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Bentley dismisses Jesse Jackson’s accusations of class warfare in Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley (Photo: Yellowhammer)
Gov. Robert Bentley (Photo: Yellowhammer)

In a meeting with the Alabama Media Group editorial board Tuesday, Jesse Jackson slammed Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision to not expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, and compared it to George Wallace trying to stop black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama.

“Wallace blocked the school door based on race,” Jackson said. “[Bentley is] blocking the hospital door based upon class. Blacks were locked out of the schools, and black and whites have been locked out of access to medical care, and he should be judged as such.”

Bentley responded to Jackson’s comments on Wednesday, saying that he has made it a point as governor to represent all Alabamians, regardless of their race, income-level or party affiliation.

“That was somewhat offensive,” Bentley said of Jackson’s remarks. “Let me tell you, I was there in Tuscaloosa when Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door to keep two young black individuals from enrolling. I was there as a student. I have been involved so much in the celebration of our 50th year of civil rights in Alabama. We are proud of how far we’ve come in this state. And let me tell you, we have come a long way and I want to be the governor who represents all people in this state. I don’t care what color they are, I don’t care what Party they’re in, I represent everybody.”

Bentley has become a frequent target of various special interest groups, editorial writers and policy makers for his unwillingness to expand Medicaid.

He devoted a large portion of his 2014 State of the State address to defending his decision, saying, “We will never see an end to the plague of poverty by offering a deeper dependence on a flawed government system.”

Critics of Bentley’s decision point out that the Federal government had agreed to pay for 100 percent of the expansion through 2016, before decreasing its share of the costs down to 90 percent in the years to come.

Bentley responded by pointing out that whether the Federal government pays for it or not, it’s all “your dollars, your hard-earned tax dollars.”

The federal government has said they will give us money to expand. But how can we believe the federal government will keep its word? The anything but Affordable Care Act has done nothing to gain our trust.

First, they told us we could keep our doctor – that turned out not to be true. Next, they told us we could keep our policy – that’s not true. Then they told us our premiums would not go up – nothing could be further from the truth. Now they are telling us we’ll get free money to expand Medicaid.

Ladies and Gentlemen, nothing is free. The money the federal government is spending with wild abandon is not federal dollars – those are your dollars, your hard-earned tax dollars. There is no difference between federal money and your money.

Our great nation is 17.2 trillion dollars in debt and it increases by 2-billion dollars every single day.

That is why I cannot expand Medicaid in Alabama. We will not bring hundreds of thousands into a system that is broken and buckling.

Jackson discussed a wide range of issues during his Alabama Media Group interview, including prison reform, compensation for college athletes (during which he says field goals are worth “2 points”!) and the current conflict in Israel. Click here for a full write up over at al.com.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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