BEARIG GIFTS: Passing out tax cuts and 'reforms' of health insurance is serious business. Will there be a happy ending, as in Billy Bob's 'Bad Santa'?

An AP interview with Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang indicates again that the only hope for continuing the private option version of Medicaid expansion is with some major alterations in the program to suit the anti-Obamacare element in the larger GOP majority.

This could include a work requirement for beneficiaries — either actively working or seeking work. Children would presumably be excluded.


Greater co-payments and expansion of so-called “savings accounts” also come to mind as ways to dilute the welfare taint that makes the program unacceptable to so many Republicans. Will the Obama administration go along? It’s anxious to keep as many states on board as possible. How Republican will the Democratic administration allow its signature health bill to become? Said Dsimang.

“I think you’ll see a thorough testing of the boundaries of the private option and also a testing of the willingness of the federal level to continue to provide additional reforms,” .

My general observation: One man’s reform can be another man’s debilitating change  to a worthy program.


On another subject, Dismang made it clear that Asa Hutchinson’s signature $100 million tax cut — on top of $50 million or so already in the pipeline — will get speedy action in 2015. He says the state can easily afford it in a $5 billion budget, particularly with a “very close look” at existing spending.

In other words: Cuts if necessary to deliver the tax cut.


Government waste is, again, something in the eye of the beholder. See my earlier item on the end of a program that teaches older people how to read, apparently to end because of a budget cut.

Merry Christmas, by the way, Dismang’s recent serious look at a hearing seemed a perfect pairing for the season with Billy Bob Thornton’s Santa depiction in my favorite holiday movie, “Bad Santa.” What sort of Santa will the new legislature be in delivering gifts to deserving citizenry?