Mississippi’s Bryant struggles with a bad argument


When it comes to access to affordable health care, Mississippi is home to one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation, making the Affordable Care Act, especially it’s Medicaid-expansion provisions, exactly what the state desperately needs. Even Mississippi’s insurance commissioner, a conservative Republican, has urged Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to put aside ideology and embrace the provisions of “Obamacare” for the good of the state.

But Bryant doesn’t want to. Indeed, even as the number of Republican governors accepting Medicaid expansion grows quickly, the Mississippi Republican, who has a strong incentive to say “yes,” insists on saying “no.” In a video released yesterday, Bryant tried to explain why.

For those who can’t watch clips online, there is, alas, no published transcript of the governor’s remarks, which appear to have been delivered extemporaneously. That said, it’s clear watching the four-minute video that Bryant may not understand the issues as well as he should.

The governor, for example, is confused about the difference between the federal budget deficit and the federal debt. He also misunderstood the conclusions of a new GAO report, getting the truth backwards. Bryant went on to make a variety of claims that aren’t true – he’s under the impression that China is financing our debt – and doesn’t seem to understand just how good a deal the Medicaid-expansion policy really is.

But there was one line in particular that struck me as especially odd: “Don’t let anyone tell you Obamacare is the law of the land.”

I hate to be picky, but when Congress passes legislation, the president signs it into law, and a Supreme Court majority says the law is constitutional, it is, in reality, the law of the land. Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently called the Affordable Care Act “the law of the land.”

This is, incidentally, the same Republican governor who recently said health care reform is unnecessary since uninsured Americans can, in a pinch, always go to an emergency room.

I’m not surprised Bryant is turning down Medicaid expansion, and I’m not surprised he’d put out a video to explain why. But shouldn’t he come up with something a little more persuasive?