By Bill Crawford/Meridian Star columnist
The Picayune Item
MERIDIAN, Miss. —
Jenny says to Forrest Gump, “Are you stupid or something?”
Forrest replies, “Mama says, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’”
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a state-run health insurance exchange. Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) passed in 2010 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, exchanges may be set up and run by individual states. If not, the federal government will set up and run exchanges for them.
Chaney has repeatedly said he doesn’t like Obamacare, but believes Mississippi — not the federal government — should control the state exchange.
“The whole goal here is to help the consumer in this state have more information and make an intelligent decision about what they are going to buy,” Chaney said.
Governor Phil Bryant has been a staunch enemy of all facets of Obamacare, including Chaney’s state-run exchange. Most recently he has taken the position with Health and Human Services that Chaney does not have the authority to establish the exchange. This squabble has held up federal approval of a Mississippi exchange.
In a November letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Bryant said that the creation of a health exchange would allow Obamacare to take hold in Mississippi. He said he would support a true state-run exchange, but not one associated with the federal law.
“It is inevitable that such an exchange will be controlled by the federal government, not by the State,” Bryant wrote. “The federal government has never provided funds for a program without ultimately seizing control of it.”
Chaney wrote to Bryant saying, “I am confident that this is not the correct view to take on this subject,” adding he does have legal authority to set up an exchange.
If Bryant is successful in killing Chaney’s state-run exchange, the federal government will set up and control an exchange for Mississippi…which is what Bryant opposes.
On January 1, 2013, unless Congress had acted, income taxes, capital gains taxes, alternative minimum taxes, and estate taxes would have climbed back to 1999 levels.
That would have been the largest tax increase in history.
The last minute fiscal cliff deal passed by Congress made permanent current income tax levels for most Americans, slightly higher tax levels for high-income capital gains and large estates, and inflation adjustments for the alternative minimum tax.
The result was the largest permanent tax cut in history.
Representatives Gregg Harper, Alan Nunnelee, and Steven Palazzo are staunch enemies of tax increases and champions of tax cuts.
All three — unlike Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker — voted against the deal. Had they been successful, taxes would have soared for everyone…which is what they oppose.
Pass those chocolates, Forrest.
(Crawford (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.)