Governor Mike Pence has unveiled a proposal to expand Medicaid using Healthy Indiana, prompting blogger Steve Benen to suggest that Indiana’s Governor might be “evolving.”
Although I’m sure Pence would reject terminology that even slightly referenced evolution, his plan to expand Medicaid through Healthy Indiana is a good thing. That it is also a brave thing is a sad commentary on the current GOP, which is where most criticism of the proposal has come from.
It seems to be slowly dawning on Pence that there is a considerable difference between pontificating in DC and actually running a state. In Washington, the man who has been described as “a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party” could–and did– sermonize ad nauseum without paying a political price. He could–and did–ignore the nitty-gritty of actual lawmaking (he served 11+ years without passing any legislation). A chief executive doesn’t have that luxury; he’s expected to actually do something.
And a chief executive with ambitions/delusions of higher office will be evaluated on the “somethings” that he did.
The problem is, when you are a Republican Governor, you have to satisfy a base that demands ideological purity and ever-more-red meat, at the same time that you have to deal with real budgets, real challenges and the real consequences of bad decisions.
Pence–and several other GOP officeholders–think they’ve figured a way to thread that needle.
We saw it earlier with Common Core. When the GOP suddenly turned on a dime and decided that Common Core was evil (right after the scary black dude in the White House embraced it), Republicans who’d previously been very supportive of Common Core faced a dilemma. They solved the problem by passing “Indiana” standards that looked a lot like Common Core, but were called something else.
Now we have Medicaid expansion by a different name.
Mind you, these strategies are A-OK with me. There really is no “Hoosier” version of math (unless you count the time our legislature passed a measure changing the value of pi…); and 350,000 Indiana citizens desperately need access to affordable health care. If the current Administration has to engage in a bit of misrepresentation to get it done, I won’t complain.
It’s just a shame that these gyrations are necessary in order to avoid being eaten alive by the angry, uninformed people who now control the party.