Sen. Graham's Medicaid Problem
Over the weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took to the Senate floor to condemn the extra Medicaid funding for Nebraska in the health care bill, which was part of the compromise that won Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-NE) support. Graham said:
So throughout the nation, there are gonna be thousands of more people enrolled in Medicaid. And every state except one is gonna have to come up with matching money. I have 12 percent unemployment in South Carolina. My state is on its knees. I have 31 percent African American population in South Carolina. How did they get the 60th vote?
Graham's floor statement, taken literally, seemed to suggest that South Carolina's African American population was a problem in and of itself. Of course, what he really meant to say was that there are a large number of African Americans on Medicaid -- which is what he argued on CNN a few hours beforehand.
Still, Matt Yglesias objected to Graham's insistence on making his argument a matter of race:
Someone should probably tell Senator Graham that there are white people on Medicaid. Hispanics too! Asians, even. I know conservatives don't like it when they get called racists, so I'll just observe the error here and not make any judgments about why a Senator would go on television and state, repeatedly, that a crucial element of the American safety net is some kind of blacks-only program.
Yglesias is exactly right. In fact, it turns out that in South Carolina, more whites than blacks are enrolled in Medicaid. Check out the following chart, courtesy of the Kaiser Family Foundation:
DISTRIBUTION OF THE NONELDERLY WITH MEDICAID BY RACE/ETHINICTY (2008)
Graham should really leave race out of this. But if he refuses, it would be nice if he at least got the facts right.