The possibility of a government shutdown has been raised in the context of the Arkansas House’s failure so far to adopt the state human services budget with its continuation of the Obamacare-enabled expansion of Medicaid. Who gains politically from a shutdown? In Arkansas, the answer might not be so clear as it seems.
Talking to reporters Monday in Washington, where he’s been attending the National Governors Association’s annual meeting, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) acknowledged that a shutdown in Little Rock was a possibility. He conceded that the House, where the funding bill is currently stuck, is two votes short of the supermajority needed to approve the federal funding.
But he said he hoped that conservatives in the Arkansas House had learned a lesson from their colleagues in Congress and wouldn’t shut down the government over the health care reform law. For now, the state government is funded through June, but according to the Associated Press, lawmakers have warned that the impasse over Medicaid could stop the entire next year’s budget from passing.
“There’s no telling what kind of hardball somebody could play,” Beebe said. “I think last year the Republicans in Congress figured out they didn’t want to do that anymore.”
“I think the voting public would be very irritated with everybody. It’d be hard to figure out who they’re going to blame.”
You’d think it would be simple. A tiny minority blocking a program with benefits for tens of thousands. That minority’s blockade shutting down, or even just crippling, all other government programs. Would you blame the 100 who’ve voted for Medicaid expansion or the 35 who opposed it. Again, in Arkansas, the answer is, don’t be so sure. The Republican Party is running an all-Obamacare-all-the-time election strategy. Call the majority’s vote a vote for Obamacare and public opinion might side with the bitter-enders. Clearly, they think they’re safe in their districts now.