Saturday, 19 November 2011

Supporters Feel Betrayed by Wisconsin Gov. Walker on ObamaCare

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Scott WalkerActivists are fuming after GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an emergency rule to implement ObamaCare in the state and refused to return federal grant money provided under the scheme.

Critics are calling the actions a “betrayal” of his supporters and the Tea Party, though some defenders are saying he has merely been acting on bad advice. Democrats, meanwhile, are demanding that Walker keep the funds and continue to implement Obama’s controversial healthcare plan.   

Some Republican legislators fought hard to kill AB 210, a bill that would have brought Wisconsin into compliance with ObamaCare even as it remains under assault in court for being unconstitutional. And GOP state Sen. Frank Lasee ensured that the legislation died in the Senate Committee on Insurance and Housing he chairs.

“My office reached out to Gov. Walker approximately two weeks ago in a sincere effort to discuss the many reasons for killing AB 210,” Sen. Lasee said in a statement released on November 14. “We also hoped to broach the hazard of the $49 million in federal ‘Early Innovator Grant’ funds that the governor accepted in February of this year. Regrettably, we were rebuffed.”

Walker is the only Republican Governor in America to have kept the ObamaCare funds. And instead of respecting the legislature’s decision not to implement the federal healthcare takeover in Wisconsin, the Governor simply bypassed lawmakers with an “emergency rule” to incorporate ObamaCare into state statutes.  

The regulations signed by Gov. Walker only last for 150 days, after which they can be extended for another 120. However, analysts noted, such rules generally precede permanent regulations. And activists are outraged about it.    

“The principled conservative position was simply to reject AB 210,” said state Sen. Lasee, wondering why Walker would want to rush the legislation through the legislature. “Perhaps the administration prefers not to take sole responsibility for a decision to entrench ObamaCare in state law. Ensuring a complicit legislature would certainly provide convenient political cover.”

Meanwhile, liberty-minded activists in the state were hard at work pressuring Walker not to sign the rule as late as this week. What they did not realize, however, is that it had already been approved on November 3 before finally being published on the 16th.  

“Would Scott Walker really stab the Tea Party in the back like this? The Tea Party that got him elected!? It certainly looks that way,” noted Todd Welch, the Interim State Coordinator for Wisconsin Campaign for Liberty. “You and I have fought too long and too hard against ObamaCare to have it rammed down our throat now.”

Critics including the state Campaign for Liberty and Sen. Lasee said the implementation of ObamaCare would violate Wisconsin’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment, kill jobs, damage the healthcare freedom of Wisconsin citizens, and hurt the state’s insurance industry. It would also severely undermine the state government’s credibility in a 26-state lawsuit currently underway against the federal overreach.  

“Wisconsinites, whose rights remain endangered by the retention of that $49 million, deserve an answer,” Sen. Lasee concluded. “If Gov. Walker is truly serious about safeguarding Wisconsin’s sovereignty, the healthcare freedoms of our citizens, and the integrity of the free market, he must return the $49-million in federal funds. If he does not, it will place in question the seriousness of his desire to keep ObamaCare out of Wisconsin.”

Not everyone is furious just yet, however. Some conservative activists have suggested that Walker — who was showered with praise after he fought a valiant and successful battle to rein in public-servant unions this year — might be being misled by advisors.

“My friends, I have come to the conclusion that Governor Walker is being very poorly advised on the matter of compliance with Obamacare,” noted an article from the Wisconsin 9/12 Project that was picked up on some county GOP websites. “We need to break through the bureaucratic double-speak that is surrounding him.”

According to the piece, entitled “Help Governor Walker Understand the Truth: Keep up Calls and Emails on the Emergency Rule,” bureaucrats at the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) are misleading Walker. Most importantly, the article said, the OCI told Walker that compliance with ObamaCare was somehow necessary to protect Wisconsin from the scheme, and that limited acceptance would not hurt the state’s lawsuit against the federal takeover.  

“The decisions being made based on these falsehoods are placing Wisconsin and its residents at risk,” the 9/12 Project explained. “The Goldwater, Cato, and Heartland Institutes, as well as the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, have all told us that ANY compliance with Obamacare, however small, leaves a state in MORE danger of losing its rights and freedoms, not less.”

A federal judge apparently agreed, ruling that ObamaCare was indeed unconstitutional. But, he refused to prohibit its implementation because a few of the plaintiffs — various state governments — were moving ahead with it anyway, the 9/12 piece summarized.

In failing to completely prohibit implementation of ObamaCare, which he called unconstitutional and void, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson noted that the state governments themselves were to blame.  The case to block it “is undercut by the fact that at least eight of the plaintiff states … have represented that they will continue to implement and fully comply with the Act’s requirements — in an abundance of caution while this case is on appeal — irrespective of my ruling.”

Some activists are still giving Gov. Walker the benefit of the doubt — for now — especially because he has consistently stated his opposition to Obama’s health scheme. But if he fails to undo the “emergency rule” and return the ObamaCare grant money after understanding what it really means, that will change.

Walker is currently facing a well-organized recall effort funded by out-of-state union bosses and Big Labor front groups. The opposition stems from outrage over his “budget-repair” bill that made most government employees contribute slightly more to their generous benefits while making union dues optional.

The Governor’s support among conservatives has remained strong despite the constant union attacks. But analysts speculated that if he finally caves on ObamaCare, that backing could quickly evaporate. Walker’s office could not be reached for comment by press time.

Photo: Scott Walker

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