Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Medicaid Expansion

By JC

Liz recently wrote about the squabbling inside the dem party about how best to expand Medicaid:

“Failure is often more instructive than success.”

While he has a point, I think that folks need to remember the battle over the Healthy Kids Initiative in 2008-2009.

Here’s the quick down and dirty: in 2008, Healthy Montana Initiative, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit ran a ballot initiative campaign to expand access to health care via CHIP and Medicaid for kids in low income families. The campaign was hugely successful and won at the state polls with 70% of voters supporting it. Kids… gotta love ‘em, even it they comes from poor families.

Now the problem with initiatives in Montana is that while they can set up new programs and revenue streams, they can’t appropriate funds. So the initiative had to go the the 2009 Montana Legislature for an appropriation. That Legislature had a deadlocked 50-50 House, and Republicans controlled the Senate 27-23.

The appropriation for the initiative was rolled into HB2, the main funding instrument for the state. So, through a very rancorous session, with the House supporting the Initiative funding, and the Senate trying to gut it at every step of the way, the bill eventually passed with the appropriation intact and the CHIP and Medicaid expansion for poor kids was funded.

A newsletter from the MHRN characterized the legislative battle thusly:

“What was not foreseen was a partisan debacle where many Republicans put anti-government ideology ahead of the health of Montana communities and the clear will of the voters who elected them.

In a stunning disregard for the democratic initiative process, Republicans threatened funding for the Plan at every turn. A majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate stated publicly and repeatedly that voters did not know what they were voting for and/or the Plan was a step towards ‘socialism.’ They threatened to withhold funding for the program.”

So we see that even when a solid majority of Montana voters give the Legislature a mandate to do something, that mandate goes by the wayside when politickin’ and legislatin’ season arrives. That Legislature was only mildly republican, with the words “tea party republican” yet to be coined during the aftermath of the Obama election, and the Baucus-care debacle.

James Conner up at Flathead Memo had an astute comment about the “political weakness” of Montana Democrats :

“Initiative 155, the “Healthy Montana Kids Plan Act,” was approved by almost 70 percent of Montana’s voters last fall, a fact to which I’ve pointed previously. That victory, however, was not, as some I-155 supporters and Democrats suppose, a sign of strength. Instead, it was a confirmation of political weakness.

I-155’s supporters took the issue to the ballot because they could not muster the votes to move the measure through the 2007 session of the legislature. It was the same strategy employed in 2006, when, after an attempt to increase Montana’s minimum wage failed in the 2005 legislative session, supporters of the long overdue increase in Montana’s minimum wage took the matters directly to the voters. As would occur two years later with I-155, the measure was approved overwhelmingly, receiving 72.7 percent of the vote.

So, given the voters’ support for I-151 & I-155, how can those electoral victories be considered confirmations of weakness?

It’s simple. Democrats failed to gain control of the legislature, which is where health care and minimum wage legislation should be considered and approved. In 2006, Democrats lost the house by a single vote and won the senate by a single vote. In 2008, the result was even worse. The house was split 50-50, which meant a Democratic speaker — but Republicans gained control of the senate by four votes. And this happened despite legislative districts that were legally gerrymandered to pack as many Republicans into as few districts as possible in an attempt to secure an advantage for Democrats.

Why? Because having I-151 & I-155 on the ballot spared voters who agreed with the initiatives but otherwise leaned Republican the necessity of choosing between a Republican legislative candidate who opposed expanding health insurance for children or increasing the minimum wage and a Democratic candidate who supported CHIP and increasing the minimum wage.”

Interesting how history is repeating itself, and how instructive success can be. Except the problem today is that the Montana Legislature is far more skewed towards tea party republicans. The 2013 legislature had republicans controlling the House 61-39, and the Senate 29-21. Do Montana dems really think they can pull off an appropriation in a similarly comprised Legislature for a Medicaid expansion for 70,000 poor Montanans? When the tea party has an ideological aversion to anything government-related (do they hate anything more than Obamacare, and it’s affiliated Medicaid expansion)?

