Plenty of Republican governors, including a few White House hopefuls, are facing alarming budget shortfalls right now, but no one’s in worse shape than Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R). The far-right former senator imposed an “experiment” on his state, and it’s failed spectacularly.
Massive tax breaks Kansas couldn’t afford have led to debt downgrades, weak growth, and state finances in shambles. Making matters worse, confronted with weak statewide job growth and a deepening budget shortfall, a judicial panel recently ruled that Kansas has been “inadequately funding K-12 education.” Brownback, not surprisingly, can’t afford the fix.
How dire have things gotten for the beleaguered Republican governor? The Lawrence Journal-World in Kansas reports that Brownback is starting to reconsider his contempt for the Affordable Care Act (via Daniel Strauss).
Gov. Sam Brownback suggested Wednesday that he might consider proposals to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, provided the Legislature can identify a way to pay for it.“I’ve been pushing that anything we do on Medicaid expansion has to be 100-percent paid for,” Brownback said during impromptu remarks to the Kansas Association of Insurance Agents, who met at the Statehouse on Wednesday…. Brownback’s comments, which came in response to a question from one of the insurance agents, stood in stark contrast to his remarks on the campaign trail last year when he said he strongly opposed the federal health care law, also known as Obamacare, and criticized his Democratic opponent Paul Davis for supporting it.
To be sure, the governor isn’t officially on board, at least not yet. But Brownback was willing to say yesterday, “I haven’t said we’ll take it. I haven’t said we wouldn’t.” In this case, “it” is Medicaid expansion through the ACA.
And as you’d probably guess, the Kansas Republican has never said anything close to this before.
In a way, this is an important test of Brownback’s fealty to his own ineffective ideology. He’s committed to his failed economic plan and he’s equally committed to opposing the Affordable Care Act. In this case, however, caving to reality on one front (the ACA) would directly help alleviate his principal problem (the massive budget shortfall the governor caused).
So, what’s it going to be, gov? “Obamacare” can help you out of a jam, help thousands of Kansas families, boost state hospitals, and close your budget gap. Do you really hate the president that much that you’d spite yourself on principle?
Postscript: A far-right group in neighboring Missouri welcomed Brownback for an event yesterday. The organization, called Grow Missouri, tweeted before the event, “Honored to have (Brownback) in Jefferson City today talking to (lawmakers) about his tax policies and how we can adopt them.”
Why anyone would want to duplicate Brownback’s failures on purpose remains something of a mystery.