LePage denied the coverage because he was opposed to extending what he has over and over called “welfare.” He especially is opposed to giving it to people he feels are undeserving; he said he didn’t want a lot of drinkers, smokers, and young men covered. He also said an expanded Medicaid program would mean less for services to the elderly and disabled.
Health-care experts have said the expansion would have no negative effect on the elderly and disabled, maintaining also that Medicaid’s expansion would go to a healthier population than is currently served.
Stacey Jacobsohn, 52, a divorced single person and Augusta housepainter who will lose her Medicaid coverage in January, took umbrage at LePage’s negative characterization of the people who will lose or will not get Medicaid coverage.
“What do we want? Just to get by!” she said in an interview. “I’ve worked hard every day of my life.” She expects to work until she dies. She has only been able to get work that pays poorly.
She was “very grateful,” she said, that Medicaid paid medical bills she incurred after she suffered a small stroke last year. She also has suffered a great deal from pain in her thumb, shoulders, and neck — which limits her to a few hours of work a day.
Gail MacLean, 63, a farmer in Gray and another single person facing the Medicaid cutoff, said LePage seems intent on “balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.” She added: “He hates working people.”
She is “extremely worried” about losing health insurance. She has been healthy, but as she gets older she’s concerned that if she becomes sick she would lose her home because of medical bills. “I’ve always been poor, but I’ve always made my way,” she said.
So whom would you rather give your tax money to?
The trickle-down philosophy says: give it to the rich because they’re the “job creators.” This view is embraced more by Republicans, but it’s supported by Democratic legislators. The recent New Markets tax break loosening received a unanimous vote in the Legislature.
Democrats also say: give tax money to help the poor and middle class. Democrats promote both trickle-down and trickle-up economics. The latter includes helping people obtain the health care and education they need for good jobs. Which create purchasing power. Which creates more jobs.
In practice, any corporation’s cry of “jobs!” sets off a scramble among politicians to give it what it wants. But the scramble is not fundamentally about philosophy. Or even about jobs. No purely objective legislator would give away or put at risk tens of millions of dollars of tax money for the mere possibility of a few jobs. And it can be shown mathematically that 30-plus years of trickle-down hasn’t worked.
Politicians are succumbing not to a philosophy but to who has power — for example, the power to help them personally, perhaps with money in their next campaign. They also are succumbing to the power of the voters. They want to be seen as doing something to create jobs.
Power is what the passing of laws is about. This article has used “law” in a metaphorical sense, but different laws for the rich and the poor are embodied in literal laws such as the Medicaid statutes or the New Markets Capital Investment Credit.
If politicians choose to insulate the rich from market forces — even directly give them public money — while requiring the poor (and much of the middle class) to fend for themselves in a harsh market environment, there’s a slogan for that:
Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.
Which is what the different laws for the rich and the poor add up to.