I’m sure that many dems would like to think they’ll have a stronger presence in the 2015 Legislature (and maybe they’ll pick up a few seats) — but strong enough to battle for a Medicaid expansion appropriation? Especially when the debate will most likely be rolled into HB2 and left for the closing days of the Legislature to approve?

At that point, parts of the bill get jettisoned like ballast in a ship going down. The Medicaid expansion carries 10  times the funding level of the CHIP expansion, and it’s for “poor” people  (“the downtrodden… gotta hate on ‘em”). It easily could be the first thing to go in a battle to get HB2 approved, irregardless of the level of public support shown in the Initiative process.

So who is pushing the new Healthy Montana Initiative? It’s the same group that pushed through the Healthy Kids Initiative in 2008,  initially funded this year by SEIU. So they’ve got a good track record, but have their work cut out for them. Not to mention that the tea party hates anything remotely associated with the SEIU… or any other union, for that matter.

But can dems still get 70% voter support for an initiative? Anything much less would garner a big yawn from republican appropriation bill authors. Want to try an appropriation with a smaller majority, say 60%, or a razor-thin 51% victory?

Ok, so that’s one path that is already underway.

But would you rather spend the money — from pushing an initiative and lobbying for its victory, and lobbying the 2015 Legislature — on lobbying during a single issue, focused special session? Can dems wangle Medicaid expansion into a wedge issue via a special session that may be used to elect Democrat legislators instead?

The question then becomes, is the strategy of leaving the appropriation of the Healthy Montana Initiative up to the 2015 Legislature a good thing? Which is where we need to weigh this with the possibility of the Governor calling a special session to tackle Medicaid expansion (he’s been quiet about it lately, since hinting about it at a special session). Governor Bullock had this to say after the 2013 Legislature:

“Governor Steve Bullock (D), a strong supporter of Medicaid expansion, says this was the biggest failure of the session.

“Let me be clear, we will reform healthcare in Montana. We will do it with or without the Legislature’s help,” Bullock said on the last day of the legislative session.

Bullock has hinted that he may call the Legislature back to a special session to address healthcare reform.”

What benefits does a special session have? Well, it takes the Medicaid expansion issue out of the insanity of an end-of-legislature appropriations process. It focuses the state and Legislature on a single issue, and its benefits: 70,000 people covered sooner than later, and a lot of side economic benefits from the billion dollar infusion of federal money into the state.

Dick Barrett, state senator from Missoula does a great job of tearing apart right-wing fear-mongering over Medicaid expansion:

“If you’re like me, you’ve probably found the relentless conservative Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion more than a little mystifying. After all, if here in Montana we agreed to Medicaid expansion under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, we would receive Federal funding that would create thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new income. It would reduce hospital charges and private health insurance costs. And most important of all, it would provide good health insurance to 70,000 low income Montanans who now go uncovered. What’s not to like? How could legislators of sound mind and with the state’s best interests at heart turn down this opportunity? Anybody out there got an answer?

Well, yes! [Republican state] Senator Fred Thomas does.

But unfortunately, it makes no sense. Zero. Zilch. Nada.”

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

So we have a choice: special session or Initiative? I love the Initiative process in Montana, but given the way it succeeded in 2008/9, I have to wonder if the 2015 Legislature can get the stars lined up to push an appropriation through. Likewise, if Governor Bullock could be pressured to call a special session, would Medicaid Expansion supporters (and there are plenty in the ranks of republican voters) be able to force recalcitrant republicans to vote for, and appropriate the funds needed to implement a Medicaid expansion sooner than later?

And lastly, given Conner’s observations, is it in Montana dem’s political interests to tie republican performance on a Medicaid expansion in a special session to their electoral outcome (and 2015 Legislature balance)? Conner, again:

“Funding requires a majority in the legislature — and Democrats, partly because they put the issue on the ballot, instead of using it as a wedge issue in legislative elections, do not have the votes.

