Contrasting messages in the news this morning:

* POPE FRANCIS:

“A nation can be considered great,” he concluded, “when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to dream of full rights for all their brothers and sisters as Martin Luther King sought to do, when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.”

* GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON:

He says the state must find a way to cut Medicaid spending by $50 million.

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He says Medicaid recipients should be deprived of paid transportation to see the doctor.

He said some of the working poor should pay 2 per cent of their income for their health insurance coverage. For a full-time minimum wage worker this would be about $350 a year. Or roughly $30 a month. Fairness comparison: State legislators, who make about $40,000 plus per diem payments, free trips and all the food and wine they can swill courtesy of the lobby, may enroll in a premium state insurance plan that costs them about $30 a month.

* THE HIGHWAY LOBBY:

To summarize the competing ideas with any chance of adoption: They rob Peter to pay Paul.

Republicans declare dead a simple fuel tax increase — adopted even in some Republican-controlled states with higher cumulative IQs . So how do you pay for roads?

One idea is to keep a remaining sales tax on groceries in place, rather than have it expire when state desegregation funding ends. Yes. A Republican from Chenal Valley proposes to retain the most unfair tax  for poor people to pay for highways.

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Another idea: Steal sales taxes on vehicles  to pay for highways. Human services, public safety, schools, colleges can figure out a way to get by on less.

Another idea: Burden rural people with a loss of state funding for road maintenance. Not to worry. The traffic will be lighter with the cessation of those vans hauling poor rural people to the doctor’s office.

Another idea: Steal growth in tax revenue for highways. Some arithmetic is necessary, not even of Common Core complexity. It is NOT revenue neutral to transfer growth from the rest of state government to highways. Not unless you think costs of schools, cars, health care are static and never rise year to year.

Full rights? Justice? The cause of the oppressed?

Dream on, Francis.