Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The 2013 Legislature should approve Medicaid Expansion: It's the right thing to do.

Responsible people in elected positions, who know better, have been allowing conservatives to get away with repeatedly telling us that “the federal government is just like a family, must balance its budget, and can’t spend money it doesn’t have."  The effect of that hoax on working Americans is devastating and is being used as justification by conservatives to prevent our federal government from investing in our public institutions and services  as our Framers intended when they wrote the Founding Documents.

The constant repeat of this conservative myth by the media each day, including TV, the newsprint, and the internet for the past three decades has fixed this myth as common wisdom.

It’s past time to begin calling a “spade” a “spade and to stand up for the truth even though it goes against the common wisdom.

I wrote the following letter to the editor of our local newspaper, the Helena Independent Record, in response to a published letter that claimed as his reason for denying Medicaid expansion in Montana was that "our federal government was broke and would not keep up its promise of funding support of the program."

Mr. Hull in his Friday letter “against Medicaid expansion” made several incorrect statements.

The projected benefits to Montana of accepting the Medicaid Expansion coverage were developed by a non-political University of Montana Research Center, not by Democrats as claimed by Mr. Hull.

The biggest error is his apparent belief that the federal government “has no money except what it gets from taxes from all the states and taking that money hurts the economy.” 

 Exactly the opposite is true. 

The United States government is the source of all dollars in circulation (see the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8).  Therefore, the US government always has enough dollars to buy anything available for sale in US dollars. 

When the federal government spends money, it purchases goods and services from the private sector. So, it is income in your pocket book.  Only a portion of that new spending gets withdrawn from circulation by federal taxation.  The rest stays in circulation to fuel economic growth.

State governments, on the other hand, do require your tax money to fund the public services (see U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 10).

So, any public service not funded by the federal government must be funded through state and local taxes, which ultimately increases the tax burden on all Montanans.

Is this what we want?

Accepting Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do for multiple reasons.   Most importantly, it is a moral thing to do!

I applaud Governor Bullock and Democratic legislators for their commitment to Medicaid expansion for Montana.

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