My critique of Gov. Barbour's exchange plan is at the DC Examiner today. Given Mississippi's exceedingly poor population, under the exchange Barbour has endorsed combined with Obamacare, 76% of his state's population will be eligible for subsidized care through Medicaid or the exchange -- and combined with the data from the recent study regarding the churning effect, this translates to massive administrative costs, gaps in coverage, and, of course, powerful disincentives for economic achievement. The penalty for a family of four making $88,000 per year for making even $1,000 more is immediate and dramatic. Barbour's quote to Erick on the radio about a week ago that the exchange would operate "at no cost to the taxpayers" would be laughable if it was not so insulting to one's intelligence.
In my view, Barbour and his staff dramatically underestimate the negative ramifications of these subsidies and the level to which they discourage success -- and the fact that without a sunset provision, if PPACA is overturned by the courts or repealed by the Congress, there will be a powerful clamor to keep some form of these subsidies intact.
In speaking with Team Barbour about this over the past two weeks, I came away convinced that they are hammering away at talking points without looking at the proven data on how this level of entitlement works -- and what's more, that they are internally diminishing the problem. I am disappointed, mostly because I would've thought Haley would have better people on staff, but also because this now means we actually have someone to Mitt Romney's left on health policy in the GOP 2012 field.
Consider: Romney's latest edition of his book ups the rhetoric strongly in rejecting Obama's law, and he has the plausible deniability that he was promised positive outcomes from his attempted market-based reforms before passing his Connector plan by many in the conservative movement. Romney can feasibly claim that he supported a bad idea before he had proof it was bad, and when he had some evidence it was good. Barbour does not have this excuse, and he is all the more hypocritical in my view for signing on to letters which demand flexibility from Washington and then moving forward without even a tenuous extension of that flexibility.
To be clear: Haley Barbour is now in the lead among all Republican governors in being an outright collaborator with Obamacare, in the state where that collaboration will have the most disastrous effect on the fortunes and futures of the citizenry. The one hard and fast rule in policymaking is that people will always go where the free money is -- sadly, Barbour has not learned this lesson.