Being found in possession of even a sliver of conscience and an ounce of common sense is proving to be a serious liability for certain Republican leaders.
You may have seen the stories in recent weeks about how Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer are both throwing their political weight behind Medicaid expansion – and thereby helping thousands of poor people in their states and cooperating with the sin of Obamacare at the same time - which has put them in direct head-to-head conflict with the frustrated wishes of those perpetual ankle biters we all know and love so well known as the Tea Party.
This is a rather comical dilemma to observe to anyone who is even remotely familiar with these two political characters. Brewer, of course, is now known for being the disrespectful little twit of a Governor who had the nerve to wag her finger in the face of the President of the United States in front of all available cameras as if he were some sort of errant schoolchild. Tea Party types and other related dimbulbs took great delight in watching Brewer pose as someone who wasn’t afraid to disrespect the nation’s Commander in Chief. As for Snyder, he has gained nationwide recognition – and appreciation from those same Tea Party types – for hijacking democracy in his own state while gleefully ignoring the will of the voters as he works to transform the rights and privileges of his office to better resemble something more befitting the king he believes himself to be.
But now, at this late date, the confounding duo has made the decision to exercise a bit of decency and common sense, possibly hoping against hope that even the Tea Party would be able to understand why denying the benefits of Medicaid to lower income people in their economically troubled states might not be an intelligent decision at this time. But, alas, the Tea Party section of the Republican party is where hope goes to lay down and die.
From the Detroit Free Press:
As the state House of Representatives begins debating a new Medicaid expansion bill, tea party activists are fighting back.
A coalition of tea party groups sent an open letter to Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday, saying he risks losing their support for re-election for his embrace of Medicaid expansion as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
They said that support and his invitation to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the state to push the expansion, “Is the straw that has broken the camel’s back for grassroots activists and in no way represents conservatives.”
“Governor Snyder has gone too far by seeking help from one of the most polarizing figures in modern history, a representative of the most destructive American President of our history as a nation,” the letter says.
From Think Progress:
Brewer is far from the only Republican official to endorse expansion. But the combative governor’s tenacious — and often aggressive — pursuit of expanding Medicaid has taken many political observers by surprise.
While promoting Medicaid expansion in March, Brewer warned that the “human cost” of failing to expand the program ”can’t be calculated.” At another rally, she sounded defiant in the face of Republican political blowback. “This is a fight worth fighting for. Are we going to win? Darn right, we are going to win,” she told a cheering crowd.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that expanding Medicaid would cut Arizona’s uninsurance by almost a third. That means that about 50,000 poor Arizonans would have access to basic and specialty health care, including diagnostic and clinical services, as well as care for the disabled and the mentally ill.
Brewer has followed up on her tough rhetoric with action. She recently vetoed five bills in quick succession to show her displeasure with the legislature’s inaction, following through on a threat she made to shut down lawmaking until Medicaid and the budget issue was resolved.
The arm-twisting appears to have worked, despite sharp criticism from conservatives in her own party. The chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee called Brewer a “rogue governor” in a letter warning Republican state senators not to buck the traditional party line on Medicaid. Tea Party activists have dismissed her actions as “tyranny.”
Stay tuned. This could be fun.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.