Idaho Freedom Foundation: What is 'compassionate' about entitlements?

I haven't gotten any feedback from Gov. Butch Otter's office on my previous blog post (and Saturday column preview), taking the governor to task for refusing to reverse $35 million in cuts to Medicaid programs.

But Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation was quick to take me to task. In this response, he says there is nothing "compassionate" about perpetuating social programs such as Medicaid.

Hoffman is nice about it, though, I suppose. "Hopefully, with a lot of education and a little love, Kevin will learn something useful."

Yup. I feel the love already.

Here's Hoffman's rebuttal, in full:

I don’t mean to keep criticizing my old friend, Kevin Richert, the editorial writer at the Idaho Statesman. But, I don’t mean to keep criticizing my old friend, Kevin Richert, the editorial writer at the Idaho Statesman. But, hopefully, with a lot of education and a little love, Kevin will learn something useful. Today’s lesson is on compassion. Kevin writes on his blog that Gov. Butch Otter is wrong to want to bank $60 million rather than restore some of the money that legislators “cut” last year from Medicaid. I put the word “cut” in quotation marks because you will note that Medicaid funding has gone up, not down, year over year and last year’s legislative session was no exception.

But I digress. Back to our lesson on “compassion.”

Kevin writes “for every 30 cents Idaho puts into Medicaid, the federal government matches it with 70 cents. That turns a $35 million funding cut into a $108 million cut. So, in order to sock $35 million of state money into savings, the state has to walk away from $73 million in federal Medicaid funding.”

Kevin conveniently forgets that we have a bit of a funding problem that comes out of Washington, D.C. This money that he references — the 70 cents of federal money for every 30 put in by Idaho taxpayers — is being drawn on an overdrawn treasury, with a national debt of $15 trillion and climbing. What's compassionate about making our kids and grandkids pay for our excessive spending?

Kevin says Butch's priorities are in the wrong place and that he’s not being compassionate because he wants to put millions into savings and not spending. I believe Otter’s priorities are wrong because he should be putting more emphasis on tax cuts over savings and spending. That would make me more compassionate than Butch and Kevin.

I wonder: What is compassionate about our entitlement programs? Where is the compassion in making people increasingly dependent on a whole host of government programs? I see people so dependent on government aid that they’re forced to stand in long lines at the first of each month when their food stamp cards are refilled. The government has no interest in making people self-reliant. The federal government gleefully rewards state governments that sign up more people for government aid.

And where is the compassion in making everyone — from health care providers to the recipients of government aid themselves — dependent on the funding decisions of the Legislature?

The government’s compassion is on display everywhere: In Appalachia, where the children of children of the impoverished, yet unborn, are likely to remain on the same government programs as their parents and grandparents. Is that compassion? The government’s compassion is on display in our inner cities, where government programs are at the root of dividing families, moms from dads and children from their parents.

And back to Idaho, where confiscatory tax policies mean working people earn less than they could and should in order to sustain the growing entitlement programs. What’s so compassionate about a waitress working two jobs who still can’t make ends meet because too much is being taken out of her paycheck in the form of taxes? Where is the compassion in her money being used to pay for fraud, abuse and wealth redistribution? Where is the compassion in her money, that might be put back into the economy or into her kids’ education, being used to pay for able-bodied Idahoans to stay on government programs in perpetuity? If we are truly compassionate, we’d find ways to make sure the money she earns stays in her paycheck. We’re not doing that under present policies.

Idaho policymakers (and Idaho editorial writers) are often confused. Spending does not equal compassion. To the contrary, bloated government spending is indifference on parade.

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In Other News

The Freedom Foundation will be taking over the job of helping all of the people who are currently on Medicaid.

Oh wait - they aren't? Imagine that.

Hoffman makes good points

I know of families that live off the public dole for ... going on the third gereration. These are able bodied people who have always been capable of work. Sometimes they do work but it is always for bucks under the table.... sort of a double dip if you know what I mean. By not having a "job" they do not have to pay child support...(who do you suppose pays for those children and I do not begrudge the children having something). They use emergency care, (who pays for that?) the mom works two jobs trying to break the cycle but hardly worth the wage and cost (daycare, headstart... who pays for that?). The children get free dental care (who pays for that?) Again, I am not against the children or the mom who is trying but the free loaders who think entitlement programs are 'free' are sadly mistaken. These services, programs, helps, whatever we choose to call them are not a government responsiblity. Families, friends, neighbors, church folks are the ones who actually know what is going on in those lives and they are the best people to assist those in need because they live with those folks on a daily basis. The person at the entitlement office is trying to give out more and more as it is their job security. The more they give out the more they are needed, etc. etc. and the cycle goes on and on....


