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Posts Tagged ‘spending’
September 9th, 2014 at 7:51 pm
ObamaCare’s Popularity Dropping Ahead of Midterms

“Just 35 percent of voters now support the Affordable Care Act, down 3 percentage points from May, according to a monthly poll by the Kaiser Health Foundation,” reports The Hill.

Moreover, the poll found that 47 percent of respondents feel negatively about the law, otherwise known as ObamaCare.

The RealClearPolitics average of six national polls is even worse: 53.8 percent say they oppose the law, with only 40.3 percent in favor.

Little wonder that the controversial health law is so unpopular. States are continuing to resist Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare’s terms for fear of a Trojan horse spending spree, and consumers are getting shut out of some of the country’s best hospitals.

All this and it is still almost two months until the midterm elections.

President Barack Obama may not be on the ballot this year, but his eponymous health law surely is.

May 15th, 2014 at 1:02 pm
ObamaCare’s Medicaid Expansion Will Cost California an Additional $1.2 Billion

“Nearly one-third of California’s total population – roughly 11.5 million people – will be enrolled in Medi-Cal next year, according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration,” reports the L.A. Times.

“Enrollment is expected to exceed previous estimates by 1.4 million, and administration officials said it would cost the state $1.2 billion more than originally thought.”

Brown’s health policy czar calls the jump in enrollment part of the “woodworking effect;” meaning that the media’s attention on ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges enticed many people to sign up, only to find out they already qualified for Medi-Cal (California’s name for its Medicaid program).

Readers may recall that ObamaCare expands eligibility for Medicaid into higher income brackets. To get states to go along, ObamaCare pays for all of the new spending associated with covering these new enrollees (at least until 2017). But for those who would have qualified under the old system – where states contribute 50 cents to every dollar spent – the state gets no relief.

This is the scenario California finds itself in as officials head into the budget negotiation season needing to find an additional $1.4 billion they didn’t plan for.

Ever the populist, Brown is reframing Sacramento’s miscalculation as a case of voters needing to fund their good intentions. “I’m proud we did it,” referring to the expansion as “a huge social commitment on the part of the taxpayers of California.” “But we also have to take into account this thing is growing.”

April 1st, 2014 at 6:48 pm
ObamaCare Promotion Driving Up Medicaid Applications

“According to a recent study by Avalere, the average application rate [for Medicaid] has increased 27 percent among non-expansion states and 41 percent for those expanding,” writes Angela Boothe of the American Action Forum.

For example, Tennessee – a state that chose not to expand its Medicaid program under ObamaCare – is still experiencing severe pressure on its budget due to high numbers of people trying to enroll. Though only the beginning of April, the Volunteer State has already enrolled the maximum number of people it projected to cover for the year. Adding to the pressure on state budget writers is the reality that by refusing to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare – which covers 100 percent of the increased costs until 2017 – part of the expense for covering the new enrollees falls on the state. If you work in a non-Medicaid state agency in Tennessee, beware bean counters wielding knives.

The Avalere report highlights the fact that ObamaCare creates a unique burden for non-expansion states like Tennessee. Because of the controversial health law’s media saturation, millions of people are aware that they are probably eligible for some sort of government assistance to purchase health coverage. Of these, many are discovering that they already qualify for Medicaid, even before ObamaCare was enacted. The awkward situation for states like Tennessee is that ObamaCare is still expanding Medicaid, just without any extra financial help.

If non-expansion states like Tennessee continue to see record Medicaid enrollment increases this year, don’t be surprised if anti-ObamaCare governors and legislatures start to rethink their opposition to expansion. Of course, as I’ve explained elsewhere, it would be a serious mistake to swap a three-year federal bailout for decades of increased costs by expanding Medicaid on ObamaCare’s terms. But for desperate lawmakers looking for a quick fix, ObamaCare’s “free money” may be too tempting to pass up.

January 24th, 2014 at 3:18 pm
NY’s Schumer Calls on Dems to Defend Government

Talk about a New York state of mind.

In the run-up to the 2014 election, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “charts an agenda for Congress that includes extending unemployment benefits, raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable and investing in infrastructure,” according to the L.A. Times.

“Times are now ripe for a renewed and robust defense of government,” Schumer said in a speech to the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund. And he clearly doesn’t fear any potential downside. “The best way to deal with the tea party’s obsessive anti-government mania is to confront it directly, by showing the people the need for government to help them out of their morass.”

Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The real maniacs in Washington, D.C. are liberals like Schumer who think Americans are eager to be told how government will meddle even more in the economy. Raising the minimum wage in an anemic employment market is a sure way to increase joblessness. But maybe that’s the point. The result is more people directly dependent on government outlays for their daily needs.

And then there is the inflationary effect of government spending on the price of college tuition, as well as the fact that ‘infrastructure investment’ is really code for pork barrel projects channeled to public employee unions.

Schumer’s call for a full-throated defense of government may get cheers in the liberal salons of the NYC-DC corridor, but echoing it would bring swift electoral defeat for his colleagues in more conservative states.

November 29th, 2013 at 5:37 pm
Obamacare Swells New York’s Medicaid Rolls

“Since the Oct. 1 rollout of the Affordable Care Act in New York, nearly half of New Yorkers who signed up for insurance on the state-run exchange qualified for Medicaid,” reports the New York Post.

Apparently, the media attention surrounding Obamacare enticed many lower-income Empire State residents to apply for insurance, only to find out they qualified for taxpayer subsidized Medicaid instead. If every New Yorker that qualifies for Obamacare’s expanded version of Medicaid actually signs up, the state’s total Medicaid population could hit 6 million in a few years. That would be nearly 1/3rd of the state’s population.

The implications for federal spending levels are ominous. Currently, Medicaid spending is split between states and the feds. But once 2014 arrives, “the feds will pick up 75 percent of the tab and eventually 90 percent for childless Medicaid adults, instead of the current 50 percent.”

As the Post’s article indicates, Obamacare’s failure to lure enough buyers onto its public-private insurance exchanges is only half the story. The real win for those who want to impose a government-run, single-payer system onto the American health care system may be in the massive expansion of Medicaid consumers paid for out of the federal treasury. Thus, even if the public-private part of Obamacare fails, the number of citizens depending on Washington for health care will increase dramatically. In the long run, that may be just what Obamacare’s staunchest supporters desire.

September 20th, 2013 at 11:36 am
House Votes to Defund ObamaCare

The U.S. House of Representatives just voted 230-189 to pass a stopgap spending bill that will fund the government for the next three months and DEFUND OBAMACARE.

The Senate will begin to take up the House bill on Monday.

September 16th, 2013 at 7:04 pm
Remember Obama Phones?

Looking for a job? How about getting trained by a government contractor to “forge signatures and falsify data”?

National Review is reporting that a former employee at TerraCom, Inc., a cell phone provider under the federal government’s Lifeline program, was encouraged to use the tactics to help boost the company’s revenues from $32.6 million in 2011 to $52.3 million in 2012.

Though a drop in the bucket for a line-item that costs $2.189 billion, the revelation serves as a reminder for how bad the so-called “Obama Phone” program has been administered.

So does this: “Lifeline’s costs have increased by 166 percent in the past five years,” according to NR.

Hmm… that means the program, around since the 1980’s, dramatically spiked in 2009 and hasn’t stopped since. Any guess as to what – or who – is responsible?

May 2nd, 2013 at 1:16 pm
Hidden Costs of Gang’s Immigration Bill

Andrew Stiles explains the reality behind the Gang of Eight claim that illegal immigrants won’t be eligible for public benefits until 13 years after being legalized:

“A notable loophole in the Gang’s legislation explicitly prohibits DHS from considering the likelihood that an applicant for provisional legal status will become a “public charge” — defined as any individual who is “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” Critics fear that if a significant number of immigrants meeting that definition are given legal status, state and local government could face an immediate financial burden, and one that could worsen over time.”

Moreover, as I explain in my column this week, the Gang’s prohibition against using federal law’s “public charge” criteria to decide whether illegal immigrants should be legalized undermines claims from Gang members and their allies that mass legalization won’t lead to big government spending increases.

The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector is still studying the impact of the Gang’s legalization effort on government spending, and my hunch is that he, unlike the Gang, will include the probable increases incurred by state and local governments if the public charge prohibition becomes law.

If so, the American people will get a clearer picture of the actual costs of legalization. Only then can we have an honest debate about what to do.

April 5th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
HHS Refuses State Requests for Medicaid Expansion Flexibility

States looking for flexibility under ObamaCare in how to structure and pay for expanding Medicaid can take a hike, according to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation.

