The Washington Post

GOP governors, the Medicaid expansion, and rank-and-file Republicans

Republican governors in Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina are already signaling that their states will turn down federal funds for Medicaid expansions, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. In so doing, the GOP governors are apparently making a heroic stand on behalf of states rights and against Obamacare — and Kevin Drum predicts that “every Republican governor in the South, and at least half of them elsewhere, will do the same thing.”

Quite possibly. But what if rank and file Republican voters are not actually clamoring for this move?

As Steve Kornacki writes, opting out of the Medicaid expansion is very tempting to GOP governors, because the “value to an ambitious Tea Party-era Republican politician of defying the Obama administration and rejecting money from Washington shouldn’t be underestimated.” The broader story here, as Steve Benen notes, is that these governors already have a history of turning down federal funding for their states in order to burnish their credentials as states-rights warriors.

But in the case of the Medicaid expansion, what this means in practice is turning down money that could result in coverage for hundreds of thousands of each state’s residents. Is turning away this money something ordinary Republicans support?

The CNN poll released today asked Americans if they support SCOTUS’s decision allowing states to opt out of the expansion. Interestingly, Republicans are very divided on the question, with 48 percent favoring it and 43 percent opposing it.

What’s more, Republican opinion mirrors overall national opinion almost perfectly; Americans favor the decision 49-44.

I don’t want to read too much into one poll. But this raises at least the possiblity that plenty of ordinary rank and file Republicans are far less gung-ho than some GOP officials and opinionmakers are about turning away federal money that would expand the ranks of the insured. Even if so doing would strike a grand ideological blow against this hated president’s signature domestic initiative and against the welfare state in general. Go figure.


UPDATE: Of course, an even larger number of Dems (54 percent) favored this part of the decision, so it’s very possible that many respondents misunderstood the question.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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