Conservative States Want Working Poor Punished

Michael HiltzikOn Friday, Michael Hiltzik wrote, In Obamacare Case, These Politicians Are Firing at Their Neediest Residents. It is about how people like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are big proponents of the King v Burwell case, even though it is going to hurt huge numbers of the people they nominally represent. In Florida, for example, the average Obamacare subsidy people get is more than 75% — changing premiums from $376 to $82. If the Supreme Court find for the plaintiffs King, it will cost Florida more than $5 billion per year. He ended the article by asking them a rhetorical question, “Who in the world do you think you represent?”

More interesting to me is that “the attorneys general of Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia” filed a friend-of-the-court brief on the side of the plaintiffs. These are people who really should care about the practical side of governing. But ideology trumps all for these people, it would seem. Notice that they are running their states in exactly the opposite way that their beloved private sector would. This is a simple matter: the federal government is offering free money to the people of these states. And these ideologues think it is better to deprive them.

If they wanted to, people like Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who was apparently the guy who pushed this whole thing, could make the case that conservative Social Security recipients always make, “We paid for this!” Oklahoma could just say that they are already taxed and so it just makes sense for them to take the benefits. There is a strange kind of irrationality in all of this. Just the same, Pruitt isn’t directly affected: he will still get his government provided healthcare. He’s only screwing the people of Oklahoma. But it does bring us back to Hiltzik’s question: who does he think he represents?

Georgia, which was also part of this brief, has 90% of the people buying insurance on the individual market getting subsidies. Oklahoma has the lowest percentage at 81%. These are just not numbers that politicians would push against if we lived in an actual democracy. The areas that most need Obamacare are the ones most likely to be harmed by the wishes of their politicians. And notice: these are not those hated welfare recipients; these are the working poor. And they are the ones who Republicans throughout the country think need extra hardships lest they start feeling too good about their multiple minimum wage jobs and subsidized healthcare.

Meanwhile, these are the politicians who Scalia and Alito think will come to the rescue if the Supreme Court guts the healthcare law. Of course, I discussed this last week, Conservatives Want Obamacare Do-Over. Effectively, they want to require that Obamacare be passed twice — knowing full well that it was a herculean task the first time. But having politicians put “kick me” signs on the backs of their people shows that this is all about giving the Supreme Court political cover — and nothing more.

All of this goes a long way past people “voting against their interests.” I fully understand why a woman would vote against her economic interests in the name of stopping abortion. But this goes beyond that. Similarly, Sam Brownback totally screwed over his state’s economy, yet the “people” voted him back in by almost 4 percentage points. It seems that there is no level of incompetence or mindless ideology that can hurt you some places if you have an “R” after your name on the ballot. How bad will it have to get before things change? Is there a bottom? I’m beginning to think that there isn’t.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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