Memo to: Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman.
Subject: Proposition 2, the ballot measure expanding Medicaid to some 62,000 low-income adults.
Message: Stop fighting it.
It’s bad enough that you got shellacked in November.
Prop. 2 carried almost 61 percent of the vote.
Gov. Brad Little didn’t get 61 percent of the vote, not even close. Neither did Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in each of his three gubernatorial campaigns.
Even President Donald Trump’s Idaho tally fell short of 60 percent.
To break into that kind of territory, a Republican typically is facing marginal opposition — and you can’t say that about Prop. 2.
Throughout the months leading up to the Nov. 6 election, you dogged Medicaid expansion every step of the way.
It would lead to socialism, you said.
It would break the public bank, you said.
It would implement Obamacare, you said.
Voters found that abstract and callous — especially when you consider how leaving 62,000 working poor without health insurance was killing people and wasting millions of tax dollars.
Why didn’t you quit then?
Why did you and your attorney, Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls, double down on a lawsuit so feeble that you were lucky to even get it heard before the Idaho Supreme Court?
After waiting all of a week to render their ruling, all five justices shot you down.
Two of the five justices — Robyn Brody and Gregory Moeller — didn’t think you had any business being there in the first place. As far as they were concerned, the state Constitution required you to start at the District Court level and work your way up.
And IFF Board Chairman Brent Regan made for a pitifully unqualified plaintiff. Medicaid expansion no more affected him than any other Idahoan. He lacked legal standing.
Why didn’t you name Smith — or at the very least, his employee, Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls — as your plaintiffs? At least, they’ve got something at stake. They make their livings as medical bill collectors. If more people have access to health insurance, they are going to lose money.
Chief Justice Roger Burdick did you a favor by looking the other way at Regan’s defective legal status in order to get the case moving.
Just as quick, it became obvious that Smith brought nothing to the court.
Enact Medicaid expansion, he said, and Idaho lawmakers would become “zombie” legislators who have delegated all of their authority to the federal government and state bureaucrats.
Burdick picked that argument apart faster than a group of starved grade-schoolers working over a plate of chicken from KFC.
Delegate to the feds?
Who do you think sets the state budget every year? It’s the Legislature and the governor, Burdick said.
“Thus, the Legislature does revisit the Medicaid statute annually and appropriates funds as it deems appropriate,” Burdick wrote. “Regan’s argument ... is without merit.”
On and on it went.
If Medicaid expansion is so bad, why has the state been engaged with it for more than a half-century? Burdick asked.
“If we were to accept Regan’s argument, ...many of Idaho’s statutes would be unconstitutional and, in fact, the option of any cooperative federal-state program would be curtailed,” Burdick said.
Pore over Burdick’s opinion. Time after time, he shot down Regan’s contentions as “unpersuasive” and “without merit.”
Burdick has been on the Court for almost 16 years so he’s expected to use diplomatic terms such as “without merit” and “unpersuasive.”
The newest members of the court were more direct.
“The constitutionality of (Prop. 2) is not a difficult question,” said Justice John Stegner. “We deal with much more challenging and closer questions on a daily basis.”
Translation: Why are you wasting my time?
“This court is not really being asked to address an urgent constitutional issue created by the passage of (Prop. 2); rather, Regan is asking this Court to take sides in an ideological debate concerning political philosophy,” Moeller said.
Translation: Why are you wasting my time?
Frankly, you skated awfully close to paying the other side’s attorneys fees. Courts do that when someone brings such a frivolous case before them. Burdick spared you from that by ruling Regan was “not unreasonable” by relying on an unconstitutional law to bring his claim.
Translation: Take the charity.
How long ago was it when politicians quivered at the approach of the Freedom Foundation and its conservative voting index? Last year, maybe?
This has been a bad run.
You’ve lost allies in last year’s primary — key among them, former Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg.
You’ve never really been able to explain to the satisfaction of ordinary Idahoans who is paying your salary and IFF’s other bills.
Now comes this Prop. 2 thumping at the polls and in the courts.
That noise you’re hearing in the hallway? It’s called snickering. — M.T.