXES WHICH ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO GET ENACTED IN THE ARKANSAS POLITICAL CLIMATE OR SOME OUT OF THE BOX SOLUTION LIKE TOLLS THAT ARE BEING CONSIDERED HERE BUT SOMEHOW RECONCILE THE TWO QUESTIONS. WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT AND HOW ARE NAY GOING TO PAY FOR IT IS THE ANSWER?

RIGHT. THE IDEA OF HAVING THE ROADS IS ABOUT EQUITY FOR THESE AREAS. YOU MENTIONED RURAL AREAS -- NO MATTER THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE THERE AND HAVE A CERTAIN QUALITY OF SERVICE IN THE AREA AND PART OF THAT EQUITY AND THE PAYMENT AS WELL, AND THE IDEA BEHIND FUEL TAXES AND THINGS LIKE THAT IF PEOPLE ARE USING THE ROADS AND TOLL BOOTHS AS WELL AND DRIVERS USING THE ROADS AND IN TERMS OF TRAFFIC AND MAINTENANCE AND WHAT IS CAUSING THE ROADS TO BREAK DOWN THE MOST? THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY AND YOU HAVE TO DECIDE SHOULD THEY HAVE TO PAY MORE THAN THE AVERAGE CAR?

AND THEY HAVE A LOBBY THAT IS GOOD AT FIGHTING THOSE ISSUES.

CERTAINLY. AND ONE THING TO CONSIDER THIS JUST DID NOT COME UP AND BECOME A PROBLEM FOR ARKANSAS FIVE YEARS AGO. I AM FROM NORTHEAST ARKANSAS. 67 -- 167 -- FOUR LANE HAS MOVED ABOUT 20 MILES IN MY LIFETIME. IT'S MOVED FROM ABOUT SOUTH OF NEW PORT TO 20 MILES NORTH OF NEWPORT. I REMEMBER LISTENING TO NICK WILSON TRYING TO GET THE FOUR LANE COMPLETE UP TO THE MISSOURI LINE MORE THAN 20 YEARS AGO, SO THIS JUST DIDN'T COME UP, AND YOU KNOW WHEN WE TALK ABOUT EQUITY, AND THERE IS A FAIRNESS ISSUE TO THIS WHOLE THING, BUT SOMETHING I POINT OUT ON THIS SHOW FOR A WHILE NOW. JONESBORO -- THE POPULATION CENTER OF NORTHEAST ARKANSAS DOES NOT HAVE INTERSTATE ACCESS, FOUR LANE ACCESS TO LITTLE ROCK YET. IT'S GETTING THERE. IT WILL BE THERE IN A COUPLE, THREE YEARS MAYBE BUT IT ISN'T THERE YET.

A PUZZLE WE WERE ALWAYS GRAPPLING WITH HIGHWAYS. LET'S GET AN UPDATE JACOB ON A COUPLE OF PROPOSALS FOR THE BALLOT AND THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE AND ALCOHOL, A COUPLE OF PROPOSALS.

RIGHT. THERE IS A LEGAL CHALLENGE ABOUT THE DATE THEY WERE SUBMITTED. THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE I BELIEVE THE MONDAY FOLLOWING THE 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND SAID THIS IS THE DATE THE SIGNATURES ARE DUE FOR YOUR FIRST INITIAL INSPECTION WHETHER YOU CAN GET ON THE BALLOT OR NOT AND HIS OFFICE'S ARGUMENT THEY HAVE BEEN DOING THAT FOR DECADES IF THERE IS A HOLIDAY WEEKEND BUT WE HAVE A GROUP SAYING IT'S TOO CLOSE TO THE ELECTION BASED ON THE LAW AND BOTH MUST BE INVALIDATED. BEYOND THAT BOTH GROUPS HAD ENOUGH SIGNATURES INITIALLY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE FIRST PERIOD. THEY HAD HIGH RATES OF VALIDITY RATES COMPARED TO OTHER RACES BUT THE MINIMUM WAGE NEEDS 15,000 MORE SIGNATURES OUT OF WHAT THEY NEEDED SO THEY WILL NEED A NUMBER HIGHER THAN THAT AND THERE WILL BE INVALID ONES AGAIN. THIS SPEAKS TO HOW HARD IT IS TO GET ON THE BALLOT EVEN IF IT'S POPULAR.

POLLS ARE SHOWING THEY'RE BACKING WAYNE WAYNE.

YES -- MINIMUM WAGE.

AND YES AND IT'S DIFFICULT AND WE WILL SEE IF THEY HAVE THE NEEDED SIGNATURES WITHIN 30 DAYS.

