Gov. Matt Blunt this week did what governors often do. To build momentum for a reformation of state government, he announced a top-notch commission of 20 members to explore ways to improve efficiency in state government. I believe what he is saying is that state spending should be cut and he wants some backup to support that approach.
Governors in Missouri and elsewhere are looking for ways to trim state spending because the alternative is to raise taxes. No politician in his right mind wants to hike taxes for programs of questionable benefit. Taxpayers are a bit more savvy these days. Taxpayers want some level of accountability when it comes to spending money.
In Missouri - to my way of thinking - the area that needs close scrutiny is the Medicaid spending in our state. By any definition, it's out of control. When the public begins to hear the details of Medicaid, I firmly believe there will be overwhelming support to make cuts in the costly program.
Now don't get on that same old liberal bandwagon and tell me about how the poor are being abused by a spending cut. That argument doesn't hold water. Within the Medicaid spending are countless cases of foolish and fraudulent expenses that will chill your soul. We have opened the door to abuse and fraud and literally thousands upon thousands have marched right through that door.
Nothing brings home the need for reform like tax season. When you look at the amount of taxes you spend each year on state government, you begin to see that far too many people are living off the sacrifices of your labors. I could never favor a reduction in benefits to those truly in need. I support - as do most Missourians - ongoing benefits to the elderly and the young who need medical care.
But that's not the problem with Medicaid. The problem lies in those who soak the program for every last dime and with the members of the medical community who recognize this fraud but do nothing to address it. This reform requires tough decisions. But it will not happen until we undertake a case-by-case analysis of the Medicaid program recipients. That process is enormous.
During the Carnahan and Holden administrations, Medicaid didn't just expand, it exploded. But the time has now come to pay the piper and we taxpayers are expected to dig deeper into our pockets to pay for the lifestyle of many who don't deserve it. The time to stop this spending has arrived.
I'm convinced this new commission will recommend some sweeping changes. And I can't wait to hear the arguments of those who bemoan any social spending cut under the sun. Unfortunately for them, this time their argument is phony and beyond defense.