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.