There’s an old saying in my family that ‘pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered’. In their zeal for Medicaid expansion, Mississippi Democrats have voted down Medicaid reauthorization again in the form of House Bill 1653. Democrats are now content to play political chicken with 600,000 Medicaid recipients and the press and Republicans are letting them do it. Instead of the headlines reading “Democrats voting down Medicaid reauthorization”, Bobby Harrison in today’s Daily Journal says, “Medicaid budget bill blocked” with the lede “House Democrats, trying every option available to force a vote by the full chamber on expanding Medicaid, blocked from passage Sunday the bill that would fund the state-federal health care agency.”

But even without the press being totally in the tank for the Mississippi Democratic Party, Republicans are playing this too softly.

This vote is one that shows up in a primary of every election that a Mississippi House member runs for the rest of their political career. THEY VOTED AGAINST REAUTHORIZING MEDICAID. MULTIPLE TIMES. Both primary opponents and Republicans can and should use that against them forcefully and without any hesitation.

Republicans now have to make that vote sting loudly and publicly. Candidly, that’s not something that Mississippi Republicans are very good at. If I were in Leadership, I would have Phil Bryant on a robocall to every voter in every House district that voted against this. It would say something like, “Your Representative, Chuck Espy (who by the way is running for Mayor of Clarksdale), just voted against Medicaid reauthorization last night. We have to have this reauthorized by June 1st to make sure that we continue to provide services through this program. It’s critical that we get this program reauthorized now. Please call him right now and tell him not to vote against Medicaid reauthorization again”. Remember, there are only 3 or 4 votes needed to get this thing over the line.

If the shoe were on the other foot, Democrats would be jumping off the Capitol Rotunda. Bobby Harrison would be stalking Republican legislators in the halls of the Capitol. It would be mass hysteria.

Part of getting what you want in leadership is putting your opponents to make really tough votes and then having the wherewithall and fortitude to make it burn.
I would have Medicaid recipients on the steps in the Capitol with Bryant, Reeves and Gunn speaking with every Republican in the State Legislature with recipients holding signs that say “Rep. Holland Please Don’t Take Away Our Medicaid”. It should be at the top of the 6:00 news. Leadership should be putting in Letters to the Editor daily. Other business should be held hostage till this gets done.

Republicans are on the right side of this issue. It’s high time they acted like it.

Now onto the press. The most recent corollary to this political story was redistricting. Remember that then-Speaker Billy McCoy sold the story that the Senate had no right to question the House’s redistricting plan. And the press fell right into line. Here’s just a sampling from the award-winning YallPolitics Memory Division . . .

AP – Bryant’s foray into redistricting could affect his gubernatorial bid (Editor’s note – It didn’t.)

NEMS – Lt. gov. to submit redistricting plan
“It is unprecedented for the lieutenant governor to get this intensely involved in redistricting,” said Sen. Hob Bryan

GOP’s redistricting antics to cost cash-strapped state

CL – Redistricting: Status quo of inequity

Bobby Harrison – Judges’ delay not good for GOP, Barbour

CL – Remap: Legislature should do its job

Where are the calls to simply reauthorize Medicaid like there were calls to “just accept the House plan”? Where is all the analysis of the chaos that would ensue if Medicaid were allowed to expire? It’s nowhere. Again, the press establishment is hopelessly, helplessly in the tank for Democrats and have shown that’s the case whether they are the majority or minority party.

Republicans, it’s a raw deal. It’s one by now you should expect. Talk straight to the voters and bypass the establishment. You have the tools to do it. Now, you just have to have the will to.

Here are the votes holding Medicaid from being reauthorized.

Nays–Bailey, Banks, Baria, Blackmon, Broomfield, Brown (66th), Buck (5th), Buck (72nd), Burnett, Calhoun, Clark, Clarke, Coleman (29th), Coleman (65th), Dickson, Dixon, Eaton, Ellis, Espy, Evans (91st), Evans (70th), Evans (43rd), Flaggs, Harrison, Hines, Holland, Holloway, Huddleston (30th), Johnson, Lane, Middleton, Miles, Moak, Myers, Patterson, Perkins, Reynolds, Scott, Smith (27th), Straughter, Stringer, Sullivan, Thomas, Warren, Watson, Whittington, Williams-Barnes, Wooten, Young. Total–49.
Absent or those not voting–Bell, Carpenter, Cockerham, Huddleston (15th), Malone, Mims, Oberhousen, Rogers (14th). Total–8.
Present–Bain, Currie, Horan, Steverson. Total–4.
Necessary for Passage–60.