Riff Raff, by Michael Tilley
Enough already with folks like our United States Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas saying Obamacare is not so bad because the Republican-controlled legislature in Arkansas voted for a plan to incorporate Obamacare into Arkansas’ healthcare community.
That’s disingenuous and the good Senator knows it.
To posit some background, we should note that the lone Democrat in Arkansas’ six-member Congressional delegation is up for election in 2014 and he’s been badgered like hell from the political left and the political right. Because of the silliness thrown at him from the two sides there is almost a desire to excuse Mr. Pryor’s silliness.
A group funded by Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Mayor and self-appointed arbiter of how you and I should eat, drink and be merry, is airing television commercials in Arkansas saying Pryor is for gun violence because he voted against a background check bill. Pryor voted against a bill that would have done nothing to stop a repeat of Newtown, Columbine, Jonesboro and so on and so bloody forth.
And then some right wingers pushed television ads saying Pryor “left us” because he voted for most of Obama’s ideas, including Obamacare. Well, Pryor did vote mostly a Democratic agenda, but to say he left these right wing folks is funny. That’s like saying the supermodel pictured to the right must have “left me” because she’s not knocking on my door promising to tickle my fancy. Pryor was never with the agenda of Tea Party interests in Arkansas. One can’t leave a position from which they never occupied.
But sympathy for Pryor’s squeeze in the political vise – not to be confused with the vice of a politician’s squeeze – failed to materialize. It’s hard to muster understanding for a person who should be smart enough to understand the difference between forced and consensual mastication – which is to say the difference between enjoying ice cream and swallowing a s$%t sandwich.
Here’s what Pryor told Roby Brock when asked if he still stands by his vote on Obamacare: “I do. I think it was the right vote, I think it was good for Arkansas. … In fact, you can look at what the Republican state legislature just did here a few weeks ago and that is they voted to implement Obamacare here in Arkansas through the Medicaid expansion.”
Pryor may not have left us, but he’s left his senses if he thinks anyone with an ounce of understanding of what happened with the Arkansas Legislature equals an endorsement of Obamacare.
Until we get a more favorable interpretation of states’ rights, laws passed by Congress are able to minutely dictate the machinations of state government. When Obamacare was approved, the clock began ticking on how state governments must implement the plan.
With respect to the new health care law, Kind Readers should know that living with the federal government is like growing up in a home with my mother. When the mother of my formative years issued instructions to clean up my bedroom, there was no question as to IF the room cleaning would happen. There was no question as to IF the room cleaning was necessary. There was no questioning as to the extent the room had to be cleaned. And just like Obamacare, the room cleaning appeal to Dad (Supreme Court) rarely worked in my favor.
Pryor knows the GOP-controlled Arkansas Legislature had no choice but to somehow enact a plan to accommodate Obamacare. What Pryor doesn’t want us to know is that the GOP leaders did everything they could to craft a bill they believed would best suit the healthcare realities of Arkansas. To their credit, they worked with Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, to seek implementation flexibility from federal officials. And to Beebe’s credit, he worked with the GOP leadership to design the flexible system.
Essentially, the GOP folks viewed Obamacare provisions as a kick in the crotch. They negotiated down to a punch in the stomach. If the GOP Legislature had a choice between Obamacare and anything that looked nothing like Obamacare, they – and many of their Democratic peers – would have voted for the latter.
Please know this is not a commentary on the pros and cons of the new federal healthcare law. To be sure, this new law will take care of itself. By that, we should note that members of Congress who approved the sweeping law are hoping to silently renege on part of the law that says Capitol Hill staffers fall under the law. Members of Congress fear that staffers will depart D.C. if subjected to Obamacare provisions.
We might also consider that a growing number of unions, those folks who supported Obama, are seeking clearance to opt out of Obamacare.
Also, a growing number of insurance experts are suggesting that implementation of key Obamacare provisions may be delayed because federal agencies are having a tough time crafting rules and regulations that ensure competition, keep rates low, keep doctors incentivized and account for the various insurance exchanges approved by many state legislative bodies that were collectively looking for something other than a kick in the crotch.
Said all that to say this. The same Pryor who hopes most Arkansans will look the other way at the political nonsense thrown at him from the political extremes shouldn’t also expect us to forgive his nonsense.