Guest Editorial Series: You Can’t Have Everything

By Senator Tony Potts

Jackie Stephens, a precinct captain from the Bonneville County Democrats, recently wrote a commentary criticizing how partisanship is stifling K-12 education in Idaho. She argues Idahoans need to vote issues by personal view, not party view. By commentary’s end, she has switched the focus to November’s Medicaid-expansion initiative, a sleight of hand to use the subject of education to convince Idahoans to vote out of party-lines for Medicaid expansion.

Ms. Stephens attempts to persuade readers that Idaho’s education spending is insufficient compared to other states. The major political parties would agree that education is an investment in the future. Like any investment, the amount initially invested can have an influence. Yet, you can invest $1,000 that turns out profitable, or you may invest $1,000,000 that flatlines. Money does not guarantee a good result. Many factors lead to a great education outside of money’s influence, such as parent involvement and student engagement. So, let’s do ourselves a favor and quit assuming that Idaho’s education is “failing” just because Idaho does not offer the highest education spending out of all 50 states.

Ms. Stephens also attempts to persuade readers that teacher turnover is killing Idaho education. Yet, according to Learning Policy Institute’s report, “Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It,” Idaho’s teacher turnover rate is around 13 percent. Idaho’s rate is less than most other states that were studied. And three percent of this rate is coming from teacher retirement, leaving just ten percent turnover from other factors.

Ms. Stephens also asserts that Idaho politics are being destroyed by voting straight party lines. At the end of her commentary, she mentions that Medicaid expansion can be an issue where Idahoans abandon this practice. Yet, out-of-state labor union cash bankrolled a good chunk of the ballot initiative’s signature-collection for Medicaid expansion in Idaho. And, as Ms. Stephens cites in her commentary’s byline, her position with the Bonneville County Democrats helped to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot. Last time I checked the efforts of county Democrats is partisan work.

And, because Ms. Stephens broached Medicaid expansion, I want to note how much more difficult it is to increase education funding as demand for Medicaid monies grows. A recent Idaho Freedom Foundation report concludes Medicaid spending is higher than K-12 education spending. In FY17, Medicaid expenditures were $194 million higher than K-12 education; in FY19, the difference is estimated to be as high as $308 million. Medicaid spending first exceeded K-12 education spending in FY11, though it wasn’t until FY15 that the Medicaid caseload was actually higher than the average daily attendance in K-12 schools.

Ms. Stephens’ commentary suggests that education is the true priority for Democrats. If that’s her main point, Democrats should rethink their efforts to support Medicaid expansion because they are actually doing education harm.

*Tony Potts is the Idaho State Senator for District 33, a Precinct Committeeman serving in the Bonneville County Central Committee, and the State Committeeman for the Bonneville County Central Committee.

Guest Editorial Series: Prop Two: A Gateway for Government-Run Healthcare

By Karie Caldwell

The push to expand Medicaid in Idaho is morphing into a movement for government-run healthcare—and that’s not good news for those who like affordable healthcare.

Idaho Freedom Foundation president Wayne Hoffman recently wrote a commentary in which he highlighted Reclaim Idaho’s long-term ambitions to implement a government-run healthcare system. He noted, such a system would be funded “through outrageously high taxes and a massive national debt to be paid by our kids and grandkids.” Hoffman is right. If every American were covered by Medicaid, that would require much higher taxes and almost certainly would add to an already outrageous national debt. A government-run healthcare system would not make healthcare “free,” but rather, it would just change the form of payment to taxes and debt.

Medicaid expansion is like a gateway drug for a single-payer system, which would foster dependency on government-run programs. And we had better watch within our own state, because, as Hoffman puts it, “Today’s Obamacare proponents are tomorrow’s single-payer activists.”

The United States boasts a mixture of private and government health programs, with many citizens purchasing private insurance and millions on Medicaid and Medicare. There is also a mixture of private and government hospitals, with veteran care provided by the government.

This mixture complicates healthcare regulations and costs. But the solution to high-cost healthcare is not to increase regulations and government-run programs. The ideal situation for a consumer would be to have multiple private companies competing for their business. Competition drives prices down. But government-run healthcare does not and will never work this way.

Expansion of Medicaid in Idaho may begin with Proposition Two, an attempt to extend “free” government healthcare to single, childless, working adults. This perpetuates the unaffordability of healthcare. As more citizens are covered by Medicaid, the cost of private coverage will increase as demand for health care services grows, and proponents of Medicaid expansion will find a new group deemed unable to afford healthcare. And expansion will just repeat.

The solution for healthcare affordability does not lie with a government-run healthcare program. Affordability comes from market competition provided by private programs. Passage of Proposition Two in Idaho will only get us further from the solution to high healthcare costs.

