Posted by Michael Bryan
Brewer caused an op-ed to be published regarding the ongoing implosion of the state budget, blaming it all on "Obamacare". It's the most mendacious bit of propaganda I've seen from the Governor's office recently, which is saying a lot.
I've republished it below interspersed with my own commentary in blue italics.
Heading into a new year with a new Legislature (there is nothing really new about this legislature except that it can, and will, have it's way without fear of the Governor's veto pen or the newly reduced Democratic minority) and a new Congress, the primary area of budget focus for Arizona will be our need for action by the federal government on "Obamacare."
Wow. What an abdication of any responsibility for the State's financial position. The theme for the coming year is likely to be pleading powerlessness to do anything about the budget even as the GOP seeks to make even deeper cuts in state services to the least powerful among us, even though the power to increase revenues to pay for those critical services is clearly within the scope of the state legislative super-majority.
If our state budget is to be balanced, it will require action by Congress and the White House. (Yep, nothing we can do here in Arizona, like raise new revenue. Nope. Gotta repeal "Obamacare".) They must provide flexibility to states so we have the ability to create sustainable Medicaid programs. Arizona's AHCCCS program cannot possibly grow at the pace Obamacare is now requiring. (At least not if Brewercare's death panel has any say in the matter…)
It impacts our state budget by roughly $1 billion and continues to impact it at a growing rate every year.
So, if the federal government does not repeal the Obamacare legislation, all other programs in state government are subsequently threatened.
Because the Arizona GOP is absolutely unable and unwilling to actually do our job and fund the services to which Arizona's citizens are entitled as Americans. Going to die because we have to provide tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations? Too bad.
In response to the state's fiscal crisis, the Legislature and I have cut $2.2 billion in government spending. (And never for a moment considered paying for those services we cut by reigning in special interest loopholes in our tax code…) The cuts have included reductions of:
- 22 percent in personnel. (including police, fire, child protective service personnel, courts, prosecutors, safety inspectors… you know, the folks who keep you and your family safe from those who would prey upon them.)
- 18 percent in K-12 per-pupil state support. (because Arizona's next generation don't need to be educated and we were already 49th in per pupil spending in the county. Brewer won't rest until we spend less than anyone else in the county…)
- 25 percent in university per-student state support. (because a third-world country like the GOP is trying to create in Arizona doesn't need high tech industry or a top-flight work force…)
- 5.5 percent in per capita correctional spending. (well, we couldn't cut as much as we did in education because corrections is a juicy target for privatization and our wealthy donors want to make some quick bucks off incarcerating our citizens and letting them escape to murder people…)
- 40 percent fewer child-care enrollees. (because, well, frankly: fuck kids. They don't vote. Little ingrates are just natural liberals, too.)
The cuts also have reduced the number of families on cash assistance by 35 percent and resulted in less benefit coverage for the seriously mentally ill population, as well as the elimination of most non-federally mandated Medicaid services.
Note the persistent use of passive construction throughout this accounting. Its like the cuts just happened with no one making the decision what to cut. The truth is that the GOP decided to cut spending on those most vulnerable in our society because they can screw them without any real electoral consequences.
But uncontrolled, federally mandated Medicaid spending continues to erode our citizens' other spending priorities. In fiscal 2007, K-12 education accounted for 42.2 percent of state general-fund expenditures and Medicaid for 18.2 percent.
For our current state budget, fiscal 2011, K-12 education is now 37.5 percent of state general-fund spending, and Medicaid is 30.3 percent.
Ummm. Could the change in relative percentages be because we cut education so deeply, perhaps? It's telling that actual numbers weren't used, because it is harder to lie with the real numbers.The Governor seems to think Arizonan's don't understand math and will assume that the reason for this change is explosive growth in Medicaid spending. Oh. Yeah. That's right. Arizonans no longer have an education system, so that's not a bad bet by the Governor.
The federally mandated higher coverage level to Arizona and the other states began in February 2009 with the Obama stimulus package, which included strict prevention of any state adjustments to Medicaid eligibility that would slow its enrollment growth.
Boohoo. The big bad Obama stopped us from kicking people below the federal poverty level off their Medicaid! We'd have no problem if it weren't for all those pesky poor Arizonans the GOP's policies have created! If only they would just go die quietly.
The obvious ramifications (i.e. the GOP not being able to screw the poor and sick) were initially delayed because federal funds were provided to pay for the mandates. (That would be the federal stimulus payments to states that the GOP opposed, and then took credit for…) That federal funding has now ended, (because the GOP stopped it…) and the full brunt of the mandate is now being realized. (i.e. we can't screw the poor and sick and we won't raise any new revenue and we can find anything else in the state budget to gut…)
I continue to push for a federal solution to this problem created by the federal government, including a bipartisan (Umm. Bi-what? You're kidding, right?), multistate federal lawsuit proceeding in Florida last week.
If the Obamacare federal mandates are removed, and state flexibility is restored, state policy makers would be allowed to design a fiscally sustainable Medicaid program (i.e. one that kicks more poor people to the curb to die of medical neglect while preserving tax preferences for the wealthy and well-connected) – a package of services that Arizona taxpayers can actually afford over the long term and with a prioritization of various services deemed most appropriate by state elected leaders (heartless Brewercare death panel members) instead of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (those naughty people who want to give health services to those dirty poor folks…)
This explains why our financial future pivots on the future of Obamacare, and why ending those mandates will be so critical – and difficult.
Yes. Yes, it does. The GOP wants to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and powerless and sick to preserve the privileges of the wealthy and well-connected. And they will have trouble doing what they've already done to Arizona's children over the past two years to anyone else if "Obamacare" continues to insist on treating poor and sick Americans like human beings.
My goal is a limited, disciplined Arizona government focused on providing our citizens the opportunity to prosper and improve. (Ummm. Actually, that's a rather bad typo. Should read: "focused on providing corporations with the opportunity to prosper and improve their bottom lines".) We cannot successfully foster a climate of long-term and sustainable growth (i.e. corporate hegemony) with ever-expanding Washington mandates (which unreasonably protect our children, our poor, and our sick). And we cannot be successful in our important mission (of building a more unjust, kleptocratic, and fascistic society) without federal action to specifically rein in the mandated spending on Medicaid.
I just have one more thing to add: Jan, you ignorant slut. On behalf of all those Arizonans you propose to screw, "Screw you, too!"