, ,

This post originally appeared on the original  Blue Girl, Red State blog on April 8, 2005

April 7, 2005 marked the death of Western Civilization as we know it, at least in the state of Missouri. Get out the bugle and play “Taps” for decency, civil debate, and, well, manners.

Now as readers of this site know, the Republican party (especially the sanctimonious asshats in the Missouri Republican party) and I are not going to be joining the Mutual Admiration Society anytime soon. I feel like my entire state has just gone round the bend.

As I have made clear in previous posts, I strongly oppose the cuts to Medicaid. I believe that taxes should be raised, the roads fixed, and Medicaid expanded to cover all uninsured citizens of the state on a sliding-scale premium structure, much like the Oregon Health Plan that came to pass in the mid 1990’s, when Oregonians elected trauma surgeon John Kitzhaber as their Governor. Unfortunately, the ideas to reform health care that I brought back to Missouri from the left coast and European countries don’t have a lot of traction in these parts. Yet. But the harder the right struggles to destroy the final shreds of the social safety net, the greater our chances for progressive success when the pendulum swings our way again. But lets get back to the events of yesterday that have me railing about the rapid downward spiral of civil society:

First allow me to set the scene: Rather than ask the citizens of Missouri to pay some taxes, the Republicans in control of the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the statehouse think it’s a better idea to completely eviscerate social programs. The most eggregious, unconscionable cuts come from the Medicaid budget. Medicaid is the state/federal program that covers the poor and the disabled. Over the years many children have been able to succeed in school because Medicaid covered the eyeglasses that allowed visually challenged children to see the blackboard, the hearing aids that allowed hearing impaired children to hear their teachers lectures, and the dental visits that cured oral disease.

Governor Blunt’s plan radically restructures Medicaid, kicking an approximate 27,200 recipients out of the program entirely, and ending the requirement that Medicaid cover many of the current covered services. The services that will no longer be covered range from dental care, eyeglasses, dentures, and artificial limbs to wheelchairs, hearing aids, and hospice care for the dying. Nothing is being cut that will really hurt anyone. Who needs to be restored to whole? Shouldn’t be poor. It’s that simple. In addition to the 27,000-plus who will lose coverage entirely, an additional 23,250 poor people would have to spend significantly more before coverage for the remaining services that have not (yet) been eliminated would kick in.

Additionally, up to 47,400 children of the working poor stand to lose their health coverage if their parents simply can not squeeze 5% of their monthly income out of the family budget. An extra fifty bucks can be pretty hard to come up with for a single mother working for eight bucks an hour. Especially when gas is over $2.00 a gallon, with no end in sight. People making eight bucks an hour aren’t driving newer, more fuel efficient vehicles.

When Representative Rick Johnson, a High Ridge Democrat, rose to object to the cuts, he likened the bill to a National Geographic special that highlights how predators single out the weakest members of the herd. Several Republican lawmakers responded by making animal noises.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, so to speak. This can not be allowed to pass unchallenged. I am seeking to obtain the names and districts of the offenders, along with ages, educational backgrounds, years of service, and contact information. This can not be dismissed. It demands our ire and outrage.

Speaking as a mother, if one of my adult children were entrusted by the public to represent their district in the state legislature, and then behaved in such a disgraceful and embarrassing manner, I would be in Jefferson City the next day, holding a press conference on the statehouse steps and apologizing to the residents of my state for my childs inexcusable, callous and crude behavior. I would apologize as well for my own shortcomings, because if one of my kids could do something like that, I dropped the ball raising them, plain and simple. I haven’t heard any GOP mothers apologizing, and I haven’t seen a rash of deaths attributed to shame or mortification, so maybe their mothers are giving them a pass. Maybe they are even proud of their unseemly behavior. I say to their parents “For shame!”

The plan also allows lawmakers to eliminate entirely health care assistance for many elderly and disabled people in years when state revenues are insufficient to support the services. Now, does anyone really believe the year will ever come when they will restore funding to the eliminated services? Yeah, me neither. A Busch, Hall, or Blunt heir might pine for an antique ivory back-scratcher that might have to be forgone if they actually paid their fair share of taxes, and we simply can’t take that chance.