Wednesday, April 10, 2013

HB1143 Even the 'Good' Ones are Covering for the Bad Ones

Before I get to the actual bill, I want to make a point about the way it is being pushed through. Just yesterday I was chastised by a house member, let's call him "Representative X" for now, for down-talking the bill because "I did not have all the facts". He said he knew this because they themselves were still gathering facts. Meanwhile, in the same hour, the House Committee on Health gave the bill a "Do Pass" recommendation on a voice vote.

 That's right they could not even find two members of that committee who wanted a roll call vote so that the voters could know who to thank for this coming monstrosity. Even the "good" ones are covering for the bad ones, just like Representative X was doing. That is one of the terrible things about political parties and party spirit. All too often they protect each other more than they protect their constituents. That's just one reason why I think the state legislature should all be elected as Independents backed by local grassroots groups in their area instead of running on a party ticket. I will go further and say that until you the grassroots are willing to do that, you will not get your government back. They will always have divided loyalties.

 The final house vote on this is going to be tomorrow. What Representative X and his ilk do is serve as enablers. They may not vote for the bill themselves, but that is OK because once the bill got out of that committee, their vote is not necessary. It will pass. Their job was not to vote for the bill itself, but rather tamp down all grassroots opposition by pretending it is too early to make a call on the bill even as their co-harts in crime are rushing the cursed thing through.

 If you want to be lied to, please let some Republican legislator tell you that there was nothing they could do to stop this bill from passing. Sure, once they threw away every process advantage, then they could not stop it. But they did not have to throw away every process advantage. Last session, there was a "pro-life" majority. That is, if you count the mostly Democrat politicians who were claiming to be pro-life but were not. A lot of pro-life bills were sponsored which could have embarrassed them if they voted against them, or they might have even held their noses and voted for them. In that case the bills would have passed two years ago. 

What the Democrats did was have the Speaker send all pro-life bills to a committee stacked with Democrats and Chaired by Linda Tyler. None of those pro-life bills ever saw the light of day. The Democrats on the national level went further than that when it came to using process to fight for what they want. The Obamacare Bill actually originated in the Senate. The House never voted on it. Pelosi and company used a tactic where they said it was so close to something that they did vote for that the bill was "deemed to have passed" without a vote ever being taken on that bill! Democrats don't hesitate to use every process they can to grow government. Republicans almost never use process to stop them, but then maybe the Democrats really want to grow government while Republicans don't really want to stop it, they just want to manage its growth more efficiently.

 I think the "deemed to have passed" tactic was over the line, over the bounds of honesty. But using the committee process is not out of bounds at all- it is part of the system. Some of those Republicans in the Health committee voted to send the Bill out with a "Do Pass" recommendation on the grounds that "the whole house should have a chance to vote on it." Then why have committees at all? The Democrats never hesitate to block bills they don't like.   The argument is particularly bogus because if a committee gets too abusive there is a process by which they can be by-passed.  A bill they stop can still be brought to the floor if a super-majority of the members votes to do so.  

The Republicans, and specifically House Speaker Davy Carter, also threw away much of their leverage to stop it (because again, they did not want to stop it) by sending the bill to expand Medicaid in a way agreeable to Obama to a committee with a majority of Democrats.  True it was chaired by a Republican, but he was the ram rod for the bill.   Since the program is to be administered by our Department of Health and Human Services, there was just as good a case that the bill should go through the State Agencies Committee.  That Committee has a solid Republican majority.  They could have stopped any bill to expand Medicaid, instead they made that project their own.

Oh, and just in case any of them try to tell you that "no one could have seen this coming", here is a link to an article I wrote in November of last year, right around the time Carter was elected Speaker, where I and my friends had already "seen this coming" and I tell you one of the keys to watch would be what committee any Medicaid expansion bill would be sent to, Health or State Agencies.  If the Republicans who got Carter in did not think of this too, and did not get a commitment out of Carter on the biggest issue of the coming session, then it was only because they did not really want to stop it bad enough.

As an aside, Burris and others deny this bill is expanding Medicaid.  They call it the "private option."  They are full of baloney.   This program is administered by the state, under Medicaid guidelines, and funded by public money.   There is little "private" about it, unless you count crony capitalism as private.    Just look at the bill, at the top of page five.  If it is not Medicaid, then why does the state need to "submit Medicaid state plan amendments" and waivers in order to implement the program?  

What they are changing is that the Medicaid money, instead of going directly to providers, passes to insurance companies first and then they pay the providers.  It is still Medicaid and they can only do what the Obama administration will let them do under Medicaid.    In this video Rep. Nate Bell, at minute 32, asks Burris why the 100%-130% of poverty level group is still "under Medicaid guidelines instead of the exchange guidelines that apply to the higher income groups.  Burris does not correct him and dispute his claim that they fall under Medicaid guidelines.   That's because this program is an expansion of Medicaid, even though he said earlier that "nothing could be further from the truth."

So Carter could have sent it to State Agencies.  But of course, if Carter had done that, then they would have been in position to successfully stop the growth of government, something Republicans don't seem to actually favor, except during primary season.   They would have lost a chance to do what they really want to do when actually legislating- grow government more efficiently.


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