Democratic strategists and activists need to remember how they shot themselves in the foot with initiatives 151 and 155 before they start circulating petitions for an initiative regulating the payday loan industry in Montana.”

My sense is that a special session gives the opportunity for rational arguments to be put forth for the Medicaid expansion outside of the madness of a regular session appropriation battle. And it gives dems an issue to run against the tea party. But I respect the Initiative folks’ for doing the next best thing, outside of the Gov calling a special session. I just don’t see the political strategy for getting an appropriation through the 2015 Legislature. Answer me that question — outside of just saying that appealing to republicans with a rational argument during regular session appropriations wars will do it — and I’d gladly swing my support whole-scale behind an initiative.

But that “unforeseen debacle” that the MHRN referred above will come back to haunt any who try to push a Medicaid expansion appropriation through the 2015 Legislature, and dems who think they will take a majority of both chambers to push the appropriation down republican throats are hinging their success on a pipe dream.

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  1. The comments describe the end-of-session in Montana or most states precisely. It’s a frantic mob, with lobbyists cracking their money whips to get an ever larger piece of the pie for their special interests.

  2. lizard19

    thank you so much for this post, JC, because you’ve provided insight about the process that isn’t tied to a campaign.

    it’s extremely difficult to disentangle the ballot initiative vs. special session distinction from the primary fight between Bohlinger and Walsh, and that makes it quite challenging to discern what approach may actually have a chance at extending medicaid coverage for tens of thousands of Montanans.

    unfortunately, I don’t think either Democrat campaign actually gives a shit about helping poor people, because if they did they wouldn’t be undermining the hopes and efforts of people in this state who see and suffer the consequences of not extending a chance at coverage.

    • JC

      You’re welcome liz! When dealing with life and death issues, like access to meaningful healthcare for poor folks, i don’t think there’s anything to be gained by making this about the current political campaigns. This isn’t about horse races, it’s about how to create a little more equity in our society.

  3. Meaty post, I’ll have to come back and read more of it later.

    I guess my question is, why do Montana republicans hate kids? And poor people? And maybe we should even just throw dogs in there while we’re at it.

    Those aren’t the kind of platforms you want running on, and that’s not the kind of soundbites you want your opponents running against you.

    But that’s what I’d do. I’d take every opportunity to pound it home that republicans don’t care about you.

    -They don’t care about your home if you’re not a homeowner and they don’t care about how much money you’ve got in the bank unless your a business owner.

    -They don’t care about how sick you are unless they have to pay for it, and they don’t care about your kids unless they’ve got to worry about the germs they might be spreading in those darn non-charter schools.

    But when forced to leave the gated communities how long can you stay in your armored SUVs and how long will that climate control keep that air fresh?

    Senseless policies that pull down half while trying to uplift the other half will only cause the whole damn thing to topple and fall.

    I surely hope we can get some clear heads in the legislature that aren’t afraid of debate, but aren’t afraid of bucking party lines and angering a few constituents down the road in order to do what’s right for the majority of the people living here.

    • lizard19

      does your disdain for voting extend to local elections?

      • Pretty much – I find getting decent news on candidates even more difficult than with a national race.

        I don’t know, I pretty much just check the Missoulian and IR for local news, and then of course you’ve got your 10 article limit. What, pay for online content? Gee Wiz, who do you think I am, Errol Flynn?

        • JC

          For the Lee papers, just hit the stop button on your browser right after the text loads, and before the counter javascript loads. Then you can read as much as you want.

          For voting records on candidates, you can always check our local Project Vote Smart.

          • Steve W

            Good tip on Lee Papers and great piece on the Montana politics of achieving Medicaid expansion.

            It makes the most sense to me to have a special session and, failing success there, to then take it to the voters. Leave no stone unturned. The combination of effort might be what it takes to get a large enough passage to move some legislators in 2015.

