Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tennessee's Super-Duper GOP Majority Failing First Test of Leadership

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 9:31 AM

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Now that the election campaigning is over and triumphant Republicans have stamped out just about every Democrat in state government, the GOP is ready to put aside politics and start governing for the good of all Tennesseans, right? Ha! In the first test of the new super-duper majority — whether to run the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange or let the federal government do it — Republicans are failing.

Gov. Bill Haslam acknowledges a state-run exchange would be cheaper for Tennessee and for insurance providers, not to mention obviously giving state government more control. But he's not sure he can go for it because he says the legislature might balk. Translation: The Brian Kelseys, Stacey Campfields and Mae Beaverses of the legislature will throw a hissy fit at the very idea of seeming to give their approval to any part of the evil ObamaCare. The federal deadline to decide this matter is Friday, and the administration still is waffling. Democrats are urging the governor to choose state control.

“The presidential election was decisive, and Obamacare is the law of the land,” Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle said in a news release. “Government closest to the people governs best, and that should be a guiding principle as we implement the new health care law.”

Added Democratic caucus chairman Lowe Finney: “We have come to count on Gov. Haslam for pragmatic leadership in an environment where the legislature is increasingly partisan. It’s clear that if we run the exchange, it will be cheaper for taxpayers, and it will allow our state to retain more control.”

Be that as it may, we're not sure we can trust Republicans in this state to do this. The exchanges are supposed to make it easier and more affordable for people and small businesses to buy health coverage and to find out if they are eligible for tax credits. Since they are so adamantly opposed to the law, wouldn't Republicans try to sabotage the exchange, deliberately mismanaging it or skinning it down to some pointless, bare-bones menu of plans? Haslam calls state control "the lesser of two evils," meaning he's totally unenthusiastic about this whole deal. Really? What Democrats should demand is some assurances that Republicans are serious about making the exchanges work for consumers. Otherwise, let the feds do it.

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