The Fallout from Election and What's Next...
Latest Piece From Larry Weigel "The Medicare Coach"
Politics in Kansas Prevailed over Truth in the 2014 Election
By Larry Weigel, 11-10-14
In the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men”, Jack Nicholson shouted from the witness stand, “You can’t handle the truth,” as he sparred with fellow actor Tom Cruise in that memorable court room scene.
Just like Cruise, the majority of Kansas voters “couldn’t handle the truth” as they elected Republican Governor Sam Brownback to another four year term along with the Republican candidates for Congress, the U.S. senate, Secretary of state, Insurance commissioner, and other Republicans who maintained their majority in both houses of the Kansas Legislature.
Brownback’s poor record on funding education, signing the Health Care Compact law to privatize Medicare, providing generous tax breaks for the wealthy, his vicious un-Christian like personal attacks on his opponent Paul Davis, and persistent denial that his tax cut experiment will create severe revenue shortfalls and lead to massive budget cuts, seemed like enough truth to replace him with Democrat challenger Paul Davis.
But, Brownback was re-elected. He won by a 2.8 percent margin gaining only 33,000 more votes than Davis.
Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp won by 68,563 votes (68% to 33%) over his Democrat challenger Jim Sherow. Huelskamp has lied repeatedly about the Medicare provisions of the Affordable care act to scare his senior constituents.
He voted 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, is a co-sponsor of a pending House bill to do it, and wants to privatize Medicare.
He’s closely aligned with the Health Care Leadership Council (HLC) lobby that prevented all Kansas community pharmacies from requesting the same preferred pharmacy status as Wal-Mart, Walgreens and other large box stores in order to compete on a level playing field.
Huelskamp received HLC’s top legislator award during 2014 for supporting their lobbying efforts, but called the award “Leadership in Healthcare Innovation” which he proudly displays on his website. (See link below)
Now insurance carriers only work with a select few preferred pharmacies and are dropping many Kansas pharmacies that had preferred status in the past. As a result, many of Huelskamp’s Medicare constituents in the big first district will pay significantly higher prices for their medications during 2015.
But, Huelskamp was re-elected.
Republican Senator Pat Roberts defeated his Independent opponent Greg Orman by 91,076 votes (53% vs. 43%) using out of state hired gun campaign advisors and horrific negative campaign attacks on Orman.
Roberts also participated in denying the community pharmacies in Kansas from competing with the big dogs like Wal-Mart and Walgreens.
He along with other bi-partisan senators on the Senate Finance Committee crumbled to health industry lobby pressure during March of 2014, and forced (CMS) the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to back off of their proposal for “fair and transparent drug pricing for all pharmacies.”
It included a provision to give Medicare beneficiaries a “wider network and choice of pharmacies to lower their costs,” allowing the small community pharmacies to participate in the preferred provider program.
Roberts carried 102 of the 105 counties in Kansas, yet those Medicare members who voted for him will now pay higher prices for their prescriptions because of his support of the health industry lobby and not the small community pharmacies in Kansas.
But, Roberts was re-elected.
The Republican Insurance Commissioner candidate Ken Selzer won by 187,950 votes (62% to 38%) over his Democrat opponent Dennis Anderson. Selzer wants to privatize Medicare, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and resist helping the uninsured to obtain coverage on the Federal -Affordable Care Act- exchange.
Current Republican Insurance Commissioner, Sandy Praeger, who has a stellar record of protecting the insurance interests of all Kansans, supported Anderson because he rejected the privatization of Medicare, wanted to expand Medicaid, and help enroll the uninsured on the Federal exchange.
But, Selzer was elected.
Republican Kris Kobach defeated Democrat challenger Jean Schodorf by 157,819 votes (59% to 41%) to retain his office as Secretary of State.
Kobach has spent much of his time moonlighting on the job by helping other states write strict voter I.D. and proof of citizenship laws.
He attempted to influence the Kansas U.S. Senate race by requiring the Democrat to remain on the ballot to help Pat Roberts, and disenfranchised more than 22,000 Kansas voters by putting their voting status in limbo by requiring proof of citizenship when it is known that incidents of non-citizens registering to vote are extremely rare.
Kobach’s voter suppression in Kansas may very well have cost Democrat Paul Davis the election because in 2012 the Government Accounting Office reported 22,000 voters held in suspension translated in a 2% reduction in voter turnout. Davis lost by 2.8%.
But, Kobach was re-elected by a wide margin.
So what are we going to do about it now that we know Kansas has a divide over politics and truth?
There are 1.7 million registered voters in Kansas, and about 50 percent voted in this last election.
I believe we must start now to build on the 390,614 Kansans who voted for Paul Davis and recruit more truth seekers who are willing to put aside their politics and join our cause to take back our state from the radical right Tea Party movement that persists within our Kansas legislature and led by a Governor who promotes his own ideology over what is best for all Kansans.
Here’s the set up in Kansas at this time.
The Koch brothers provide big money to fund the lobbying activities of the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC).
ALEC, the voice of corporate special interests in State legislatures, recruits legislators, who now number more than 55 in the Kansas House and Senate led by the speaker of House Rep. Ray Merrick, and Sen. Susan Wagle, President of the Senate who are both members of the ALEC board.
These Kansas legislative foot soldiers bring cookie cutter identical (one size fits all states) ALEC bills back to Topeka for approval. Fifteen ALEC bills were submitted in the Kansas legislature last year.
The bills are designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce workers’ rights, restrict voting, favor corporate interests for deregulation, privatize health care and education and gut state program budgets by eliminating income taxes.
ALEC and its controlling members within the Kansas legislature represent an alarming risk to the credibility of the political process in Kansas.
My recommendation for starters is to work together to drain the swamp in the Kansas legislature and remove the influence of the ALEC-gators.
Then begin recruiting other truth seekers and ask, “Can you handle the truth” over your politics?
After being elected in 2010, Brownback said, “When our country seems adrift Kansas leads in an era when many believe that America has lost its way, but Kansas knows its way.”
Brownback’s narrow victory is a sign that his illusionary world of what is best for Kansas is starting to crumble and now Kansas is adrift in an open sea without a compass.
No, Kansas does not know its way, or where we are going.