Ross vs. Hutchinson: Clear choices 

The general election is almost four months away but the major party candidates for governor last week gave voters ample ground to make a decision.

Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson appeared before the Delta Grassroots Caucus at the Clinton Presidential Library.

Mike Ross stood firmly for proposals — health insurance, early childhood education, a minimum wage increase -- that would help hundreds of thousands of struggling Arkansans. Where Hutchinson wasn't flatly opposed, he dodged.

Voters thus may already decide where the state's most important official would stand on these big issues:

HEALTH INSURANCE: Mike Ross said he supported the private option version of Medicaid expansion approved by a bipartisan supermajority of the Arkansas legislature in 2013 and reapproved in 2014. He said he saw expanding health care as a Christian thing to do.

Hutchinson waffled. "I'm optimistic that our legislators and our state will do the right thing with the 150,000 that have enrolled in the private option. We'll do the right thing in terms of making the adjustments that are needed to reflect the values of Arkansas and to make sure this program is an incentive for people to work."

What does that mean exactly? Is he with those who want to kill it? Or simply wreck it? It was one of several times that Hutchinson smeared a program for working people by suggesting it was a welfare handout. He even suggested charities can do the job, despite overwhelming evidence that existing charitable efforts, however well intentioned, are insufficient for the need.

Ross knows better. He said that the private option helped working families. Indeed, a significant portion of the nearly 200,000 people who'll benefit ARE workers. They just make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to buy health insurance.

MINIMUM WAGE: Ross supports the ballot initiative that would raise Arkansas's $6.25-an-hour minimum wage, the country's lowest, to $8.50 over two years. Hutchinson opposes the ballot initiative.

Hutchinson attempted a straddle. He said he'd rather the legislature set the minimum wage. But this is the same as saying he doesn't want the minimum wage increased. The Republican-majority legislature killed a minimum wage increase the last time it had a chance in 2013. It's a reasonable bet it would do so again. Hutchinson doesn't trust the voters most likely because every poll shows it enjoys broad popular support.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Mike Ross has a proposal to ensure that no child would be denied a pre-K education program. He would provide some state assistance for poor families.

If you really believe in education advancement, you have to believe in starting earlier. Too many kids start behind and never catch up.

Hutchinson has called Ross' plan "silly." Again, he suggests it's a welfare program for the undeserving. When education becomes described as charity, we have reached a crimped and selfish view of how to promote the general welfare of citizens, once a bedrock of our government.

It's simple then. Ross likes the bipartisan plan to provide the economic stability and family values of broader health care coverage. He'd like to see working people paid something closer to a living wage. He thinks, like even scarlet Red Oklahoma leaders do, that the state has an interest in helping kids get started early on education.

Asa Hutchinson agrees with none of these propositions.

The choice is up to voters. Whatever they decide, they can't say they couldn't tell the difference. All the millions in ads soon to inundate us are just so much noise against such definitive distinctions.

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Brantley: Gay equality now

    Thanks to court rulings and changing public sentiment, gradualism has disappeared from the vocabulary of advocates for gay equality. That has certain adverse consequences in the darker corners of the world. Places like Arkansas.
    • Oct 31, 2013
  • Billionaires' dirty laundering

    The state of California, often the pacesetter for governmental reform, struck a small blow for democracy and openness last week when it forced two dark-money groups to admit they had illegally laundered $15 million from secret businessmen to influence voters on two ballot issues, one that would raise their taxes and the other that would trim the political clout of California unions.
    • Oct 31, 2013
  • Obamacare will help people, not politicians

    It was predictable that the rollout of the new insurance markets under Obamacare would be troubled, maybe even nightmarish. In fact, that was exactly what was predicted when Republicans first proposed mandatory market-oriented insurance — 40 years ago in the case of employer-sponsored insurance and 25 years ago in the case of an individual mandate.
    • Nov 21, 2013

Most Shared

  • The Quapaw return to Arkansas

    Casino try a good bet.
  • Jean Gordon to receive Truth Teller award

    Jean Gordon, who's worked a half-century in just about every social justice and peace movement you can name, will receive the Arkansas Community Institute's 2014 Community Truth Teller Award at a program at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the library's Darragh Center
  • The French Hill 'tis better to receive-than-give open line

    An open line that features new Congressman French HIll's antipathy in the Catholic newspaper to Obamacare as a "giveaway" to drug companies and hospitals. A Catholic nurse points out that children and other people in need are the real beneficiaries of this giveaway, along with Catholic hospitals.
  • Fan happiness over Hogs' win over LSU costs UA $25,000 UPDATED

    The University of Arkansas will be fined $25,000 by the SEC because Hog fans stormed the football field after Saturday's victory over LSU snapped a long SEC losing streak. It was a second offense by the UA of the conference's "access to competition area" policy.
  • GOP's new Obamacare attack

    It was inevitable. The long crusade against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has pivoted from a battle against socialism to a populist war against big business: The program known as Obamacare is now supposed to be merely a feed trough for the captains of industry, not a government program to force health care on the undeserving poor.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • French Hill: the pope's man from 2nd District

    French Hill, the Republican banker just elected to Congress from the 2nd District, is no Vic Snyder. We knew that, but an article in the latest Arkansas Catholic, news organ of the Diocese of Little Rock, indicates that he's a conservative outlier in his own church.
    • Nov 20, 2014
  • Brave new Arkansas

    I didn't have many winners last Tuesday night.
    • Nov 13, 2014
  • Looking ahead on ethics

    I write on election eve, with feelings of dread generally, but dead certainty about one ballot issue.
    • Nov 6, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

November

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Viewed

  • The opportunity agenda in Arkansas

    Arkansas hasn't seen a political realignment like this in our lifetime, with Republicans gaining 64 of 100 seats in the Arkansas House, 23 of 35 seats in the Senate, and every constitutional office in the general election.
  • French Hill: the pope's man from 2nd District

    French Hill, the Republican banker just elected to Congress from the 2nd District, is no Vic Snyder. We knew that, but an article in the latest Arkansas Catholic, news organ of the Diocese of Little Rock, indicates that he's a conservative outlier in his own church.
  • A new political chapter begins in Arkansas

    While there is much more diving into numbers from exit polls and vote tallies from Election 2014 to be done, it is clear that Arkansas's voters went beyond merely turning a page on the state's electoral past and instead created a wholly new chapter. In the process, three distinguishing elements of Arkansas's political tradition — its provincialism, its personalism and its populism — all shifted from the present to past tense in an election that served as the exclamation point for an era of dramatic change in the state's politics.
  • Dog life

    As I write, the love of my life is off to the state penitentiary. I expect her back at the farm in late afternoon. She's a volunteer with "Paws in Prison," an organization that matches homeless dogs with inmate trainers.
  • GOP's new Obamacare attack

    It was inevitable. The long crusade against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has pivoted from a battle against socialism to a populist war against big business: The program known as Obamacare is now supposed to be merely a feed trough for the captains of industry, not a government program to force health care on the undeserving poor.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation