Monday, December 29, 2014

Dismang's Tungsten Balloon on Obamacare

Senator Jonathan Dismang is the President Pro Tem elect of the Arkansas State Senate.  He is one of the architects of the dishonestly-named "private" option - Arkansas version of Obamacare in which the Medicaid money passes through the hands of GOP-friendly special interests on its way to providing welfare to able-bodied adults in the form of heavily subsidized health insurance.   It is all done with borrowed federal money until 2017, at which point Arkansas has to start chipping in.  The money to pay for all of these promises does not exist.  It only looks like a "good deal" now because for the first few years the feds are passing all of the bills for it to the next generation.

Most Arkansas Republican legislators rewarded their base who worked so hard to get them re-elected by immediately confirming pro-Obamacare Dismang as Pro Tem.  That was sarcasm in case you missed it, and more on that sorry episode can be found here.  For several elections now, the people of Arkansas have voted against candidates who supported the state's continued entanglement with Obamacare.  But while the citizens are on one side, the lobbyists are on the other.  The special interests want the "free" (i.e. stolen from the next generation) money to continue flowing.  So no matter how many Republicans who claim that they want to end the "private" option version of Obamacare that people vote in, pro-Obamacare guys like Dismang wind up in charge and the "private" option keeps getting re-authorized.

A new session is about to start with an even larger crop of candidates elected on a platform of ditching the "private" option.   At some point, continuing to fund the private option when it only takes 25% + 1 vote of the legislature to stop it just gets downright embarrassing.  Everyone who is not a willing dupe or brain dead will at last figure out that those who want a limited-government conservative party will have to start one themselves.  Voters don't want the "private" option, Republican County Chairmen don't want the "private" option, but even though a small minority of the legislature could block it at any time it just keeps getting authorized and funded.  If they don't stop it this time then it just becomes too obvious that voters don't control that party, nor do county chairman control it- they only get their good names tarnish and their efforts toward public service wasted when it only answers to special interests or party headquarters in Washington.

So what is needed, from the view of the political class on the Republican side, is some way to give cover to their set course of blowing off their own grassroots, local chairman, and voters generally. Five days ago, while normal people were busy with Christmas, Dismang floated his trial balloon, no doubt hoping that the failure of the people to take notice and be outraged would provide the political cover he needed.  This idea would empower him to lean on people elected on a platform of stopping the "private option" to break their word to their constituents and vote to fund it anyway.

What he suggested was that adding a requirement that those able bodies adults receiving "free" (paid for by your kids since it is financed largely by debt) health insurance under the "private" option be required to either work or be "actively seeking" work.   This appears to be what he considers "dramatically" altering his version of Obamacare.

What an intense insult to our intelligence this farce of a proposal is. I think most of us who have worked at large employers saw what happened when unemployment benefits got stretched to 99 weeks.  Even more people came in and wasted HR's time by "applying" for jobs that they had no intention of taking if offered.  I remember one place I worked at some years ago that these people would show up for the "application" dressed in filthy rags and obviously high just to make sure they did not get hired, but by golly they met the requirement of "actively seeking" work!  If one did get hired by mistake, they would not show up for work.

Businesses started retaliating by moving to online-only applications, or even saying you could not apply for a job with them unless you were already working!   They started saving the serious applications and not taking any new ones.  FEDGOV responded with their usual ham-fistedness- telling employers they could not keep applications more than a short period of time so that HR would have to take "applications" from more deadbeats, wasting everyone in the private sector's time but keeping that government paperwork flowing smoothly.

No, adding such a requirement to Obamacare does not "dramatically" change the "private" option.  Voting for a "private" option with a work or seek work requirement is not voting for anything meaningfully different than voting for the original "private" option.  Dimang may be trying to float the idea that it is so that those who told you they would vote against the "private" option can vote for it anyway and then come home and tell you that they did not vote to fund the old private option they campaigned against, they voted to fund something "dramatically" different because it added the "work or seek work" requirement.  If any politician insults your intelligence by looking you in the eye and telling you this I hope that you will have the moral courage to tell them to their faces that they are liars.  I know I will.

At some point, the people we elect simply must do what they said they would do when they ran.  They must quit acting shocked and offended when we expect them to do exactly what they said they would do when they ran.  When they lie to our faces, they have no right whatsoever to expect us to speak of them as anything but liars.   If they do not wish to be called liars then they should stop lying.  It really is that simple.

My expectation is that they will fund the private option, they will continue to brazenly ignore the voters and even their own local party folks. Then they will aggravate this profound multi-year display of disrespect by giving some DOA, fundamentally dishonest excuse like the one I outlined above.  They will do this for as long as you the voter will accept it and continue to hold your nose and vote for them.  In that sense, they don't deserve all of the blame for lying to you, some of you deserve part of the blame for allowing yourself to continually be lied to and disrespected while still supporting their party in general and voting for them in particular.

I suggest we start our own grassroots groups to locally elect independents to the state legislature, and for county offices.   This experiment we have been trying where we outsource the job of representing our interests to this DC based organization whose candidates have been lying to us so often is a complete failure.   We should revert to self-government.  Is that more work?  Sure, but freedom is worth it, and we are not going to stay free any other way.


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