Although national Democrats are frantically trying to pare down Obamacare — The Hill is reporting that several Democrats (including our very own Mark Pryor) are adding their names to a bill to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) — an Arkansas Republican lawmaker who spearheaded the effort to implement Obamacare in the state is just downright mad that he’s being held accountable for it.
A friend texted me late Wednesday night: “check Twitter.” When I got there, it was hard to believe what I saw on House Speaker Davy Carter’s feed. Apparently he’s been taking social media advice from Butch Wilkins:
As much as it pains me to admit it, John Brummett’s response was correct:
Is Speaker Carter honestly surprised that he’s being criticized for implementing Obamacare? Well, maybe he is, since he apparently thinks he didn’t implement Obamacare:
Oh. Well, maybe it was kind of an adoption? Maybe more like, I don’t know, being a foster parent? After all, think of the dollars we were told this would bring into Arkansas!
Of course, this isn’t Carter’s first encounter with strategic euphemism: in April, Carter said his plan to implement Obamacare would “turn a losing hand into a winning one,” and that “a vote for the private option is a vote against Obamacare.” These rhetorical gambits do not appear to have been successful.
Carter continued tweeting for hours last night, even expressing deep regret that his efforts to implement Obamacare — and to convince others to join him — is now making his friends “suffer” in their campaigns:
That tweet, along with dozens of others, has been since deleted from Carter’s Twitter feed.
Don’t worry, Carter groupie and paid ‘private option’ spokesman Jason Tolbert was there to back up the Speaker:
And, just for fun, check out this now-deleted tweet where Carter tells a Medicaid policy expert from the Foundation for Government Accountability, Jonathan Ingram, that he’s losing credibility by acknowledging the existence of people who disagree:
That wasn’t the end. Even after midnight, Carter was still spewing at conservative activists, releasing this cryptic tweet about open carry:
That tweet has also since been deleted. Carter’s account now says he is “on hiatus.”
I’m not sure what mental state Davy Carter was in the other night, but suffice it to say: his statements seemed detached from reality. They were…uh…unusual for a Speaker of the House.
With respect to Obamacare, Carter’s arguments are indefensible. The two state-level goals of Obamacare implementation are 1. The expansion of Medicaid and 2. The creation of a state-run insurance exchange. The legislature, at Carter’s urging, did both of those things. This is implementation of Obamacare. It doesn’t matter if Davy Carter spins so hard that it propels him though the air: it won’t change the facts. I feel like a broken record as I continue to repeat this, but apparently some folks still don’t get it.
As for the political implications, it’s difficult to feel sorry for Carter or his colleagues who are just beginning to feel the heat on the campaign trail. They were warned — repeatedly — by this blog, the Heritage Foundation, the Advance Arkansas Institute, the Cato Institute, the Foundation for Government Accountability, and many others that their departure from common-sense conservative principles would have terrible political consequences. There was every indication in the world that their actions would be unpopular with voters. In fact, AAI even published a poll that showed as much!
But Carter let us know at the time — also on Twitter — that he didn’t need a poll to tell him that expanding Medicaid was good for Arkansas! To the Speaker, it didn’t matter that liberal pundits were already warning him that Democrats would exploit the private option by attempting to blur partisan differences, while Republicans would be horrified by Obamacare implementation. Carter shouldn’t be surprised.
Before he was Speaker of the House, there were strong indications that Davy Carter was a smart, reasonable, and very conservative legislator. But as Speaker, he led the charge to commit Arkansas to tens of billions of additional entitlement spending in the years to come — long after he’s left the legislature. He bought it and paid for it (albeit with our money). He owns it.
It is sad to see the tenacity with which Carter goes after those who dare to disagree with him — especially because those who disagree with him have the better argument. Perhaps, despite what he says, reality is actually beginning to set in. Carter and other proponents of the biggest expansion of government in Arkansas history are starting to realize that they’re on the wrong side of the people who vote — and that the private option will not advance either the health of the people or the political careers of its advocates.