If you're a journalist or even a blogger, you love to point out evolving explanations by politicians for taking a political stance.
They're usually an indicator that politicians have ulterior motives, which they're struggling to hide by trying to come up with a false explanation that makes sense.
So here's a brief history of GOP lawmakers' explanations for their opposition to a program that uses fees charged by hospitals to leverage federal funding to cover health insurance for poor people.
Also, I'll cover GOP opposition to turning the hospital-provider-fee program into a Tabor-defined enterprise, which would free up about $370 million for highways, schools, and other government projects that lack funding.
Back in 2009, when Democrats first proposed tapping federal funds to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income children and others, Republicans didn't say they were opposed to helping the kids and the poor. They worried about increasing the federal deficit.
Also in 2009, in addition to the deficit, Republicans fretted about whether hospitals could pass on the Medicaid costs to upstanding insured people, despite a lack of evidence over how they could do this. If anything, the fee helped offset a shift that was burdening insured people.
"It's only to expand government and to expand an entitlement program one more time," Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, told The Denver Post in 2009. "It's simply a shell game where the governor is shifting cost to working families who are already struggling to pay their bills." No evidence of how the alleged shift would affect working families emerged--other than the amorphous worry that the federal government might stop paying its share.
Between 2009 and this year, after the hospital provider fee was in place and helping hundreds of thousands of actual factual poor people, Colorado Republicans continued to try to repeal it, but their venom toward the fee didn't really emerge again until the last couple years, when Democrats tried to re-define the fee under TABOR, as a small step toward addressing the state's budget woes.
First, they argued that the Democrats' plan was unconstitutional. But GOP Attorney General Cynthia Coffman thought otherwise, ruling that the Dem plan meets constitutional muster.
Then they tried to destract reporters by saying Obamacare is the cause our budget problems, which it isn't.
Then Republicans argued that the TABOR enterprise would require "rebasing" the budget, which would eliminate the availability of money for schools, roads, etc. But The Denver Post eviscerated this argument over the weekend, writing:
"The current TABOR threshold, which is adjusted every year based on population and inflation, was established in fiscal 2007-08, before the hospital fee was enacted. That fee came on in 2009.
In other words, the spending limit would be the same today if the hospital fee had never existed, or if it had been created as a separate enterprise right at the outset."
So here we are, and you wonder what's next. Will the evolutionary explanations continue? You have to think Republicans will come up with something new, given the history, which points to an ideological opposition any growth in government spending, no matter how the spending is paid for.
That's an honest position but it requires an explanation of how Colorado pays for roads, schools, medical care for the poor and disabled, and more. Should government stop funding these things? If not, how to fund them?