Why does Arizona tolerate the Koch brothers dictating public policy?

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

51For years, the billionaire bastard Koch brothers have treated the Arizona legislature as a wholly owned subsidiary of the "Kochtopus" network of think tanks and political action committees that they and their wealthy friends fund. Several of these Kochtopus entities operate out of the state of Maricopa.

Tea-Publican members of the Arizona legislature are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and they openly carry bills for other Kochtopus entities like the Goldwater Institute and Americans For Prosperity. The Koch brothers are also major financial backers of the Tea Party.

The Kochtopus is an an invidious malignant cancer in the body politic that has made Arizona a regressive backwater and the laughingstock of the nation, a spot previously reserved for states such as Mississippi and Alabama. As I have said before, we need to tear out the Kochtopus network in the state of Maricopa by their roots and salt the ground to make certain that it never grows back again. We need to treat this cancer on the body politic.

Governor Jan Brewer's decision that Arizona should participate in the expanded Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") has met with organized opposition from the usual suspects, the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity and the Goldwater Institute of the Kochtopus. Our wholly owned Tea-Publican legislators are taking their marching orders from the Kochtopus. Conservatives blast Brewer for proposed Medicaid expansion | Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required):

Tom Jenney, the head of AFP’s Arizona chapter, blasted Brewer’s proposal in an op-ed in The Arizona Republic calling expansion the “wrong choice for Arizona.” [Medicaid expansion is wrong choice for Arizona, citing to other right-wing think tanks in an example of epistemic closure.]

* * *

In late January, Brewer met with county and legislative district GOP chairs, urging support for her plan. For many, the call fell on deaf ears.

Pima County GOP Chairwoman Carolyn Cox and Mohave County’s Ron Gould – a frequent nemesis of Brewer during his years in the Senate who helped scuttle a deal for her sales tax hike in 2009 – are staunchly opposed. [Two of the dimmer bulbs in the GOP's marquee sign.]

Some GOP lawmakers are also steadfast in their opposition to what they view as Brewer’s abandonment of a conservative principle. Sen. Al Melvin, R-SaddleBrooke, [another dim bulb] said he’s opposed to her plan, in large part because it will force the debt and deficit-ridden federal government to borrow even more money.

“It’s not a good plan of hers. We really need good leadership here and we’re not getting it,” Melvin said.

“I just think it’s ridiculous to do anything like what she’s talking about,” said Cox, who criticized Brewer’s plan on conservative blogs. [Governor Brewer, we DON’T want to expand Medicaid – Sonoran Alliance].

* * *

Brewer herself seemed un-phased by conservatives’ criticism at both the state and national levels. She said she has a strong case to make, and she hopes to have an opportunity to make it to each of her critics.

The bottom line is, do the math. Do the math. It’s the law of the land. Why would I want to punish the people of Arizona and other pieces of Arizona government because I wouldn’t do the right thing? Doing the right thing means almost always doing the hard thing. It’s hard. But I’m willing to talk to whomever it is whenever I can to tell them why. I’m committed,” Brewer said.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Governor Jan Brewer has the support of the hospital associations, medical providers, the Chamber of Commerce, business associations, and the Democratic Caucus in the Arizona legislature. The opposition to her plan comes from the Tea Party whose fealty is to the billionaire bastard Koch brothers, not to the constituents they represent or the best interests of the state of Arizona.

Recently, the Pima County Democratic Party issued a press release praising Governor Brewer for her plan for expanded Medicaid coverage in language that echoes Governor Brewer's comments:

The Pima County Democratic Party Supports the Governor’s Plan for Expanded Medicaid Coverage (AHCCCS)

Recently the Pima County Republican Party went on record opposing the expansion of Medicaid coverage for Arizonans in need. Not surprisingly, that letter was light on facts and heavy on misinformation and scare tactics.

Pima County Democrats applaud Governor Brewer's decision to support the expanded Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act. As the governor finally acknowledged, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and “Now, our State’s elected leaders have a duty to do what’s best for Arizona.”

Sadly, the YOYO (you’re on your own) Republicans continue to turn away from Arizonans in need and remain the “Party of No.” The Democratic Party says Yes to investing in Arizona and moving forward with a fiscally responsible, morally just plan that expands coverage for low-income, hard-working Arizonans, brings billions in federal funds to the state and creates much needed jobs.

Arizonans enacted Proposition 204 in 2000 which mandated coverage of childless couples up to 100% of the poverty level. That proposition also required the Legislature to supplement tobacco-settlement money to cover additional costs from “available sources,” but the Legislature opted to freeze enrollment in AHCCCS instead.

The subsequent loss of AHCCCS coverage for thousands of hard-working, low wage Arizonans has more than doubled the cost of uncompensated hospital care, according to the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. The expanded Medicaid provisions would restore eligibility to those persons frozen out of coverage and expand coverage to 133% of the poverty level.

Rejecting the expanded Medicaid provisions, however, would cost the state of Arizona substantial federal funding over the next several years and continue to reduce the number of Arizonans eligible for AHCCCS coverage.

According to the bipartisan Grand Canyon Institute, Arizona’s investment in the expansion of the AHCCCS program would require about $1.5 billion.  In return, the state would receive nearly $8 billion in new federal dollars. By qualifying for higher federal matching funds, the expansion would save the state’s general fund $1.2 billion over the first four years of implementation as compared to the current mandate.  In addition, the report notes that nearly 435,000 adults would gain access to health care coverage, over 21,000 new jobs would be created, and economic growth in Arizona would increase by nearly 1 percentage point.

As employers continue to drop health care benefits for employees and private insurance companies raise premiums far beyond the reach of middle-class family budgets, the opponents of Medicaid expansion fail to understand that the private insurance market is essentially closed to low income workers and those with pre-existing conditions. Low and middle income families need jobs and need access to healthcare.  Medicaid expansion is a common sense solution for Arizona.

The Pima County Democratic Party encourages everyone who care about jobs and healthcare access for all Arizonans to contact your state legislators and tell them that you support expanded Medicaid coverage in Arizona.

Sincerely,

Don Jorgensen
Chair, Pima County Democratic Party

Comments are closed.