This is what happens when you vote Republican
Originally posted at Eclectablog.
Last night, the Michigan Senate passed HB 4714 to expand Medicaid in Michigan. Earlier in the evening, they had voted 19-18 to pass it but needed 20 votes. Rep. Patrick Colbeck refused to vote so that Lt. Gov. Brian Calley could not cast a tie-breaking vote he had vowed to do. The bill now goes back to the House for their approval since changes to their bill were made before passage by the senate. As it stands now, the bill will require several waivers from the Obama administration. While it is not a perfect bill, Democrats did have a role in writing it and, in the end, nearly a half million Michiganders will be helped.
Unfortunately, unlike nearly every single other bill they have passed, Republicans declined to give this one "immediate effect". By not giving this bill "immediate effect", it delays its implementation until April 2014. according to Michigan Department of Human Services Director Jim Haveman, Michigan will lose out on $7 million PER DAY after January 1, 2014 that they don't implement it. 90 days x $7 million = $630 million. Fiscal conservativism in action, eh?
Since the beginning of this year, Eclectabloggers have written no fewer than 55 posts relating to Medicaid expansion, mostly centering on Michigan. When she came on as a contributor in April, Amy Lynn Smith instantly became a powerful voice for expansion of Medicaid in Michigan. There is no question in my mind that, through her writing, Amy changed the statewide conversation and that actions supporting it were taken that wouldn't have been taken otherwise. We all owe her a big debt of gratitude for that and last night's Senate vote to finally pass the legislation is a victory that she can proudly say she contributed to. Amy wrote passionately about the issue, helped collect and delivered petition signatures, and participated in multiple rallies in support of Medicaid expansion just in the last four months.
My thanks go out to her on behalf of the nearly half million working poor in Michigan who will benefit. Please join me in thanking Amy for her activism and advocacy.
It is my sincere hope that Michigan Republicans are not patting themselves on the back too much this morning. The fact that they took the better part of a year to do something they could have done months ago proves to the citizens of Michigan that they care nothing for protecting our most vulnerable citizens and are nothing more than politically-motivated hacks, driven by a corporatist ideology that benefits corporate interests over the best interests of our citizens. From Joe Hune with his repugnant statement that providing affordable healthcare to half a million working poor Michiganders is "nauseating" to Patrick Colbeck who, even in the 11th and a half hour tried to derail the process, Michigan Republicans have acted like spoiled children, unable to accept reality. They simply cannot accept that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land despite their Congressional colleagues' attempts to repeal it something like 40 times.
These state legislators hug the U.S. Constitution as if it were a holy book. They swear oaths of offices that compel them to look out for the best interests of our state's citizens. But, when it's time for a vote, they check in with their lords and masters at the Mackinac Center and the DeVos family and with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity before they choose. They whip their tea party base into a frenzy and use their frantic and frenetic calls and office visits to "prove" they have support. Unfortunately, the people who benefit most from the literally life-saving aspects of the Affordable Care Act, in general, and Medicaid expansion, in particular are too goddam busy trying keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and the electricity on to be waging political battles day in and day out.
The Mackinac Center issued their most recent salvo in this debate yesterday with a piece by former journalist Jack Spencer titled "Voting Yes on Medicaid Expansion is Voting for Obamacare". It was an almost laughably lame last minute attempt to lather up the tea party and to make Republican senators afraid of voting for it. The title alone is enough to convey the sheer desperation the Koch brothers-sponsored corporatists in Michigan and elsewhere are feeling. Obviously a vote to expand Medicaid is NOT a vote for Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is the law. Period. It has survived a ridiculous number of attempts to repeal it in Congress and the Supreme Court has even given it its approval. States can choose to participate or not but, whether they do or not, they will pay their fair share. The only question is whether or not they are intelligent enough to actually take advantage of the life-saving elements included in it.
Clearly 18 Michigan senate Republicans are not intelligent enough.
For all their talk about fiscal conservatism, these corporatist Republicans have shown that they are, in fact, hypocritical liars. If they truly cared about saving money for the state, they would have been falling all over themselves to pass Medicaid expansion. Instead, they have delayed and delayed until they have squandered millions upon millions of dollars that could have been spent providing affordable health insurance to people with jobs that don't pay enough for them to purchase it. Even in their final vote, the refused to give the legislation "immediate effect" as they have done for the hugely vast majority of every other bill they have passed. One last jerk move on their way out the door, so to speak. This, too, will cost our state millions of dollars thanks to the delay. Governor Snyder's utter failure in leadership on this issue is a clear sign that he does not have the credentials to run our state.
Michigan Republicans act like they are kowtowing to the tea party but, ultimately, they are genuflecting before their corporate puppet masters. It's the corporate interests and their front groups like the Mackinac Center that fuel the vapid fires of the tea party zealots who spend their days making phone calls and visits to Republicans legislators to push the corporatist agenda. There is nothing tyrannical about providing affordable health care to Americans but you'd never know it if you listened to the tea party. And, lest you think the tea party is somehow politically "independent", just consider that in a defeated email sent in the wee hours of this morning, the Tea Party of West Michigan exhorted their readers to contact House members who voted FOR Medicaid expansion earlier this year to ask them to change their vote when the senate-passed bill goes back to conference committee. There was not one Democrat among the list of Representatives they listed.
The tea party is nothing more than a corporatist tool to frighten Republicans into submission. Sadly, the tea partiers themselves are too stupid to even realize it.
It will be interesting to see what the final bill looks like when it leaves conference. It has to be approved by the federal government so they can only change it so much. Americans for Prosperity, a corporatist front group for the Koch brothers is already running radio ads targeting House Republicans who voted for expansion of Medicaid and other pressure will surely be applied by their tea party minions. Corporate interests will be there every step of the way, firing up their tea party dupes to apply political pressure on the Republican puppets to do whatever they can do to make the Affordable Care Act fail.
This we shall remember in November of 2014.
[Photos by Chris Savage | Eclectablog except for public domain photo of signed Affordable Care Act which is by Chuck Kennedy | White House]