RALEIGH – As budget negotiations stall, Governor Roy Cooper made a show last week of offering a counteroffer to the two-year budget passed by the General Assembly that he vetoed. It is hardly a serious offer because it includes the Medicaid expansion that Republicans majorities oppose.
Indeed, Cooper and the Democrat minority in the legislature are demanding Medicaid expansion. A tactic John Hood, Chairman of the John Locke Foundation, says won’t work.
“[…] [Democrats and Republicans] disagree on particulars, and on overall spending totals.
The issue of Medicaid expansion is fundamentally different, however. Most Republican lawmakers are conservatives. Most conservatives oppose the Medicaid expansion as a matter of principle, not just as a matter of fiscal prudence. They don’t think the welfare state should get larger, making more people dependent on government handouts and moving our government further away from its limited, constitutional role in a free society. […]
Conservatives believe the welfare state is too large already and don’t want to enlarge it. They prefer to focus on the cost side, by eliminating policies that inhibit competition and raise health costs unnecessarily.
Asking them to abandon this core principle in the midst of budget negotiations was unwise and, as has become obvious, highly unproductive.”
This is the fundamental struggle between those that believe government should have a limited role in our lives, and those that believe in perpetually expanding that role and abandoning the principles our nation was founded on. As hard as it may be for Republicans to whip Democratic votes for a veto override vote, the prospects of getting enough Republicans to reverse course to support Medicaid expansion is even dimmer.
Despite a thin majority, Republicans still have the leverage in this battle. They will succeed to the extent they hold true to the principles embedded in the Republican platform. If Cooper refuses to sign a budget without Medicaid expansion, then Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger should not hesitate to sit on their hands as the Democratic governor stands in the way of teacher raises and tax cuts for businesses.
One way to assure a loss, however, is for Republican lawmakers to pander to the expansion mentality by passing their own version of an expanded Big Government entitlement program. House Bill 655 is exactly that, and it’s on the House calendar. To pass it would be to give away the farm because Republicans on Jones Street are either scared of Democrats’ campaign talking points, or they themselves don’t really believe in the small-government, free market talking points they spout on their own campaign trails.
If Cooper wants a ‘shutdown,’ give him one. State employees and departments will be funded just the same, at previous budget rates.
Whatever the case, don’t give in to the premise that government should have expand its roles in healthcare at the expense of taxpayers, and definitely don’t give into the Cooper’s bully pulpit. If they do give in, they will be alienating the conservatives that gave them a majority in the first place.