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Fighting false memes

schmidt

When a junior high classmate was a fool, we usually ignored him. When he said foolish things, we usually dismissed his statements. But when he spread falsehoods, we knew it was the right thing to do to call a lie a lie.

There has been a repeated meme coming from Idaho legislative Republicans that “the voters didn’t know what they were voting for” when they approved Prop 2 Medicaid Expansion, last November. I can’t speak for every voter’s knowledge, but I collected a lot of petition signatures. When I spoke to registered voters, asking for their signatures on the petitions to qualify for the ballot, in the cold, in the snow, in the sun and in the wind; when I asked them in Clearwater, in Idaho in Nez Perce, Kootenai and Latah Counties, I found most were already informed about the issue and had decided already whether to sign the petition or not. Many came across the parking lot to sign. Some shook their heads and waved me off, already opposed.

I worked with Reclaim Idaho to both draft the initiative and inform their volunteers. When talking with voters, you better be informed and accurate because you don’t want just their signature, you need their trust. False claims destroy trust; or they should. Further, the fastest way to burn out trusted, informed volunteers is asking them to misrepresent something. Trust is built from the ground up.
As to whether the volunteers were informed or just biased advocates, I would stand any Reclaim volunteer up against any Idaho Republican legislator on a Jeopardy about Idaho Medicaid Expansion Facts:
“Alex, I’ll take Eligibility for 200.”

So, the idea that Reclaim Idaho hornswoggled Idaho voters with falsehoods or misrepresentations is a lie. Legislators might be thinking of the other initiative on the ballot that used mostly paid signature gatherers and the voters clearly saw through. Or they might be confused.

Another false meme being spread by butt-hurt legislative Republicans is that “the costs are unknown”. Sorry, the costs are in the federal law: Idaho will pay 10% of the total costs. Of course, If Idaho would have enrolled in 2016, the costs would have been 0%, ramping up to the full 10% in 2020. So, by delaying this expansion, fiscally conservative Idaho Republican legislators have made Idaho buy in at the highest price. Doing this six years ago would have saved Idaho taxpayers hundreds of millions. It is true, we don’t know what the full enrollment numbers will be. We have good estimates. But the cost will be 10% state, 90% Federal.

Next, the Republican legislators have their shorts in a twist about how the initiative did not designate where the funds would come from. Of course not; that’s the legislature’s job to figure out the budget.

May I point out that the “Sideboards” bill the can’t-sit-down Republican legislators passed did not designate where its funding would come from either? Further, the “fiscal note” on the “Sideboards” bill was a joke, a sham, an insult to any serious budget planner, and the state employs a few good ones. But the butt-stung Republicans sure voted for that one, didn’t they?

When we confronted the junior high fool with his lies, the untruths might have continued to spread. We humans are so susceptible to the contagion of untruth. But the confrontation was not just to stop the spread, but to change future behavior. Maybe the fool would learn to be more careful with the truth in the future.
 

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