            And you are correct that the focus on a special session would be extremely useful perhaps in educating both legislators and voters about the issues. And if there is enough response and demand, maybe we could get some people to go along and get it passed.

            If not, an initiative and 2015.

            Is there any reason it has to be an either/or? A better strategy might be lets do both if need be.

    • I don’t think that Republicans necessarily hate kids in general.

      They hate spending money on other people’s kids, especially poor and minority kids.

      Think of it as a kinder, gentler version of Hitler’s T-4 program that was intended to eliminate “useless eaters.” and those living “burdensome lives.”

      It’s eugenics. That’s all. Move along. Nothing to see here.

  4. I’m not sure I agree with the logic of the special session allowing for a focus on expansion. If the appropriation is part of the budget, it can be logrolled into law, in exchange for something the GOP wants. If it’s in a special session, Democrats have really nothing to offer Republicans in exchange for voting yes on legislation to which they are fiercely opposed. As for intelligent or rational debate -I’m not a legislative expert, but why would the GOP even let the thing out of committee?

    • Well that’s the thing. We’ve got to keep playing this game of politics where the only way to get controversial legislation through is to attach it to spending bills.

      It seems that was the only way to get Healthy Kids passed, so then you’ve got to start figuring out if the ends justify the means. And when you start doing stuff like this how can you not expect the other side to do the same?

      It’s just unfortunate that there’s ‘letting something die in committee’ on one side and ‘this gets funded or nothing does’ on the other side. That road only leads to ruin.

    • JC

      What wet dream you think republicans would trade for a Medicaid expansion appropriation?

      And what would you be willing to give them for an appropriation?

      Inquiring minds and all that…

      • Resource expansion. Daines is already shuffling his feet over supporting that wilderness bill Baucus is keen on.

        Cover of Time magazine puts it pretty good this week: we’ve got a pest problem (deer) and it’s mainly because we’ve got so much forest land. Of course anyone watching the news in the summer knows that.

        Hey, I think we should be focusing more on Montana’s future and not on it’s past and our resources are our future. People will love coming to clear skies and clean rivers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have sensible management. And taking things like that off that table just tells the other side you’d rather go home like a spoiled child. That closes doors, it’s much better to open them.

        Mainly with republicans you just have to play into their fears that the government is the boogeyman and let them run with that attitude. The best way to do that is to make no new laws. That’s why I can’t understand republicans – they say government is so bad but then when they get to Helena all they can do is make more laws. Why not get rid of some that aren’t working? That’s an accomplishment to bring back to main street.

        A lot of new laws require new spending, but if you convince enough people to get rid of old and redundant laws you might save money or allow new ways for it to be created.

        And of course there’s the national social issues that you can just hand on a plate to republicans at the state level. These are dead issues like immigration, abortion, gay marriage, and the like. Let them pass those laws in Montana, for we all know that at the national level all those state laws will eventually be overturned.

        And I think even before that overturning by the courts happens you’ll see republicans have to switch themselves. You see this on immigration, as it’s awfully hard to get someone to vote for you when you say how much you hate them.

      • Big Swede

        I got a reasonable “wet dream trade”. Drug test Medicare recipients.

        If you’re abusing, medicare you’re losing.

        I mean the kid that collects the shopping carts at Home Depot has to pee in a bottle once in a while.

        • JC

          Hell, half of the grammas and grandpas out there will test positive for something on a drug test, given all of the benzos and pain pills and medical marijuana doctors are prescribing these days.

          You really want your mom/gramma to have to pee in a cup to get medicare? Why stop there? How about to get a social security check, too? Maybe piss test our legislators to get their paycheck and benefits. Student loans? Hell, let’s just piss test everybody, because everybody eventually gets some kind of government aid — even you. Why single out any one class? Piss test you before you get your farm assistance, or you get on the interstate to drive to billings…

          Really… do those who believe in limited government actually believe there is anything to be gained by further involving the government in our personal lives? And here I thought you had a libertarian bent. Guess I was wrong.

