| July 18, 2012

Time for Oklahoma to 'walk the walk' on Obama's health-overhaul law

“So what do we do now?” That’s the question many people are asking since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling on the president’s health-overhaul law.

“Our friends on the left have pronounced the debate over and urged us to accept our fate and faithfully implement the law,” writes law professor Andrew C. Spiropoulos, who serves as OCPA’s Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow. Indeed, the left appears to be unanimous on this point. But as Spiropoulos says,

This attempt to stem the tide of resistance is, of course, futile and almost comical. They don’t understand that we believe this law is a deadly threat to our economy, constitutional principles and institutions, and even character. We will fight this pernicious scheme at every turn and for as long as it takes to dismantle it and begin the path to health care reforms that follow from, and do not flout, the principles of liberty.

Our state government, for the next few months, can sit tight. The fate of this president and his plan will not be settled by this decision, but, as Roberts made clear in his opinion, by the people in November. If the Republicans take the presidency and the Senate, they will kill the scheme, and we can start over and do things right.

If the president prevails, our state will have to make some tough decisions. The toughest will be whether to accept the scheme’s bribe to radically expand our state Medicaid program.

Under the current scheme, the federal government will pick up the tab for the expansion for three years, and promises it will eventually pay 90 percent of the bill. Well, if you haven’t noticed, we’re drowning in debt [$15 trillion, with another $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities] and, particularly if the president is re-elected, we are heading for a Grecian day of reckoning with our creditors.

Even before the economic crisis, those in the know had concluded that the only way to save the Medicaid program from imploding was to convert it to a block grant program. This means that, at some point, the feds will refuse to give us any more money and leave the state holding the bag for the vastly expanded program. Do we really want to expand an already collapsing program? Even more importantly, do we really want to increase the percentage of our people on welfare?

No,” say the governors of six states. They understand clearly that, as I recently pointed out in the Edmond Sun, “free” money from the feds spurs higher state spending. These governors say their states simply can’t afford to take on more entitlement spending. In addition, Stanford lecturer Keith Hennessey offers even more reasons why states might want to refuse to expand Medicaid.

Here’s the bottom line. For two years now we’ve seen Oklahoma policymakers and candidates—well aware of Oklahomans’ antipathy toward the president’s health-overhaul law—stumble all over themselves in an attempt to get to the right of one another on this issue. But now we’re beyond push cards and press releases. Now it’s time to walk the walk. As OCPA never tires of repeating: “Don’t read their lips. Read their budgets.”

Are Oklahoma’s political leaders going to aid and abet the president as he delivers on his promise to fundamentally transform the United States of America? Or not?

Cato Institute adjunct scholar Jeffrey A. Singer, a Phoenix surgeon, says that if the states don’t create their own exchanges and don’t expand Medicaid, Obamacare won’t work.

Arizona’s legislature has already made it clear it is not interested in setting up an exchange. The state can barely afford its present Medicaid population and has recently enacted cutbacks. Arizona’s Governor Brewer can help throw a wrench into the gears of the Obamacare machine and grind it to a halt -- if she joins states like Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Nebraska, and others by saying “no” to Obamacare. No Medicaid expansion. No state-run exchanges.

Regardless of the outcome of this November’s election, if state legislatures and governors choose not to play the Obamacare game, then the game is over.

The governors who have voiced opposition to Obamacare have “talked the talk.” Now it is time for them to “walk the walk.”

Brandon Dutcher can be reached at or

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