LET'S MOVE ON TO SOME PURE POLITICS HERE, THE CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR, ASA HUTCHINSON AND MIKE ROSS IN FRONT OF THE FARM BUREAU AND ONE OF THE TOP INITIAL GROUPS HERE IN ARKANSAS APPEARS TUESDAY IN SPRINGFIELD. A LOT OF SPARKS IN THE DEBATE. NOT A LOT OF TALK ABOUT AGRICULTURE BUT INTERESTING EXCHANGES.

THERE WAS CERTAINLY ONE EXCHANGE THAT WAS INTERESTING AT LEAST TO SOME OF US IN THE MEDIA BUSINESS. THE QUESTION WENT TO ASA HUTCHINSON FIRST SIMPLY "ARE YOU A MEMBER OF FARM BUREAU?" AND TO SAY THAT ASA FUMBLED IT IS MAYBE AN UNDER STATEMENT. NOT THAT HE DIDN'T KNOW IF HE WAS A MEMBER AND DIDN'T HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT THE PROCESS WAS TO BECOME A MEMBER OF FARM BUREAU AND A SIMPLE PROCESS AND MIKE ROSS CHOMPING AT THE BIT --

CARD CARRYING MEMBER.

OF COURSE AND I PAY MY $35 AND I GO TO THE ANNUAL SUPPER DINNER AND HAVE FOR YEARS, SO IT WAS JUST A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION THAT IT WAS SURPRISING SOMEONE OF ASA'S STATURE THAT HAS BEEN ARKANSAS POLITICS FOREVER UNDERSTANDS HOW IMPORTANT THE FARM BUREAU IS, ONE OF THE LARGEST LOBBYING GROUPS IN THIS STATE, IF NOT THE ENTIRE NATION. IT WAS ODD TO SEE HE DIDN'T HAVE A BETTER ANSWER FOR THAT QUESTION.

ARE WE STARTING TO SEE PERSONALITY TRAITS AT PLAY IN THE CAMPAIGN?

SURE AND I THINK THAT POINTS TO THE LARGER ISSUE OF HOW THE PARTIES AND THE CANDIDATES ARE TRYING TO FRAME THE ELECTION HERE. IT STRIKES ME PRETTY MUCH FROM THE TOP OF THE BALLOT DOWN WHETHER REPUBLICANS ARE PUSHING IS PARTY IDENTIFICATION AND CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES IDEOLOGY BUT THE DEMOCRATS FROM THE TOP DOWN ARE PUSHING PERSONALITY, CONNECTIONS WITH THE ARKANSAS ELECTORATE AND THE IRONY HERE IF CONSERVATISM IS A CONNECTION WITH TRADITION IN THE PAST IT'S THE DEMOCRATS WHO ARE HOLDING TO THE TRADITIONAL FOLKLORES OF ARKANSAS POLITICS AND IT'S THE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE PUSHING THE NEW NATIONAL IDEA OF HOW CAMPAIGNS ARE BEING RUN.

IT'S INTERESTING. ASA HAS A GREAT CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL ABOUT FARM LIFE RIGHT NOW, SO IT WAS SORT OF AN IONY THERE AND UNEXPECTED THAT HE IF YOU MEANELLED THE QUESTION.

IF YOU'RE NOT A MEMBER HE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS AND IF YOU'RE RECEIVING THEM YOU WOULD KNOW IF YOU THINK THAT ORGANIZATION HAS AN IMPACT.

SO WE'VE HAD THAT SORT OF SIT DOWN QUASI DEBATE BETWEEN THOSE CANDIDATES. WE HAVE ANOTHER DEBATE ABOUT ANOTHER DEBATE OR SERIES OF DEBATES THAT ARE POSSIBLE FOR SENATE THAT MADE FOR INTERESTING BACK AND FORTH, NOT A LOT OF SUBSTANCE IN THE BACK AND FORTH ABOUT THE A DEBATE BUT MARK PRYOR AND TOM COTTON CERTAINLY TRIER TRYING TO CAUSE A SHOW AROUND A DEBATE THAT COULD HAPPEN.

FOR THE MOST PART TOM COTTON IS MAKING A SHOW OF THE DEBATE ISSUE. WE HAD A VIDEO ON TWITTER AND GOING VIRAL OF MARK PRYOR WALKING AWAY FROM REPORTERS ASKING ABOUT A DEBATE. THEY FOLLOWED HIM INTO A ELEVATOR ASKING HIM AND AWKWARD AND CLEAR THEY DIDN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT BUT THEY AGREED TO TWO DEBATES AT DIFFERENT TIMES AND PLACES AND TO SAY NEITHER WILL AGREE ISN'T TRUTHFUL FROM EITHER CAMPAIGN. THEY BOTH SEEM WILLING, BUT THE QUESTION IS THE CONFINES AND THE SUBJECTS AND THE MEDIUM ITSELF.