If "Families, friends, neighbors, church folks are the ones who actually know what is going on in those lives and they are the best people to assist those in need," then why aren't they doing it? Government is not an impediment from them doing so. As for children's dental care (that Medicaid doesn't even cover the dentists costs), where do you propose they get it and the dentist gets paid in full? Again government is not an impediment. There are churches in the valley that supply food to address an immediate need, but their resources are not rich enough to provide medical and dental care.

To use your closing logic then there should be a plethora of churches and others with enormous "job security" just to give out more and more.

Good points?

Even though Hoffman has some good points he is looking at it from the other side. If we want to fix it we have to enforce the rules. Facts have to be checked, visits have to be made, or better yet have the people who can do something work at the local hospital, nursing home, whatever they can do before they are handed the free money and care. I am all for helping those who truly need it and as a techer I see the needs that are out there. Just throwing words at this problem like Hoffman does wil not and can not fix the problem.

Well Hoffman,

if you are going to play the "compassion" game and the "leaving our kids and grandkids to pay for excessive spending," you forgot to mention the massive farm subsidy freebies that are doled out on an annual baisis. Such as $2.89 BILLION for Idaho farmers and ranchers, from 1995-2010. On the national scale, it was $261.9 BILLION for the same time period. This is one of the biggest frauds against the American taxpayer that was ever dreamed up. Farming and ranching is a risk, due to weather and any number of other situations, but so is construction, logging, etc; The American taxpayer should not be required to foot the bills for someones losses in a profession that they chose to pursue.
Yes, there are cases of children of children of the impoverished likely to remain on government programs, the same could be said of the farm subsidies program, with one exception, most of the subsidy recipients are far from being impoverished.
So Hoffman, if you are going to bring someone to task and give lessons on compassion or the lack of, you might want to cover the full spectrum.

That was next on my list

My dad - now 92 - farmed and received subsidies. My brothers who still operate Dad's farm received subsidies until a family meeting about 4 years ago and they began a switch to free range cattle with more manageable crop harvests and figuring out how to aid the community. It's in process.


for them! An honorable solution.


I'll take this one thing to show how Hoffman borders on being mendacious too much of the time.

What’s so compassionate about a waitress working two jobs who still can’t make ends meet because too much is being taken out of her paycheck in the form of taxes?

It's not that "too much is being taken out of her paycheck in the form of taxes" it's the base wage at which she is paid. She doesn't earn the minimum wage of $7.25/hour. Nope - there's a sub-min wage because wait staff receive tips. In Idaho, the last I heard that was $3.35/hour. In fact, there was some kind of blow up about this very thing in Florida with the ReThugs there not wanting to raise the sub-min wage above the current of $2.35. It's not about TAXES; it's about WAGES.


Doc, any waitress worth a bean is making more than 7.25 an hour when tips are factored in. And since most wait staff don't report ALL their tips, they are doing quite well especially when you consider the entrance requirements to be a server.

Not a good example.

It's a good example.

It's about wages, not taxes, which is what Hoffman was stating. I know people who do NOT tip wait staff because they have the same attitude you have. They somehow figure the wait staff is receiving undeclared tips, not realizing they share their tips with cleanup staff and other intricacies. As usual - the point is missed.


There are many studies by "pro-Africa" people that show aid to impoverished people, such as 3rd world countries in Africa, is counter-productive.

What true in Africa is also true here in America in the ghettos, slums, and trailer parks.

Not that there's anything wrong with living in a trailer park. yeah yeah let the music begin...


I'd like to see few of these "many" studies by "pro-Africa" people.


Try this book first Dead Aid.

Then try a Google search for the topic, then get back with us and I'll throw you some more "links" if you still need em.

And here is a link to the best study ever:
"Give a man a fish and he won't starve for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he won't starve for his entire life." :-)


an example closer to home:
(This is from Jeff Frankels Webblog- a search can get you to the original post.)

