The Trolls Under The Bridge

by digby

There's been a lot of talk about Haley Barbour refusing to say whether Sarah Palin is qualified to be president. I saw the interview at the time and was actually struck by something else:

Matthews: ... let me ask you this. Your party deserves credit because you pushed through welfare reform, a tough bill, because Newt Gingrich pushed it and the president had to sign it under duress in 1996, I think. He might have lost 4 or 5% in that fight with Bob Dole. I don't think he would have lost but he would have lost a lot of ground. So you guys showed the upper hand, you got the job done, you forced a Democrat to eat it and he did.

Why didn't you ever do that on health care? You've had power. You've had both houses under Bush, you've had both houses and the presidency. You had plenty of chances to get a really good health care bill using taxes or whatever to serve the country that's not being served by healthcare. But yet you wait around, like a troll under the bridge, waiting for the Democrats to do it and then you come out and bite their leg. Who don't you walk across that bridge, why don't you have a healthcare bill when you're in power?

Barbour: We trolls who are hiding under the bridge, candidly, a lot of Republicans, including me, believe it would be much better to let the states do some things like we've done in Mississippi where we've had serious tort reform and our medical liability reform has brought down insurance premiums by 60% in four years, we have reformed medicaid so that we are saving the taxpayers money. We think let the states go for a while, see what works see what doesn't and then come together with a rational bill at the federal level is a better approach.

Mississippi rates 51 (out of 50 states plus DC) in health care ranking. It seems to me that with that record, he should rethink his argument.

If Mississippi improved to the level of the best-performing state in each of these categories, this is what its citizens would see:

The state is a disaster when it comes to health care on every front. But they have reduced their premiums and now nobody can expect restitution if a drunk doctor cuts off the wrong limb, so everything's just ducky in Haley's world. In fact the whole country should "experiment" with Mississippi's great successes.

In case you were wondering, number one is Vermont, followed by Hawaii and Iowa. If Barbour and his buddies were willing to take the lead of the states that actually deliver pretty good health care his words wouldn't ring so hollow. But all he cares about is destroying trial lawyers on behalf of his rich friends and throwing poor people off Medicaid. I don't think that's a serious solution to the problem so there's no reason to listen to anything he or any other Republican says on this subject.