Mike Pence’s Achilles’ Heel?


Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence has a problem. Despite enacting a bevy of business and conservative friendly economic policies while in office, recent discussions about his viability as a presidential candidate in 2016 is soliciting criticism from the right over the state’s Medicaid stance. More specifically, they don’t like his plan to use a wavier process to expand the program via HIP 2.0 in order to cover an estimated 375,000 Hoosiers.

MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff reports:

Shortly after Pence unveiled his HIP 2.0 plan, the Indiana chapter of Americans For Prosperity described its potential cost as “troublesome” and argued that it stripped much of the “personal responsibility” out of the original HIP program by offering coverage even to some recipients who stop paying into their accounts. While the criticism from Americans For Prosperity (which did not return a request for comment) was relatively mild, some right-leaning groups have gone significantly further.

Enter the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), the Florida-based group behind the website StopPence.com. That site, which consists of a single page about Pence’s HIP 2.0 plan, accuses the governor of “sliding to the left”  and describes his proposal as “little more than a thinly-disguised way to bring a massive expansion of ObamaCare entitlements.”

FGA CEO Tarren Bragdon said the group singled out Pence because “he had such a dramatic flip-flop on the issue.”

“Mike Pence the congressman was clearly a conservative, but Mike Pence the governor is a flip-flopper,” he said. “And both the folks on the right and the folks on the left have no idea how Mike Pence the president would be.”

Bragdon goes on to say that Pence’s desire to work out even a privatized compromise — like Arkansas — to expand Medicaid completely eclipses everything else he’s done to advance conservative interests. For the purist, perhaps, even thinking about it evokes the ideological “I don’t even know you, man.” Blocking health insurance for low-income Americans is that important.

Of course this is just one group and one page on a website, and probably less significant than the #shruglife response from AFP. But in the wacky world of presidential primary politics there’s no guarantee that HIP 2.0 wouldn’t be every bit as devastating as forgetting a branch of government you’d like to eliminate. So maybe this should serve as a reminder that while conventional thinking is that Medicaid expansion is (slowly, painfully) inevitable, that doesn’t mean it won’t be a liability on the right for some time to come.


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