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In 2008 a  majority of Americans elected Barack Obama to be president. He ran on promises of reforming health care; his plans were well vetted in the primary contest and in the presidential campaign, during which the possible ways to address health care reform were fully discussed. After taking office, Obama proceeded to fulfill that important campaign promise in spite of a cabal of timid, industry-owned Democrats and Republicans in full tantrum mode. As a result of the President’s perserverance, Americans have, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more options for better health care than we had before – and Republicans have spent almost four two years misrepresenting that fact, still kicking, screaming and going blue in the face because President Obama managed, despite their best efforts, to fulfill his election promise to the American people.

Today, Missouri, according to House Budget Chair, Ryan Silvey (R-38), is going over the budget “cliff.” After several years of a large GOP legislative majority, the state is in worse state than ever.

There are, of course, many possible reasons why the state in in bad shape – perhaps it has something to do with a legislative agenda that is devoted to making the middle class and working people pay for business incentives that don’t seem to incentivize all that much, or maybe it’s the fault of GOP legislators working so hard to please various industry lobbyists that they end up at odds with their own partisans – as was the case during the Special Session last fall.  

Of course, if those reasons don’t seem sufficient, you might look at legislative priorities like those of Senate President Pro Tem Rob Meyer (R-25). In view of the perilous condition of the State’s finances, it’s hard to figure out why one of Meyer’s major priorities is to try to undercut the ACA. Specifically, Meyer supports:

… a measure that would ask voters to amend the state constitution to prohibit government mandates to have health insurance. Missouri voters overwhelmingly passed a similar law in 2010. But the proposed amendment could have greater strength, and would put the issue back on the ballot as President Barack Obama seeks re-election.

Mayer also backs a bill to prohibit creation of a state-run health insurance exchange unless specifically authorized by the Legislature or voters. The federal health care law gives states until 2014 to create such exchanges, or else federal officials will do so.

Of course, as is suggested above, it’s possible that the continuing GOP hissy fit about the ACA isn’t totally about acting like bad-tempered, spoiled children. At least part of the answer to Meyer’s desire to heat up the health care reform debate again might owe something to the political gamesmanship that seems to underlie much of the behavior of today’s GOP. Meyer and pals are all probably hoping that by blowing the health care dog whistle, they’ll reanimate the useful idiots in the Tea Party during an election year.

But no matter why, it’s too bad that our legislators are still bellowing about the ACA while the state careens into financial rapids. It’s even worse that they’re still determined to make sure that nothing is done to reform a health care system that will otherwise soon be on the skids.

Slightly edited for clarity.