What’s Wrong with Work?

Feb 02 2018
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What’s Wrong with Work?

Some of us are old enough to remember when work was hard to find. We might have heard of a friend or neighbor who landed a job, and we would rejoice with them. It was reason to celebrate, and we spread the happy news, that someone had “found work”. And when someone was down on their luck, they were “out of work”. We seldom hear those words anymore, thank goodness. Our American economy is roaring, with GOP majorities in Congress and a Republican in the White House.

Well, the Trump administration recently made a policy change that involved work. You see, under Obama the federal Medicaid program was greatly expanded. In fact, the vast majority of healthcare insurance expansion by Obama was simply putting more people on Medicaid. His administration opened Medicaid to non-elderly, non-disabled adults with incomes up to 140 percent of the poverty line. All together, 25 million more Americans are now covered by Medicaid, courtesy of the American taxpayers. A total of 32 states agreed to this Medicaid expansion; Texas was not one of them, fearing a federal bait and switch. Now, predictably, those states are struggling to determine how to pay for this massive government handout.

What is different under the Trump administration’s policy? States now have the option of imposing work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries. And naturally, the liberals are up in arms over it. The howling from the limousine liberals on both coasts is incessant. As usual, they are prone to exaggeration and innuendo. Let’s take a closer look.

The work requirements are targeted for able-bodied adults of working age. They do not apply to the elderly, to pregnant women, nor to the disabled, nor to primary caregivers. In addition, “work” is defined broadly to include community service, education, job training, volunteer service and treatment for substance abuse. This sounds very reasonable to me. I wonder, what’s wrong with work?

But the liberal Democrats see it differently. “The Trump administration’s action today is cruel,” said Congressman Pallone of New Jersey. One health care advocacy group said the policy “is the latest salvo of the Trump administration’s war on health care”.   And on and on it goes.

Instead of the heated rhetoric from liberals, conservative thinkers are discussing the purpose of the social safety net. Republicans feel that healthy, working-age adults who are not primary caregivers for a dependent should be incented to work. Public policy should be designed to combat idleness, increase community attachment, and increase work rates. And states should have the chance to experiment with what is best for their own citizens. Remember, this program is completely optional, although 10 states have already applied for it.

This Medicaid policy is certainly not punitive. It simply reflects proper social expectations, and respects the contributions of those who are footing the bill, the American taxpayers. It is vitally important that our government send the message that if a person can contribute to society, he or she should.

This is not a new or unique approach. Our Republican majority in Congress developed a comprehensive program called A Better Way in 2016. They published every detail, and the voters approved their work in the election of November 2016.

One pillar of A Better Way is rewarding work. It is built on the premise that if an individual is capable, that person should be expected to work or prepare for work. A good job is the surest way out of poverty, and the government should enable that step, not erect barriers to it. The government should incent citizens to be independent, not dependent on the government. And every American deserves their chance to chase their American dream, with the government off their back and out of their pocket. Of course, the safety net is there for those who truly need it.

If you agree that these work requirements for Medicaid are fair and equitable, then vote for our GOP candidates at election time. Help us elect more conservative public officials who will enable opportunity and freedom for all Americans, not dependency on government.

What’s wrong with work? Nothing, of course. There is dignity in every single job.


Scott S. Kramer is chairman of the Republican Party of Kendall County.