The General Assembly just passed a law that will take away the power of the governor to expand Medicaid into Georgia. It seems more like a gift to the incumbent in this campaign year allowing Nathan Deal to shift the blame to the legislature when it becomes a hot issue to see who gets to live on West Paces Ferry Road next January. A lot has already been written on this subject, so I will only add a couple of thoughts. First, it is remarkable that the taxpayers of this state aren’t screaming outrage for declining the Medicaid expansion. Georgia will turn away one hundred percent of the funding for the next three years, and then a minimum of ninety percent in the ensuing years. That is our money that would have come back to our state, provided for countless jobs, tax revenue from those jobs, and given the down and out a chance at getting minimum health care. The money that we send to Washington on April 15th will go to other states.
The second point is that without that federal money to bring in more people, to include not only patients, but doctors, nurses, equipment providers, and other associated business in the medical field, hospitals, particularly in rural areas, will close. It is the smaller communities north and south of metropolitan Atlanta that will feel it the worst. Consider that there will be almost no incentive for medical school graduates to set up shop in these places because there won’t be enough money to provide a living and to pay off their education debt, and they won’t have hospitals nearby that provide them privileges. Makes you wonder why any business would possibly think about relocating or expanding where medical services are non-existent. Actually, they won’t consider it, and we may see more small towns and communities disappear.
Then there is the controversy being litigated over Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black’s decision dictating to growers the earliest date that they can ship their Vidalia onions to market. A judge ruled that Black did not have that authority, so Black is appealing. He argues, among other things, that in recent years some farmers have tried to be first in selling this trademark onion, and the lower quality from not having reached maturity has adversely affected the Vidalia’s reputation. What is funny about Black’s argument is that if I recall correctly, he ran on a Republican platform of fewer regulations and less government.
Now I’m all in favor of protecting the Vidalia onion and it’s singular reputation. But as someone who believes in free markets, I thought that if a farmer sent a poor quality product to a store, that the consumer would make the decision on whether to buy from that source again. Apparently Black has decided when the Vidalias are ready to be shipped for all farmers. Yet I haven’t heard any labels attached to Black like czar, dictator, fascist, socialist, or communist that the current occupant of the White House is accused of every day. I won’t disagree that Black might have some meritorious arguments for his position, but it seems a tad hypocritical to campaign on fewer regulations, less government, free markets where the consumer decides, and then impose a pretty harsh regulation on the growers. Makes me wonder if there isn’t a hidden agenda in there somewhere considering how much of the state’s money he will spend appealing it. It also makes me wonder how Republicans pick and choose which regulations are in the public interest---at least in their opinion.
Georgia voters should know by now that the Republicans they elect aren’t serious about reducing regulations or tax reform. Unless you are a big business that threatens to leave the state without tax breaks just for them (Gulfstream comes to mind), or a business that promises to come to Georgia and play Santa Claus to get a tax advantage, you will continue to pay the full freight and abide by all the rules and regulations. No waivers for you. Struggling small businesses will make up the difference. It’s only during campaign season that the empty promises of reform are made, but once in office---as they say in New York---fuhgetaboutit!