Tea Partiers, GOP Liberty Caucus Urge Idaho Legislature to Nix Insurance Exchange

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RLC secretary Jason Robertson, left, Idaho Freedom Foundations Erik Makrush, center, and businessman and consultant Steve Ackerman, right.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Republican Liberty Caucus Secretary Jason Robertson, left, Idaho Freedom Foundation's Erik Makrush, center, and businessman and consultant Steve Ackerman, right.

Following Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's reluctant concession Tuesday to implement a key component of the Affordable Care Act, a group of citizens today urged lawmakers to reject Otter's decision.

"We realize it's been punted to the Legislature and they're our last hope," said Karen Calisterio, Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho chair. "We're not asking them to be mavericks here—22 other states have said 'no.'"

On the steps of the Capitol, representatives of the RLC, Gem State Tea Party, Erik Makrush of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and businessman Steve Ackerman urged the Legislature to block implementation of a state health insurance exchange, required by federal law.

"It's akin to not wanting the federal government to shoot us, so give us the gun and let us shoot ourselves," Calisterio told the crowd, which numbered fewer than 100.

The People Have Already Said No to Goverment [sic] Healtcare [sic], read one sign, while the other asked What Goverment [sic] Program Saves Money!
  • Andrew Crisp
  • "The People Have Already Said No to Goverment [sic] Healtcare [sic]," reads one sign, while the other asks, "What Goverment [sic] Program Saves Money!"

Speakers emphasized their feelings that Otter's decision had not been the correct course of action for the state, and did not represent principles of state sovereignty or liberty. Calisterio called the RLC the "conscience of the Republican Party."

"We don't believe [the exchange] is in line with anything the Republican Party stands for," she said. "It's constitutional in that, yes, it's a tax, but it goes against the concepts of freedom."

Calisterio said she did not vote for or against Otter in his re-election bid. She had supported Otter's previous work as a congressman, but felt the lawmaker had strayed from GOP principles.

Otter's State of the State address, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 7, will no doubt feature the ACA.

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