If SC “opts out” of Obamacare, you will definitely have stepped over the line

I say that because, between the two of them — him and Nikki Haley — I figure he’s the one more likely to listen to reason. At least, I would normally think that, although his recent behavior on this subject injects a large measure of doubt.

Here’s what I’m on about:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday opened the S.C. front in the Republican Party’s battle to roll back health care legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama last year.

At a State House news conference, Graham and Haley took turns blasting the law as an expensive federal takeover of the nation’s health care system. Graham said the law, which won 60 votes in the 100-member U.S. Senate, was passed through a “sleazy” process that offered no opportunity for GOP input.

Graham also said he has introduced legislation to allow South Carolina and other states to “opt out” of the law, which is being challenged in federal courts.

“I’m confident that, if given the chance, a large number of states would opt out of the provisions regarding the individual mandate, employer mandate and expansion of Medicaid,” Graham said, referring to requirements in the law that individuals buy insurance, companies offer it and Medicaid be expanded to cover those without insurance. “As more states opt out, it will have the effect of repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

Last time, I was sort of seriocomic in warning Sen. Graham that he was goin’ to messin’, with my “Lindsey, fill yer hands; I’m a callin’ you out” post.

It’s not funny any more.

In fact, this is the one thing that leading Republicans (or anyone else who got such a notion) could do that would be totally beyond the pale, truly unforgivable.

Look, I get it: You don’t like Obama. No, scratch that: What I get is that your constituents don’t like Obama (in some cases for reasons that don’t bear a lot of scrutiny), so you’re playing to that. I doubt Nikki has any strong feelings toward the president one way or the other (she never even had occasion to think about him until she decided to become the Tea Party’s Dream Girl last year) and for his part Lindsey is perfectly happy to work with him in a collegial manner. But they’re trying to stay in the game with Jim “Waterloo” DeMint, and this leads to trying to fake the symptoms of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

I fully get the fact that since the defeat of November 2008 (when, it you’ll recall, I endorsed both John McCain and Lindsey Graham), the Republican Party has gone stark, raving mad, having concluded that its problem in ’08 was that it wasn’t extreme enough, not wacky enough, causing it, as it wandered lost in the post-apocalyptic landscape, to embrace the Tea Party in its lonely desperation. I get all that.

But that is a disgusting, absurd, inexcusable, disgustingly irresponsible reason to try to prevent the people of South Carolina — who have perhaps more need for health care reform than people in any other state — from deriving any benefit that might accrue from the federal health care legislation.

No, the thing dubbed “Obamacare” doesn’t accomplish much; it’s a bit of a Frankenstein of a bill. But it actually would do SOME people SOME good. And it at least has the one essential element that one would have to have in any attempt to address the crisis in paying for health care in this country, the national mandate — which, absurdly, is the ONE thing you object to most vehemently. (We’ve discussed in the past how there’s no point in talking about “reform” unless you start with the premise that everybody has to be in the game for it to work, so I won’t go on and on about it now.)

Yep, Obamacare is pretty inadequate. But you have NOTHING to replace it with, nothing in the wings (with any chance of passing, or any chance of doing any good if it DID pass) to do what little good Obamacare will do.

So trying to tear it down is nothing but an act of pure destruction. And the thing you’re destroying is the ONE thing that’s been done lately to address the one greatest domestic need in this country.

I expect this kind of nonsense from Nikki Haley (the Tea Party Nikki Haley that is, not the promising young House member I used to know). But Lindsey Graham is fully smart enough to know better.

Fine, have your little press conferences and make your symbolic gestures. But if you actually start to make this “opt-out” thing a reality, that will be unforgivable.

32 thoughts on “If SC “opts out” of Obamacare, you will definitely have stepped over the line

  1. bud

    I fully get the fact that since the defeat of November 2008 (when, it you’ll recall, I endorsed both John McCain and Lindsey Graham), the Republican Party has gone stark, raving mad …

    They were headed in the direction of insanity long before 11/08. The entire Bush presidency was a serious of crazy actions or inactions. They tried to repeal social security. Bush tried to politicize the Katrina fiasco by attempting to usurp the LA governor’s authority over the national guard down there. And I could go on. No one is a bigger advocate of the notion that the GOP has gone stark raving mad. But let’s get the timeline right. It probably started on 9/12/01.

  2. bud

    Brad, this is an issue where we largely agree. I don’t find Obamacare to be the best option for healthcare. But it is a vast improvement over the plutocratic atrocity that we’ve lived with for so long. It was probably the best we were ever going to get and deserves to be defended vigorously. Hopefully we can hang on until the economy turns around and the GOP will become impotent to do any further damage to the economy of this nation or the welfare of it’s citizens.

  3. Andrew

    The TEA Party hates Lindsey Grahsm.

    For the past few months, Graham has gotten closer to Haley than just about anything politically.

    Graham is shoring up his base, to keep out a primary challenger in a few years. If he can do that with some symbolic stuff, so be it.

    Some rank and file TEA partiers may hate Graham, but if there isn’t a well funded challenger, then he’s golden.

  4. Brad

    Andrew, if Lindsey is just positioning himself for political survival, knowing that this “opt-out” madness will never become law, I can handle that. I don’t like it, but I can handle it. This would drive Doug and other puritans on the blog crazy, but I think that by and large SC and the nation are best served with Lindsey Graham in the Senate. I don’t want him doing anything dishonest to get there (and I doubt he IS; he probably has a wonderful, complex rationalization for this in his own mind, which is why I’d like to have him on “The Brad Show” and get him to elucidate), but I do want him to survive.

    But what if this “empty gesture” SUCCEEDS? Then irreparable harm will have been done.

  5. Doug Ross


    Better to have a Lindsey Graham who will say and do anything to stay in office than someone with a firm set of principles that voters can depend on?

    Reason #2353 why we need term limits. The lust for power and the spotlight trumps doing what is right.

  6. Brad

    Actually, Doug, you’ve got it inside-out.

    It’s BECAUSE Lindsey Graham is the kind of guy who WILL do the kinds of principled, intelligent things that need to be done, and which almost no one else in Washington will do (certainly not the DeMint-style Republicans, and certainly not any Senate Democrats who come to mind), that he needs to stay.

    It’s because doing the right thing DOES matter that I want him in the Senate.

    You confuse “principles” with clinging to rigid ideology. I absolutely do NOT, which is the one thing everyone who reads this blog should understand.

    The right answer to a problem is almost never, EVER the answer that either the rigid right or the rigid left insists upon. It’s somewhere else entirely. That’s why I want Lindsey up there… except when he does stuff like this.

  7. Lynn

    A few SC Health care facts, not like facts actually affect political discussion in SC. Health care is a $36 BILLION economic activity employing 200,000+ people in over 1,000 occupations. Those are real jobs!

    Half of that economic activity is funded by: Medicare (the over 65 set), Medicaid (the very poor, frail elderly, pregnant women & children, and the disabled), VA and DoD, and SC State Employees Health Plan. Gov’t funding. Only about 1/3rd is paid for by private (employer) insurance the rest comes out of our individual pockets.

    Now if SC can devise a reform mechanism that addresses the problems of health care access, cost, and quality all on our own, I’m all for it. But I don’t see those resources available from only within our state. The resources aren’t there! (even if we invent our own currency!)

    There are 1 million South Carolinians without health insurance. That’s 1 in 4 of our friends and neighbors. I also haven’t seen an outburst of health either. So Governess please, I’m begging you to show me where the resources are to “fix” health care all on our own. You must have some kind of magic wand or alternative reality window, because I don’t see it.

  8. Juan Caruso

    Brad is nearly correct. Lawyer Lindsey is pulling an obvious political stunt in hopes of later boosting his re-election chances.

    Graham’s proposed “Obamacare override legislation” will obviously fail in the Senate. He is worried that should SCOTUS quash the 26-state uncontitutionality ruling (in Florida) he will be blamed for his advice and consent votes on the last 2 justices — and he will be correct.

  9. bud

    I think that by and large SC and the nation are best served with Lindsey Graham in the Senate.

    It’s BECAUSE Lindsey Graham is the kind of guy who WILL do the kinds of principled, intelligent things that need to be done, and which almost no one else in Washington will do (certainly not the DeMint-style Republicans, and certainly not any Senate Democrats who come to mind), that he needs to stay.

    – Brad

    That makes absolutely no sense at all. He’s acting like a moron so the only conclusion you can reach from that is that our best interests are served by his continued service in the Senate?

    Of course this all goes back to one issue – the Iraq debacle. I can’t think of a single positive that has come out of that. Yet Lindsey continues to extole the virtues of that quagmire. Ever since then Brad has defended this scoundrel.

