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Stop talking secession and work on insurance exchange

Staff Report • Nov 16, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Now that the presidential election is in the books, we have entered the “silly season” for politics. One glaring example of this is an online petition by residents in 37 states who want to withdraw from the United States. Yes, you read that correctly, they are asking that their states secede from the union.

The secession movement appears to be the strongest in the states of the old Confederacy, like Tennessee, which saw a majority of their voters disappointed by President Barack Obama’s re-election.

As famed writer and philosopher George Santayana once observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So we would remind folks who are pushing secession that it didn’t go very well the last time it was tried. In fact, it was a bloody disaster.

Certainly it would be easy to dismiss this attempt as wacky, but the same was also probably said in 1861. That’s why we applaud Gov. Bill Haslam for refusing to lend any legitimacy to this ridiculous idea. The governor told The (Nashville) Tennessean he doesn’t think the state will be seceding any time soon.

“I don’t think that’s a valid option for Tennessee,” Haslam said Tuesday.

Instead, Haslam would like to see state officials tackle truly important issues, such as the establishment of an online health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act. Republican leaders of the state General Assembly were so convinced that GOP candidate Mitt Romney would be elected president and repeal the act that they refused to even consider setting up a state exchange.

Now, with a deadline for action looming, Tennessee officials have just two options: Create a state exchange or leave it up to the federal government to do.

Haslam is no fan of the Affordable Care Act, but he believes the state can do a better job than the feds in running the exchange. He’s right. This state’s experience with TennCare could prove most valuable in dealing with this issue.

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