Whack-a-Mole Accounting

By Bill Maher

No one seems to be talking about how “putting our financial house in order” and “slashing the federal budget,” while sounding good on the surface, simply transfers responsibility to provide critical entitlements to the states.

Go ahead, cut education, federal funding for municipal projects, Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits. That may make you feel like you’re striking a blow for “ending the culture of dependency,” but kids still have to learn, aging classrooms still need to be renovated, books still need to be bought, teachers still need to be paid, bridges and roads still need to be built and repaired, and poor and out-of-work people will still get sick and hungry and need diapers. Having the feds stop paying to solve these problems doesn’t make the problems go away; it just transfers the onus of solving these problems to the states. The good news: Paul Ryan has reduced your federal income tax responsibility to 10%. The bad news: your state government now needs 55%.

Or do they? Maybe the federal government can stop paying for these things and states run by Republican governors and legislatures can finally start governing based on the cherished conservative principle of “Fuck you, every man for himself.”

Writing for the AP, Carla K. Johnson and Kelli Kennedy point out that many Republican-run states are refusing to abide by the part of Obamacare that shifts Medicaid responsibility to the states. Out of one side of their mouths, they demand federal cuts and out of the other they refuse to pick up the slack.

The national health law calls for individuals to be covered at an income under $15,400 and a family of four at an income under $30,650 – but that’s too generous for a few southern states. According to the AP, “In South Carolina, a yearly income of $16,900 is too much for Medicaid for a family of three. In Florida, $11,000 a year is too much. In Mississippi, $8,200 a year is too much. In Louisiana and Texas, earning more than just $5,000 a year makes you ineligible for Medicaid.”

More from the AP story: “Medicaid now covers an estimated 70 million Americans and would cover an estimated 7 million more in 2014 under the Obama health law's expansion. In contrast, Ryan's plan could mean 14 million to 27 million Americans would ultimately lose coverage, even beyond the effect of a repeal of the health law, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation of Ryan's 2011 budget plan.”

And it’s hardly premium coverage. Medicaid sucks and most doctors refuse to even treat patients on it. It’s so shitty you’d be better off with an actual safety net. Should poor people just go fuck themselves?