*Karie Caldwell serves as a Precinct Committee Officer and State Committee Woman in the Bonneville County Central Committee. Caldwell also serves as the Communications Director on the Bonneville County Central Committee Executive Committee.

Guest Editorial Series: I Won’t Be Silenced: Prop 2 is Bad for Idaho

By Doyle Beck

One of the greatest of our God-given rights is freedom of speech. That right is so important to a free society that our founders put it in the U.S. Constitution.

But now, supporters of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, on the November ballot as Proposition 2, are trying to silence me and others because we oppose their initiative to expand Medicaid to able-bodied, childless adults. Jerry and Carrie Scheid think they can use their column to condemn people, to shame them, for speaking out against bad policy by claiming we want people to have “the freedom to die from lack of health coverage.” What an outrageous statement. Liberal Democrats always resort to intimidation and name-calling when they are losing.

The Scheids conveniently ignore the fact that special interest groups including the Idaho Hospital Association are putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into passing Proposition 2. Why would special interest groups do that? The Hospital Association stands to benefit from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. If Obamacare is expanded in Idaho, the medical industrial complex here in Idaho figures it will get billions of dollars from the federal treasury. That’s not money that “comes back to Idaho” from Washington, D.C. as the Prop 2 supporters claim. The federal government has no money. Those funds will be added to the national debt, and our kids and grandkids will have to come up with the money to pay it back.

What do I, Bryan Smith, or the Idaho Freedom Foundation gain from defeating Medicaid expansion? Nothing, except that we would spare today’s Idahoans from becoming more dependent on government programs. We would spare young people, especially, from being added to a program that is known to discourage folks from working and earning an income. We would spare future generations of taxpayers having to be saddled with more debt. We would prevent Idaho from experiencing what other Medicaid expanding states have encountered: seeing education, transportation, and public safety budgets gutted because expansion tends to cost more than advertised.

Seeing the disaster that awaits our state, we have chosen to use our freedom of speech to defend Idaho against Obamacare. Over the years, I have seen the Scheids make a lot of absurd statements about me and my friends. From time to time, I’ll chuckle at something they’ve written. Sometimes I’ll roll my eyes. Every now and then, I’ll write a response. But when they take to the newspaper to accuse their fellow Idahoans of wanting people to die, that’s a bridge too far. Their words are clearly an attempt to shame people for simply having opinions different from theirs.

The Scheids have the same freedom of speech that I do, but I would never accuse them of such a caustic and bombastic allegation as the one they leveled at us. We believe Proposition 2 is very, very bad for Idaho. We don’t want people to suffer under its weight. That’s why we speak out against it.

Doyle Beck is the former chairman of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee, Current Legislative District 30 Chair, and member of the Bonneville County Republican Executive Comittee.

Debates Scheduled for Legislative District 30 & 33

Don’t miss the upcoming debates!

Gary Marshall and Pat Tucker will face off on Monday, October 29th at 7:00 P.M. for Legislative District 30.

District 33 Debate is on Tuesday, October 30th at 7:00 P.M. with the following candidates:
-District 33 Legislative State Senator: Dave Lent, and Jerry Sehlke.

-District 33 State Rep Position A: Barbara Ehardt, and Jim De Angelis.

-District 33 State Rep Position B: Bryan N. Zollinger, and George Morrison

Both debates will be held in the Compass Academy Auditorium at 955 Garfield St. in Idaho Falls.

Best wishes to all of our GOP candidates!

Guest Editorial Series: Columns show difference between Rs and Ds

For the last several months, you may have noticed that the Post Register has been featuring Republican sponsored commentary on Wednesdays and Democrat sponsored commentary on Thursdays. We want to commend the Post Register for giving the two political parties face time with the community. Job well done Post Register!
During these last few months, readers have been able to see and judge for themselves the stark differences between the Republican Party and Democrat Party’s governing philosophies. Both sides have submitted articles expressing their views on topics such as minimum wage, Obama’s Medicaid expansion, the Constitution, the proper role of government, etc.
To be sure, there are differences between the two political parties. Republicans believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations. Government tends to offer inferior services to those of the private sector. Private organizations are better equipped to provide the tailored services that are generally needed to yield real long-lasting results for those most vulnerable among us.
And there’s the reality that government services can be as hurtful as they are helpful. In President Ronald Regan’s day, he identified the nine most terrifying words a person can ever hear. And these words are just as terrifying if not more so in our day: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” This statement causes us to chuckle because long experience demonstrates government is inefficient, costs more than projected, never works as advertised, but remains permanently affixed like a stubborn boat barnacle even when we know all these things are true.
We also chuckle because there remain people advocating more government as the best way to fix societal problems even though our collective experience teaches otherwise. This is perhaps the biggest reason people should reject Obama’s Medicaid expansion in Idaho and vote “no” on Proposition 2. We already know it will be inefficient, will cost more than projected, won’t work as advertised, and will permanently persist even after time proves all these statements correct.
This is not to say that people need to “fend for themselves” or be further victimized by their misfortunes. Rather, Republicans believe we have an obligation to help one another, to care for our neighbors in need, and to provide assistance and to make a difference in our communities. Do not buy the godless argument there are not enough “good Samaritans” willing to care for one another so we must look to government to care for our neighbors.

