When you hear the words “politics as usual,” you probably think of the typical partisan debates we see on Capitol Hill and in state houses across the country. Here’s a question. Does “good politics” go by the same definition?
Enter South Carolina House Member Kris Crawford, a Republican serving the district of Florence. Crawford and his fellow lawmakers have been debating whether to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. In January, Crawford talked to the Charleston Regional Business Journal, and noted that he supported expansion of the program, despite the fact that his Republican colleagues were of the opposite opinion.
Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican from Florence and also an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but expects the Republican caucus to vote as a block against the Medicaid expansion.
“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.
This is not one of those remarks that can be characterized as a gaffe or an instance of misspeaking (not that Crawford has made any such attempt). Crawford described in blunt terms how he and his colleagues approach decisions like healthcare coverage. Does it make sense to put the healthcare of half a million South Carolinians on the line, in order to live up to the expectations of voting against President Obama?
On Tuesday, just over a month since that interview, South Carolina’s Republican-led House of Representatives voted on the issue of Medicaid expansion. If passed, the measure would have provided a three-year extension of healthcare coverage for over 500,000 South Carolina residents. The measure was struck down along party lines.
So which side of the divide got the vote of Kris Crawford, who initially expressed support for expansion of Medicaid and recognized that Republicans would vote it down strictly because of the “good politics” of voting against President Obama, or as he puts it, “the black guy in the White House”?
It turns out Crawford’s self-defined “good politics” prevailed and he joined his fellow Republicans in voting against expansion.