Reprinted with permission from William J. Kelly and the Washington Times Communities/24/7:
Chicago, Illinois, May 27, 2012 (as originally published) – Pulling a ‘Specter’ has become shorthand for an act of political betrayal against your party’s fundamental principles. This week, sixteen Illinois Republican lawmakers with the encouragement of state GOP leaders did just that when they approved Democrat legislation that would implement ObamaCare two years ahead of schedule in the cash-strapped state.
Back in 2009, then Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) was one of only three senators to break party ranks and vote for President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, that the president’s Council of Economic Advisors have now estimated cost taxpayers $278,000 per job created.
In April that same year, Specter suddenly announced he was joining the Democrat Party, the switch giving Senate Democrats a filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats. In December 2009, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), informally known as ObamaCare, passed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 60-39.
But Specter paid a serious price for his Republican betrayal; voters do not seem to react well when a politician changes his stripes for a political gain. In 2010, Specter lost his seat to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) in the bruising 2010 midterm elections and the successful sweep of Tea Party-backed Republican congressmen into office.
Ever since the Specter betrayal, Republican primary voters have become increasingly astute at discerning Democrats-in-Republican-clothing.
The sneaky late Thursday vote on Illinois bill HB 5007 this week – right before the start of Memorial Day weekend – may have forced some of these Illinois “Republicans” out of the proverbial political closet.
In 2011, Illinois lawmakers agreed to a moratorium on expanding the failing state Medicaid program. But HB 5007 – sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) (who took over former State Sen. Barack Obama’s seat) – circumvents the moratorium by enabling “expansions approved by the federal government.” The bill actually implements ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid two years ahead of schedule and could add as many as 250,000 people to the already overburdened state Medicaid rolls.
The expansion is based on ObamaCare’s eligibility rules and has built-in safeguards if portions of the law are ruled to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court this year.
The bill passed both houses in Illinois and included the support of 11 House Republicans and 5 Senate Republicans, five of them lame ducks.
But Republican voters, outraged at the perceived betrayal by the Illinois GOP leadership, are speaking out. Earlier this week, Tea Party organizations across Illinois issued statements condemning House Minority Leader Tom Cross for “cutting deals with Chicago Democrats” on ObamaCare. Senate Leader Christine Radogno has come under fire for permitting 5 lame duck Republicans to vote for the ObamaCare expansion
The political sleight-of-hand has left some to wonder: with Republican leaders like these, who needs Democrats?
Illinois GOP Party Chairman Pat Brady also has remained silent on the issue. But the Republican defection appears to be in direct conflict with the current Illinois Republican Party platform which states in pertinent part:
Illinois Republicans reject the socialized healthcare schemes being promoted by our two United States Senators (Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Barack Obama) and a majority of the Democrats in Springfield. Healthcare policies should: …foster accessibility by lowering costs and putting individuals and families in charge of their own healthcare decisions.”
Twenty-four Illinois Republican lawmakers also voted to pass gambling expansion in Illinois this week – another betrayal of the party platform. SB1849 authorizes five new casinos – including Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s city-owned casino in Chicago.
Rep. Dan Brady – cousin of GOP Party Chair Pat Brady – also voted for the measure.
Will there be a backlash against the Illinois GOP establishment for its support of these controversial measures? Will a robust movement of taxpayers unite against this latest encroachment of big government in Illinois? And will RNC Chairman Rence Priebus condemn Illinois Republican leaders who supported ObamaCare when he comes to speak before the Illinois GOP Convention on June 8th and 9th?