The Other Battle to Defund Obamacare

Scottie Hughes

9/26/2013 12:01:00 AM - Scottie Hughes

On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz began a filibuster of the worst law passed by the worst President in American history. He vowed to “speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.” And after 21 hours on his feet, in the true fashion of an “anarchist,” as Harry Reid and the mainstream media smeared him, he politely followed parliamentary procedure, yielded the floor, and exited the Senate chamber.

The Senator knew there would come a time when he could no longer stand, but Cruz is from Texas, where you can find the Alamo, the Alamo Bowl, the Alamo Inn, the Alamo Economic Development Corporation, the North Alamo Elementary School, and the Alamo Bar and Grill. In other words, Cruz and his fellow Texans know a lot about what it means to stand boldly on principle even in the face of certain defeat.

What’s not as well known is that there’s another fight to defund Obamacare, and in this other fight, President Obama doesn’t get a veto. This is a fight completely within the reach of conservatives to win. But it’s a fight too many Republican governors are afraid to wage.

I’m talking about the decision every state government faces of whether to accept Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Democrats wanted to coerce states into expanding their Medicaid programs to achieve his vision of universal health care, so the original version of Obamacare included a huge costly punishment of states that refused to expand Medicaid. In the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision last year, it struck down as unconstitutional Obamacare’s plan to punish uncooperative states. Now, thanks to that court decision, every state has the option of rejecting the Medicaid expansion without the threat of any punishment from Obama.

Fortunately, about half the states have refused to expand Medicaid. Unfortunately, the remaining states include Republican governors. If you hate Obamacare, you should know who they are. It’s time to name names.

Republican Governors Jan Brewer of Arizona and Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota are the most egregious offenders. They represent states that voted for Mitt Romney – very red states where rejection of the Medicaid expansion would come at little-to-no political cost for them. Those states’ constituents are conservative. It’s a shame that on this issue, their governors aren’t.

Five other Republican Governors are in the second-to-worst class of offenders. John Kasich of Ohio, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Terry Branstad of Iowa, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Rick Scott of Florida lead states that George W. Bush was able to carry. These are not die-hard blue states, but their governors are acting like blue-state governors by accepting Obamacare’s invitation to expand Medicaid. (Florida’s legislature has thus far succeeded in blocking Scott’s attempt at expansion, but the same sadly can’t be said elsewhere.)

Let’s be clear about what’s at stake. The Medicaid expansion is absolutely central to Obamacare. It will cost federal taxpayers at least $800 billion over the next ten years. Obamacare raises taxes by $500 billion in order to (help) pay for the expansion. Although Obamacare’s individual mandate has attracted most of the attention, there’s nothing about Obamacare, from the perspective of those of us who think government taxes too much and spends too much, that is worse than the Medicaid expansion.

Republican Governors who want to expand Medicaid make two arguments. First, they say that a rejection of the Medicaid expansion in their states would mean that federal tax dollars from their citizens fund the expansion in other states. But that’s only true if there are other states that expand. If all 30 Republican governors joined with the Democratic governors of Montana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia (5 red states that voted for Romney), there would only be 15 states expanding Medicaid – which would save federal taxpayers in all 50 states hundreds of billions of dollars.

Second, at least one Republican Governor, John Kasich, has argued that rejecting the Medicaid expansion is un-Christian. Kasich told an interviewer that “we will be held accountable” by God for not expanding Medicaid because “the right way to live is to make sure that those who do not have the blessings that we have, those who are beleaguered, those who have fallen on hard times – we can’t ignore them. We have to help them. And we’re expected to do that, and I believe the Lord expects us to do that. And it’s spelled out pretty clearly in that Old and New Testament, consistently.”

Unlike John Kasich, I’ll let the Lord speak for himself, but I have three questions for Kasich and governors like him. If spending $800 billion by a government already $17 trillion in debt is actually some kind of Eleventh Commandment prescribed by the Almighty, as Reverend Kasich apparently believes, why did Kasich campaign in 2010 in favor of repealing all of Obamacare? Why did he support a suit by 26 states in 2011 challenging the Medicaid expansion’s legality? And since nothing in “that Old and New Testament” changed between then and his Come-to-Obama moment, what did?