  10. bud

    The right answer to a problem is almost never, EVER the answer that either the rigid right or the rigid left insists upon. It’s somewhere else entirely. That’s why I want Lindsey up there… except when he does stuff like this.

    You’ve outdone yourself with this one. Again we have another disgusting attempt to balance the scales between the libs and the hard right. Generally I happen to believe that most of the solutions to the problems of our country are very well articulated by the “rigid left”. That would include issues like health care, military matters, the economy, poverty, guns, the death penalty and most others. Sure they get a few things wrong but to suggest that someone as diabolically calculating as Lindsey Graham has it right is simply an irresponsible thing to say as a journalist.

  11. Karen McLeod

    I’ve lost faith in Sen. Graham. If he’s willing to mouth these arguments for the sake of being re-elected, then he’s shown himself to be a liar. He’s also shown himself willing to abandon a reasoned/reasonable approach. At the rate he’s going, I’ll be forced to vote for his opponent.

  12. Brad

    This is just one of those areas where Bud and I are doomed to misunderstand each other.

    Bud thinks that this is “another disgusting attempt to balance the scales between the libs and the hard right,” which implies that he thinks I’m REACHING for such balance, bending over backward to be even-handed, something that gets on his nerves.

    What he’s missing is that I actually DISAGREE with the liberals (as “liberal” is so misleadingly defined these days), just as I do with the “conservatives” — on issue after issue after issue.

    Which is why I’m not comfortable with a “liberal” solution, because it comes with the baggage of all kinds of things I strongly disagree with. Repeat that sentence with “conservative” in place of “liberal” to complete the description of my position.

    Bud is quite comfortable, as he says, with “rigid left” answers to issues such as “health care, military matters, the economy, poverty, guns, the death penalty and most others.”

    I am not, and I find efforts to make “solutions” fit in either the left box or the right box is to doom those solutions to be wrong. Sometimes, on a particular issue at a particular time, liberals are right. Ditto conservatives. But that’s not because the solutions are good because they are liberal or conservative. It’s more for the same reason that a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    Since it doesn’t matter to me whether the solution is liberal or conservative, as long as it’s the right answer, I say the things that I say.

    By the way, before one of y’all you insist on misunderstanding me say that the solutions I endorse are unprincipled — they are actually based in principles and values that I’ve thought about a great deal. It’s BECAUSE I’ve thought about them a great deal, in each case, that I am appalled at the idea of buying my solutions and my values and my principles wholesale, off either the “liberal” or “conservative” shelf.

    Someone please tell me this is making sense to you, because it makes all the sense in the world to me — while adhering to “left” or “right” most assuredly does NOT make sense to me.

    It’s just very difficult to express sometimes to a broad audience because we have been trained by media and parties and advocacy groups to use a political vocabulary (like the people of Oceania in 1984) that does not allow for the expression of the kinds of ideas I’m trying to get across. Because of that lack of vocabulary, people who do understand me tend to intuit what I’m getting at. So either the things I’m saying make sense to you, because they speak to realizations you have but have had trouble expressing, or they do not at all.

    And that’s very frustrating. Because I’m a word guy. That’s why most journalists stick to the well-beaten path of defining everything in terms of left and right, and Democrat and Republican — because it’s just too difficult to navigate terrain outside of those ruts.

  13. Herb B

    Brad, I understand you, I think it’s called ‘truth,’ and it doesn’t come with party labels on it. But at the same time, it is helpful, at times, to be able to evaluate positions in some kind of context. Part of the problem lies in the fact that we have this false scale of ‘right and left.’ We need a completely different paradigm for evaluating positions.

    On another note, the way our state leaders demonize this whole health care issue is pretty frustrating for some of the rest of us. I just wrote a letter to the State, but can’t we do more?

    I mean, what about you writing a column that the State will print, and having all of us append our names? “What my bloggers think . . .” Well, almost all of us. At least I’m sure there’s a number here who would. OK, maybe most of our names don’t add any clout, but can’t someone stand up and say that there are some people in SC who don’t lock step with our state leadership?

  14. bud

    Ok I stand corrected. Brad isn’t trying to balance the scales he’s just wrong. My apologies.

    I believe the liberal way is best for America and would be for SC too if were ever tried here. Something I make no apologies for. I believe that not because I’m some wild-eyed partisan who supports democrats or even liberals blindly. No, I believe that because that’s where the evidence takes me.

    Take one issue in particular, the death penalty. Here’s something where I would support the conservative side if they had the evidence to support a deterrent effect. That is, if killing murderers reduces the number of future murders then I’d say fry the bastards. But the evidence is all completely against that. In places where there is no death penalty there are simply fewer murders. Liberals by and large take the passion out of issues like this and view the world through the lens of evidence. Conservatives generally do just the opposite. And on those extremely rare occasions when conservatives actually get something right I’ll be the first to support them. But that happens very infrequently.

  15. Doug Ross


    Our governments (federal, state, and local) are far more liberal than conservative. Liberals have had their way for at least 60 years. Deficit spending, social programs that consume the majority of the budgets, Roe V. Wade, and on and on. There isn’t a liberal program that isn’t a disaster waiting to happen – your beloved Social Security is now closer to the brink of bankruptcy than ever.

    As for the death penalty, who says it has to be a deterrent? I say it’s a punishment that fits the crime. I don’t care if it stops one more murder. It is the proper penalty for someone who makes a conscious decision to kill someone else. The loser in Arizona is probably going to spend 60+ years in prison. What’s the positive out of that? Every ten years or so, he’ll file for parole and put the families of the victims through the ringer again.

  16. Brad

    Well, it’s a deterrent in one sense — he won’t kill anyone again. Can’t argue with that.

    I’m still against it, and for a very libertarian reason: I don’t want the state having the right to do that.

    Mind you, I’m for the use of deadly force when the situation calls for it. When a cop has in his sights a crazed person pointing a gun at the head of an innocent hostage and acting convincingly like he’s about to use it, the cop should pull the trigger. (And, unfortunately, pay the emotional price — in many cases — of performing that terrible public service.)

    But once that perp is in custody, safely locked away, killing him is unnecessary.

  17. Doug Ross


    “killing him is unnecessary”

    Because dying in prison after X decades makes more sense.

    Seems pretty silly to me. If a cop had shot the Arizona killer in the act, we’d all be fine with it. But once he’s dropped his weapon and put his hands up, he becomes a burden on society for the rest of his life. All those resources that will be spent to incarcerate him are lost to more useful pursuits. I don’t grasp how that makes us better people.

  18. bud

    Doug’s approach to the death penalty is neither pragmatic nor libertarian. But rather it’s couched in terms of passion. I don’t believe passion has any place in public discourse.

    As for the social security claim. Seriously have we not been talking about the “bankrupcy” of social security since the 1930s? And the claim for the so-called failure of liberal programs is just a conservative talking point based on passion but short on facts. Most liberal programs are very effective in helping people in need. Millions of folks have food to eat and medicine to keep them alive thanks to liberal programs. Let’s not just rant on about the wonders of the free market like it’s some sort of panacea of enlightenment that will bring peace, harmony and wealth to us all. Fact is the free market as implemented since the Reagan years has served only to enrich a tiny handful of mostly luck individuals who did little to earn their riches while the rest of us toil on for pennies. The real danger to America is not from abroad but rather it’s from the plutocrats at home who are quite comfortable living off the labors of the working class. Hopefully pragmatic, reasoned liberal policies will continue to keep us all safe, well fed and healthy. It’s a tough battle but one that needs to be fought.

  19. Brad

    What I can’t get across to Bud is that it’s not a choice. It’s not that the U.S. SHOULD influence world events, it’s that it DOES. Nothing you can do about that. Doing nothing can have just as dramatic an effect as taking action. So you might as well be deliberate, and have the best effect you can.

    This is simple; it’s obvious; it has nothing to do with ideology or philosophy. It’s just the way things are. Thomas Jefferson isn’t president any more; we are no longer an isolated infant country trying to figure out how to survive oceans away from contact with other states. This is 2011. Another way to put it is, this is post-1941. Or post-Teddy Roosevelt’s era. Wherever you choose to draw the line, the possibility of implementing what Bud dreams of disappeared long, long before we were born.

  20. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    @ Doug Ross– are you familiar with the work of the Innocence Project? Many Death Row inmates have been totally exonerated–as in they didn’t do the act they were convicted of–not on a technicality. People who end up on Death Row often do so because as innocents, they refused to cut a deal, or because as poor people, often of color, they could not afford a lawyer with skills and time to devote to their case — not to impugn public defenders, most of whom are excellent, if not hugely experienced, but they are seriously overworked and undersupported, unlike the prosecution.

  21. Mark Stewart

    I agree with Karen McLeod. Sen. Graham may believe that this sort of political theater is going to provide a reelection cushion, but I would argue that it probably opens him up to the potential that he may face a real challenger – either a far right conservative or a more moderate Republican – or even a Democrat.