States like Arkansas and Indiana have requested waivers from the health reform law’s expansion formula that creates millions of new enrollees at an eventual cost of billions of dollars to states.

The hope was to use existing state-based models like Indiana’s successful health savings account for low-income Hoosiers to increase Medicaid enrollment while retaining cost certainty for state budget writers.

But those hopes were dashed after the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a frequently asked questions (FAQ) sheet that flatly denied any request to deviate from ObamaCare’s one-size-fits-all, open-ended spending commitment for Medicaid.

With this announcement, the Obama administration has definitively articulated its idea of bipartisan reform.  Republican governors who capitulate and get in line are welcomed with open arms.  Those like Indiana’s Mike Pence can take their policy entrepreneurship somewhere else.

April 1st, 2013 at 2:49 pm
Indiana’s Pence Makes Progress with Innovative Medicaid Expansion

The Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, cleared an important hurdle today when the state’s House Public Health Committee approved a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility without relying on ObamaCare’s open-ended spending incentives.

Pence’s plan would increase Indiana’s Medicaid enrollment by an estimated 400,000, but within the state’s Healthy Indiana initiative begun in 2007.  As a health savings account, Healthy Indiana allots a certain amount of money to qualifying Hoosiers who then shop for doctors and treatment options within their budget.  In effect, it transfers the decision making process for health care away from government bureaucrats to private citizens.  By capping the amount, Healthy Indiana also gives state budget writers more certainty about the cost of Medicaid expansion in future years.

Contrast this with the unlimited spending commitment envisioned by the Medicaid expansion system under ObamaCare, and conservatives will see why Pence’s proposal should be watched closely.  Under ObamaCare, states would pay no cost for expanding their eligibility pool up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line.  But starting in 2017, those that expanded enrollment would pay for 10 percent of the increase.  Though seemingly a small percentage, the costs will run into the billions, with even more likely if the federal government decides to reduce its 90 percent subsidy, as President Barack Obama has already hinted at doing.

The future of health insurance reform looks like it will include some mix of government-regulated exchanges, subsidies, and cost controls.  The question dividing conservatives like Mike Pence and Paul Ryan on one hand from liberals like Obama on the other, is who gets to make the lion’s share of the decisions on how health insurance dollars are spent.  Conservatives value individual choice, while liberals favor centrally planned mandates.

Ironically, if the President wants ObamaCare to be fiscally sustainable, he’ll have to accept that the only way to do it is allowing conservatives like Pence and Ryan to inject into it as much personal freedom as possible.

March 22nd, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Tom Coburn Axes Taxpayer Money for Absurd Research

From Quin’s lips to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s ears…

Yesterday, Quin highlighted one of the many wasteful uses of taxpayer money funded by the National Science Foundation, a federal government agency that subsidizes some pretty dubious projects. (Such as the sex lives of ducks.)

Also yesterday Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma and a committed budget cutter, persuaded a majority of his Senate colleagues to limit NSF political science grants to only those studies that are certified as “promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.”

Citing just one example, Coburn said that “There is no reason to spend $251,000 studying Americans’ attitudes toward the U.S. Senate when citizens can figure that out for free.”

As I understand it, Coburn’s amendment only curtails political science-related research, meaning that the project Quin cited may still be allowed going forward. Even so, it’s a hopeful sign that Coburn established a precedent for at least one part of the federal budget that aligns national spending with the (true) national interest.

March 16th, 2013 at 3:22 pm
WSJ: GOP Medicaid Flippers’ Wishful Thinking

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal nails a specious legal argument by at least two GOP governors trying to convince their Republican legislatures to approve the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion now, with the intention of opting out when the state’s bill comes due in three years.

The argument, a product of a private law firm in Ohio, makes some nice lawyer’s points, but ultimately fails to take into account how government programs – and the politics that drive them – actually work:

But there’s no evidence in the original law or the Supreme Court opinion that states can join or leave at their own whim. The logic of Justice Roberts’s opinion  [upholding ObamaCare] suggests that once states adopt new Medicaid, the program immediately becomes the old program for the purposes of the law and then states can’t leave.

The Becker memo also cites “guidance” from the federal Health and Human Services Department that states “may decide later to drop the coverage.” But these informal documents on the HHS website lack the force of law or even of regulation; they aren’t part of the Federal Register. In any case, HHS doesn’t have such authority. Congress didn’t grant the Administration any more statutory leeway than it did the states.

We wouldn’t be surprised if HHS is promising flexibility now only to revoke it later as a deliberate bait and switch. That wouldn’t be any more deceptive than Mr. Kasich’s legal claims. Republicans tempted to sign up for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion had better think twice because once they do, the likelihood is they’re ceding control forever.

The decision facing Republican legislatures is straightforward: Either continue with Medicaid as it is and have (some) discretion over your state budget, or accept ObamaCare’s expansion and get ready to lose control.

It’s time for the GOP flip-floppers to be honest about the implications of this decision and debate the choice, and the consequences, on the merits.

March 12th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
Florida’s ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion on Hold

Republicans in the Florida house and senate have rejected Governor Rick Scott’s plan to expand the state’s Medicaid population.  Under ObamaCare, states are promised three years worth of federal funding to cover the cost increases.  Last week, Scott reversed his earlier opposition and accepted those terms.

The move by Florida’s Republican legislators is a welcome corrective to the knee-buckling capitulation of Scott and other GOP governors.  Borrowing a play out of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposals, State Senator Joe Negron is using his no vote to pivot in a new direction.

“This will be the beginning of a transformation of the entire Medicaid system,” committee Chairman Sen. Joe Negron said. “My goal is that we will get out of the federal Medicaid system as we know it. Now, we can’t do that all at once, but we have an opportunity to begin that process.”

Negron wants the state to create a basic health insurance plan for the expanded Medicaid population and require recipients to pay a sliding scale premium based on their income. He suggested using Florida Healthy Kids, a managed care program that provides health insurance to low-income children, as the vehicle for delivering the new system.

Negron and his colleagues are showing real policy leadership.  Now that Scott’s dash for cash is on hold, it’s time for the former health care executive to rediscover his private sector creativity and help Negron put Florida on a path toward sustainable social safety net spending.

H/T: Tampa Bay Online

March 5th, 2013 at 1:18 pm
Pennsylvania Next Medicaid Expansion Domino to Fall?

Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett may be wavering on his refusal to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare’s bait-and-switch funding scheme.

I don’t envy him.  He’s surrounded by states like Ohio and New Jersey, whose GOP governors opted to indulge the fantasy that they can accept the federal government’s promise of full funding at face value.

To his credit, Corbett isn’t allowing himself to act like there are no costs associated with agreeing to so-called “free” Medicaid expansion for the next three years.

Here’s some refreshing honesty from Corbett’s spokeswoman Christine Cronkright:

The Corbett administration has estimated that participating in the Medicaid expansion that would add 800,000 people to medical assistance would cost Pennsylvania $1 billion through 2014-15 and a total of $4.1 billion. Advocates maintain that the Medicaid expansion would pay the way for $43 billion in federal contributions, beginning with three years in which the federal government would pay 100 percent of the expansion.

“Regardless of the federal government’s claims, the presumption that they will cover 100 percent of the costs of full expansion is simply not true. Regardless of any other costs under the (Affordable Care Act) that we’d have to bear, there are still IT and staffing costs, costs for additional clients coming into the system that may have been eligible before, and costs for those we believe will drop employer-based coverage,” Cronkright said.

So it turns out “free” really means $1-4 billion.

The simple truth about ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is that it establishes a one-way street toward greater federal intervention in every individual’s health care decisions. Democrats know this, and are using the “free” money trope to lure weak-willed Republicans into a federally-dominated system from which a state will not be able to extract itself.

GOP governors who agree to expansion and believe that they will have the political support to simply cut off access to Medicaid when the feds pull back funding are deluding themselves. Besides, what kind of leadership is it to support welfare expansion on the condition that someone else pays for it with their debt-laden credit card?

So far, Governor Corbett is standing firm in the face of tremendous opposition to fiscal sanity.  Let’s hope he continues.

March 1st, 2013 at 2:10 pm
Paul: Sequester is a 5% Cut on a 17% Increase

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) shines a spotlight on the true impact of today’s sequester cuts:

If the sequester were to take effect, our spending would only be cut by 2.3%. Let me repeat that — these “eviscerating” cuts will leave our country with 97.7% of our current spending, cutting a mere $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget.

