We know that God must love idiots because he made so many of them. What’s less clear is why they seem to congregate in our state Capitol.
If you’ve doubted that we’re being governed largely by the less gifted, I call your attention to events of the past few days. Most, but not all, of the idiocy was touched off by the passage Sunday night in Washington of a law that will extend health insurance coverage to 30 million of our fellow citizens, limit the abuses of insurance companies and trim the federal deficit by billions of dollars over the next decade. It’s not perfect, but our country is a giant step closer to catching up with the rest of the developed world.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who fortunately has no real power, immediately announced that he is joining the lawsuit filed by 14 state attorneys general – all but one Republican – challenging the federal government’s power to require everyone to have health insurance. Mr. Kinder, already running for governor, said he’s doing this in his role as designated advocate for senior citizens.
You have to wonder if he realizes that we senior citizens are generally highly satisfied with our Medicare (which is, contrary to the looney tunes shouters and unlike the new law, real government insurance). You have to wonder if he understands that the new law will strengthen the financial health of Medicare, relieve us of subsidizing those expansive Medicare Advantage policies and move toward closing the “doughnut hole” in our prescription drug coverage.
You can be pretty sure he has blocked from his memory the reality that the individual mandate he’s opposing is actually a Republican and insurance industry idea that used to be supported by the likes of John McCain and Mitt Romney before they were lobotomized by the tea partiers.
The lieutenant governor may be out of touch with reality, but he’s in step with his fellow Republican fantasists in the legislature. Down the marble corridor from his office, the House has already endorsed a state constitutional amendment that purports to exempt Missouri from the federal law. The Senate is eager to join in.
It’s as though they never heard of that dust-up called the Civil War, or maybe they’ve forgotten who won. We haven’t heard much about nullification since then – until now.
The anti-health care mood among our elected rulers is so strong that, as the Missourian reported Tuesday, the Senate Insurance Committee approved a bill prohibiting the purchase of insurance that covers abortion. We already have more restrictions than all but three other states. Not tough enough, say the senators.
Meanwhile, offered a chance to do some actual good, Republican leaders have blocked, again, Rep. Mary Still’s attempt to limit the predatory practices of the payday lenders. We have looser rules and more of those predators than our neighboring states. It seems certain to stay that way. Perhaps coincidentally, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported that payday lenders have contributed $383,050 to legislators in the past three years.
To close on a positive note, there may yet be grounds for hoping that our leaders at least sense their limitations.
I discovered on a conservative website the news, unreported by the mainstream media as far as I can see, that the legislature has decreed a period of prayer for wisdom to begin at noon Monday in the Capitol Rotunda. The Illinois Review reports that Christians are being asked to pray and fast for 40 days, until the legislative deadline for passing the state budget.
Wisdom for this bunch may be a stretch, even for the Almighty. I suppose it can’t hurt to ask, though.
George Kennedy is a former managing editor at the Missourian and professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.