Morning Must Reads: Macho Macho Governors

The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer have stories on a Government Accountability Office report that disputes claims made by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to justify his cancelation of a tunnel project between New York and New Jersey.

When Gov. Christie canceled a rail tunnel linking New Jersey and New York City, indignantly citing the burden it could place on New Jersey taxpayers, he overstated the estimated costs associated with the mega-project, according to a report released Tuesday by the federal Government Accountability Office.

 

Canceling the tunnel, then the largest public works project in the nation, helped shape Mr. Christie’s profile as a rising Republican star, an enforcer of fiscal discipline in a country drunk on debt. But the report is likely to revive criticism that his decision, which he said was about “hard choices” in tough economic times, was more about avoiding the need to raise the state’s gasoline tax, which would have violated a campaign promise. The governor subsequently steered $4 billion earmarked for the tunnel to the state’s near-bankrupt transportation trust fund, traditionally financed by the gasoline tax.

Although Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett doesn't make a habit of yelling at people, he still considers Governor Christie a role model for his own brand of macho man fiscal toughness. The Editorial Board of the Harrisburg Patriot-News notes this morning that Governor Corbett's tough rhetoric on waste, fraud and abuse in practice has wrongly denied health care to poor children.  

So much for any victory claims at the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare in its campaign to root out “waste, fraud and abuse.” 

What’s really been going on at DPW lately is more akin to the TV show “Survivor” than it is to cleaning up abuse.

DPW has been dropping people from aid, even children who clearly qualify for help. More than 89,000 children vanished from the Medicaid program from August to January. Does anyone honestly believe that all those kids moved to another state, died or live with families that suddenly became rich enough in this economy to no longer qualify as poor? That might have been the case for some of those children, but not all.

In fact, 23,180 of those children have quietly returned to the Medicaid roster and more are trying to re-enroll, according to child advocates. That means DPW temporarily denied medical benefits to tens of thousands of Pennsylvania’s neediest children.

What a sad day for this state. Pennsylvania was once a national leader in health care for underprivileged children. The Children’s Health Insurance Program — CHIP — has been in place since 1992 and served as a national model. The idea was to make sure all kids had health coverage in Pennsylvania.

Twenty years later, DPW is removing qualified children from its rolls in the name of ending “waste, fraud and abuse.” Under the direction of Secretary Gary Alexander, DPW sent out renewal notices to people on Medicaid. The problem was some people never received the forms, such as the mother of a boy who has a pacemaker. Their story was on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News last week...

DPW must stop this “Survivor” style approach to the medical needs of Pennsylvania’s poorest children.

From the Village People classic Macho Man:

He likes to be the leader, he never dresses grand
Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man (I've got to be a)

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