January 8, 2013 11:22:37 AM
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant believes in the rule of law and the will of the people.
Unless, of course, it's a law he doesn't like or the will of the people turns out to be at odds with his own views.
In those instances, Bryant has proven to be both petulant and pointless.
We witnessed this dynamic in the spring when, after voters soundly rejected a "personhood" measure that would have limited abortions, Bryant pushed through his own ill-fated law concerning abortions, a law that was predictably blocked by a federal judge.
But there is no better example of this than the governor's current spat with the state's insurance commissioner Mike Chaney over the federally mandated state insurance exchanges required under the Affordable Care Act. An exchange is an online marketplace where people can buy private health insurance. Under the health care law President Barack Obama signed in 2010, exchanges are to be set up and run by individual states or by the federal government.
Chaney submitted an exchange proposal to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services in November.
There are two important points to be noted here: First, both Bryant and Chaney are Republicans. Second, both Bryant and Chaney have long since gone on record to state their opposition to Obamacare.
Where the two men disagree is that Chaney, recognizing that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, proceeded to do his best for Mississippians in putting together a insurance exchange that addresses the unique needs and circumstances of the citizens.
Bryant, on the other hand, seems to prefer to dig in his heels, which will achieve nothing of value.
Oddly enough, Chaney's proposal is essentially the same proposal endorsed by former Gov. Haley Barbour. Even more perplexing is that Chaney's exchange proposal is virtually the same plan Bryant and the Mississippi Senate approved when Bryant was lieutenant governor.
In challenging Chaney's authority to submit the plan -- Bryant argued that the governor alone holds that power -- Bryant has virtually assured that the federal government will implement its own plan for Mississippi. How does that possibly serve the best interests of the state?
Bryant's almost pathological opposition to the health care law exposes a petulance that is unbecoming to a person in his office. While his obstinance may be applauded by political extremists on the right, his position is counter-productive.
As a private citizen, Bryant can "wash his hands'' of matters he finds distasteful.
He should not enjoy that privilege as governor, however.
Bryant should drop his ill-conceived opposition to the health care exchange submitted by our insurance commissioner.
By blocking the state-designed, state-run exchange, Bryant is opening the door for the feds to play a greater role in the way we implement the new health care law.
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