Today, October 24, 2018 from 5:00-7:00 p.m., you can meet and talk with Republican candidates for statewide office. They will be at the Republican Party headquarters located at the corner of Yellowstone and Broadway. We invite all the public to come. We will have free hamburgers, hotdogs, and Farr’s ice cream. This will be a great opportunity to shake hands with candidates who still believe that government is best that governs least.

*Bryan Smith is the Second Vice Chair of the State of Idaho Republican Party and the Fourth Vice Chair of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee.

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Bonneville County Republican Election Headquarters is OPEN!

Bonneville Republicans have been hard at work to create a nice, one-stop location for the community to grab campaign materials, info and signs. We have plenty, so come and get them!

Our Headquarters is located at 244 W. Broadway in Idaho Falls- on the corner or Broadway and Yellowstone Hwy.

Stop in between 10-6 daily to pick up signs in support of your favorite Republican candidates!

Guest Editorial Series: Vote Against Toxic Charity:  Be a Good Samaritan Instead

By Bryan Smith

A Bonneville County democrat operative, precinct captain, and democratic state committeeman recently wrote a letter to the editor using the parable of the “Good Samaritan” to push for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The letter attempts to make the point that Jesus is weeping because Christians have not followed the parable of the Good Samaritan and expanded Obamacare’s Medicaid into law. However, the argument that expanding Obamacare’s Medicaid follows Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan is at best wrongheaded and at worst shameful emotional pandering to Christians.

The story of the Good Samaritan is a parable by Jesus that answers the question, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells the story about a man who fell among thieves, is stripped of his clothing, wounded, and left half dead. By chance, a Priest and a Levite happened upon him, but passed by on the other side, whereas the Samaritan came where he was and had compassion on him. The Samaritan went to him, bound up his wounds, set him on his own beast, brought him to an inn, and gave two pence to the host saying, “take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee.”

This story could not be farther from supporting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Statistics show 60% percent of the people whom Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion will benefit are single able-bodied adults, not helpless people. The Good Samaritan went to the man and bound up his wounds himself rather than pass a law to delegate the man’s care to a faceless governmental bureaucracy.

The Good Samaritan set the man on his own beast, paid the host his own money, and promised more of his own money to take care of whatever he needed. Compare that to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion where the government uses its powerful taxing authority to take money away from the Good Samaritan and others and redistribute it mostly to single able-bodied adults. The point is that the Good Samaritan used his own time, property, and money to care for the man and did not establish a government bureaucracy to impose Jesus’ teachings by force. Compelling someone by force is exactly the opposite of Jesus’ teachings.

I’m sure the Good Samaritan felt peace and satisfaction in his heart that always come to those who engage in service to their neighbors. And I’m sure the man he helped felt gratitude for the kindness and neighborly love he received.

But I’m also sure that if the government would have confiscated the Good Samaritan’s beast and money under threat of prison and/or property forfeiture (this is the power the government has to force tax collection) and given them to the man who fell among thieves, then the Good Samaritan would have felt resentment while the man “helped” surely would have felt entitled.

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is toxic charity that in no way makes us “Good Samaritan” neighbors.

Bryan Smith is the Second Vice Chair of the State of Idaho Republican Party and the Fourth Vice Chair of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Smith also teaches Sunday School at his church.

Guest Editorial Series: Stop Digging

By Jared Gifford

What is the first rule of digging oneself into a hole? The answer: Stop digging. This principle applies to Idaho and the push to expand Medicaid: Stop digging a deeper hole.

Traditional Medicaid is primarily designed to provide medical care for low-income children, pregnant women, and the disabled. In Idaho, the cost of Medicaid has grown by leaps and bounds. During the last 12 years, from fiscal years 2007 to 2019 (projected), overall Medicaid spending has increased from $1.2 billion to $2.45 billion. Yes, Medicaid spending more than doubled. During that same period the state’s population growth has only been about 17 percent.

So Medicaid spending has grown more than 100 percent with a population growth of some 17 percent. During the same period, spending on K-12 education has increased approximately 40 percent. And, transportation spending has increased about 41 percent.

When we take population growth out of the equation and simply look at spending per Idahoan, Medicaid spending is growing three times as fast per person as K-12 education and transportation spending. All of these numbers are before the proposed Medicaid expansion is factored in.

