Editorial: We need our lawmakers to speak out

Editorial: We need our lawmakers to speak out
Posted at 12:00 PM, Mar 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-08 12:08:46-05

Thumbs up to some Ohio Republican lawmakers who have spoken up in recent days.

The Republican Party controls just about everything these days. The U.S. House, Senate and the White House. In Ohio, Republicans hold supermajorities in the House, Senate and hold the governor’s office. Republicans control the Kentucky House, Senate and governor’s office for the first time in decades. In Indiana, Republicans also enjoy supermajorities in the General Assembly and control the governor’s office.

That’s why it’s so important for our elected Republicans to speak out when they believe something is amiss.

On Monday, Sen. Rob Portman was one of four GOP senators who publicly criticized the health care plan House Republicans released. The GOP plan, Portman said, “does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs …”  Any changes to Medicaid, whose expansion was a key part of Obamacare, “should not come at the cost of disruption in access to health care for our country’s most vulnerable and sickest individuals.”

Their letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and 28 other states, provided “access to life-saving health care services” to many who did not enjoy that access before.

Bravo to Sen. Portman for speaking up. 

If that critique had come from Democrats, it’s likely it would have been ignored or dismissed as predictable partisanship. But coming from Republicans, and about a Republican proposal, it carried more weight.

That’s why Republicans need to speak out – because it matters. We don't think Republicans were elected to rubber stamp the plans of the White House or their party leaders. We elected them to represent us and to think for themselves. We need them to be our advocates.

John Kasich, Ohio’s Republican governor, also spoke up about preserving the expansion of Medicaid. Phasing out Medicaid expansion, he said Tuesday, “unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug addicted, mentally ill and working poor, who now have access to a stable source of care.”

And kudos to Republican Congressman Steve Chabot for standing up to President Trump. Trump and his White House staff have declared war on the legitimate media, a war whose latest shot came when Trump called the media “the enemy of the people.”

Hold on Mr. President, Chabot said.

In an open letter to President Trump, Chabot wrote, “I believe it is my responsibility to voice my disagreement with you, when what you’ve said or done, crosses a line. And I believe you did cross that line recently when you said that the news media is the enemy of the American people.”

It is the responsibility of Chabot and every elected office holder to speak up for their constituents, even when it means speaking out against their members of their own party.

These are tumultuous times. We need the people who represent us to do their jobs. We need them to listen. We need them to face the public in town hall meetings, and in other meetings with their constituencies. Get out of the Washington bubble and hear what your people have to say. And speak out for them.

Because country, not party, comes first.