Desperate times call for desperate measures; that’s what Republican North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis’ soul said unto him. At least, it did after he checked his poll numbers against Democratic candidate Kay Hagan.
Not long ago, Thom Tillis, wealthy Florida businessman turned politician, called Obama’s signature healthcare law an “unworkable mess,” and bragged in this ad from February about having “stopped Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion cold” in North Carolina:
Like most Republicans this year, Tillis has been running more against Obama than his actual candidate. This is a tried-and-true strategy in politics; a president’s approval ratings always fall late in the second term, so it’s not uncommon for the opposition party to capitalize on that in local elections.
But the approach that’s worked to impress Tea Party voters nationally hasn’t worked out that great in states that have been denied Medicaid expansion. In North Carolina, Tillis’ actions as Speaker have denied more than 500,000 low-income citizens access to healthcare…and that’s showing in his consistent lag behind Hagan in the polls.
During the Obamacare frenzy prior to the start of open enrollment, Tillis was flying high on a wave of conservative national blitz advertising. But the moment it kicked in, and a both his and Hagan’s numbers dropped. Hagan’s recovered…Tillis, not so much.
Tillis though, is quite aware of his faux pas, and the imminent end of his employment. So, in a last-ditch effort to salvage his job, he did what every GOP’er does when they’re outed as a sociopathic waste of amino acids.
He flipped completely, running to embrace the Medicaid expansion as though he were John Cusack in an airport. Tillis explained his seeming “evolution” in thought to Time Warner Cable News. Apparently, it was all part of The Plan:
Asked if he thought it would be likely that the state legislature would expand Medicaid coverage after refusing to do so previously, Tillis said it might make sense once the state has better control of the financing of the program, which is notorious for its cost overruns.
He said he didn’t have an ideological objection to expanding the coverage. But he said when the state auditor told the previous governor that money was being wasted on it, the appropriate response would not have been to make it bigger and more costly.
“I would encourage the state legislature and governor to consider it if they’re completely convinced they now have the situation under control,” Tillis said.
According to Tillis, he didn’t want Obamacare “stopped cold” out of sheer, rancorous partisanship. Oh, no no no. It’s because it would have utterly destroyed the state just 8 months ago. Now, everything’s super-peachy.
“Based on the previous state of the system, expansion would have eventually caused massive budget deficits, resulting in severe cuts to other important programs. [Now] the state’s Medicaid system is in a much better position.”
Of course, that would be kind of a hard thing to deny, given that the state reported a $63 million budget surplus in its (newly revamped) Medicaid program for fiscal 2013-2014. Which Tillis has known about for almost two months, and chose not to mention in any of his several debates…until it came time to do the flip.
But he meant to do this all along…right? No sign of that. In fact, even while the state Medicaid system was under repair and upgrade following its 40-year history of cost over-runs, even while Tillis knew it was getting fixed, he made no indication whatsoever that he ever planned to expand Medicaid. Actually, here’s what he said in October of last year:
“If these liberal activists were truly serious about reducing the cost of health insurance, they would be in Washington protesting Obamacare, an abomination that has caused insurance premiums to skyrocket for working families.”
Ouch. That degree of wrong must burn.
And that “liberal activists” thing wasn’t partisan at all. Niether was this line from the video: “Liberals fear Thom Tillis. Conservatives support him” Because, remember, Tillis “didn’t have an ideological objection” to expanding Medicaid. It’s just those damned liberals, is all.
Also please don’t judge, North Carolina. Tillis wants you to know that the “abomination” of Medicaid expansion was always part of the plan! Hah!
See? Everyone loves surprises…aren’t you glad he never mentioned The Plan once before now?
But despite the fact that Tillis has been ducking questions about his denial of Medicaid since the start of his campaign, the opposition isn’t letting voters forget it. Sadie Weiner, spokesperson for Hagan’s campaign:
“Speaker Tillis previously bragged about how he stopped Medicaid expansion cold — a heartless move that denied coverage for 500,000 North Carolinians,” said Sadie Weiner, Hagan’s campaign communications director. “Now he’s trying to have it both ways because he knows North Carolinians aren’t buying his devastating record, but the truth is he can’t hide from the damage he’s caused in North Carolina.”
But, hey Thom…don’t feel bad. You may now stand proudly in the company of Chris Christie, Rock Scott, John Kasich, Tom Corbett, Rick Snyder, Brian Sandoval, Susana Martinez and Terry Branstad. All Republicans who hated Obamacare with every once of their souls…until those souls went to the polls, and saw reflected in them the distinct possibility of imminent unemployment.