Archive for Saturday, January 21, 2006

Challenger to Praeger: Switch parties

Insurance commissioner says she’ll remain Republican

January 21, 2006


— The legislator hoping to unseat Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger in this year's Republican primary said Friday that she should switch parties because her views are similar to those of prominent Democrats.

Praeger said she has no intention of doing so.

Rep. Eric Carter, of Overland Park, said there has long been talk of Praeger's switching parties. Carter has criticized her for not being pro-business enough, and as a legislator, she was considered a GOP moderate, while Carter is a conservative.

"It would be much healthier for the Republican Party if she would," Carter said. "It wouldn't be a defection. She'd be going home, where she belongs."

Praeger, of Lawrence, said the Republican platform doesn't require party members to agree on every issue, adding that she grew up in a GOP family.

"It would be like betraying my family roots," she said of switching parties. "I'm not going to do that."

Carter kicked off his campaign against Praeger with a Statehouse news conference, a speech in Wichita and a news conference at the Johnson County courthouse in Olathe. He surprised some Republicans by beginning the year with almost $94,000 in campaign funds compared with Praeger's $153,000.

He already has criticized Praeger for remarks she made in 2004 opposing a plan from President Bush to allow employer groups to create unregulated self-insurance plans and praising a proposal from Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry to expand the federal Medicaid program providing medical coverage to the poor and disabled.

Carter also has criticized Praeger for joining Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in asking legislators last year to increase tobacco taxes by $50 million annually to finance health care initiatives.

"I'm not alone in wondering why she's a Republican," Carter told reporters. "She's a Republican, historically, because that's the way you run in Kansas to be successful."

But Praeger said helping Kansans deal with health costs goes beyond partisan politics.

"I honestly believe what I'm doing is in the best interest of Kansans," she said.

Carter also said Kansas has a poor regulatory climate that has some insurance companies refusing to do business in the state. As an example of the lack of competition, he noted that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas dominates the health insurance market.

But Praeger said 70 more insurance companies are doing business now than when she took office in January 2003, bringing the total to more than 1,700. She said Blue Cross dominates the health insurance market because it has a strong reputation but, "The major companies are all doing business in Kansas."

Other Republicans aren't as eager as Carter to have Praeger switch parties.

"I'm a big-tent Republican," said House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka.

Prominent Democrats said they didn't expect Praeger to switch parties but would welcome her if she did.

"I am always anxious to have folks join the Democratic Party," Sebelius said during her own Statehouse news conference.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

The insurance industry is one of the biggest scams and rackets in this country. It would be a travesty if this "business-friendly" guy got himself elected.

lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

but, praeger IS a "republican in name only." but i can understand why she stays tied to the republicans since the democratic party is the most favored party of Osama Bin Laden. :)

Godot 12 years, 4 months ago

Bozo, I'm guessing you don't own property. Maybe you don't even own a car, you ride a bike or ride the T. It is quite clear that you don't own a small business.

Otherwise, you would be very interested in having insurance companies eager to do business in Kansas. Having insurance companies compete for customers is good for consumers.

Brian Laird 12 years, 4 months ago

Dear Arminius,

You always such a pedant on many things, but I must point out that grammatically it is the "Democratic Party", not the "Democrat party". "democrat" is not an adjective. I find it repulsive that conservatives have made a concerted effort to try to subvert the language intentionally. This may sound trivial, but it is a cynical ploy of conservatives that has a history that goes back to the mid 90's.

Of course, I am also dismayed that Sebelius uses "anxious" when she means "eager", but this is a common mistake and I do no think it was willful, as your error was.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

Godot, your pointless speculation about me doesn't make the insurance industry any less of a racket, but ad hominem attacks are your main form of (faulty) argument.

Allowing companies that screw people into the state wouldn't do anything to create meaningful competition.

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago


What about the GOP's primary challenge against Arlen Specter? He was a four-term senator, well-respected, but not conservative enough, so the Club for Growth endorsed a challenger. By the same standard you apply, the GOP demands ideological purity.

Of course, Specter won and is now chairman of the Judiciary Cmte, the same way Hoyer won and is now the minority whip. It's fine if you want to argue that an advocacy group pushes "ideological purity", but the Republicans would be just as guilty by the same measure. What's more important to note is that neither the GOP or the DNC were going after their own incumbents.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

Clinton indeed was a self-serving politician, with at best a defective moral compass, but at least he understood when he was doing something for political expediency, and continuing BushCo I Iraq policy is included in that.

Among those in the upper echelons of BushCo, Clinton probably most closely compares to Karl Rove. Dubya is a twisted, megalomaniacal simpleton who believes way too much of Rove's hype, and is in way over his head. The torture gulags and the disaster in Iraq are ample demonstration of that, although that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago

Given that Hoyer had such a rating, isn't ideological purity already protected? Might their opposition to Hoyer be based on other factors, like say, a policy disagreement?

And a "responsible group" like Club for Growth saw each and every established member of the GOP running the other way to support Specter, including Sen. Santorum and Pres. Bush. Club for Growth is nothing if not the definition of extremist when the entire Republican leadership turns the other way.

"That would be like the Club for Growth blacklisting Bush for speaking before the NAACP."

Which would be something akin to Republican deficit-cutting, since it too has never happened.

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago

"Given that MoveOn supported Bill Clinton, who claimed Saddam had WMD and was a threat to the U.S., yet wants to impeach Bush for making the same claims, I think we'd have to conclude that any opposition on their part is due to ideology."

