If the political electorate of the Volunteer State are scratching their collective heads today, don’t be surprised. After all, they elected — and re-elected — a guy who ran as a Republican while claiming to be a conservative. But in the Bizarro World of Bill Haslam, what is up is down, what is left is right. How else to explain why a “Republican” governor with a GOP super-duper majority would propose an expansion of the federal government’s socialist healthcare program while also needing the left-wing remnant known as the TN Democrat Caucus to pass the legislation?
Haslam to rely on Democrats for Medicaid reform
By Andy Sher and Kate Harrison Belz, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
Jan. 08–Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday that he expects to need the votes of all the Democrats in the GOP-led Legislature to pass his market-driven approach to Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act.
“I think that’s probably a fair observation that for this to pass, all the Democrats will have to be for it and, obviously, we’ll have to have enough people to get to 50 [votes] in the House and 17 in the Senate,” Haslam told reporters
By our calculations, Haslam believes he is looking at potentially 49 Republican “NO” votes just in the House on his Obamacare/Medicaid expansion boondoggle. That’s 67% — two thirds! — of the GOP House caucus that Haslam fears might decide to keep their campaign promise and vote against his Obamacare expansion.
The governor’s paid-under-the-table lobbyist and advisor, Tom Ingram, describes conservative Republicans who disagree with Haslam as mere “irritants.” If Ingram can take time away from his job as consultant to Democrat Charles Bone’s mayor’s race long enough to look over the whip numbers, he might realize the “irritants” could easily morph into a mob.
Pitchforks and torches on Aisle 6 at WalMart. Mention “Reagan” and get an additional 10% off.
The “Cold Feet Caucus” of those GOP legislators who have doubts about Gov. Bill Haslam’s Obamacare/medicaid Expansion scheme is growing by the hour.
The powerful Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Randy McNally, has initiated potentially the most serious threat to the governor’s plan by questioning the legality of the proposal.
McNally has asked for an opinion from the Attorney General and provided a series of complex but well-reasoned legal questions that go straight to one of the biggest problems with the Haslam plan: once you put 200,000 people on the roles, how difficult is it to get them off? (Hint: It ain’t easy — just ask Gov. Phil Bredesen).
McNally even questions the legality of the so-called funding of the state’s portion by Tennessee hospitals. Of course an obvious question is how are the hospitals going to come up with that money. How indeed? (“Sorry, Mrs. Johnson, but that cost of that single Tylenol pill we gave you just increased from $125 to $250….”). Does anyone believe the THA will just eat that additional cost? Does anyone believe they are not planning to pass along their costs to their patients in order to get their hands on all that “free” federal money?
All of these were questions that should have been addressed by the governor before he called a special session. Legislators do not like being put on the spot like this, and that is exactly what Haslam looks like he is trying to do.
Combine McNally’s questions with Sen. Ron Ramsey’s observations and the split in House leadership on the subject, and it appears the governor is going to need every Democrat he can find.
(Chairman Mancini? The governor’s calling on line two…”)
For those who know Ron Ramsey, it is clear that when it comes to political maneuvering and positioning, he is playing chess while most others are playing checkers. In contrast, the governor seems to be playing Candyland to promote his ObamaCare expansion plan.
If the governor has stopped gushing over his Friday lovefest with Obama, he should take a moment to read Ramsey’s comments about his PDA moment with the president on Friday:
Ramsey also suggested Obama’s Knoxville appearance might caused problems for Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Insure Tennessee” Medicaid expansion plan.
“Barack Obama has like a 32 percent approval rating in the state of Tennessee, and he and the governor are going to be on every (state) newspaper,” Ramsey said. “That doesn’t help perception, and in politics perception is reality.”
Ramsey’s comment was neither gratuitous nor accidental. It clearly provides those legislators wanting to oppose the Medicaid/Obamacare expansion scheme an opening to oppose the governor.
“No tongues, Bill ….”
Ah, love is in the air. So is the cold & flu season. To help stop the spread of nasty germs one would hope Gov. Bill Haslam can resist his rather obvious desire to kiss Barack Obama during his visit here in Knoxville today. He could settle for holding hands, but only if he uses a sanitizer.
What is it with this guy? He runs as a Republican but then proceeds to try to foist one Obama-backed big-government program after another on Tennessee taxpayers (ObamaCore/Common Core, ObamaCare/Medicaid expansion, increasing gas taxes, AWOL on opposing Obama immigration orders, etc., etc.).
And now Haslam is trying for his own “Chris Christie” moment and get a picture hugging Obama? One wonders why the governor of a conservative Republican state feels the need to suck up to the left-wing policies of an unpopular failed president. Maybe he is really a liberal at heart. Maybe he’s looking to curry favor with the Obama Justice Dept. for family reasons. Who knows?
Is there a doctor in the house? We are going to need one if we ever hope to remove Haslam’s lips from Obama’s derrier.
On Obamacare/Medicaid expansion, Governor channels Nancy Pelosi.
When the Democrats passed Obamacare (with not one single Republican voting for it), Pelosi made her infamous, outrageous statement:
“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
March 9, 2010
Now, the same thing is happening here in Tennessee, except this time it’s a Republican Governor trying to ram through the latest version of Obamacare.
To great fanfare, Bill Haslam announced he had negotiated an agreement (turns out it was only a “verbal” agreement) to expand Obamacare through the Medicaid program – a position that 20 of the 28 states with Republican Governors have not done. Haslam calls his plan “Insure TN” but as Forbes and the Washington Times pointed out, it is nothing more than Obamacare expansion with a new name and some highly dubious claims as to the differences. Even the Nashville Scene pointed out there isn’t even a firm plan at this point. Nearly a month after his victory-lap press conference, legislators are still waiting on the specific details. And with every passing day, the special session creeps closer.
Haslam looks for all the world like he is copying the Washington Democrats by hyping his program while scrambling to cobble together an actual program. There is a growing suspicion that (a) he is making this up as he goes along, and (b) he would like nothing better to unload his bill at the last minute, offering little time for legislators to thoroughly examine the particulars or for the public to catch on to the boondoggle.
When Sen. Mark Norris was asked when he expected the governor to present details of the plan he succinctly replied: “Two weeks ago.”
There are also complaints from some in House leadership: “A lot of us are getting cold feet real quick,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada.
In the days ahead, the team at Rocky Top will bring to the attention of policy makers and voters just how Haslam’s harebrained and harmful Obamacare expansion will hurt Tennessee taxpayers and how it will put our state’s future finance at risk.
Maybe Nancy can give Bill make-up tips on how to put lipstick on this pig.