Senator Claire McCaskill (D) met for coffee early this morning in downtown Warrensburg with Johnson County Democrats (and anyone else who showed up). She spoke at length about the 2014 election, the Missouri General Assembly, Medicaid expansion, the Affordable Care Act, and also took questions.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D) in Warrensburg – October 8, 2014.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): ….I have watched, from afar, Jefferson City. And, you know, um, I’ve spent some time in Jefferson City. And it isn’t as if I don’t understand what this state is. I think you all know I get Missouri….I get that there are a lot of conservative people in this state. But if you step back from it and you look and you see that I have been elected and reelected statewide four times. [Governor] Jay Nixon has been elected and reelected state, in statewide office one, two, three, four, five, six times. [Secretary of State] Jason Kander was elected, [State Treasurer] Clint Zweifel was elected, [Attorney General] Chris Koster was elected. All of these are Democrats that are winning statewide. Now how do you reconcile that with the Missouri legislature, because the Missouri legislature is way, way, way to the right? It’s so far to the right you can hardly see it on the horizon. And the reason that’s happened is because of two things. One, they controlled redistricting, but, more importantly is because they have recruited candidates, funded candidates, and helped candidates run and win and….we behaved, well, you know, that Jeff City, it just is hopeless. You know, they’re in charge and there’s nothing we can do. Well, they cast votes that are completely out of step with most Missourians. I guarantee you they’re out of step with the people that would be in Gary [Grigsby]’s district [51st Legislative District]. Um, I could go through a list. I mean, how many Missourians want them to be spending time on Sharia law? Um, how many Missourians really think Agenda 21 is a problem? How many Missourians think it’s a good idea to tell the local sheriff and the local police department that if they’re gonna work on an interdisciplinary task force with Federal officers they could go to jail if they arrest somebody in that effort that has a gun that’s prohibited by the Federal government. They wanted to put local law enforcement in jail for cooperating in a Federal investigation that could involve guns. I mean, this is crazy time….
…You know what people of this state want from their state legislature? They want good roads and bridges, they want good public education, and they want to make sure that their money is being spent wisely. They don’t want rape victims to have to wait three days to terminate a pregnancy that their rapist caused. They don’t want that. Vast majority of Missourians do not want that….
Question: …You must fight, the Democrats must fight no matter what happens in November, it [the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare”] must not be repealed.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): Well, it won’t be repealed as long as, uh, Barrack Obama is President of the United States. Um, and I do, I will tell you that I think our, I’m traveling next week on behalf of my colleagues, I do think that, um, we are in pretty good shape. It’s gonna be close across the country. Um, but I will be surprised if we don’t hold on….
….The election that will determine the future of health care reform in this country, as to whether or not we continue down the path, will be, um, electing Hillary Clinton in, in twenty-sixteen. I will be back here and this place will be full, wall to wall, with people, I hope, working, um, on behalf of Hillary Clinton in twenty-sixteen.
Question: I think the one, the one issue that the state Republicans are the most opposite of their constituents is on Medicaid expansion. Because, a lot of my Republican friends, that is the one thing that they are really the most distressed about, is that we haven’t expanded Medicaid in the state and we didn’t accept the Federal money, because they have family members who should be Medicaid eligible and are not. And I see that’s just the most vulnerable issue for these, for, you know, at least our state representatives is that they didn’t support that.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): There are, we have three hundred thousand Missourians, so you can speak to this when people that you, you talk to them, we have three hundred thousand Missourians who are working. You know, when people hear Medicaid I think they think of people that aren’t working. These are people that are working. They are working two and three jobs. They are making too little money to get on the [ACA] exchanges, but they make more money than they can do to get Medicaid. So, the, the weird thing is that, um, you know, we’ve got this gap. And that is all because they have turned down the Federal money that would, that would expand. [voice: “Our Federal money.”] Our Federal money is going to other states for their health care. And it is really hurting rural Missouri, uh, because in many rural communities the number one employer is the hospital. And these hospitals are dying on the vine. I mean, they are desperate. And that’s the irony, is the reddest parts of the state are gonna suffer the most ’cause that’s where a lot of the working poor are, people that are working two or three minimum wage jobs and don’t have insurance at work. And they can’t, they can’t get on the exchanges and they don’t qualify for Medicaid. Um, so it is really crazy. I mean, it would be, imagine if the Republicans said, you know, we’re not gonna take Federal Highway funding. They might cut it off some day so we better not take it. [laughter[ Let’s just not take Federal highway funding. We don’t want our money that we’ve paid, come back for our highways, because it’s the Federal government. And they might cut it off some day and then we’d be left holding the bag. And I’m like, well, I think you’re holding the bag now because, guess where all those people are going for health care? They’re going to hospitals who are treating them and then they’re passing on the bills to Missourians. It’s like a huge hidden tax increase. It’s craziness. And the only reason they won’t expand it is because they think it’s connected to Obamacare. So, it’s about the political messaging of Obamacare, it’s not about Missourians. It’s really unbelievable….
Senator Claire McCaskill (D) [center] with Gary Grigsby (D) [left], the Democratic Party candidate in the 51st Legislative District,
at an early morning coffee in downtown Warrensburg – October 8, 2014.