by Max Brantley
Republican Minority Leader John Burris attacked over 750,000 Arkansans last night, admitting that Republicans don’t care about the elderly or Arkansas families who rely on Medicaid.
In a post on Twitter, Republican John Burris said, “Romney was spot on. Very poor do have safety net. Don’t believe it? Come look at our state’s Medicaid budget. Billions…”
“Which Arkansas child or senior would Burris want to take off Medicaid?” Candace Martin, communications director for the Democratic Party of Arkansas asked. “Over 750,000 Arkansans rely on Medicaid to ensure their family can lead a healthy life. For Burris to criticize Arkansans for wanting to keep their family healthy is disgraceful.”
Over 750,000 Arkansans are on Medicaid, and of those, 45 percent are disabled, 25 percent are seniors and 25 percent are children. Over 100,000 Arkansas children have received health coverage through ARKids First, the state's CHIP/Children's Health Insurance Program, since it was established under Governor Huckabee’s administration. Currently, there are about 70,000 Arkansas children served by the program.
“John Burris wants to blame children and disabled Arkansans, saying they are taking advantage of a ‘safety net’ built for them,” Martin said. “As a state legislator and the leader of Republicans serving in the state house, it’s frightening to think that Republicans have taken such an extreme position.”
Burris, whose financial resources apparently leave him well-enough fixed that he doesn't have to hold down a full-time job, suffers from wealthy Romney's same blindness, tone-deafness and lack of understanding of what it means to be poor in America.
They invoke "safety net" as if it is a bed of taxpayer-financed roses. Nets have holes, as Jon Stewart noted the other night. Food stamps, yes, are available, though often not enough to make it through a month. Health coverage is provided for the poorest (though not all the working poor), but not for every expense. Tell one of those minimum wage workers in the burger chain Burris once managed about how the "safety net" means their lives supporting a family on $16,000 a year is sweet. Tell it to granny in her nursing home bed, on Medicaid because her assets are zero and who scrapes to add a candy bar, magazine or new nightgown to her bare existence.
Spot on? What a nimrod.
UPDATE: Romney now says he "misspoke" (repeatedly as the record shows.) Mr. Burris? Care to retract?