by Max Brantley
I've made a little fun of the obviousness of news stories quoting Gov. Mike Beebe as saying there are two options to meet the expected huge increase in Medicaid costs — cut services or raise money (either by taxes or taking it from somewhere else, growth in existing revenue streams to begin with).
But wait. The Republican gnomes have a third way! Quoting from Sen. Michael Lamoureux's Twitter account last night (and dutifully regurgitated by Lt. Gov. Mark Darr):
False choice, 1) raise taxes or 2) cut services. I choose 3) none of the above.
Do tell? Magic? Printing Arkansas currency? Barter?
What you see here is probably an early prototype of unified talking points coming from the Frank Luntz Message Factory for both state and national politicians. You can't cut Medicaid without throwing people out of nursing homes or depriving children of working poor of health care. You can't sustain the program without more money. Democrats will be willing to make that tough choice. Republicans will raise the bogus cry of "cut the fat!" Anything but pay to serve the needy that figure so prominently in the book that the family values crowd waves to discriminate against gays and a woman's right to reproductive freedom.
Republicans are getting ready to peddle snake oil that says undeserving bureaucrats are growing fat doing nothing, mostly in the interest of providing a feather bed of welfare to undeserving deadbeats of a dusky hue. If only we could stop that, all would be well.
There are undoubtedly efficiencies that can be realized and extraneous costs that can be cut in health care (outrageous health insurance industry profits, for starters). But to suggest that there's $400 million out there in Arkansas is cruelly dishonest unless you are ready to produce facts.
Sen. Lamoureux, you're up.