I want to make a modest proposal to figure out how to have California acquire the United States of America.
With, of course, some kind of antitrust exception that would allow states that think California is too flaky do something else.
The thought came to me yesterday when I took a sick day and had the time to watch the full House Energy & Commerce hearing on the HealthCare.gov federal exchange enrollment site problems and the Covered California board meeting.
The House hearing generated little information. Most of the people were either just talking to talk or lawyered up to the point that they could only say their name, rank and serial numbers.
At some point, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, made the great point that the hearing witnesses really couldn’t, or wouldn’t, name any Obama administration officials other than Henry Chao as being in charge of exchange implementation decisions.
Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law, it’s been interesting to see that the administration’s organizational chart has usually been completely out-of-date and has always been full of holes. That’s probably partly due to Republican budget-cutting, but, for me, it’s been really hard to even find the names of any U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implementers other than Kathleen Sebelius, Marilyn Tavenner and Gary Cohen.
Meanwhile, Covered California has many, many exchange builders speak at its board meetings. The board members admit, openly, that they face challenges, and that they’re afraid of how the media will react to any softness in enrollment or other problems — but they’re up on the Web talking like grownups about the challenges they face, not hiding behind a sudden attack of incapacitating memory problems.
On the one hand: It’s probably illegal for California to acquire the United States of America.
On the other hand: There are a lot of investment bankers in California, and, given the immensity of the U.S. budget deficit, you wouldn’t think the market value of the country would be all that high. If California acquired the United States, maybe our government would work better, the deficit would come down, net income could materialize, and California could eventually spin the United States off through an initial public offering.
On the third hand: Maybe California wouldn’t actually want the United States. If it has that kind of M&A mojo, maybe it would be better off acquiring a country that seems more like a going concern.