With about a month to go until election day, the races are heating up in Arkansas. From where I sit, it seems all the attention is on the battle for who will control the state legislature. And it also seems that the Democrat making the most noise is not even on the ballot – Gov. Mike Beebe.
My Stephens Media column this week takes a look at why Beebe is so worked up over this new ad from the conservative group, Americans for Prosperity. I compare it to Muhammad Ali’s infamous Rope-A-Dope strategy.
So perhaps Beebe’s insertion of himself into the debate is a plan to change the message from “an unpopular president vs. Republicans” to a “popular governor against the GOP” — the old Ali “rope-a-dope” strategy.
In the 1974 heavyweight match between Ali and George Foreman, Ali purposefully angered Foreman and then retreated to the ropes and allowed Foreman to punch away. Although it appeared Ali was getting pummeled, he actually was not and instead was wearing out Foreman. Ali then was able to defeat an exhausted Foreman in the later rounds of the fight. Maybe that’s what Beebe hopes to accomplish against Republicans.
Perhaps the ad from Americans for Prosperity was just what Beebe needed to climb in the ring and draw voter attention in his direction.
If I am right, then Beebe is continuing this strategy with a speech he gave this week to the Arkansas Hospital Association in talking about whether to expand the state Medicaid program with the federal funds promised from ObamaCare. Rob Moritz with Arkansas News reports…
Beebe then appeared to take a swipe at vocal Republican opponents of Medicaid expansion.
“We’ve got a bunch of people running around here now beating their chests, political, that need to keep their mouth shut, get the facts and then vote their conscience on what is in the best interest of their constituents and their people,” he said.
The governor added that some opponents “are painting themselves into one heck of a corner right now because they’re either going to be put in a posture where they’re going to leave Arkansas out next January, or they are going to have to go backwards from what they’re telling the voters while they are running for office, and neither one of those things … seems to be a good option.”
Keep their mouth shut? Really? Don’t voters deserve to know where candidates stand on one the biggest issues facing the state legislature next year?
The last thing anyone should want candidates to do is to keep their month shut – that is unless they don’t want voters to know where they stand because they think you are not able to handle it.
The House Republican Caucus responded directly to Beebe’s quote in their weekly address which was delivered by Rep. John Burris.
No one is beating their chest. House Republicans are doing the job the people of Arkansas elected us to do, which is ask the tough questions and exercise oversight of state government.
During the governor’s speech, he challenged legislators to “get the facts.” Certain facts, however, seem to be missing from all the rhetoric on this issue.
How can the state afford to expand Medicaid when we are already facing a $400 million deficit in current Medicaid funding? We first need to guarantee quality and efficient care for people already in the Medicaid system before we add new enrollees to a system we are struggling to maintain.
Also, what is the plan to ensure we can pay our share of the tab for Medicaid expansion in three years? The worst thing we can do is make a promise we can’t afford to keep.
What is the plan to discontinue coverage to 250,000 people added to the Medicaid system if the state can’t afford it?
These are serious questions that we as legislators are obligated to ask and entitled to have answered.
To some, these questions may be inconvenient, but they are necessary.
Latest posts by Jason Tolbert (see all)
- Tolbert: Good For Pryor And Cotton - December 4, 2013
- Tolbert: Arkansas GOP Files Lawsuit Challenging Governor’s FOIA Exemption Claim - December 2, 2013
- Tolbert: Harry Reid Claims He ‘Could Have Gotten’ Pryor’s Vote On Filibuster Rules - November 25, 2013