February 28th, 2014
Inspired by Medicaid expansion: Promises on future costs don’t ring true (VA House Speaker William Howell and VA House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, TimesDispatch.com 2/02/14), Obamacare politics flare in Richmond (Laura Vozzella, Washington Post 2/24/14 page A1), and tonight’s Daily Show.“We’re skeptical of any promises on the future costs of Medicaid expansion. We do not think the federal government will be able to keep its promise to pay the bill and we do not think long-term projections of cost savings will pan out… The federal government is $17 trillion in debt and dealing with massive deficits every year. It cannot afford to write a blank check for Medicaid expansion. Eventually, the costs for Medicaid expansion will fall to Virginia taxpayers.” – VA House Speaker William Howell and VA House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (both Republicans) “With $17 trillion in debt at the federal level…we can’t afford it.” – Ashley Landess of the South Carolina Policy Council last night on the Daily Show
My company gave me a raise yesterday,
But I was afraid they couldn’t afford to pay.
And so, I turned that raise down
And watched my salary go back down.
I know, it sounds funny:
My family really needed the money.
Yeah, we needed that salary boost
That the new management introduced.
And though we sure could’ve used it,
I went ahead and refused it.
It was actually my coworker Jim-Bob’s plan
As a way to get back at “The Man.”
It seemed to make a lot more sense
Before it started costing me actual dollars and cents.
I think I understood when Jim-Bob explained it before,
But I’m not sure I understand it anymore.
I also don’t really understand
Why Jim-Bob the new management can’t stand.
They’ve got the company in much better financial condition
Than Jim-Bob’s brother did before he left to work for our competition.
It’s also strange that Jim-Bob took all the big raises his brother distributed,
Though their excessiveness to the company’s near bankruptcy greatly contributed.
(I wasn’t offered any of those raises back then,
Just Jim-Bob and his brother, who got raises again and again.)
Strange that even though the new raises are fully funded,
Jim-Bob insists they must to the company be refunded.
I don’t want to be like Bill, who took the money and got hit with a nasty personal attack.
And so, I’m giving that hard-earned raise money back.
Turning the raise down helps me, even if I don’t understand why.
After all: why would Jim-Bob lie?
Here’s Ashley Landess last night on the Daily Show making a similar argument, along with several other bad ones. As she later points out “low income families who are really struggling are gonna be hard-pressed to understand the nuances” of why they shouldn’t be allowed to have healthcare that the federal government has already paid for but which their GOP-led states are rejecting.
“We’re afraid the federal government won’t be able to afford it in the long term” has been one of the chief excuses for refusing Medicaid expansion that VA and other state Republicans have resorted to. That has got to be one of the stupidest reasons ever, like turning down a raise because you’re afraid that at some point in the future, your company won’t be able to afford it. Even if that were true (which it’s not—the Medicaid expansion is fully funded, as opposed to George Bush’s Medicare expansion, which wasn’t funded at all), it’d make no sense to refuse Medicaid expansion funds for this reason. Instead, it’d make more sense to take the money now, provide healthcare to the 400,000 Virginians you’re keeping from getting healthcare (and the 4.4 million more being refused healthcare in other GOP states), and then cancel the expansion if and when the federal funds dried up.
Second, if your goal is to deny your state’s citizens from getting federal funds that you don’t think the federal government can afford, why not close down federally-funded military bases? Why not cancel the whole Medicaid program? Why not deny Social Security payments?
This “they can’t afford it” argument just doesn’t make sense. Republicans should stop making it. If they don’t, journalists and TV pundits should stop letting them get away with it.