It should have, but it didn’t dawn on me that Obamacare might drag down Amendment 66 until I saw an article highlighting this possibility on the New York Times blog. Despite a $10 million spending advantage, approval for the $1 billion tax increase is still very much in question.
Back in the summer of 2009, I was a staffer for the Republicans on the U.S. Senate HELP Committee. My job was to help the communications director craft press releases during the markup of Obamacare. With only 39 members at the time, Republicans in the Senate (and the House) had no way of stopping – or even altering – the bill.
Throughout the process, we pointed out that the costs for insurance and treatment would go up, while the quality of care would go down. We also refuted the Administration’s claim that “if you liked what you had, you could keep it.” It was obvious that with the new regulations, a large amount people would inevitably lose their coverage and lose their doctors. Some employers would dump their existing coverage, and some individuals would choose to pay the fine because it would be cheaper. Besides, individuals could then add coverage if and when they became sick. Despite all this, we did assume that the Administration would be competent enough to get the initial website up and working. We assumed too much.
So what is it about Obamacare that could impact an education proposal in Colorado?
The surface level connection is that both Obamacare and the education proposal have websites that serve as gateways to the larger reforms. In an effort to make education spending more transparent in Colorado, SB-213 creates a website where people can see exactly how funds are being allocated. Voters are concerned that if the federal government can spend $400 million on a website that doesn’t work, what are the chances that Colorado’s new transparency website will work as promised?
The bigger connection, however, is that voters are becoming more worried about the inefficiencies in government. History shows us that most big programs get more popular as time goes on. This has not been the case with healthcare reform. Polling last month, before the failed rollout, showed that the approval rating for Obamacare in Colorado was 19 points underwater.
When failures like the meltdown of the Obamacare website occur, people are reminded that the private sector does things (including healthcare) more efficiently than government. If, for example, the government was tasked with creating a computer company, a social networking website, and a coffee shop – what are the chances that it would come up with companies on par with Apple, Facebook, and Starbucks? The beauty of the private sector is competition.
So how is this principle tied to reforming our public education system? By definition, public education is government-run. One of the best ways to create greater efficiency in the system is through choice in education. Choice creates varying options and greater competition. By increasing the number of charter schools, and by supporting targeted tax credits, parents would not be forced to send their children to failing schools. In order for positive reforms to happen, it will take standing up to the entrenched interests. Amendment 66 and SB-213 do not do this. There is a good reason that voters seem reluctant to pour more money into a system that is admittedly already in desperate need of reform. This reform should come before any talk of increased revenue.
Despite the barrage of TV and radio ads, voters might be seeing that the Amendment 66 tax hike (like Obamacare) simply won’t deliver as promised.
Michael Fields is a 6th grade teacher at a charter school in Aurora, and a Republican candidate for Colorado House District 37