Alabama Governor Robert Bentley Turns Away 30,000 New Jobs

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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on a jobs excursion to Japan proclaims that his top priority is to bring jobs to Alabama. Photo courtesy of Made In Alabama.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has said that he will fight the implantation of the Affordable Care Act, but his latest act may be pushing the envelope.

In a story posted on AL.com, Birmingham News columnist John Archibald takes Bentley out for a spin due to the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid in the state. By not allowing the federal health program to expand in Alabama, Bentley is effectively refusing to accept over 30,000 new jobs.

Well, at least according to Archibald.

In the article, the columnist accuses the governor of placing politics over people and not caring enough about those in the state the he governs to offer a medical program that some of them so desperately need.

It’s a refreshing column because it provides studies and statistics on why the expansion of Medicaid is good for Alabama’s residents and for the state’s economic health.

But what’s troubling about this political act, and so many preceding it, is that Republican politicians have become emboldened to commit acts of political violence all in the name of conservatism.

Take this stat for example: According to advisory.com, not a single southern state has committed to expanding Medicaid.

For those barking at the screen that Arkansas has expanded, it is with a caveat. Former President Bill Clinton’s home state will use federal money to purchase private insurance plans by Medicaid participants through the state’s insurance exchange.

Instead of acquiescing to the Affordable Care Act, the state has almost weaseled its way out of fully committing to what the president wanted to do.

Back to Alabama.

By refusing federal funds for Medicaid, does this mean that traditional conservatism is dying or that these governors, Bentley specifically, are just fighting against what some call a bad law?

That answer depends on what side of the political fence one plays, but according to the statistical evidence, and political language, these governors aren’t doing what’s needed for their states.

In Archibald’s column, he points to Alabama’s gift of almost $1 billion in incentives to attract new business to the state that have resulted in 6,000 jobs. He didn’t say, nor am I, that the investment wasn’t worth the payoff.

But the milk has been spoiled if Bentley and his Republican Governors Association members fail to provide healthcare for the poor and gift their states with economic growth.

Logic, at least for me, does not seem to have a place with this train of thought.

-JH

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