          • Steve W

            Schwede is on the program, JC. He follows the program.

            How’s Newt doin’?

          • Big Swede

            Medicaid not Medicare. Hell, if you made to the backside of the sixties you deserve the pain killers.

            Limited govt. or not the majority is with me on this one, especially if you lump medicaid in with all welfare benefits.

            http://today.yougov.com/news/2013/12/03/78-of-Americans-want-Congress/

            Oh, and lets drug test congress too.

            • JC

              Well, a quarter of all Medicare recipients are on Medicaid. As are most disabled folks and a lot of kids. Want them to get piss tested too? Maybe we should just profile Medicaid recipients and piss test the ones that don’t pass muster, eh?

              And you still haven’t answered my question about you being libertarian enough to get the government out of your (and everybody else’s) piss.

              Are you only selectively for big government, and big brother watching over its subjects?

              • Big Swede

                Little late on the libertarian rant. Your favorite adm. is listening to all your communications.

                If thousands if not millions nationally goes for the more deserving, so be it. Utah saved $350K the first year.

                http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765637435/Utah-officials-say-welfare-drug-tests-save-money.html

        • The Douchebagger brigade in the Florida legislature passed drug tests for TANF (child welfare) recipients. Only about 1% failed. I can’t imagine that the reactionaries would have done nearly that well if they were tested, either for drugs or I.Q.’s

          • Big Swede

            Yeah but how many gave up welfare rather than take the test?

      • Steve W

        Back just before the ACA was delivered by cesarean section I suggested we (we being “the left”) offer to trade the Repos Obama for a Single Payer Health Insurance System.

        I thought it could be a win win win situation. Obama could have resigned without prejudice and then ran again in 2012 and won as the Tommy Thompson of the USA.

        Joe Biden would have served out his term.

        We’d had a system. and the Repos would have gotten rid of Obama. At least for a while.

        Something for everyone. Compromise.

      • If there’s nothing we can give Republicans that will get them to agree to Medicaid expansion, what are the chances they’ll give it to us for free in a special session?

        The biggest difference between a special session now and a session after an initiative passes is that in a session now, Republicans can claim they are defending Montanans from something they don’t want. Get a real vote on the initiative, and Republicans are stuck openly defying the will of the people. They’re willing to do that on occasion, but they surely don’t like it.

        • JC

          You’re talking about a special session after the 2015 Legislature meets, if it doesn’t approve the funding? Look at the picture in terms of state revenue, what happens the longer you wait (look at Barrett’s numbers at the links in the post.

          Also, I don’t see the logic in having to do horse trading with the GOP for a medicaid expansion. Special sessions are called for single purposes, usually. If dems can’t sell this expansion to republicans as win-win-win (jobs, revenue, health coverage), when all the data is there, then why are we even trying?

          • JC, I think you’re giving the GOP too much credit – they don’t care that it’s a win-win-win, it’s a Democratic idea. No special session is needed – pass the initiative, then pass the appropriations in a regular session. The GOP then has to choose between openly defying voters or making some sort of deal where they expand medicaid in exchange for X. If we still have a surplus, X could be something like property tax relief. Or they can have Swede’s money-wasting drug tests. I just don’t see a mass conversion experience in the face of evidence happening to the Republican party, especially when it would mean admitting they were wrong earlier. A deal where they get something in return for letting the people have their expressed wishes, on t he other hand, may happen.

            But ultimately I agree with you that from an electoral perspective, D’s will likely benefit from putting R’s on the spot denying medicaid expansion within political memory of election day.

  5. A special session would be the fastest way to expand Medicaid. Unfortunately, no legislative minds have been changed, and a special session would accomplish nothing. Therefore, I oppose a special session.

    As I noted at Flathead Memo on 22 November, an initiative is not without risk. Nevertheless, the initiative is going forward and will be on the ballot. Passing the initiative won’t be enough, so I suggest that all of us work to pass the initiative and to elect a legislature more friendly to social insurance.