Despite the EITC and child credit, the poverty trap is still very much a reality in the U.S. A woman called me out of the blue last week and told me her self-sufficiency counselor had suggested she get in touch with me. She had moved from a $25,000 a year job to a $35,000 a year job, and suddenly she couldn’t make ends meet any more. I told her I didn’t know what I could do for her, but agreed to meet with her. She showed me all her pay stubs etc. She really did come out behind by several hundred dollars a month. She lost free health insurance and instead had to pay $230 a month for her employer-provided health insurance. Her rent associated with her section 8 voucher went up by 30% of the income gain (which is the rule). She lost the ($280 a month) subsidized child care voucher she had for after-school care for her child. She lost around $1600 a year of the EITC. She paid payroll tax on the additional income. Finally, the new job was in Boston, and she lived in a suburb. So now she has $300 a month of additional gas and parking charges. She asked me if she should go back to earning $25,000. I told her that she should first try to find a $35k job closer to home. Also, she apparently can’t fully reverse her decision to take the higher paying job because she can’t get the child care voucher back (the waiting list is several years long she thinks). She is really stuck. She tried taking an additional weekend job, but the combination of losing 30 percent in increased rent and paying for someone to take care of her child meant it didn’t help much either.


In Idaho, a family of four can't have a monthly income of over $382 (total household before taxes income) to qualify for Medicaid. That's a household yearly income of $4,584 (again, before taxes).

I know this isn't Christian of me (because I ain't one), but I don't mind some of my tax dollars going to help out these folks with their medical care.

I don't see it so much as an entitlement, but more like the least we can do.

The Emergency Room

as primary physician would be compassionate, I suppose?

why do you keep giving Hoffman credibility he doesn't deserve?

He is nothing more than the head of a conservative lobby group. Does every other lobby group in Idaho get constant coverage? I'm sure there are many groups who were supportive of replacing those funds, but you continue to give Hoffman disproportionate coverage.

I still wish someone would figure out how this lobby group keeps their non-profit about abusing the system.

the well-paid head of a lobby group

$80,000, wasn't it?

I agree, I'd love to see an investigative piece on this group and its funding.

Master of the Strawman Strikes Again

WH: False arguments are his forte. Even the most casual observer sees that the national debt is not Idaho's or even current entitlement spending but primarily casused of cutting taxes instead of paying for two wars as well the world's most unbalanced tax code favoring industry and old-line families at the expense of the middle class.

Where do I donate?

Well said Wayne!

Kevin, please refrain in the

Kevin, please refrain in the future from giving Wayne Hoffman's malevolent ideas print space.

As a matter of personal interest

Reading the story of Robin Row at another news site, I searched via the Idaho Historical Society for women on death row, charged with murder, etc., but an incidental finding was that in 1913, the city or state sanctioned a widow & children's fund to provide "a small pension." There were also a few other notations of similar funding being established in providing monetary care for citizens. I'll look again for the reference. It was interesting.

Open Government, Open IFF

I applaud some of the work of IFF but they need to disclose their donor list otherwise they are but hypocrites.

Boise SD wants to Spend your $ say No

Boise SD plans to pass their 5 yr tax increase on March 13 to spend your money. They use language like classroom reduction to cover up the fact that the administrators are just plain tired of having their compensation reduced by 5 days, even if they have received 1 time pay bonus'.

Rather than asking for a 1 yr targeted tax increase for K-3 classrooms or specific content areas like math, science and reading... No they want to increase property owners taxes for the next 5 yrs so they can spend. Renters get off free. Say NO on March 13

Wayne, we should all have a corporate sponsor like you do.

Or is it sponsors? Is their name Koch? In any case, they pull the strings and Wayne obligingly prances and gibbers. The fact that anyone takes the IFF seriously is a sign of the sorry state of political discourse in this country.

And I can't wait

For Silly Sali's new non-profit which will surely be approved by his buddies at the statehouse. Paid for by a special license plate so he and his family can live on the public dole forever. They should call it "In the stupid we trust" rather than "in God we trust". They'll probably pass out a few bumper stickers at the parade and pocket the rest. Is it also true that Bill didn't claim any income except his legislative salary for years before he was elected to the big House? Doesn't say much for a UofI Law degree, does it.