“An Idiot’s Guide to Insure TN”
For Speaker Beth Harwell, Insure TN has become a very difficult issue — one that could seriously affect her expected race for governor in 2018 as well as her effectiveness as Speaker.
Since Gov. Haslam rolled out his Insure TN “plan” to expand Obamacare, it has become painfully obvious that his much ballyhooed “deal” is nothing of the sort and his roll-out has been slipshod and inept. So say Forbes and The Washington Times, among many others. And his plans have put Harwell in a tight spot. Here is the down-low from RTP.
“Gee, thanks Gerald. Now please shut the hell up.”
Here are the facts:
1. Insure TN is an expansion of Obamacare, pure and simple. It is not significantly different from the proposed expansions in other states that have been rejected by 19 Republican governors.
Don’t believe us? Here is House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick:
“It’s a [federal] government program and we’re expanding it. And as Republicans, we don’t like to expand government programs period.”
“Sometimes you just man up and carry the legislation, even if you have some disagreements with it.”
Way to “man up” and abandon your convictions, Gerald. You need to get a better definition for what it means to “man up.”
2. There is no deal. All Haslam has after 18 months of “negotiation” is a” verbal commitment” from Barack Obama (who, of course would never, never, ever lie to someone, especially a Republican governor), and says it is backed by the full faith and credit of a federal government that is $17 trillion in debt and spiraling towards bankruptcy. What could possibly go wrong?
Don’t believe us? Here is Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris on the lack of details coming from the governor regarding his “plan.”
“We understand the concept … but what form that takes remains to be seen,” Norris said. “Until that quickens into something concrete, I can’t say. I don’t think there’s much appetite for it, but I’m not quite sure what it is going to be yet.”
Norris’ indecision — he says he needs more details and was recently … critical over the governor’s office’s lack of communication with him.
And here is Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada:
“It’s just that a lot of us are getting cold feet real quick,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin.
“I have grave reservations.”
So much for unified support from leadership.
3. This is almost exactly the same stupid policy that bloated TennCare 15 years ago. That mistake busted the state budget and resulted in an all-out attempt to create a state income tax to cover theresulting debt. Just like then, we were promised the feds would pay 90% of the costs, but our 10% share nearly killed our state finances. It resulted in Gov. Bredesen removing 175,000 from the TennCare rolls and now Bill Haslam wants to put them right back on. Good luck removing them from the public teat if anything goes wrong (and it will, just like before).
Don’t believe us? Read about the questions posed by Sen. Randy McNally (chairman, Senate Finance Committee):
Let’s do a poll!
In the face of all this, Harwell has not exactly exhibited much leadership on the issue and has remained “undecided.” Laughably, she “wants to poll her district” before she makes a decision. That would be the Belle Meade district — one of the wealthiest in the nation and home to gazillionaires, many of whom make oodles of money off of healthcare, hospitals and their HCA stock dividends.
But the question is why? Again, the helpful folks at RTP have some answers for you:
1. Harwell wants to be governor. And the road to governor’s mansion is paved by the contributions and money she can expect from the Haslam family — IF she plays ball with Haslam on Insure TN. If she wanders too far off the Pilot Plantation, she can expect political punishment and campaign penury.
Buto on the other hand, if she buckles under to the Guv, she can run on the theme of:
“Vote Harwell. She expanded Obamacare!”
2. She could lose control of her caucus. The governor infamously said he was “going to need every Democrat vote” to pass Insure TN. But that also means the governor is afraid there will be mass defections by members of his own party. And Harwell could still lose, even if the governor and his fellow Democrats succeed in foisting Insure TN on the state’s taxpayers. “How so?” you ask. The math is so simple that even Common Core indoctrinated students should be able to run the numbers:
- 73 — the number of Republicans in the House.
- 26 — the number of Democrats in the House.
- 50 — the number of votes needed to pass Insure TN.
- 24 — the number of Republicans needed to join the expected 26 Democrats to pass the resolution.
- 37 — the minimum number that constitutes a majority of the House GOP caucus.
So let’s add up the intermural political costs to Miss Beth. Even if enough Republicans vote for Insure TN, if the number of GOP caucus members voting against hits 37, that will signal that Beth has lost control of her caucus. Passing an odious entitlement bill that is opposed by a majority of your caucus would be a disaster for Harwell and the leadership. Trying to pull a stunt like that in a parlimentary government would get you a “no confidence” vote faster than you can blackball a minority from joining the Belle Meade Country Club. There was a reason why for the last couple of years John Boehner didn’t try to pass legislation without the support of the majority of the House GOP caucus. If he had tried to do that, his caucus would have made him former Speaker Boehner.
Want to be Governor? Want to stay Speaker? Beth Harwell would be wise to kill this abomination before it ever gets to the floor for a vote — a vote that could bring all of her lofty ambitions crashing down to earth.