I haven't seen MoveOn call for impeachment (I don't read their stuff), but those who have done so have based their calls on the war, and its mishandling, not the fear of WMD.

The Club for Growth challenged a four-term senator, well-respected by all, over policy disagreements and they're responsible. MoveOn challenged an incumbent rep, well-respected by all, over policy disagreements, and they're extremists. Neither had the support of their related party, but somehow we come to different judgments. Kennedy's challenge of Carter is a different beast, largely because Carter was not a well-respected incumbent who was doing a good job. Carter was doing a poor job, and challenging someone in that position is a laudable action.

You're right about Bush addressing the NAACP, in 2000 when he was stumping for black votes. Since being sworn in, however, President Bush has made explicit his refusal to speak at the annual NAACP convention, despite receiving an invitation each year. As for the budget, the last time we had a balanced budget and paid down debt was FY2001, the last budget signed by Clinton. The FY2002 budget was in surplus, but rather than adapt the budget to deal with 9/11, Bush and the GOP leadership decided to keep spending without increasing inflow. In other words, the Republicans were unwilling to even try balancing the budget post-9/11, letting the deficit and the debt continue to grow. The GOP had a great plan to reduce debt, but they have failed to do so each and every year. The balanced budget in March 2001 led to zero debt reduction in 2002. Good try though. Swing harder next time.

Godot 12 years, 4 months ago

Posted by Bozo:Godot, your pointless speculation about me doesn't make the insurance industry any less of a racket, but ad hominem attacks are your main form of (faulty) argument.

Hit a little close to home, didn't I? Actually, I did not realize that suggesting that someone who might not own property or a car or a business would be considered an insult on this forum, where people who actually do own property and cars and businesses are often the object of attack by people like you.

Apparently your idea of the perfect insurance commissioner is someone who despises the industry and desires to destroy it. You seem to want to destroy everything that makes our economy work. Why don't you run for insurance commissioner?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

Let's see, ad hominem attack combined with strawman arguments. I'll give you some credit for creativity, but your arguments remain vacuous and devoid of logic.

If you had anything of value to say, you wouldn't spend all your time trying to speak for me, or guess what motivates me.

If you think the insurance industry as it now exists is just as it should be, why don't you defend that, instead of focussing on me? If you think the candidate opposing Prager should be elected, why not promote him and his agenda, rather than doing some silly internet fishing expedition about me?

Or are you one of the insurance industry leaches on society, and I've hit a little too close to home?

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago


You say we've never had a balaned budget during a time of war. First, I would ask you to define "time of war". There are enough legal troubles there already, but let's leave them for another time, shall we? I could be wrong about that, but I'm also pretty sure the Democrats never balanced the budget post-FDR.

I'm intrigued that your answer to Republican overspending is a Democratic alternative, particularly one modeled on the Contract with America. Neither party is proposing spending cuts, but only the Democrats are proposing ways to increase revenue (rollback of tax cuts), while the Republicans would make those tax cuts (and resulting deficits) permanent.

This demand that the Democrats reign in the Republicans though is laughable. Making that argument is a tacit acknowledgment that the Republicans are not able to control themselves. When Democrats are in power, they're responsible for deficits. When Republicans are in power, the Democrats are responsible for deficits.

You are woefully misunderstanding the nature of our disagreement. You're equating my objection to Republican governance with support for the Democrats. What I support is a government that is fiscally moderate (deficits can be good, depending on the circumstances) and socially liberal. Neither party meets my ideal, but the Democrats come a lot closer right now. You, on the other hand, are slavishly devoted to party, rather than principle, which is why you find yourself trying to defend the Club for Growth.

So, back to the original issue, the charge of ideological purity. The argument you make against the Democrats is replicated exactly on the Republican side, but that slavish devotion to party prevents you from being able/willing to recognize that.

BTW, Bond was chairman of the NAACP when Bush spoke there in 2000. Clearly he's not the issue. On the last point, about the recession, I don't blame Clinton or Bush for the start of the recession, but the maintenance of tax cuts in the face of the recession and mounting defense needs did extend the recession.

Godot 12 years, 4 months ago

Bozo, I am a homeowner and business owner who is paying higher and higher insurance rates, with fewer and fewer insurance companies from which to choose. I have had to resort to getting coverage through a broker in another state from an insurance company that is not approved in Kansas. As a result, I have to pay really high rates and extra fees, for unfavorable terms. If I lived in, say, Missouri, I would not have to go through these exercises to get insurance because the insurance I need is easily available in Missouri.

What Kansas business people need is an insurance commissioner who will go to bat for us and find a way to encourage more insurance companies, the ones who will accept the kinds of businesses we operate in Kansas, to compete for customers in Kansas. We do not need a commissioner who makes it hard for us to find and afford the insurance we need.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

Insurance is no different from any other product. Those who provide it need to do so in an honest and fair way. The product is shared risk among policy holders, and actuarial science is well-enough developed that with a large enough base of policy holders, the risks to the insurer are fairly minimal.

However, the insurance industry really isn't that much involved in providing insurance. They are involved in raising capital for speculative purposes, which is precisely why medical malpracice insurance rates are much more affected by the performance of the stock market than they are by the size and number of judgements in malpractice lawsuits.

And despite all the ideological whining about single-payer, nationalized health plans, they provide better and more comprehensive care at a lower cost than the private system in this country does.

Why? Because the purpose of the system here is to generate wealth for those in the industry, not to provide the best care at the lowest cost for those who pay for it. (The same is true for most other industries.)

That doesn't mean private, free enterprise is a bad thing. It just means that unbridled greed is not a good thing, and that intentions do matter.

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