A senior member of the Louisiana Democratic Party tells me Dems will try to get a state Constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid on the ballot on Election Day 2014.
The chances of succeeding at that are very slim – more on that in a moment – but this goes to the heart of a very interesting storyline that’s set to unfold in Louisiana this spring involving Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by the Koch brothers, Mary Landrieu, and the health law.
This storyline also neatly captures the true nature of the Tea Party position on Obamacare.
Americans for Prosperity is up with a new ad ripping Senator Landrieu over Obamacare. It features a number of people lamenting lost coverage and higher premiums. But as ABC News reports, all those folks were actors.
That would be par for the course — lots of political ads feature actors — but for one thing. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity is also planning to lobby state legislators hard to oppose the Medicaid expansion, which is supported by Senator Landrieu and will be debated by the state legislature this spring. Supporters say it could expand coverage to up to 300,000 people.
In short, Americans for Prosperity is up with a major TV ad buy featuring fake victims of Obamacare, while planning a major lobbying effort to block Obamacare’s benefits from reaching untold numbers of real people.
This sort of thing seems to happen again and again in various forms. Obamacare foes hyped the CBO report as proof two million victims would be thrown out of work, but it turned out it actually found those not working as a result of the law would be doing so by choice. Bette in Spokane was featured in the GOP response to the State of the Union as a victim of lost coverage, but it turned out she hadn’t availed herself of Obamacare’s options. As Brian Beutler put it, the big story is that Republicans have actively “fed a stream of bogus horror stories” about the law, while doing everything possible to discourage people like Bette from enjoying the law’s benefits — in effect, creating such horror stories.
That’s where the battle over the Medicaid expansion in Louisiana comes in. Outside groups like Americans for Prosperity — which says its single paramount goal is to get Obamacare repealed — will spend untold sums on ads dramatizing such horror stories, while working to block the expansion.
AFP’s involvement — combined with Landrieu’s push for the expansion — ensures the battle will heat up in a huge way over whether to implement it over the opposition of Governor Bobby Jindal. One Dem elected official plans to try to end run Jindal by getting it put on the ballot as a Constitutional amendment. Dems will push to get it on the ballot in the fall, which could boost turnout among core Dem groups.
For many reasons, that will be very hard to do, and probably will fail. But the mere push for it will intensify attention on the expansion and perhaps educate more voters about what’s really at stake. Unlike in other states with competitive Senate races — where the expansion is already underway or is just not going to happen – getting the expansion implemented by the state legislature in Louisiana appears to be at least possible. That means there will be concrete consequences – whether or not untold numbers will get covered — debated in the context of a hard fought Senate race, with the Koch-backed apparatus fighting to block it. That will really be something to watch.
UPDATE: Post edited slightly for accuracy.