Defending his Medicaid fiasco, Scott Walker employs self-serving, circular logic | WisCommunity

Defending his Medicaid fiasco, Scott Walker employs self-serving, circular logic

So here is the sum total of Scott Walker's totally weak political argument against expanding Medicaid-based health care to a greater number of low-income Wisconsin residents: Unlike other federal dollars that the state receives, Walker insists with what he says is absolute certainty that the federal government will abruptly stop subsidizing almost all the state's cost -- even though that support is mandated by federal law.

"We believe confidently going forward this federal government is likely to renege from its promises on Medicaid to the states," Walker said over the weekend.

However, there's only one way that could possibly happen: In a relatively unprecedented move, Congress would have to formally vote to renege on the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion provision. And precisely who in Congress is in favor of that? Walker's fellow Republican lawmakers, that's who. In the House of Representatives, they've voted to do that (along with killing the entire law) dozens of times. And failed.

Yes, it's more complicated. How would Republicans gain enough power to actually make Walker's confident prediction come true? Well, first the GOP must either this fall or in the 2016 national election retain their House majority. Then they must also win back the Senate and in so doing, improbably gain enough seats to avoid a possible Democratic filibuster. But those paired victories would be insufficient, because there's no way that President Obama or a Democratic successor would not veto legislation to repeal "Obamacare." And thus, in addition to winning both houses of Congress, Republicans would have to win the presidency two years from now. Then and only then could the federal government reliably vote to "renege" on its Medicaid funding promise and get the president to agree.

Of course, Scott Walker fancies himself as Obama's potential successor in the White House. That may be why he's so sure that,  "going forward," the federal government will renege. Because that's what HE would do with the help of a compliant Congress, if he had national power, just like he's already done within Wisconsin as governor.

But remember: Total Republican control of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of federal government couldn't happen until January 2017. And by then, according a financial analysis by the state's Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin could have insured tens of thousands of low-income adults through its BadgerCare program and collected $561 million in supporting federal Medicaid funds, netting a $206 million savings during that period.

"COULD HAVE," if Walker had not turned his back. And now we're circuling back around to his original argument: Someday, maybe, possibly, the feds might "renege" on that funding. Yes, indeed, "might," if someone like Scott Walker himself were president and his party fully controlled the government. But not otherwise.

In short, Scott Walker denied tens of thousands of working-poor adults in Wisconsin affordable health care -- now under law subsidized almost entirely by the federal government into the foreseeable future -- because he assumes that he or someone politically very much like him in the Republican Party will be president and will have a Republican working majority in both houses of Congress to change the law several years from now.

As for that half billion dollars in federal aid that meanwhile would have benefited Wisconsin citizens and its economy in general? Walker is saying, in so many words: Hey, you voters just never mind that! This is a matter of political principle!

Moreover, Walker's simplistic argument is especially disturbing in light of several independent studies showing that failure to fully expand Medicaid will lead to hundreds of needless deaths in Wisconsin because of untreated health problems (see link below).

Walker is thus in effect arguing against his own re-election as governor or the GOP's total takeover in Washington. Because that would be the only scenario that leads to the federal government reneging on its expanded Medicaid support. In so many words, Walker is inadvertently arguing this: Stop me before my policies kill again.


August 17, 2014 - 8:42pm