Petition to Repeal Medicaid Expansion Seems to Be a Tough Sell -- Rush Limbaugh's Confused

The effort by some right-wingers to repeal the Medicaid expansion championed by Governor Jan Brewer does not seem to be going well.

The group trying to gather signatures to put the repeal on the ballot, which calls itself United Republican Alliance of Principled Conservatives, seems to be hoping to gain support by framing it as a repeal of Obamacare, which it is not.

See also:
-Jan Brewer's Medicaid Expansion Plan Passes Legislature

See, if you're appealing to the far-right-wingers, you know they want nothing to do with President Obama. The phrase "Obamacare" has the name "Obama" right in it, so it's bad by default.

So, an Arizona state Representative who calls himself David from Legislative District 14 calls into the Rush Limbaugh show to sell the repeal of Medicaid expansion (conveniently, David is the first name of both Republican Representatives in the Sierra Vista-based district, Gowan and Stevens).

Thanks to the transcript from Limbaugh's website, we can see that it didn't exactly go well:

CALLER: Hey, I want to let you know about a process coming out. I'm a state representative, District 14 in the state of Arizona, and about a month ago, we passed Obamacare under the darkest of night, and there's an effort to repeal that on the ballot, and we're being hamstrung. The other people out there are actually buying up the resources so this effort can go forward. It's called We need 85,000 signatures at a minimum to get a ballot by September 13.

RUSH: Wait a minute, I'm confused. How can a state repeal Obamacare?

CALLER: We have the ability to put it on the ballot and repeal the bill that was signed into law. So if they get the signatures, Obamacare won't go into effect in the state of Arizona until after the election of November 2014. And if the initiative passes, it would permanently repeal it.

RUSH: I don't know how you can do that. I don't know how a state can simply say that we're not be gonna implement -- now, you can say that we're not gonna do the exchange, the hell with the exchange, we're not gonna implement the exchange, but I don't know how --
Governor Brewer's staff struggled with this same thing while trying to sell the expansion, as opponents of Medicaid expansion kept calling it Obamacare. Sure, Obamacare provides the opportunity for Brewer to get with the expansion, but Obamacare, it is not.

And, it looks like the petition backers are having a hard time selling it, if they can't even sell it to the mouthpiece of the far right.

If you check out the "talking points" from the United Republican Alliance of Principled Conservatives, it's pretty clear that they're just going after people who follow the simple "logic" of I don't like Obama, therefore I do not like Obamacare.

So "David" mentioned in passing that it's the Medicaid expansion that they're talking about.

CALLER: We voted on the expansion part, not the exchange part. There was nine Republicans who voted with all the Democrats in the House, led by the governor. It was interesting that the process went about 12 hours, and not one of the nine supporters got up to explain their vote or answer any questions on the bill itself. We got 650-some pages of a budget dropped in our lap and then went to the floor. So this is the kind of process they're doing. They're not telling us what's in the bill, in the budget. They had the votes to put it through. They made a special session. They waived all the rules of the House of Representatives that they could waive. It went straight to what we call third reading (unintelligible) and it passed out, but not one of the nine Republicans would speak in defense of this bill, but we have the ability to put it on the ballot. Basically it's vetoing the governor's signature. And we have 90 days from when --

RUSH: Well, how is the other side stopping you from what you're trying to do?

CALLER: Well, you need signatures on the petition to put it on the ballot, and it doesn't look like we're going to get enough volunteers to get it, so we're going to have to go out and pay for signatures and the people that get paid to do this are being bought up by the other side so this side can't pay 'em. So we have to bring in people from outside, costs more money. There's a donate button. If you don't live in Arizona and you want to donate for the cause, it's on Or if you're in Arizona call the number there and get a petition, get some signatures signed. It has to be done by the 13th of September, and then if the signatures just get dropped in the ballot --

RUSH: So what you're trying to do, you're trying to get a repeal on the ballot?

CALLER: Correct.

RUSH: Okay, I misunderstood what you were trying to do. Anyway, good luck. I'm glad that you called.

UPDATE 1:28 p.m.: The Arizona Capitol Times' insider publication, the Yellow Sheet Report, confirmed it was David Stevens.

The Yellow Sheet also had some inside information on Stevens' comments about the signature-gathering.

"One railbird who is supportive of (but not involved in) the referendum said the latest word in the pro-expansion camp is that the volunteer effort will top out at 60,000 signatures, far short of the 86,000 needed," the Yellow Sheet said on Friday. "And while that would be a good base for a paid campaign to build on, the source said the chances of that happening now are considerably less than they were several weeks ago."

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley