We were asked last month for our opinion on the governor’s decision to concede to the federal government responsibility for the state’s insurance exchange rather than opt for a state-run program. Given our political reality, it’s hard to comfortably form one.
While I don’t agree with Gov. Bill Haslam on some issues, he’s proving himself to be thoughtful and professional. Like the other Republican governors, though, he mistakenly and unfortunately trusted Karl Rove and Fox News and all that money for an election outcome that would doom the Affordable Care Act. Faced afterward with the resulting short time constraints for making such a consequential decision, I suspect he chose correctly to put the establishment and initial implementation of the exchange under federal oversight.
I hope, though, he’s taking New Jersey Gov. Chris Cristie’s attitude to watch, question and learn and then at a later time involve his state as it seems fit. Haslam will have available to him the experience of those governors who started early to establish state-run exchanges, and I’m confident it’s his nature to recognize and grasp opportunities to learn.
I see little promise in our Legislature for intelligent and responsible leadership. If the prevailing level of “reason” persists, hate for Obama will continue to trump good sense. Locally, our governor can at least count on state Rep. Kent Williams for independent thought. However, we’ve done him no favor by peopling the General Assembly with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Matthew Hill, Micah Van Huss and Tony Shipley — all who show little proclivity for balanced thought. As for Sen. Rusty Crowe: How does one know?
I recently heard Wendell Berry say our disastrous political climate would be readily solved if politicians traded focus on winning for focus on clear thinking.
Tennessee’s health care reality is burdensome. Should clear thinking trump partisanship, expanded coverage will be welcomed, tested, made better — regardless of how it came to be. It’s the grown-up way.
Jennie Young lives in Elizabethton.