On Friday night, LPB aired a debate between state senator Neil Riser (R-Columbia) and businessman Vance McAllister (R-Monroe), the two runoff finalists in Saturday’s 5th District congressional race, in which on most issues there is little or no difference between the two.
But the big issue of the day in Louisiana is Obamacare, and on that issue McAllister has broken with the conservative position.
The Times-Picayune’s writeup of McAllister’s left turn sums it up fairly well…
During Friday’s debate, he made it clear that because of the high poverty rate in the 5th District — one of the highest in the country — he believes the governor should accept the Medicaid expansion. He also criticized Jindal for his push to do away with the state’s charity hospital system.
“Our governor and Sen. Riser right here have gutted (heath care) to the core and privatized it,” said McAllister, adding, “Before we give handouts, we need to give hand-ups.”
Not accepting offers like Medicaid expansion is the wrong choice, McAllister said: “If you’re going down the road at 50 mph, you just can’t throw it in reverse.”
Riser accused McAllister of flip-flopping on the federal health care law, telling Democrats he was for it and Republicans he was against it. Riser said the law “has become a failure” that has to be repealed “at all costs.”
“We sent a man to the moon, certainly we can repeal this law,” Riser said.
McAllister and Riser also differed on another health care policy. Riser believes insurance companies have the right to decide whether or not to cover people with pre-existing conditions. McAllister said companies should be required to cover them.
At best, McAllister is pandering to the Left in hopes that he’ll be able to ride the support of some traditional Democrat constituencies, plus the Duck Dynasty crowd, into Congress without any thought toward actually acting on such a position. After all, as a congressman McAllister has no say whatsoever on Louisiana’s policy about Charity Hospitals or Medicaid expansion, so he has a completely free ride to criticize the governor’s actions in privatizing the Charity facilities and refusing to expand Medicaid.
At worst, though, McAllister is the RINO in the race – and rather than seeing the 5th District seat represented by a congressman who would tend to the Steve Scalise-John Fleming hard-core conservative view he might represent a totally unreliable vote.
It’s hard to tell which is really the case. And because of that, it’s hard for a conservative to justify voting for McAllister. To do so would be either to say it’s OK for him to lie to the voters about his position in advance of an election – when the current occupant of the White House shows what happens when lies aren’t punished on Election Day – or that when there’s a proven conservative available it’s a smart vote to go with someone who thinks continuing a state-run hospital system and putting as many as half the population on the government dole where health insurance is concerned make for good policy.
Those positions would call into question what other departures from conservatism McAllister might be in favor of.