Lindsey, fill yer hands; I’m a-callin’ you out

Did you get the “True Grit” reference? I do try to be topical (although I have no idea whether that line is in the remake)…

Back on this post, Doug Ross said, “So will Brad call out Lindsey for wasting resources?”

That kind of stuff makes me tired. You know why bloggers and sure-enough journalists avoid ever saying anything nice about anybody in public life? Because they never hear the end of it. They’re constantly getting this Well I hope now you see what a jerk your buddy is, and see the error of your ways stuff.

Let’s be clear. There is no one I respect in the U.S. Senate more than Lindsey Graham, so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, you cynics. There are good men in public life, and Graham is highly intelligent, principled and hard-working. He has proved this time and time again. He is good for South Carolina, and good for the country. I am proud that he is our senior senator. Now that John Spratt is gone, I think Lindsey is clearly the best member of the SC congressional delegation.

But you know what? Sometimes, even on an important issue, he’s dead wrong. That happens. It happens with the best of men. (Women, too, probably, but far be it from me as a gentleman to reflect negatively upon the ladies.) And there’s one that he and two of my other favorites in the Senate, John McCain and Joe Lieberman, and that’s the one Doug and I were talking about — national health care policy.

He’s really, really wrong on it. I mean, Jim DeMint just wants it to be Obama’s Waterloo, but I get the feeling that Lindsey Graham really means it. He really wants to gut Obamacare. And he doesn’t just want to vote on a purely symbolic “repeal;” he want to hang it, draw it and quarter it, slice and dice it, by passing legislation that deprives it of its central elements, the only things that give it any chance of having a good effect on the health care crisis in this country.

Here’s the release he put out today:

Barrasso, Graham Introduce Legislation Allowing States to ‘Opt-Out’ of Obamacare

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) today introduced S.244, The State Health Care Choice Act, to repeal and replace Obamacare by allowing states to ‘Opt-Out’ of its major provisions.  Under the legislation, states could choose to ‘Opt-Out’ of:

  • Individual mandate – the requirement to buy government-approved health insurance coupled with a financial penalty for not doing so.
  • Employer mandate – the requirement for businesses to provide government-approved health insurance coupled with financial penalties for not doing so.
  • Medicaid mandate – the forced expansion of state Medicaid programs.
  • Benefit mandates – defines what qualifies as a health plan as well as new federal requirements for regulating health insurance.

“As a doctor in Wyoming, I witnessed regularly how Washington simply didn’t understand the needs of the people of our state,” said Barrasso.  “After Obamacare, Washington is more out of touch than ever.  Instead of requiring states to follow Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all health care policy, our bill lets states decide what works best for them.  We will fight to repeal the President’s bad health spending law and provide states with flexibility, freedom and choice.”
“Our legislation opens up a third front in the fight against Obama health care,” said Graham, noting the other ‘fronts’ include legal challenges moving through the courts and the House-passed repeal.  “Our bill takes the fight out of Washington and puts it back in the states.  I would hope every Senator, regardless of party, would give the people of their home state a chance to be heard.  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.  As more states opt-out, it will have the effect of repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

“Medicaid expansion under Obama health care will be devastating to many states, including South Carolina,” continued Graham.  “We are already facing a severe budget shortfall this year.  The future expansion of Medicaid – which adds an additional one billion dollars of state matching funding requirements and will result in nearly 30 percent of South Carolinians being eligible for Medicaid – only adds to our budget problems.  This combination of Medicaid expansion and increased state funding makes it virtually impossible for South Carolina to pull out of her economic woes.”

The Senators noted the Obama Administration has already issued 733 waivers to businesses allowing them to continue offering insurance to their employees and questioned why states should not have the same ability to obtain relief.


To read the text of the bill, click here.

Note that this masquerades as a substitute for Obama care — not mere repeal, but replacement. What a mockery. It is most certainly nothing of the kind.

The absolute worst thing you could do to last year’s health-care bill — which is deeply flawed, but would at least take a step or two in the direction of real reform — would be to let anyone opt out of it, much less entire states.

