Republican State Legislators Hold the Line On Obamacare
***************UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE *****************
OK, so it looks like I was wrong about being wrong. The Republicans in the legislature DID get taken, and it DID turn out the way I warned them it would. My original reason I thought I was wrong, was that they put out a press release crowing about how they stopped the exchange. Well, it turns out they have done no such thing. I am leaving this article up as proof that I do admit it when I think I am wrong, and I do compliment the Republican legislators when I think they get it right. Disregard the content of this article otherwise.
**************************************************I don't hesitate to rebuke elected officials from the Republican party who betray the people who elected them, so I would be unfair of me to fail to make mention of a shining example of Republican legislators who successfully accomplished the will of the voters despite pressure and opportunities to cave.
I am talking about whether or not Arkansas would set up a "state exchange" for Obamacare in Arkansas. It now appears that those efforts are dead. I have to admit, when Arkansas Republicans voted to pass the funding bill for the state's insurance department with only a few restrictions on the ability to go forward setting up the exchange, I expressed that they had been "taken." Well, it turns out they threaded the needle between funding a state agency and resisting Obamacare pretty well.
Oh, Beebe and Bradford tried to "take" them all right. They tried to go ahead and find ways to proceed with the exchange, but they had a problem: people hate the idea. Even though, when you look at the language of what passed, the Democrats could have steam-rolled the Republicans and set up the exchanges without their approval, the political result of doing that would have been toxic. So much so that Beebe and Bradford were "stoneally challenged" on the issue.
It helped that the courts are not going along with Obamacare. If Beebe and the Democrats had pushed ahead without "cover" it would have assured that the state house will flip to the Republicans in next year's elections. That might happen anyway because of both the national Democratic party and because population changes were so favorable to Republicans that not even Beebe's redistricting shenanigans could make the new lines as good for Democrats as the old ones were.
Though Beebe and Bradford tried everything the could to lure some Republicans into giving some sort of "permission" to go ahead with the exchange, the Republicans stayed disciplined and did not take the bait. There was no way the state's Democrats wanted this one hung on them. If they could not find at least a few Republican stooges to point to as part of a claim that it was "bipartisan" then they were not going to push it.
That left the left grousing that Arkansas would "lose money" by not pursuing "grants" to set up the exchanges and that we would just wind up with the feds doing it over us anyway. That's one of the things I like best about this story. It's way past time legislators learned to say "no" to "free money" from the Federal Government. We should probably say "no" to a lot more of it. The people who design these incentives are not dumb, just unwise, and evil. They know how to leverage a little bit of upfront money or co-payments into permanent, massive, and costly new bureaucratic agencies to force on the population things they don't want.
We need to have a policy of "rational de-linkage" on some of these federal incentives. Don't take the money! Chasing federal dollars, especially dollars that require you to spend more dollars and give up more control, is a fool's policy going forward. Relying on the most indebted entity in human history for funding is probably not a good long-range business plan. Let's hope this is the first step in one that makes more sense.