Monday, June 15, 2015


by Paul Gibbs

Arguing with opponents of Healthy Utah (or any similar variation of Medicaid expansion which brings back the maximum possible amount of Utah taxpayer money from the federal government) is a lot like arguing with people who insist we never landed on the moon. Every one of their arguments has been effectively shot down over and over again, but they don't stop clinging to them. This has never been more true than the recent open letter from four right wing groups: the Sutherland Insitute, the Eagle Forum, the Libertas Insitute, and Americans For Prosperity. It's full of the same old stereotypes about "able bodied" people who don't want to work, and offers nothing new to the discussion. But aside from the fact that it's pretty laughable to expect anyone to be impressed by four virtually interchangeable ideologically based groups joining together in opposition when literally dozens of diverse groups have come together in support, there is one specific argument that needs to be countered: charges that Healthy Utah and/or Medicaid puts Utah "under the thumb" of the federal government.

The scary specter of Big Brother is a favorite target of opponents who like to make cries of "government tyranny", but who really is advocating putting us under a government's thumb? Not only have the aforementioned dozens of groups voiced support of Healthy Utah, multiple polls show that an overwhelming majority of even conservative Utahns support Healthy Utah. In fact, every poll not commissioned by a right wing group like Sutherland shows that. Aren't we supposed to be a government by the people, for the people and of the people? How is  a legislature which fails to listen to its voice (not to mention the needs of tens of thousands of uninsured citizens) not putting the people "under their thumb"? The point of state's rights isn't just to give state governments freedom to do whatever they want regardless of the needs and will of their citizens, but by advocating rejecting Healthy Utah, that's what these groups are asking for, intentionally or not.  Freedom and democracy are not about moving power to the hands of a state government whose administration seems more friendly to your politics and therefore more ideologically palatable, and then letting a small but vocal minority over ride the will of the majority of people. State's rights are meant to protect the people of those states and their voice, not just to give their governments detached autonomy to choose an ideological course.

 Yes, these groups have the right to have their say and be heard, and nobody is suggesting otherwise. But even with four of them, they represent a very small contingent compared to those voicing support, and it hardly adds credibility to bring four of them together when anyone of sound mind would expect them to agree. It reminds me of a scene in the film The Ladykillers, when one member of a group of criminals planning a heist insists he deserves a larger share of the loot, then points out that his wife agrees "so it's not just one person's opinion."

Don't be fooled by what plays like a pretty desperate attempt to set the debate back to before studies were done and polls were taken. Support Healthy Utah.