The Warring Messages of the Private Option

Leading proponents of the “private” option jumping out of a burning building.

At the Saline County TEA Party meeting last week, Rep. Andy Mayberry told his constituents that the struggle over the private option made him feel like he was being forced to jump out of the third story of a burning building:

There’s no way, if I just stand there, that I’m going to survive. I’m gonna burn. There’s a window over here that I can choose to jump out of and I might die in that fall. I know I’m going to die if I stay there and don’t do anything. But I might just survive that jumping out the window and I might land on my feet and I might just have a few cuts and scratches and come out of it okay.

This mirrors some of the rhetoric we have heard from the leading proponents of the “private” option. “There are no good options,” they told us. In fact, Senator David Sanders told the public that he had to choose between “three horrible options,” and that he has “consistently said there are three bad options.”

This is puzzling. If the “private” option was really just a desperate leap from a burning building, why did the architects of the bill parade themselves in front of the media for the signing ceremony and take honorary signing pens from the governor? Are they so proud of jumping out of a burning building that they want to be pictured with the politician who, a few weeks previously, had informed them that getting burnt was a no-brainer? If legislators who crafted a horrible option are proud of their work, is it because it is slightly less bad (but still horrible)? It is unusual to commemorate disasters.

Several comments from Rep. Charlie Collins underscore the tension between these warring messages: Collins recently explained that the private option will “replace Obamacare,” and is a “conservative solution.” Such a statement is, of course, not quite as jaw-dropping as Senator Jeremy Hutchinson’s invocation, a week ago, of Reagan and Goldwater in defense of the private option. Have these legislators talked to Senator Sanders or Representative Mayberry about the extraordinary conservative reforms they supposedly voted for? I think it’s fair to say they have a lot to talk about. Maybe Sanders can show them his shiny new pen.

In short, there is some disagreement between the supporters of the private option about just how praiseworthy this plan is. And I’ll tell you my opinion why. I think that the private option was rushed through passage near the end of the session, despite the counsel of several conservative legislators, and that its proponents decided to shrug off the warning signs they received from other conservatives in the Capitol about what a terrible idea Medicaid expansion is. And now that Republican legislators are realizing that it wasn’t just a few extremists who held these concerns, they’re backpedaling desperately and trying to figure out how to redefine the unattractive product that they have laid at the feet of their constituents. Unfortunately, the urge to disavow and recharacterize one’s own past conduct occasionally forces politicians to say pretty weird things.

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5 thoughts on “The Warring Messages of the Private Option

  • May 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Great Photo of O’Beebe and his Rinos!

  • May 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

    This is a perfect picture to post if Davy Carter decides to run for Governor. The big grin on his face watching Beebe sign the “Private Option” bill that is the largest expansion of government in Arkansas history and something that shows that he and the other Republicans that pushed this support of Obamacare expansion with the first GOP majority in 130+ years! Charlie Collins should be happy that somehow he is not also front and center in this picture.

    Since Asa is mentioned…

    The fact that Asa Hutchinson said he supported the “PO” and the Big River Steel project should also show that he is not someone we want in our state capitol. Not to mention that Asa also doesn’t suport the 4th amendment since he believes in the Patriot Act and was the Original Homeland Security chief. We need reps that believe and support our Constitution! We need someone like Curtis Coleman to turn this state around!

    • May 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Mr. Carter announced this morning that he will not run for governor.

  • May 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    The revelations coming from Washington ought to really make him sweat. Will the I.R.S be in charge of private option? Will Governor Beebe still embrace Pres. Obama, will Senator Pryor still exchange fist bumps with him and congratulate the passing of this awful law? He hasn’t seem nothing yet.

  • May 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I bet these Republicrats would also jump on the boat to be co-sponsors of a new fair-share law or maybe a new directive? ie: 10-286 , my guess is they already have it in the works.


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