Some folks get awfully sensitive when authorities in their own pew disagree with them.

John T. Porter, CEO of the Catholic Avera Health, takes to the opinion pages to join most moral and practical South Dakotans in exhorting our Legislature to expand Medicaid. Mr. Porter cites the familiar arguments:

  • Provide health coverage for 48,000 more South Dakotans.
  • Invest $1.6 million in state funds, get $649 million in federal funds that would act as economic stimulus.
  • Help thousands of working neighbors live better lives.

Working together to use our vast national wealth to help our neighbors seems like a good idea from a Catholic perspective. It seems like a good idea from a practical problem-solving perspective. It seems like a good idea from almost every perspective other than the "Oh my goodness—that Medicaid expansion is another one of Barack Obama's ideas, and Barack Obama is eee-viiiilll!!!" perspective.

Cue Pat Powers, Catholic blogger and Barackophobiac. First the personal attack:

You know, I’m sure Mr Porter is a nice man, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that Mr Porter makes far, far more on a yearly basis than I do despite my best efforts. And for that matter, I’d wager his hospital system does as well [Pat Powers, "Avera CEO Asking for {Me to Write Another Long Headline Demonstrating I Don't Have the Journalistic Skill to Condense My Thesis into One Concise Statement}," Dakota War College, 2014.01.15].

Notice how Powers has no problem playing the class envy card when it suits his purposes.

Then the disingenuous political attack:

So, why is he asking me to pay for all this subsidized medicine through my taxes? Especially because that bill is going to go up in an explosive manner when, yet again, the federal government fails to honor another promise to state government (see Missouri River Dams, aspects of education funding, etc) [Powers, 2014.01.15].

Ah, yes, the false flag of a failing federal government. The single greatest risk of someone turning off the federal funding spigot seems to come from Powers's own Republicans, who make great sport of shutting down the federal government and threatening to default on our financial obligations. Republicans like Powers have yet to extend this "What if Uncle Sam leaves us?" argument to say we should stop paving I-29. And I have yet to hear any coherent explanation of how a federal government withdrawal of Medicaid funding would legally obligate South Dakota to pick up the slack instead of just shutting down the program.

Finally, Powers reaches for Porter's wallet:

If providing “primary care and health screenings” is that important, might I suggest Mr Porter give all that health care away?

I mean, why not? He’s wanting to pass the expense on to us, including me. As a show of commitment to what he’s advocating, shouldn’t he lead by example? Aren’t they supposed to be non-profit? So, give health care away for free! [Powers, 2014.01.15]

Powers completely misrepresents Porter's position. Powers is asking Porter to pay for this social program entirely with his own resources. Porter is not making the same claim on Powers. Porter is asking that all of his, Porter and Powers, Catholics and agnostics, chip in to pay for this social program.

Basically, Porter is saying, let's all work together to help each other. Powers is saying let's all isolate ourselves on our own islands of selfishness and let our neighbors and our state economy suffer, just to make a tired political point.

Porter vs. Powers—choose your pews, Catholics!