The sequester barely begins to skim the surface of the problem. Since taking office, President Obama has increased federal domestic agencies’ budget by 17%. This 17% increase since 2008 will have to endure a 5% cut.

Even with the sequester, the federal government will spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012 — or more than $15 billion.

An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily spells out in greater detail just how much federal spending has grown during the Obama Administration:

…here are some examples — using the OMB’s data and projections — showing the growth in spending for various federal functions since 2008 (percentage increases are inflation-adjusted):

• Transportation: up $36.6 billion, an increase of 37.5%.

• Education: up $30.8 billion, or 25%.

• Housing assistance: up $16.4 billion, or 31.4%.

• Community and regional development: up $11 billion, or 36.5%.

• Natural resources and environment: up $9.5 billion, or 21.3%.

• Farm income stabilization: up $6.8 billion, or 39.5%.

• General government: up $5.9 billion, up 26.6%.

This doesn’t exhaust the list of nondefense discretionary spending; it leaves out energy boondoggles and the burgeoning food stamp program, among others.

Other important budget items immune from sequester are federal entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to name just the most recognizable three.

While any budgets cuts are going to be painful, the $85 billion on the chopping block now is, to use Paul’s word, a “pittance” when one considers that for the fifth year in a row the federal budget is likely to carry a $1 trillion deficit.

February 27th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
Chris Christie to Expand Medicaid

The key passage from Governor Chris Christie’s budget speech yesterday speaks volumes about where the New Jersey Republican stands on principle:

Let me be clear, I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act. I think it is wrong for New Jersey and for America. I fought against it and believe, in the long run, it will not achieve what it promises. However, it is now the law of the land. I will make all my judgments as governor based on what is best for New Jerseyans. That is why I twice vetoed saddling our taxpayers with the untold burden of establishing health exchanges.

But in this instance, expanding Medicaid by 104,000 citizens in a program that already serves 1.4 million, is the smart thing to do for our fiscal and public health. If that ever changes because of adverse actions by the Obama Administration, I will end it as quickly as it started.

Almost all of the same criticisms I leveled at Florida Governor Rick Scott this weekend apply to Christie and his reasoning.

The Governor’s characteristic bluntness, though, merits one further point.

By claiming that the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) “is wrong for New Jersey and for America,” and that “in the long run, it will not achieve what it promises,” Christie is admitting that he has decided to entangle New Jersey in a fundamentally flawed program that will fail to achieve its goals.  But don’t worry.  In the meantime, New Jerseyans can breathe easy because Christie, like Scott and the other Republican capitulators, will make sure to gobble up as much “free” federal taxpayer money as possible until he decides to pull the plug rather than help cover the costs.

One of the first rules of persuasion is to be coherent.  Christie’s tortured, self-serving logic doesn’t come close.

February 26th, 2013 at 10:37 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama’s Spending Problem
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez. 

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

February 25th, 2013 at 1:37 pm
White House Tries to Avoid Sequester by Shaming the Public

As usual, Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog has an interesting series of graphs that show the power of the federal government in granular detail.  Today’s installment, courtesy of the White House, provides a state-by-state assessment of how the coming budget sequester will impact a range of federally-funded, state-run programs.

These include popular spending on initiatives such as teachers and schools, work-study jobs, Head Start, job-search assistance, military readiness, law enforcement, child care, vaccines for children, public health, nutrition assistance for seniors, STOP Violence Against Women Program, and clean air and water.

But while the White House is putting out these details to (ostensibly) convince the public that 10 percent across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending will be devastating to popular programs, there’s also a bit of subtle public shaming thrown in as well.  Reading through the graphs it becomes painfully obvious just how much of modern American life is subsidized by federal tax dollars (and in some cases, also supported by state taxes).  Getting confronted with that reality isn’t comfortable; especially when many people have come to rely on this kind of help.

And yet, something has to change.  We simply can’t raise enough taxes to cover the cost of every liberal social experiment, or even to pay for every good idea.  Instead, we as a country need political and other leaders to think carefully about how to modify the social contract we’ve been under since the New Deal so that the generations to come will not be cheated out of their inheritance.

Much like how they react to any reasonable reform ideas to Medicare (see any number of ‘Medi-scare’ tactics), liberals can’t lead on this modification project because they refuse to acknowledge that America has a spending problem in the first place.  It thus falls to conservatives to improve on what we have, preserving what’s good and making it better.

Part of the reason I’m optimistic about the future is that I don’t believe that details about our nation’s financial problems will shame a majority of citizens into zero-sum taxation.  Rather, I think that once people become aware of how overextended is our current welfare state, they will reward politicians who can show how to scale back the public sector so that the private sector can flourish.

February 23rd, 2013 at 8:09 pm
Studies Don’t Support Obama’s Pre-K Initiative

After surveying the leading studies on early childhood intervention, social scientist Charles Murray offers sobering, and much-needed, advice on what’s really at stake:

So what should we make of all this? The take-away from the story of early childhood education is that the very best programs probably do a modest amount of good in the long run, while the early education program that can feasibly be deployed on a national scale, Head Start, has never proved long-term results in half a century of existence. In the most rigorous evaluation ever conducted, Head Start doesn’t show results that persist even until the third grade.

Let me rephrase this more starkly: As of 2013, no one knows how to use government programs to provide large numbers of small children who are not flourishing with what they need. It’s not a matter of money. We just don’t know how.

Asking [the right] questions forces us to confront a reality that politicians and other opinion leaders have ducked for decades: America has far too many children born to men and women who do not provide safe, warm and nurturing environments for their offspring — not because there’s no money to be found for food, clothing and shelter, but because they are not committed to fulfilling the obligations that child-bearing brings with it.

This head-in-the-sand attitude has to change. If we don’t know how to substitute for absent, uncaring or incompetent parenting with outside interventions, then we have to think about how we increase the odds that children are born to present, caring and competent parents.

Answering Murray’s questions would require a different sort of leadership than proposing yet another multi-billion dollar federal program.  In a word, it would require statesmanship.

Don’t expect the current president to be rising to that challenge any time soon.

February 23rd, 2013 at 7:02 pm
Florida Joins Dark Side on Medicaid Expansion

With all due respect to Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, and as a fan of his website I mean that sincerely, I couldn’t disagree more with his defense of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s decision to accept ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion.

Like other Republican governors who’ve flipped on the issue, Scott announced last week that even though he remains philosophically opposed to ObamaCare, he would accept at least the law’s Medicaid expansion for the next three years because federal taxpayers – not the state – would pick up the entire price tag.  Like many of the other capitulators, Scott claims that because the Supreme Court ruled ObamaCare constitutional, it doesn’t make financial sense for Florida residents to pay for ObamaCare through fees and penalties while other Medicaid-expanding states reap a windfall.

Ruddy defends Scott’s about-face with two arguments I don’t find compelling.

The first:

Scott has also made it clear that he has not agreed to continue the Medicaid expansion beyond three years, when federal funding will drop to 90 percent, and Florida could opt out at that point.

Let’s get real.  Once a state accepts more federal dollars and grows a politically sensitive program like Medicaid, the trend is to grow, not cut back.

Moreover, Scott’s calculation betrays a canny reading of the political calendar.  He’s up for reelection in November 2014, but will get credit for expanding Medicaid at no cost to state taxpayers in January of that year.  If successful in his bid, Scott can continue to enjoy favorable press until January 2017 when the federal largesse starts receding and Floridians start feeling the cost of all that “free” healthcare.  But by the time that happens Scott will be wrapping up his second term, and handing off that political football to a predecessor.

Which brings us to Ruddy’s other unpersuasive argument:

So governors like Scott and [Arizona’s Jan] Brewer have to put aside their personal views and accept the reality of the situation.

Since when do conviction conservatives want one of their own – as the Tea Party-backed Rick Scott claimed to be in 2010 – to “put aside their personal views” in favor of growing government?

The “reality of the situation” with ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is that it’s completely voluntary.  Any governor that accepts its terms is intentionally saddling his or her state’s future taxpayers with a costly new entitlement that will be impossible to scale back through the political process.

After all, if politicians like Scott can’t weather the storm of saying no to entitlement increases when they don’t even exist, how does it pass the laugh test to think he’ll have the political courage to scale back when the feds re-impose reality?

To be fair, Ruddy isn’t alone trying to defend the indefensible.  Charles Krauthammer is singing a similar tune.  But again, with all due respect, it’s just not true that you can claim to be a fiscal conservative and then capitulate on something as basic as a budget-busting expansion of Medicaid.