Either we’re all in it, or it will not work. It may not work anyway. I still firmly believe that simple, straightforward single-payer is the way to go. But hey, critics of Obamacare say it’s a back-door way to get us there, and maybe they’re right. One thing I know for sure is that there isn’t a plan in the wings to replace it. I mean, if this is the best that a smart guy like Lindsey Graham can come up with, we’d better cling to Obamacare as though it were our last chance to avoid drowning.

And this fantasy that states can in any way affect this mega-economic hole that we are in — or that they would (especially if they are South Carolina). Again, either we come up with a national solution and we’re all in it — a risk pool of 300-plus million people — or there’s not much use talking, because you really don’t get the problem. Sen. Barrasso says Washington doesn’t get it. He may be right; I can certainly point to one guy in Washington who doesn’t get it. No, make that two. (And for that matter, the Dems don’t either, or they’d have gone for single-payer. So I guess he’s right; it’s a majority.)

This is just sad. So sad, that I marvel at it.

I’m going to issue another invitation to Sen. Graham to join me on “The Brad Show” and explain this. He always has good explanations for what he does, and I’d love to hear this one.

In the meantime, satisfy yourselves with this video of him and Barrasso talking about this abomination…

15 thoughts on “Lindsey, fill yer hands; I’m a-callin’ you out

  1. Doug Ross


    My issue with your treatment of our two senators is that you are quick to jump on DeMint on any issue but hold back on criticizing Graham. Everything is always couched in “Bless his heart!” rhetoric.

    Graham and McCain have reversed course on many issues in the past two years because of their strong desire to remain in office. Say what you will about DeMint, you can’t call him a flip-flopper. That’s a far more admirable trait than Graham’s partisan pirouettes.

  2. Doug Ross

    And isn’t this extremely important?

    “The Senators noted the Obama Administration has already issued 733 waivers to businesses allowing them to continue offering insurance to their employees and questioned why states should not have the same ability to obtain relief.”

    Look into the details of who has been granted the waivers. It’s a lot of labor unions with Cadillac plans. The same unions who donated heavily to Democratic campaigns.

    You want a fantasy system but cannot see that it will be implemented by people who are corrupt. Idealism can’t defeat greed.

  3. Brad

    Burl, if Lindsey says it, he means it. That’s why I’d like to talk with him about it.

    And Doug, you can think of it as a virtue that DeMint is almost ALWAYS wrong, instead of just sometimes, and that he’s motivated by his desire to damage Democrats and stuff his own party with fellow ideologues… but I don’t.

  4. Doug Ross


    How about Lindsey’s about face on immigration? Which version of him was right?

    He’s loves his job and the spotlight. And I’m sure he loves the financial bonanza his tenure has offered him. He’ll say anything to stay in office.

    If DeMint is wrong, so are the 60% of South Carolinians who keep voting for him. Oh, and did you see the new 2012 presidential poll for SC? Demint wins now if he runs.

  5. Brad

    Doug is using the standard populist maneuver (I’m not saying Doug is a populist; I’m merely describing the maneuver): “You wouldn’t dare say that the PEOPLE are wrong, would you?”

    The Favorite Son sentiment toward DeMint is perfectly understandable. So is his re-election. You may not have heard, but his opponent was Alvin Greene.

    But I’m not going to explain away the possibility that in this case, 60 percent of the electorate could indeed be wrong. It happens. Do YOU think every decision the voters have made — including ones they’ve made overwhelmingly — is correct? I certainly have no such illusions.

    There is great wisdom in the electorate — not all the time, and not on every issue. But they do get it wrong from time to time. Sometimes, really wrong…

  6. Burl Burlingame

    Absolutely doesn’t matter what Graham’s record is. If he wants to screw over his fellow Americans in order to score a meaningless political point, then he’s a worthless party hack.

  7. bud

    Lindsey Graham is the most mealy-mouthed, sanctamonious jerk that’s ever served in the Senate. I just can’t stand the sight of the man. I say that even though he is right on the issues more often than DeMint.

  8. Doug Ross


    Was there any doubt that DeMint would have beaten Otis Rawl of whatever patsy the Democrats put up against him?

    You said DeMint is almost always wrong. So to follow your logic:

    DeMint is almost always wrong.

    The SC voters have elected him TWICE easily despite the fact that he is almost always wrong.

    Thus, South Carolina voters prefer a candidate who is almost always wrong.

    I would think DeMint’s views on the war and abortion would be in line with yours. Other than his desire for the government to be fiscally responsible, what else is he wrong about?

  9. Juan Caruso

    “The Senators noted the Obama Administration has already issued 733 waivers to businesses allowing them to continue offering insurance to their employees and questioned why states should not have the same ability to obtain relief.”

    Doug, most Americans are yet unaware that socialism is little more than government sanctioned, limited-opportunity favoritism.

    No worries, voters are begining to see the favoritsm demonstrated thanks to the Obama administration.

    Brad, while neither of us likes party labels, this is one of the few times Lindsey is sponsoring a “non-partisan” bill with a non-LAWYER (Barrasso is an MD). Though they both call themselves Republicans, Barrasso’s Americans for Democratic Action score [2008] was 5, while Graham’s was 200% better/worse and, therefore, bi-partisan, as well as bi-professional.

  10. Phillip

    The politics of this are really simple, actually. Doug made the point on another thread that something like 70% of Americans were or are satisfied with their health insurance, and I don’t really doubt that figure.

    About those other 30%, though, and the millions who have to make choices between addressing their health vs. homelessness, etc.: the reason Graham et al propose repeal but not real replacement ideas is the same reason why Republicans have NEVER made health insurance reform an issue they cared about in the past (other than some repetitive mantras about malpractice reform). They DON’T CARE about those in real trouble. It’s not their constituency. The GOP governs or proposes policy on behalf of the wealthiest third or so of Americans, while working hard to convince the middle third that they can someday reach the top third, and by keeping their taxes low, will never have to worry about falling into that bottom third. That lower tier is written off entirely by GOP policy, except insofar as they can appeal to some of the less educated in that group on the basis of cultural or racial prejudice. That is American politics in a nutshell.

    No Republican has made a serious push for health insurance reform in the past thirty years on a national level, so if they somehow managed to repeal the current reform, you shouldn’t hold your breath for the “new ideas” to take the place of the current reform. It will never come. Drop dead, is their platform.

  11. Mark Stewart


    I disagree, health insurance coverage is not a low-income problem (well, of course it is, but I mean this in a larger sense). Obtaining and keeping coverage is a huge problem for entrepreneurs, small business people and professionals, too. Many of these are in the higher income brackets, and of course, some are not.

    Where I part ways with the complacent 70% is that it still seems under-appreciated how difficult it is for someone to obtain coverage for oneself and one’s family even when the cost isn’t the main issue. Even when the cost of the full-price individual policy premium isn’t the main issue, I should say. Out in the cold world on one’s own (or in a small company of only a handful or two of employees with a half live measured in single-digit years), reliable, long-term health coverage is not easy to obtain.

    I hear over and over again how entrepreneurially-minded people need a spouse with a stable career in big business or government to be able to pursue their productive, growth-oriented risk-taking careers. They NEED their spouse’s health insurance coverage.

    Simply put the current system disincentivises the very people who are most likely to drive growth and employment in this country. To me, that’s just not a smart policy. I think that the talent freed to create without insurance coverage worry would pay serious economic dividends for the country (and no, Doug, I have no data to back up this claim).

  12. Nick Nielsen

    You got that right, Doug.

    “You said DeMint is almost always wrong. So to follow your logic:

    DeMint is almost always wrong.

    The SC voters have elected him TWICE easily despite the fact that he is almost always wrong.

    Thus, South Carolina voters prefer a candidate who is almost always wrong.”

    I think it has to do with the quality of education…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *