Friday, July 28, 2006

Kansas Politics: What the radical right really wants

By Diane Silver

The somewhat obscure race for the Republican nomination for Kansas Insurance Commissioner provides a clear window into what the radical right really wants. The race wil be decided in the Tuesday, Aug. 1, primary vote.

They don't want to just harass lesbians like me and limit the benefits our children receive. They want to make it harder for you -- whoever you are -- to receive a fair insurance policy, or possibly, to interact on a level playing field with big-money, big-power corporations. The reason I say that is because these folks are arguing for an end to government regulation.

Kansas City Star columnist Barbara Shelly does a good job today of explaining how this is playing out in the Insurance Commissioner race. That campaign pits incumbent Sandy Praeger, a moderate Republican, against Eric Carter, a member of the Kansas House who appears to have never met a government regulation, or maybe a government, he liked.

Shelly writes:

Voters on Tuesday will be rendering a judgment on government itself. Do they expect government to intervene on behalf of the public, or do they expect it to get out of the way?

Carter, on his campaign Web site, decries government as "the great fiction" and scoffs at social programs and regulation.

That dislike of regulation makes him a curious candidate for a watchdog post. The insurance commissioner monitors companies to ensure they set fair and realistic rates and pay valid claims.

Carter, a state representative from Overland Park, has sponsored legislation calling for unregulated pricing for auto and home insurance, and the lifting of mandated health insurance coverage for services such as prostate cancer testing, mental health treatment and chiropractic care.

Shelly adds:

These are strange times. Kansas has an education commissioner who has been openly hostile toward public schools. Washington is stocked with "regulators" who have made careers of fighting government regulation.

The trend is to stock government jobs with people who are antagonistic to government. As a "watchdog" who believes in unleashing the insurance industry, Carter would fit right in.

The choice before Kansas voters Tuesday is bigger than a moderate Republican Party stalwart and a conservative fresh face.

It's also a referendum on Praeger's view that government should work for people, and Carter's goal of diminishing government.

I couldn't have said it any better.

Right now, the race between Praeger and Carter is unexpectedly close, which is truly unfortunate. It appears that few Kansas voters are paying attention. That's a real tragedy because if Carter wins and gets his way, everyone with insurance -- just about every single person in Kansas -- will be hurt by his policies.

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