Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Federal Overreach: The Real Problem

Some of you blog readers have already expressed your reactions to this story:
Wyoming is joining more than 20 states in refusing to turn over public voter data to a federal commission investigating the integrity of elections. “I’m going to decline to provide any Wyoming voter information,” Secretary of State Ed Murray told the Star-Tribune on Monday. “It’s not sitting well with me.”
I am not going to argue the issue itself, with one exception: as someone who legally came to this country as an immigrant, and who has gone out of his way every day not to do anything illegal, it upsets me that the Wyoming Secretary of State refuses to cooperate with the federal government on such a fundamental issue as election integrity. 

To be blunt - and as an immigrant myself I can speak bluntly on this - the purpose of electoral integrity efforts is to make sure immigrants, legal or illegal, are not voting. 

I am equally upset by people who want to give all sorts of perks on taxpayers' tab to illegal immigrants. Not to mention whenever I hear illegals themselves talk about their life here in the United States of America as some sort of entitlement. 

Living in this country is not an entitlement for immigrants. It is a right that you earn through your own individual actions. And you don't just earn it once and then you're done. You earn it every day. 

It is not easy, nor should it be.

If you want to go to a country that doles out citizenship like discount coupons, then go to Sweden.

There is, however, a takeaway point in this story that relates to what I normally write about on this blog. That point is about federal overreach.

Remember this one, from February 2016?
Governor Matt Mead today encouraged the Wyoming Legislature to reconsider expanding Medicaid as they continue their work on the state budget. The Governor reiterated the economic benefit Medicaid expansion would have to the state. “Expansion would help cover healthcare costs for roughly twenty thousand Wyoming citizens – our friends and neighbors – many who are working. It would bring an estimated $268 million of our federal tax dollars back to the state and help with the enormous uncompensated care costs facing our hospitals,” Governor Mead said. “This is good for our economic future and it is the right thing to do as the state faces this current revenue shortfall.”
The governor also claimed that we as a state were losing $310,000 per day from saying no to Medicaid expansion. A nonsensical argument, of course: in order for us to lose money there would have had to be an outbound flow of money from Wyoming to other states. That, of course, did not happen: all that the refusal of Medicaid expansion did was to stop more federal funds from flowing into the state.

However, states that accepted Medicaid expansion are certainly not celebrating some loss prevention today. In New Mexico, for example, Medicaid expansion added a quarter of a million people to Medicaid - a total expansion of enrollment by 27 percent. That state is now in such a bad crisis that they are borrowing profusely from their future severance-tax revenue to just stay afloat.

Things are even worse in Kentucky, where 443,000 people got on Medicaid thanks to the expansion. That represented a 35-percent growth in the program, which was easily detectable on the cost side of the program:

Figure 1
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers

From 2013, the year before Kentucky accepted Medicaid expansion, to 2016, federal funds spending on Medicaid in the Bluegrass State went up by 99 percent. Today, almost 80 percent of the Kentucky Medicaid program is funded by the federal government. 

And to think Matt Mead wanted Medicaid Expansion. 

To be fair, I do not know for certain that Matt Mead thinks the Trump administration is engaging in federal overreach with its voter registration inquiries, nor do I know if Secretary Murray likes Medicaid Expansion. But I also have not found any indication that Murray ever criticized Medicaid Expansion; on the contrary, back in 2015 Governor Mead cried on Secretary Murray's shoulder over the legislature's refusal to pass Medicaid Expansion.

If it is not overreach to accept a massive increase in our state's dependency on federal funds to pay for our state's spending promises, then how can it be federal overreach to inquire about information in pursuit of election integrity?

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