Making choices, picking battles

From The Statehouse
 by State Senator Jim Guthrie

Almost simultaneously the three of them dumped their bags onto the living room carpet. The post Halloween effort to sort and inventory the rich haul of candy and treats had begun. The little goblin, witch, and fairy godmother had exacted a rich bounty from the generous folks in the McCammon area.

I watched with interest as the grandkids shaped and sorted their piles, then counted and traded with each other. I realized this was one of those moments that doesn’t cost you anything, yet gives you everything. Bite-sized candy bars of like kind, suckers, Tootsie Rolls, taffy, and such were placed in careful order.

The full-size candy bars were all put together. This rare treasure is rightfully kept closest to each excited youngster. Why take chances, right? My grandson gets a nervous vibe and offers me a bite-size bar. His preemptive strategy worked and my attention was diverted from his full-sized Rolo’s. I found it interesting that the candy favored by each kid was different from one another.

Life is like that. We won’t and shouldn’t always agree. You want a Snicker’s, I want a Mars bar. I get it. The bigger issue is when we look at something yet insist it’s something else. Broccoli will never be a bag of Whoppers, a dog will never be a cat, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will never be legislation passed by the state of Idaho. Truth is the ACA was passed in 2010 by Congress, not the Idaho legislature. The vote this past session was on whether or not Idaho would have a state or federal exchange, not to implement Obama Care. Idaho’s legislative efforts have simply tried to best mitigate this very onerous federal law.

Recently there has been much negative press about the Idaho State Exchange efforts. In my opinion much of the criticism is indeed justified. I’m not sure that means we should jump ship just yet though. I will tell you those leading the exchange effort need to step up, make needed changes, and get things back on track. If that effort fails, then I agree, let’s recalibrate. What I am unwilling to do is have an apples and oranges debate.

You have heard and will continue to hear untrue rhetoric that repealing the state exchange gets us out of the ACA. I will tell you that states that did nothing are now dealing with the federal government with no state insulation. The states with a federal exchange are not escaping this law but are more miserable because of it. Maybe we will be fortunate and Congress will delay or overturn the ACA. Should that occur states will be positioned equally regardless of which exchange model they employ.

I have spoken with the Governor, Attorney General, Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tem, and many others about my concerns. I have asked point blank if any state in the union has been able to opt out of this law. The answer is no. The good news is that Idaho is among several states participating in legal action against areas of the ACA that infringes on religious, privacy, or states’ rights. In short we continue to do everything we legally can.

Halloween night confirmed my belief that we can learn much from our youngsters. My grandkids were protecting what was theirs, willing to trade when it made sense, and even share with a looming adult. It’s funny how watching kids for a few minutes can rekindle confidence that we can solve major challenges we face as grown-ups.

Debate based on fact is healthy discourse. Otherwise it just plays into the hands of those who seek to control us. I hope decision makers in Idaho are able to strike a more harmonious chord as we fight to neutralize this offensive federal injustice. Hey, anyone want to trade three bite-sized Kit Kats, two suckers and a few Smarties for a big Milky Way?

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