Republicans love to say that their party is the party that’s going to give you back your tax dollars. That meme is the meme Reagan used when he slashed income taxes for the wealthy, it’s how George W. Bush sold his own massive tax cuts, and it’s how Republicans today continue to describe their party’s policies. The way they put it, liberals in Washington take your money, but conservatives are responsible and give the American people back money that would have otherwise been wasted.
But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Republicans don’t actually believe their own talking points. And you don’t need to look any further than the rejection of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion by twenty-five Republican governors to figure that out.
The idea behind Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is pretty simple. States that accept the expansion allow people earning as much as 138 percent of the poverty line to enroll in Medicaid. In exchange, the federal government pays 100 percent of the cost of their healthcare for three years and 90, let me repeat, 90 percent of that cost every year after that.
When Obamacare was first passed, states actually had to accept the Medicaid expansion or else they would lose all Medicaid funding whatsoever. But then the John Roberts court stepped in and gave Republican governors the right to reject the expansion.
And Republican governors have followed John Roberts’ decision to a tee. A growing number - most recently Ohio governor John Kasich - have come to their senses and OK’ed the Medicaid expansion, but twenty-five have yet to do so.
Those twenty-five Republican governors have, to put it bluntly, screwed the people who put them into office. The people who would get healthcare under the Medicaid expansion are too poor to qualify for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges and too wealthy to qualify for Medicaid without the expansion. An estimated 5 million people are now caught in this awful healthcare coverage gap.
Republican governors say they’re worried about the cost of Medicaid expansion, but since that expansion would be covered almost entirely by the federal government, they’re just flat-out lying - this all about damaging the Obama presidency.
Since the day Barack Obama took office, the GOP has made taking down his presidency its number one goal. So there is no question that those twenty-five Republican governors have done this to sabotage President Obama and his signature piece of legislation - the Affordable Care Act.
This latest bout of right-wing sabotage is especially cynical when you consider the fact that those twenty-five Republican governors are essentially denying the people of their states the right to use their own tax dollars. Medicaid - like every other government program - is paid for with federal tax dollars.
States foot a part of the bill, but in the poorest states the federal government covers most of the costs of the program. The Medicaid expansion works pretty much the same way. The money used to pay for the expansion comes from federal money - money you and I, the taxpayer, send to Washington, D.C. in the form of taxes.
So when Rick Perry tells the people of Texas that he will not accept money from the federal government to pay for the expansion of Medicaid, what he’s really saying to the people of Texas is “No, you can’t have your own tax dollars back.” He’s saying “No, you can’t have your money back because sabotaging the President is more important than letting you have affordable healthcare.”
And what’s worse, the people who live in states that aren’t accepting the Medicaid expansion will still have pay taxes to foot the bill for the expansion in other states. If this sounds petty, that’s because it is petty. By rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, twenty-five Republican governors have put politics above people. They’ve denied the people who voted them into office the right to have their own tax dollars back.
If more people understood this, they’d be outraged. But luckily for those twenty-five Republican governors, they can rely on Fox So-Called News and right-wing radio to spread enough lies about Obamacare to make the residents of their state forget who the real bad guys are.
And those bad guys are the twenty-five Republican governors who are refusing to give the people their own states their own tax dollars back in the form of Medicaid. It’s time for those governors to give up their game and let their people have Medicaid. After all, their people already paid for it.