Yves here. Is Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” starting to become a thing of the past? This story is important because you have a Republican state legislature both bucking austerity orthodoxy and acknowledging that voters want and need more government paid health care.
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives
The good news is that the Kansas legislature, the land of the lunatics, experienced an outbreak of the reality virus (first diagnosed and named by Steve Keen among neoclassical economists). The bad news is that the Kansas’ Crazy-in-Chief, Governor Sam Brownback, has proven immune to the virus.
Brownback decided to put Art Laffer in charge of Kansas’ taxation policy. Even neoclassical economists roll their eyes when it comes to Laffer’s claims that dramatic tax decreases lead to significantly increased net tax revenues. Laffer’s batting average on this claim is .000 and his “proof” of his claim is a graph (the “Laffer curve”) that he drew that contradicts reality. Brownback knew that Laffer was batting .000 on his claims and that Laffer never drops his claims when reality (repeatedly) falsifies his graph. To no one’s surprise, Brownback’s tax cuts produced a fiscal disaster for Kansas.
Brownback also launched an unholy war against the people of Kansas in other spheres vital to their lives, including health care and education. In particular, Brownback denied 150,000 Kansans access to the Medicaid expansion that was a pure win-win for the State and its citizens. Brownback, with the aid of the Koch brothers, launched a purge of Republican state legislators to remove “moderates.” (Actually, they were true conservatives.) This spread Brownback’s delusions throughout the Republican-dominated legislature. Kansas’ Republican legislators, therefore, should have been among the people most resistant to the reality virus, particularly so soon after the delirium of Trump’s victories.
The timing and the location of this outbreak of the reality virus in Kansas, therefore, offers us new hope for America. As a bonus, the Wall Street Journal reported the reality outbreak.
The Kansas Republican-led legislature voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, a move coming just days after Republicans in Washington pulled their bill to repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare.
Buoyed by moderate Republicans and Democrats, the Kansas state Senate voted 25-14 for a bill that would expand Medicaid, the state-federal health-insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled, to cover more than 150,000 additional nondisabled adults.
As an important side note that is contrary to the coverage of Trump’s failure to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” the media could have spun the story in a very different direction. Ryan/Trumpcare (“Rumpcare”) was an awful piece of legislation that would have harmed tens of millions of Americans, given an enormous tax cut to the wealthy, and badly eroded the Medicaid safety net. The Rumpcare bill was nastiest to Trump’s most loyal voters – older, non-wealthy Americans. Many readers know that the March 13, 2017 Quinnipiac poll found that 17%t of Americans supported the bill – 13% of women. What few people know is that only two months earlier the same polling service reported very different results on January 12, 2017.
American voters are divided 48 – 47 percent on whether President-elect Donald Trump should support efforts to repeal Obamacare, the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
The dramatic, rapid change in opinion demonstrates that Obamacare is deeply unpopular with many Americans and proves that Speaker of the House Ryan remains a heartless Ayn Rand groupie and is a policy wonk fraud. The Quinnipiac poll showed that Americans listened to the experts and realized that Rumpcare would cause many Americans to lose their health care. Even in the era of Trump, most Americans are not immune to the reality virus.
But what of Kansas, which has repeatedly voted for Brownback as U.S. Senator and Governor – are Kansans still immune? It turns out that Kansas’ Republican legislators became less far right in 2016. The abject failure of Laffer’s nostrums convinced many Kansas Republicans to vote for legislators who were conservative Republicans instead of Koch-head Republicans. The newly-elected Kansas Republican legislators that hade detoxed from their predecessors’ Koch addiction then did the thing that terrifies the Koch brothers, Trump, Ryan, and Brownback – they began gathering the facts and embracing reality.
Kansas state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a Republican and retired physician, said the bill was motivated by the stalemate in Washington over health-care overhaul and a need to act immediately to protect residents of the state.
She said she supported the bill because she believes Kansas residents should be provided insurance coverage. “They should have the opportunity to live without the horrific stress of the fear of a significant illness or trauma that would potentially bankrupt them if they didn’t have access to insurance.”
Proponents of the bill, Ms. Bollier said, submitted 190 pieces of written testimony from virtually every provider of care in the state in support of expanding Medicaid.
John Doll, also a Republican state senator, said he voted for the bill after speaking to the 10 hospitals in the district he served, all of whom wanted the Medicaid expansion.
“The people I served overwhelmingly asked for it,” he said, adding the issue of public health should be bipartisan and based upon what is best for the state’s residents rather than political affiliation.
When people tell you that it makes no difference to resist and educate elected officials, remind them about the Kansas legislators. Then warn them how much work it takes. Brownback will probably veto the bill adopted by the Kansas legislature expanding Medicaid.