Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), fresh off his six-point victory in this year’s re-election campaign, appeared on msnbc the other day and offered a curious defense of his decision to reject Medicaid expansion.
Tara Culp-Ressler had a good report on the interview.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, Walker was asked whether his position stemmed from an “ideological criticism,” and if he believes the handful of Republican governors implementing this provision of the health law are not “genuine conservatives.”The governor didn’t explicitly answer that question, pointing out that every state has different needs. But he did offer a broader criticism of the public health program.“Beyond that, I just ask the basic question: Why is more people on Medicaid a good thing?” he said. “I’d rather find a way, particularly for able-bodied adults without children, I’d like to find a way to get them into the workforce. I think ideologically, that’s a better approach, not just as a conservative, but as an American. Have more people live the American dream if they’re not dependent on the American government.”
I can appreciate why governors like Walker find themselves in a tough position on this. On the one hand, Medicaid expansion is a no-brainer, which helps low-income families access medical care, improves state finances, and bolsters public hospitals. It’s exactly why so many GOP governors, even in red states, have embraced the policy.
On the other hand, Republicans hold President Obama in contempt, and they’re supposed to reject every aspect of “Obamacare.”
But even under these circumstances, Walker’s argument is just ridiculous.
Let’s unwrap it:
“Why is more people on Medicaid a good thing?” Well, because these are struggling families who can’t otherwise afford basic medical care.
“I’d like to find a way to get them into the workforce.” That sounds nice, but many of these Americans are already in the workforce, but they still don’t make enough money. The fact that the governor doesn’t understand this basic detail is somewhat alarming. What’s more, in Wisconsin, Walker’s efforts to “find a way” to create jobs has failed miserably – the governor promised to create 250,000 jobs in his first term, but ended up creating less than half that total.
“Have more people live the American dream if they’re not dependent on the American government.” Again, it’s a lovely sentiment, but Walker is effectively arguing that low-income families shouldn’t have access to medical care because it’s inconsistent with his governing philosophy.
Obviously, far-right Republicans have a fairly rigid ideology, but the question here is one of pragmatism. There are real-world people struggling in Wisconsin right now. They want health care coverage, but can’t have it because Scott Walker has a vision of “the American dream,” and Medicaid isn’t part of that vision.
The governor’s message to them is … what, exactly? “Sorry you can’t have access to basic care, but at least you’re not dependent on the government”?