Brandon Dutcher | January 14, 2015
If You’re So Broke, What’s with All the Cranes?
At a legislative panel hosted by the State Chamber of Oklahoma on December 3, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, House Speaker Jeff Hickman, and Democratic Minority Leader Scott Inman were asked what could be done to address the problem of "uncompensated care," which is allegedly putting a financial squeeze on Oklahoma hospitals.
Noting that borrowed money is not "free" money, Sen. Bingman responded by reminding people of America's mind-boggling national debt. He offered some sensible remarks on why Oklahoma should not accept federal money available under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Cato Institute scholar Michael Cannon has addressed this issue capably (simply plug in "Oklahoma" where Cannon says "Virginia"):
The U.S. Treasury would raise those funds by borrowing them. It is a mathematical and accounting certainty: if Virginia participates in the Medicaid expansion, the federal debt rises. The burden of paying for the expansion will fall on voters who haven't even been born yet.
It's little wonder that every Democratic politician in Richmond and a few Republicans embrace this opportunity to spend the money of people who cannot vote them out of office. Or that ideologues and special interests are encouraging that impulse. That's how we got a $13 trillion national debt. ... Would any members of the General Assembly support the Medicaid expansion if the cost fell on people who could vote them out of office? If it were financed, say, with a $2 billion increase in Virginia's sales tax?
Sen. Bingman seems to agree with something Texas Gov. Rick Perry once said: "[T]here is no such thing as 'free' money. We know there's only money that's collected from taxpayers, and money borrowed from other countries like China against the good credit of our children and grandchildren."
By way of contrast, Rep. Inman seems to be completely on board with the idea of borrowing money from a hostile foreign power so we can put more able-bodied adults on welfare. Which, come to think of it, is perfectly emblematic of modern liberalism — and altogether contrary to the wishes of Oklahoma voters.
But to me what was most interesting was a remark made by House Speaker Jeff Hickman. While expressing concern for the plight of rural hospitals, Speaker Hickman also managed to do something which political leaders often lack the courage to do: state the obvious. It’s as if he were sending a subtle message to the pro-Obamacare hospital lobby. Something to the effect of: Dudes, we're not stupid. We see the cranes everywhere.
"You leave Oklahoma City and go north along I-35 and get up into the Edmond area where there's hospitals being constructed on each side of the interstate," he said. "You go west, I think St. Anthony has a new health-plex they're building out west, down south on 44. And you see that, and so obviously there's some opportunities there in those markets."
Yes, I would say so.
If you want to know more about what Dr. Keith Smith calls the "uncompensated-care scam," he explains it in under three minutes here.
PENURY: A new, state-of-the-art "not-for-profit" hospital on 44 acres of prime real estate along I-35 in Edmond
Senior Vice President
Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine, Forbes.com, Mises.org, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.