    • JC

      For those not familiar with James Conner’s Flathead Memo, here’s the link to the post he’s talking about. I should have linked to it in my post, and brought it into the discussion, but neglected to — sorry about that James.

      But honestly, I am more interested in the ideas you had in 2009, linking a clear position on the issue of expanding Medicaid in a special session to voter choice in the general for state legislators. I think strategically, a special session offers no downside. If the expansion doesn’t win there, at least the issue gets a fair and open debate that people can watch and draw their own conclusions from. And coupling the legislator’s position on the expansion with campaign stances can be used to sway the voting public.

      Couple that with an Initiative, and you can apply pressure twice. But as you note in your post I linked to, an initiative by itself carries some risk. If it is defeated by the big money machine, then it will be a long time for those poor people to ever get access to health insurance, or the care that would bring.

      I’m not one to gamble with people’s lives. I’d rather keep fighting a battle over and over — special session and regular legislative process — than be “hopeful.”

      “Kim Abbott, president of the Health Montana Initiative, said if Montanans pass the measure, she’s hopeful the Legislature will respect their wishes and approve the spending.”

      Hope does little to counteract bat-shit crazy.

      • JC and I disagree about the usefulness of a special session on Medicaid expansion. I believe it would be an exercise in futility that would underscore the dysfunction of our political system, and cause further erosion in faith in our ability to govern ourselves wisely. That in turn could depress turnout in 2014.

        Although the Medicaid initiative is not without risk, I believe it will pass. The health care community, hospitals especially, has a tremendous vested interest in expanding Medicaid, and will help underwrite the campaign. In fact, I think this will be a rare case in which the funding for a progressive initiative eclipses the funding against it.

        Would passing the initiative, preferably by a whopping margin, be enough to persuade a Republican controlled legislature to fund Medicaid expansion? No one knows. But passage might allow some Republicans to justify funding the program as an exercise in honoring the will of the voters. That might be enough to secure approval.

        I also believe that those who fund the initiative will also work to fund more reasonable Republican candidates for the legislature. In Kalispell, for example, Frank Garner, chief of security for the Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and a former, and highly regarded, police chief for Kalispell, has filed for HD-7 as a Republican. I’m certain he would vote to fund Medicaid expansion.

        As I noted in my posts that JC quoted, I prefer lawmaking in the legislature to lawmaking by initiative. Although an initiative can do much good, making law by initiative is always the product of political weakness. But in extraordinary times — and this is an extraordinary time — an initiative can mitigate the failures of a legislature.

        That’s why I’m fully behind the Medicaid expansion initiative, and just as fully behind efforts to send more progressive legislators to Helena. If enough legislative minds change that a bill expanding Medicaid can pass, I favor a special session. But I support a special session only if there is advance proof that a Medicaid expansion bill will pass. A special session in the absence of that guarantee would accomplish no good.

        • Correction. Garner has announced he’s running, and already has a campaign website, frankgarner.org.

        • Steve W

          Let me see if i understand you; You oppose a special session because if the legislature failed to pass Medicaid you believe it would hurt an initiative and it would hurt voter turnout for more progressive candidates (even within the GOP?)

          That’s interesting because I have the exact opposite view of the situation. I believe if a special session were held it would allow the majority who support the issue (we seem to agree that a majority do, at this point) to organize and move from this battle onto the initiative and then to 2015.

          I think if the special session didn’t get it passed that the narrative would be perfect for an initiative. We have a do nothing legislature and the people have to correct their lack of action.

          And of course you plan the special session to time up with an initiative.following. The announcement of the special session is in a way, an announcement of an emergency. the emergency is we are going to lose some very big bucks if the nutters drive us off the cliff and people sre going to get hurt who don’t have to.

          Or our Gov can take no risk and leave it up to the people.

          Talk about the road to cynicism, eh?

          • The failure of the 2013 legislature to expand Medicaid was the springboard to the initiative. We don’t need another springboard session; we just need to spring into high gear, get the initiative passed, and elect more progressive legislators.

            Our situation is not analogous to Harry Truman’s in 1948. He called Congress into session in July of that year. It met for two weeks and did nothing, hence his campaign against the Do Nothing Congress. The Miller Center has the story (http://millercenter.org/president/truman/essays/biography/3).

            I appreciate your point of view. I just don’t agree with it. I’ll leave it at that and let 4and20′s readers draw their own conclusions from the fine discussion JC started.

  6. Great post, It’s refreshing to see wonky nuts and bolts analysis bob to the surface in lake full of empty puffery.

  7. Billings Dad

    You guys are too funny on this one – first of all, let’s talk about the 800lb Gorilla in the room – OBAMACARE.

    Medicaid expansion IS Obamacare, and Montanans don’t want it.

    Obamacare is already starting it’s death-spiral, which means young and healthy people who are supposed to be paying the bill for it are not signing up, and neither is anybody else statistically, except in States where they decided to expand Medicaid and the people getting the handout are putting in for it.

    Today, the Federal Government will BORROW $2.7 Billion dollars just to keep functioning. They are broke, and luckily for us, our legislature knows that the Feds will be forced to renege on their funding pledges, and when they do, the Medicaid rolls will bankrupt States foolish enough to go along with it.

    Do not fear though – Our Dear Leader promised that EVERYBODY would be covered, and for those who can’t afford it health care will be free, families of 4 will save $2500 per year on health care costs, if you like your plan and your doctor you can keep them, etc.

    • JC

      Fortunately, you don’t speak for “Montanans” so I’ll just take your diatribe for what it is: a childish uninformed right-wing talking point rant… just a bunch of noise in the room, while people die on the streets because they are denied access to meaningful health care.

      And I’m sure somehow taxpayers are picking up some part of you or your family’s medical expenses or insurance costs, so you’re selfish and hypocritical too.

      HOw do you and your family pay for health insurance and/or medical costs? Let’s start there if you want to have a debate.

    • Do you have a mortgage on your house? Did you finance your car? If so, I assume you would qualify as “broke,” per your peculiar standards.

    • I think this is just the first step. Fat people don’t want treadmills either, but they need them.

      First we’ll make it voluntary, then we’ll make it mandatory with fines. Because so many will be getting subsidies it will become like another third rail. The next step is to get people used to having the money just taken out of their check.

      They’ll want this to happen eventually, as even the richest are going to get tired of paying a monthly fee. Middle class families just won’t be able to sustain it, so it’ll have to be taken out.

      So then we have another Social security like system that’s automatic every two weeks. People will come to rely on it, and then you’ll never be able to get rid of it?

      Is this a bad thing? Not if we want to continue to compete globally. I mean, do you want the corporations saddled with this debt or do you want the government? Because if we keep it with employers paying then they’ll just continue to cut pensions and lay off workers. Companies don’t care about you, and while I’m not saying the government does either, they do care a bit more.

      We’re moving away from the debate of is the government necessary to the government’s necessary and now what’s the best way to make it work. The Tea Party, the party that wanted to limit government, will in the long run only make it more powerful.

      And that’s what you need. Because the government will write you that check, corporations will go bankrupt before they have to pay those outstanding debts. And then what happens? The government pays anyways.

      C’mon – 50 years from now do you really think America won’t have healthcare? This Baby Boomer mentality is dying, and thank god! Nothing has been more hurtful to the country than this sense of entitlement this generation has had and I’m glad most of them are getting too old to do anything and we can finally put them in their place – nursing homes. Then we can forget about them and their failed policies of divisinon and rancor and move on to constructive talk, long-term solutions, and sustainable policies that ensure the future’s not just an afterthought.

    • Big Swede

      Billings Dad please, I beg of you don’t help these guys out.

      They’ve lit the paper sack on their own door step and know they’re about to stamp it out.

      • lizard19

        your delight at this deplorable situation is disgusting.




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