With Proposition 2 on the November ballot, it is important to understand and consider the above costs, because Medicaid expansion proponents tell us that expansion will save Idahoans money. Yes, you read that right. They claim that providing able-bodied adults with 100 percent taxpayer-funded medical care will save the rest of us money. How so? They claim indigent care expenses will be reduced and that these able-bodied adults, who would receive “free” medical care, will use less medical care overall.

The problems with this thesis are obvious. How do you give someone a free service and then expect them to use it frugally? It simply makes no sense and that is fundamentally why Obamacare has been such a disaster. It is based on several false premises: if you try to force everyone into a top-down medical system costs will be reduced; if you give a large segment of the population free services that will lower overall costs; and, if you require everyone to purchase an insurance policy with 10 “essential benefits,” whether you want them or not, it will save money.

Yes, Obamacare is a black hole of medical spending and Medicaid expansion is the vortex. Now, a lot of people will point out that many states have expanded Medicaid so Idaho should follow the trend.

Let’s summarize the lessons from the other expansion states:

· On average, actual enrollments were more than double the projections.

· Costs were more than double the projections.

· Of the 12 million able-bodied adults added to Medicaid through expansion in other states, more than half are not working.

Just because you have a shovel in your hand, it doesn’t mean you should dig. Idaho, don’t dig a deeper Medicaid-expansion hole.

*Jared Gifford is the Youth Committee Person for the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee

Guest Editorial Series: Question the Medicaid Expansion Projections

By Bryan Smith

It’s long been said, though the wise learn from experience, the super-wise learn from others’ experiences. I believe that. Thus, I urge all Idaho voters to diligently examine the effects of Medicaid expansion in other states.

The backers of the proposed costly Medicaid expansion plan present it as a panacea for almost everything that ails the Gem State. They promise incredible coverage for the uninsured and the creation of thousands of jobs, all with no impact on existing government services like education and road repair.

I’m not buying what they’re selling. Neither should you.

Across the country, 32 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to primarily abled-bodied, childless adults as part of Obamacare. In the run up to expansion in each state, government officials and third-party groups projected enrollment numbers. These projections were used to sell expansion to voters, as well as make critical public policy and budget decisions.

Unfortunately, most of the projections were wrong, and wildly so, to the detriment of taxpayers. According to a January 2018 report by the Foundation for Government Accountability, California’s enrollment has exceeded early estimates by more than 320 percent. Likewise, enrollment in Colorado has exceeded projections by more than 100 percent.

This mathematical-sleight-of-hand matters because higher enrollments lead to higher-than-expected costs for taxpayers. Let’s look at projections in our own backyard. A 2016 report commissioned by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare guesses that expansion would cost Gem State taxpayers more than $220 million between 2021 and 2026. State officials project expansion in Idaho would cover more than 62,000 low-income individuals.

But, what if the estimates are wrong and Idaho, like most other expansion states, exceeds enrollment projections? If Idaho officials are incorrect, as many other states have been, and enrollment is higher than projected, the error would be a multi-million-dollar mistake with devastating impacts.

Foundation for Government Accountability research paints a much different picture about Idaho’s projected expansion enrollment and the associated costs. The foundation has concluded that Idaho’s expansion enrollment would be 35.2 percent higher than state officials predict. Translation: Idaho would extend coverage not to 62,000 people as forecast by state officials, the actual number would be nearly 84,000 people.

Regardless of which enrollment number is used, Medicaid expansion would gobble up a significant chunk of the state’s growing budget. The cost to cover the additional 22,000 people would take the five-year cost estimate from $223 million, as calculated by the accounting firm Milliman, to roughly $345 million. In sum, using FGA’s 84,000-person enrollment figure, its analysts predict that Idaho’s 10-year expansion costs would jump by 55 percent. That’s a startling figure for a state with a relatively small budget.

Compounding the potential cost problem above, we have the federal wild card: The above cost figures to Idahoans depend on the federal government keeping its funding promise. Currently, the feds would cover 90 percent of the bill for the new enrollees, and the would state pick up the rest. What if the federal government dropped the matching payment ratio to that of the traditional Medicaid population, where Idaho shoulders roughly 30 percent of the cost and Uncle Sam pays only 70 percent? The consequences would wreak havoc on the state budget.

In short, Medicaid expansion is fiscally dangerous. No one is certain how much the plan would cost you, the taxpayer, or how many people might enroll in the program. Even if someone could accurately predict those two figures, we can’t be certain that the debt-ridden federal government will maintain its promised Medicaid spending levels.

Regardless, any blend of the above endangers funding for the state’s top priorities. A massive spike in the Medicaid budget could mean fewer dollars for your kids’ classrooms, less money for road repairs, or higher taxes on hardworking families—or some combination of the three.

Let’s learn from other states’ mistakes. We can avoid the fiscal hardships that come with Obamacare expansion.

*Bryan Smith is the second vice chairman of the State of Idaho Republican Party and the fourth vice chairman of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee.