by Max Brantley
I hope to have a report before long on the legislative preview underway at the Capitol. Above you see the Republican leaders of the respective chambers, House Speaker Davy Carter (left) and Senate president pro tem Michael Lamoureux. Gov. Mike Beebe is due shortly.
Surprise: Carter and Lamoureux are in no rush to act on Medicaid expansion.
UPDATE ... perchance to dream. Twitter from Lance Turner:
Davy Carter, Medicaid: “The goal ought to be to reduce that number…” on Medicaid and grow per capita income
Nice line. But dodges the question. In the meanwhile, do we cover 215,000 working poor in need or do we not?
Lamoureux and Carter wrap up by saying cuts in the existing Medicaid program can be avoided with surplus money (and presumably a magical production of some other as yet unspecified cuts in existing spending.) More rain on this Republican parade: That is one-time money, doesn't fix the immediate program for the long-term and also dodges the question about whether Arkansas will help more of its people or not by taking an expanded Medicaid program.
When Beebe took center stage, he opened by making nice to Speaker Carter, again saying he reminded Beebe of himself. (You can be sure there is no higher praise.)
I hope somebody asks Carter if he's running for governor in 2014. Because Beebe had been running since about, what, '82?
Here's Roby Brock's report. Lamoureux and Carter keep talking about math and then they keep engaging in voodoo arithmetic. Co-pays and drug testing won't close $100 million gaps in funding. Expecting the federal government to allow Arkansas, of all places, to provide less than the Medicaid law provides and still get money seems like a legal pipe dream. It still sounds like George Wallace in a Brooks Brothers suit and a cultured accent to me.
Beebe said he's willing to work with Republicans on Medicaid solutions, including pitch alternatives to the feds. But he says the state will pay for Medicaid expansion regardless. Meaning our taxes will help pay for New York and California, but not Arkansas. Beebe also was cool to the coming bill to raise the state minimum wage. Beebe didn't get where he is today without keeping the chamber of commerce uppermost in his thoughts.