    What I liked best about Lindsey was that even when I didn’t agree with him, I felt that he had thoughtlfully considered a given situation and done his best to advocate for the most “reasonable” path for both the state and the nation. Can’t say I still have that feeling much anymore…

  22. Jim Duffy

    What concerns me is that whatever either party endorses of late the cost is to the increasingly smaller number of citizens that pay taxes. It appears that every dollwar spent on any agency is sacrosanct and the nation will collapse if an effort is made to reduce the spending of the government for any activity. Whether the expenditure is good, or not, the nation cannot spend what it does not have. The recent explosion of government debt is largely financed simply by printing money by the federal government. That cannot do anything but fail in the long run. Individuals understand what spending more than they earn will devastate thei lives, but many citizens do not believe that the same result will occur to the nation. Regardless of advantages of any particular expenditure debt will sink the nation. We cannot have everything, but many people believe it is possible to have everything as a freebie. Not going to be a success.

  23. Doug Ross


    We’ve been down this road before. There are people who are 100% without a doubt guilty of capital crimes. They should be executed as punishment for their crimes, not allowed to be a multi-decade drain on resources.

    Let a judge and/or jury decide. And when the verdict is death, carry out the verdict.

  24. bud

    What if someone is only 99.99999999999999% guilty. Seems like there is always some tiny bit of doubt even if someone confesses. Most murderers are just seeking attention. And thanks to the archaic death penalty laws the state gives it to them in spades. The result is more murders. Not a good way to keep the people safe.

  25. bud

    bud’s laws:

    1. War cannot bring peace.
    2. Death cannot reduce killing.
    3. Layoffs cannot reduce unemployment.
    4. Restrictions cannot improve society.
    5. Lower taxes cannot increase revenue.
    6. The marginal increase in benefit to society declines rapidly as wealth increases.
    7. Secrecy is the enemy of democracy.
    8. Spending on armaments creates its own demand for their use.
    9. The greater the desire for re-election the greater the probability of corruption.
    10. Interpretation of the constitution is based on ones preconceived ideas of right and wrong.

  26. Herb B

    Even though I’m not a friend of capital punishment, and I pretty much agree with Brad, the argument that capital punishment does not deter crime because of comparisons made to other countries seems to me to be an example of false comparison. There are too many other factors involved, for one thing, the availability of guns in American society. Is anyone aware of a study that makes the comparison based on the number of murders that take place using firearms? Common sense suggests that the ready availability of a firearm when someone gets mad at someone else will raise the murder rate. Countries with fewer firearms per capita are going to have a lower percentage of capital offenses, I would think.

  27. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    No one is ever 100% guilty of a capital crime. There is no capital crime that does not have defenses or excuses (a legal distinction). The competence of those defenses must be subject to the highest scrutiny before MY government becomes a cold-blooded killer.

  28. Doug Ross


    Do you believe there is some doubt that the kid in Arizona killed those people?

    There are plenty of “no doubters” on death row.

    Oh, and I believe you left out one of your laws:

    “To get out of debt, spend more money you don’t have”

  29. Doug Ross


    As for the solvency of Social Security, all you need to do is a little bit of research to see that your claims are untrue.

    The ONLY reason Social Security has remained solvent is because every time it has started to go in the red, the government increases the FICA tax or raises the retirement age. It’s easy to appear solvent when you can grab more money from the participants. It’s like saying “I can never go into debt because all I have to do is force my boss to pay me more”.

    The numbers don’t lie. With baby boomers approaching retirement age, there aren’t enough workers to support the pyramid scheme. Everyone knows it. The only solution will be to raise taxes, cut benefits, and/or raise the retirement age. If the system worked (i.e. by giving workers bank accounts they owned), the tax rates would not need to be raised.

  30. bud

    Do you believe there is some doubt that the kid in Arizona killed those people?
    – Doug

    Do you believe if he is executed the people he killed will come back to life? Right now he’s basking in the glory of his crime, just like he wanted. His death will serve only to further glorify killing and entice more lunatics to do the same. And of course it’s well documented that death penalty cases cost the state far more than life without parole cases. That’t the kind of money issue that any good libertarian should embrace.

  31. Herb B

    I don’t understand why the threshold on SS taxes isn’t completely done away with–which would lower the rate for everybody, and stop placing the primary financial foundation on those who earn less than $100,000. Can someone explain why this is never even on the table?

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