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Voters be warned: Establishment insiders are already fighting to save Obamacare.

The election is a week old, and reports are already surfacing of backroom meetings by Republicans to convince the Trump administration to scrap repeal and only make cosmetic changes to the law.

One of the ringleaders of this effort is former Governor Jan Brewer, who was key in implementing key provisions of Obamacare in Arizona. Under Brewer, Arizona became one of 32 states to support the vast expansion of Medicaid, funded through federal dollars and a massive and potentially unconstitutional bed tax. Adding insult to the process, the entire package was rammed through in the middle of night under complete suspension of House and Senate rules.

In what should be a go

lden opportunity to repeal Obamacare and replace it with bold patient centered reforms, insiders are lo

bbying to maintain the status quo.  Most people that voted for President-elect Trump (and even some who didn’t) hope a

Even more troubling, Brewer is telling Trump to look to Arizona (a State he highlighted as the poster-child of Obamacare failure) as the “gold standard” for Obamacare/Medicaid reform to be followed across the country.nd expect that he will deliver on his campaign promise to repeal Obamacare.  Yet people are already lining up to convince the President-Elect to crumble on his commitment to voters.

The reality is just the opposite. Arizona’s Medicaid expansion is not a model for the rest of the country – but is the most inefficient and costly mode of delivering healthcare services possible.  Not only has the costs of new ACA enrollees far exceeded the initial predictions, but a study conducted at MIT found every $1 the federal government spends on Medicaid, recipients receive only $0.2 – 0.4 of benefits.

Other Republican leaders in the state should be warned: any position other than a strong and swift call for Obamacare repeal will elicit a colossal backlash from voters.  It is without question that Republican success at the ballot box was a direct and enraged reaction to the healthcare disaster.  And voters have held Democrats accountable.  So, what is left to defend now for Republicans??   Arizona has seen 116% increases in their insurance premiums, providers dwindle down to 1-2, and the quality of their plans completely fail them.

The argument is over.  Obamacare is broken.  Medicaid is broken.  If our elected officials and insiders choose to stand in front of the repeal train in an attempt to save Obamacare, they deserve to be run over by it.

Presidential candidates did not discourage Peoria and Mesa voters from filling out their down ballots.  Both cities had proposed 0.4 percent sales tax increases which were handedly defeated last Tuesday.

Peoria’s “Forever Tax”

Proponents of Peoria’s Proposition 400, dubbed the “Quality of Life Tax,” tried to make the case that the tax increase was needed to fund much needed public safety priorities and park ranger positions.

12-libraries-in-peoria The truth is Prop 400 was designed to fund a lavish wish list of non-  essential projects such as river trails, upgrades to neighborhood  parks, a new recreation center, a new city pool, beautification of  Old-Town Peoria, and a brand-new library in North Peoria (even  though 12 already exist in the city).  It also included funding for an  aquatic center that would compete with several private swimming    locations already in Peoria.

The public safety claims were such a sham that even the Peoria  Police Officers Association urged a NO vote on the initiative. 

What made Prop 400 even more egregious was how city elites actively used tax payer money for electioneering on behalf of the proposal.  City officials plastered garbage trucks with Prop 400 signs and printed extensive materials to “educate” voters; for good reason, this is illegal.

But in the central planning paradigm, the ends justify the means.  Current City Mayor Cathy Carlot argued it was the legislature’s fault that Peoria was in this unfortunate position of having to extract more money from residents.  She cited the state’s changes to city impacts fees.   Indeed, reforms were made to stop cities from being able to charge exorbitant impact fees on new developers to fund massive city wide projects (like libraries and aquatic centers.)  Developers are still required to pay impact fees, however, those fees are meant to pay for direct and legitimate city services and infrastructure to the degree that development puts additional demand on those service.  They’re NOT meant to subsidize whatever grand projects the city craves and sees the opportunity to dump onto new growth.

Proposition 400 was defeated by more than 13 points.  It is clear Peoria voters sent a loud message to their elected representatives in the City – that message was a resounding ‘NO.’

Public Safety Ploy Fails in Mesa

Meanwhile in Mesa, the city was also asking voters to pass an additional 0.4 percent increase, again claiming it was necessary for public safety improvements.  While this tax hike did allocate more funding to public safety than its Peoria counterpart, it was coupled with other special interest giveaways that voters couldn’t stomach.

Specifically, $15 million of the $38 million anticipated annually would have been dedicated to fund debt service on an Arizona State University satellite campus and an expansion of Benedictine University.  Spending $127 million on a questionable downtown campus was simply not palatable to voters–the measure was defeated by a solid 7 points.

At the end of the day voters are getting wise to the tactics of city governments.  It is no longer enough to pay lip service to public safety or use it as a Trojan horse to fund other lavish non-essential ideas.   In a world where citizens are getting crushed by high insurance premiums, ever-increasing property taxes, and a diminishing purchasing power, they are demanding more accountability for their tax dollars.

Every jurisdiction in Arizona should take notice of Peoria’s and Mesa’s failures to convince voters, and think twice before asking their residents to increase taxes.

There are already multiple reasons as to why the Arizona’s “Clean Elections” system should be scrapped, but now we can add another abuse to the list—the government program is being used to fund political parties.

This funding loophole was discovered while reviewing campaign finance reports for several “clean” candidates running for office. Several Democratic Candidates running for office contributed over $80,000 to the Democratic Party from the funds provided through the program. The largest contribution came from Corporation Commission candidate Bill Mundell ($29,000). Other contributions to the party include:

  • $12,000 from LD 12 Candidate Elizabeth Brown
  • $6,800 from LD 11 Candidate Corin Hammond
  • $7,000 from LD 8 Candidate Carmen Casillas
  • $7,000 from LD 15 Candidate Tonya McBeth
  • $4,500 from LD 21 Candidate Deanna Rasmussen
  • $4,500 from LD 26 Candidate Athena Salmon
  • $3,600 from LD 26 Candidate Isela Blanc
  • $3,300 from LD 17 Candidate Jennifer Pawlik
  • $3,300 from LD 17 Candidate Steven Weichert

It is not clear whether any strings were attached to the contributions to the party, but it is probably safe to assume that the contributions were a ‘thank you’ for assistance provided in qualifying for the funding.

For those not familiar with the Clean Elections program, in order to receive government money from Clean Elections, candidates need to acquire a certain amount of $5 contributions from registered voters. In the case of statewide races, candidates need thousands of qualifying contributions, which is an extremely difficult and time consuming task.

Both state parties and their local district affiliates have a long history of providing logistic support and manpower to aid candidates in collecting their $5 contributions. Now it appears that they have discovered a way to be financially rewarded for their efforts.

Don’t be surprised to see this abusive practice explode in the future. If both political parties know that they can grow their bottom line using the Clean Elections system, they will work to run publicly funded candidates in every race–especially in noncompetitive state House and Senate races where they can siphon off the Clean Election funds to be used elsewhere.

Lawmakers need to shut this down ASAP, and that means sending a repeal of the program to voters so they can end this scheme once and for all.

 



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The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a free market policy and advocacy group dedicated to promoting a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.