In case you missed it, Sen. Mark Pryor tried to grab a life raft today when asked about his position on Obamacare on Capitol View. Roby Brock asked Pryor if he still stands by his vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act back in 2010.
“I do. I think it was the right vote and I think it was good for Arkansas,” said Pryor. “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.”
Needless to say, Republican state lawmakers with whom I spoke with today were not pleased with his statement, saying they feel Pryor was trying to justify creating a problem by pointing toward their efforts to create a solution.
“Mark Pryor reminds me of the sneaky kid that broke his mother’s favorite vase and then blamed his little brother when his mother found out,” commented Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville), who voted for the state’s private option legislation. “Pryor voted for ACA/Obamacare, Republicans didn’t. Pryor supported ACA/Obamacare; Republicans have fought and will continue to fight to repeal and replace it with healthcare reform that works for Arkansas and America.”
And indeed, later in the interview Pryor said he would be against any effort to repeal Obamacare.
Rep. Andy Davis (R-Little Rock) wondered if Pryor had even read the bill.
“Based on that remark, it is clear that Senator Pryor isn’t familiar with Obamacare and its negative impacts on Arkansas or with the private option,” said Davis. “The PO does not implement Obamacare. Arkansas could already not afford the existing Medicaid rolls and Obamacare would have only made that problem worse. It also raised taxes and fees on all Arkansans including $38 million on our Arkansas employers at a time when we should be encouraging business and job growth, not impeding it.”
“If Pryor hadn’t passed Obamacare, what Republicans did in Arkansas would not have been necessary,” said Davis. “My guess is he didn’t read the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare and he hasn’t read the Healthcare Independence Act/Arkansas Private Option either.”
It is certainly an interesting strategy for Pryor. 2014 is the first election where he has to face the voters since he cast the deciding vote of Obamacare in 2010. Without a vote to spare, he could have prevented the law from being enacted by voting against it. As with now former Sen. Blanche Lincoln, he didn’t do that, but clinging to state Republicans who passed bipartisan reforms in Arkansas to tackle the mess he created in Washington is a strategy that might backfire.