WHAT DO THEY PREFER.

I SAID A MOMENT AGO ABOUT TRADITION. WHAT PRYOR SEEMS TO EMBRACE IS A STRUCTURED DEBATE AND WHETHER A MODERATOR AND QUESTIONNAIRES AND EACH CANDIDATE GETS A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO THE QUESTIONS IN TURN. WHAT COTTON SEEMS TO ENVISION IS A MUCH MORE DIRECT CONFRONTATION BETWEEN THE CANDIDATES WITHOUT THE INTERMEDIARIES OF THE MODERATORS AND THE QUESTIONNAIRES.

AND THAT IS QUESTIONING BECAUSE WE TALKED ABOUT AND TOM COTTON MENTIONED THIS HE'S A WARM PERSON. I THINK HE MIGHT WANT TO SHOW HIS PERSONALITY IN SOME WAY.

YEAH. I THINK THERE IS A DESIRE ON HIS PART TO CONNECT ON A MORE PERSONAL LEVEL. I THINK THERE'S ALSO A DESIRE ON HIS PART TO SHOW THAT HE HAS COMMAND OF THE ISSUES TOO, AND THAT HE CAN REMAIN DISCIPLINED IN A DEBATE ENVIRONMENT, SO I THINK HE BELIEVES HE HAS A LOT MORE TO WIN THEN.

I WOULD SAY THE THING ABOUT THIS -- THE DEBATE OVER A DEBATE THEY'RE TRYING TO BE IN A FORM THEY CAN TALK TO THE PUBLIC BUT BOTH CAMPAIGNS ARE RESTRICTIVE WHAT THEY'RE RELEASING AND CONTROLLING THE MESSAGE SO IT'S INTERESTING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THAT.

ONE LAST THING THERE WAS A STUDY RELEASED ON POVERTY IN ARKANSAS THIS WEEK WHICH FOUND SOME GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS, MOSTLY BAD NEWS IN THAT REPORT FOR ARKANSAS RELATED TO POVERTY AND CHILDREN IN ARKANSAS.

RIGHT. THEY HAVE BEEN DOING THIS REPORT FOR 25 YEARS. IT'S NOT A FLASH IN THE PLAN KIND OF REPORT. THEY TAKE IT VERY SERIOUSLY. ARKANSAS' LEVEL WAS 25% AND NOW IT'S 29% SO IT'S A LITTLE BIT OFUP TICK BUT THERE IS A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN THAT HAS HEALTH INSURANCE THAT LIVE IN POVERTY AND THE RICE DEPOT AND THE SHELFS ARE BARE AND CAN'T PROVIDE STIP STAPLES LIKE CANNED FRUIT AND IT'S WHETHER THE NEEDS ARE ADDRESSED THROUGH SOCIAL WELFARE OR CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS AND IN THE FOOD DEPARTMENT FOOD STAMPS WERE CUT BARE AND ON THE OTHER HAND THEY HAVE MORE HEALTH CARE EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE MORE POOR CHILDREN.

AND WHEN THIS STUDY WAS DEVELOPED THE DATA WAS DEVELOPED SEVERAL YEARS AGO SO WHAT WE'RE SEEING IS A FUNCTION OF THE ARKANSAS INITIATIVE SPONSORED BY GOVERNOR HUCKABEE AND ONE WOULD ASSUME WITHOUT THE DATA APPEARING CLEARLY THAT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WOULD FURTHER THE CAUSE FOR HEALTH CARE OF CHILDREN OF ARKANSAS.

IT'S A TOUGH TIME FOR FOOD STAMP AND OTHER SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

IT IS AND IT'S TOUGH ONGOING FOR THE WORKING POOR IN THE STATE. WE CAN SAY THERE IS GOOD NEWS AND CERTAINLY MORE KIDS HAVING HEALTH CARE IS OUTSTANDING NEWS BUT ONE IN THREE CHILDREN IN THE STATE LIVE IN POVERTY. THAT'S CERTAINLY SOMETHING THAT OUR LEGISLATORS AND OTHERS NEED TO KEEP IN MIND.

ALL RIGHT. WITH THAT WE WILL LEAVE IT AT THAT. THANKS FOR JOINING US. WE WILL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.

AETN.org > Programs > Arkansas Week > Arkansas Week July 25, 2014