This is how politicians drive citizens crazy and get super-low approval ratings.
Republicans in the House of Representatives, along with quasi-Democrat Rep. Mike Schaufler, have blocked approval of Oregon's health insurance exchange, seemingly in an attempt to get some crappy bills passed by holding this much-needed bill hostage.
The state budget isn't affected by the health care bill. Billions of dollars in federal funding is at stake. Competition between insurance companies, supposedly a GOP priority, will be greatly enhanced.
But since the health care bill is so good for Oregon, Schaufler and his Republican buddies want to make sure that some bad bills are passed before giving up on their hostage-taking.
Democrats protested that the exchange would be funded by federal money as well as insurance fees, and would not affect the state budget. Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, said no questions had been raised in earlier committee hearings, and said he was "confused" and had "great sorrow ... that our process is moving in this direction."
"I just hope as we're doing this vote and others going forward that we're making it on the merits of the bill in question and not in the hopes to take bills hostage to trade them for other things," said Rep. Jefferson Smith, D-Portland.
Yeah, me too, Jefferson. But I'm pretty sure Schaufler is thinking of HB 4095, along with other "pave it over" bills that would trash protections for Oregon's farm and forest lands, when he said this:
Rep. Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley, said he would support the motion because he wanted to make sure bills creating jobs, regarding timber and water policy, passed the House before the exchange does.
I sure hope Gov. Kitzhaber and Democrats in the state legislature hold firm on their principles. Make the Republicans and Schaufler vote against the health care bill. Hold them accountable for the horrible effects of losing out on a chance to markedly lower health costs in Oregon and insure many more people.
Don't allow hostage taking.
This happens with bills in Congress all the time -- one reason, among many, why people are so fed up with what goes on in Washington, DC. The last thing we need is for the Oregon legislature to become as dysfunctional as the federal Congress.