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.