August 16, 2012
The Great Medicare Debate Begins
If you haven't seen the latest commercial from team Romney called "Paid In," here it is:
The reaction from liberals to this has varied from "the Ryan plan would also cut medicare," to "you Republicans want to throw granny off a cliff," to "can we talk about global warming now?"
The whole issue is horribly complicated and more than I can deal with in one post, but here's a bit of background on what's going on:
From the Miami Herald
At issue is the fact that, while Romney running-mate Paul Ryan wants to transform and cut future Medicare expenditures by about $700 billion, President Obama's healthcare plan cuts $700 billion over a decade
So although both Obama and Ryan's plan would cut Medicare...
There is a big difference, though, in the thrust of the reductions bewteen Ryan and Obama's plans. ObamaCare specifically calls for no reductions in benefits (though, again, if you squeeze providers, benefits will be harder to receive) because it's essentially a defined benefit plan. Ryan calls for a defined contribution plan. And under Ryan's scenario, there's a good bet that the contribution won't be enough to cover health expenses that ObamaCare seeks to guarantee.
Well, maybe Ryan's plan wouldn't have enough money to over expenses that Obama allegedly "guarantees," but we can be sure that if we stick with Obama's plan the money won't be there.
James Capretta, writing in National Review, provides more details:
A fair reading of the facts shows that the Romney-Ryan campaign has every reason to believe that they can put the Obama-Biden ticket on the defensive over Medicare. The most salient fact is that, to pass Obamacare, the president cut Medicare by more than $700 billion over the coming decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). And these cuts are of the worst kind. They are arbitrary and across the board. They reduce reimbursement rates for all who provide services to Medicare patients, regardless of how well or badly they treat their patients. Among the cuts is a $156 billion reduction in payments to Medicare Advantage plans over ten years. These cuts will force seniors to pay $3,700 more for their health care by 2017, according to a study I co-authored with Robert Book (for those who might be interested, the cuts are distributed by congressional district here). The Medicare trustees project that the cuts will drive some 4 million seniors out of Medicare Advantage plans between 2012 and 2018.
Further, the Medicare cuts in Obamacare would slash payment rates for hospitals, so much so that the chief actuary of the program has warned repeatedly that the cuts will jeopardize access to care for seniors. He has estimated that if the cuts go into effect, 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes will have to stop taking Medicare patients to avoid the large financial losses that result from getting paid at Medicare rates. By 2030, some 25 percent of these institutions would need to drop out of the Medicare program.
Moreover, as Charles Blahous has pointed out, the Medicare cuts in Obamacare aren't used exclusively to replenish the trust funds that pay Medicare benefits. Instead, they are used to pay for a massive expansion in entitlement spending. To put it in slightly more political terms, President Obama has raided Medicare for $700 billion to pay for his government takeover of American health care.
In other words, the charge is accurate.
Ryan Schools Obama
Watch the whole thing here, but you can get a taste of it in this Youtube excerpt:
In a post at NRO's The Corner, Avik Roy examines some widely-used Democrat arguments and takes them apart one-by-one:
Defense #1. Paul Ryan's GOP budget preserved Obamacare's Medicare cuts.
- APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: Romney's budget doesn't preserve Obamacare's Medicare cuts. Simple as that.
Defense #2. Obamacare's Medicare cuts don't harm seniors' health benefits.
- APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: Seniors' benefits won't change on paper. But they will change in reality, because fewer and fewer doctors will accept their insurance.
Defense #3. Obamacare cuts wasteful spending from the Medicare Advantage program.
- APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: Medicare Advantage offers seniors higher-quality care at a lower cost than government-run Medicare. Obamacare should have sought to save money by expanding the program, instead of undermining it.
Defense #4. The Romney plan for Medicare is worse, because it would shift costs to seniors.
- APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: President Obama is not being honest about the Romney Medicare reform plan, which was expressly designed to respond to the cost-shifting critique of the 2011 Ryan plan. The Romney plan preserves Medicare's benefits without exposing seniors to rising health-care prices.
See his full article at Forbes for details.
August 1, 2012
Obama's War on Religion Started Today
In case you weren't aware, the god-awful HHS mandate requiring providers to cover contraception andabortifacients went into effect today. K-Lo nails the significance of what is happening in one paragraph (which is why she writes for a real magazine and I'm a hack blogger):
This Day in the History of Religious Liberty
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
August 1, 2012 11:40 A.M.
Today is the day that the implementation of the controversial Health and Human Services contraception, sterilization, abortion-inducing drug mandate goes into effect. (Read George Weigel's piece here and our editorial here.) My inbox is an election-year celebration of contraception from the likes of Planned Parenthood. But the HHS mandate is not about access to contraception, it's about radical ideology and the role of government in our lives. It also violates the consciences of more than Catholics -- this is why Wheaton College, among others including Geneva College and Colorado Christian University, find themselves suing the federal government over the mandate. The president of the United States believes folks who don't want to cover contraception and sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are backward. In their view, they can talk all they want about sexual morality in their churches, but they cannot practice the implications of those beliefs in their lives outside the churches, in businesses, and even in Church-related charities and schools, when it comes to insurance coverage. The HHS mandate exists because Congress gave HHS wild regulatory powers, which they've understood to include redefining religious liberty by regulation.
April 2, 2012
Increasing Dependence on Government
I've been saving this one for when nothing else struck me, I was too busy to work out a proper post, and it had been awhile since my last post. I'm working on a book review of Mark Steyn's After America which I will have up this week, so in the meantime take a look at this dreadfully depressing article:
Cause or Effect?
February 22, 2012
by Richard Fernandez
The Heritage Foundation has a series of graphs which appear to depict two trends: an ever increasing dependency of the American population on government transfer payments and a narrowing income tax base. It writes, "it is the conjunction of these two trends--higher spending on dependence-creating programs, and an ever-shrinking number of taxpayers who pay for these programs--that concerns those interested in the fate of the American form of government."
The 2012 publication of the Index of Dependence on Government marks the tenth year that The Heritage Foundation has flashed warning lights about Americans' growing dependence on government programs. For a decade, the Index has signaled troubling and rapid increases in the growth of dependence-creating federal programs, and every year Heritage has raised concerns about the challenges that rapidly growing dependence poses to this country's republican form of government, its economy, and for the broader civil society. Index measurements begin in 1962; since then, the Index score has grown by more than 15 times its original amount. This means that, keeping inflation neutral in the calculations, more than 15 times the resources were committed to paying for people who depend on government in 2010 than in 1962. In 2010 alone, the Index of Dependence on Government grew by 8.1 percent. The Index variables that grew the most were:
Housing: 13 percent
Health Care and Welfare: 13.1 percent
Retirement: 3.1 percent.
The increase from the previous Index means that the Index has now grown by 60.7 percent just since 2001. One of the most worrying trends in the Index is the coinciding growth in the non-taxpaying public. The percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, and who are not claimed as dependents by someone who does pay them, jumped from 14.8 percent in 1984 to 49.5 percent in 2009. This means that in 1984, 34.8 million tax filers paid no taxes; in 2009, 151.7 million paid nothing.
Tim Wise, who is a regular guest on CNN, says the dependency question is only another way of looking at the history of racism in America. The idea of small government, he argues, is the nothing more than a code word in the "politics of nostalgia"; the a desire to return to the inequities of the past.
Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but the founders actually did foster quite a lot of government dependence: enshrining slavery was about government protecting white people from the competition of free black labor, and white folks becoming quite dependent on that protection. Stealing native land and then redistributing it to white people was about dependence on government-imposed violence. And later, yet still in the supposedly "good old days," government dependence was at the heart of segregation-which artificially subsidized white people in the job, school and housing markets-and was at the heart of the FHA and VA loans that white families used (and from which black families were all but completely blocked) in the 40s and 50s, which literally built the white middle class.
But I'm guessing that when she uses a phrase like "dependence on government" she isn't thinking about the white folks who were given 270 million acres of essentially free land under the Homestead Act. Or the 15 million or so white families who got those racially preferential home loans, with government underwriting and guarantees, thanks to programs implemented by liberals and thanks to pressure from the left. I'm thinking she isn't talking about the white soldiers (but typically not the black ones) who were able to return from World War II and make use of the GI Bill to go to college, or get job training. And the fact that she likely doesn't think of those kinds of things and those kinds of people as being dependent on government is, of course, precisely the problem, and the point I was trying to make. ...
Indeed several of the e-mails made this same argument about opposing "government dependence," all the while oblivious, it appears, to the way in which that concept has become so color-coded in the white imagination over the past several decades. In fact, this is a point I had made on the program: that according to a significant body of social science research (among the most prominent, Martin Gilens's brilliant book, Why Americans Hate Welfare), most whites perceive social program spending aimed at helping the have-nots (be they income have-nots, housing have-nots, or health care-have nots) as being about giving something tothose people, who are, of course, conceived of in black and brown terms, and taking from "hard-working" white folks in order to do it. So if the notion of government dependence itself has been racialized-and the evidence says it has been-to say that it is only this dependence you oppose, and that racism has nothing to do with it is to either lie or engage in self-deception of a most unfortunate and unbecoming variety. ...
In the end, although there are many people, with many different reasons for opposing the President or his health care proposal, the role that race and racism is playing cannot be ignored. With major conservative spokespersons stoking the fires of racial resentment daily, and with most whites having long ago come to the conclusion that social program spending is something done on behalf of racial "minorities" at their own white expense, it is not too much to insist that race is operating, for some quite overtly and for others more subtly.
According to this point of view, "government dependence" is nothing more than an index of the frontline in class struggle. Small government is nothing but the effect of Big Property. Big government on the other hand, just represents sharing the wealth. And there is nothing wrong in that; it simply represents the flow of resources, for so long in the direction from the poor to the rich, back in the direction it should go. At least so goes the argument.
Whichever side of the issue one takes on this matter, the question might be if that line is where it should be. Is the growing role of government as a redistributor of incomes a bug or a feature? Is it good or bad? Underneath the differences in personalities which supposedly underlies each campaign, the question of whether this boundary is what actually divides the country lies at the heart of the 2012 election.
What is the role of government in the social context of America? Is it a promoter of 'freedom' or a champion of 'fairness'?
Crazy, but this is how the left thinks. Because things were done wrong in the past, it's ok to do wrong today. Because the government allegedly encouraged dependence in the past, it's ok to do it today. Nevermind that there are vast differences, not the least of which is that the founders did not encourage sloth and an complete lack of responsibility for one's actions. And today the left encourages everyone to see themselves as helpless victims, and only government can save them. And not to mention the small matter that we're spending ourselves to oblivion, only a slight difference from yesteryear, but more on that later this week.
February 17, 2012
The Truth Behind Obamacare and the HHS "Preventive Care" Mandate
So why in the world would President Obama pick a fight with 70 odd million American Catholics? For that matter, why would he pick a fight at all with anyone over part of his healthcare bill?
Via Powerline, Paul Rahe has the answer: It was part of a planned strategy, and the decision was only taken after consultation with a wide variety of Democrats.
More Than a Touch of Malice
Paul A. Rahe
Feb. 16, 2012
[T]here can be only one reason why Sebelius, Pelosi, and Obama decided to proceed. They wanted to show the bishops and the Catholic laity who is boss. They wanted to make those who think contraception wrong and abortion a species of murder complicit in both. They wanted to rub the noses of their opponents in it. They wanted to marginalize them. Humiliation was, in fact, their only aim, and malice, their motive.
Last week, when, in response to the fierce resistance he had deliberately stirred up, the President offered the bishops what he called "an accommodation," what he proffered was nothing more than a fig leaf. His maneuver was, in fact, a gesture of contempt, and I believe that it was Barack Obama's final offer. From his perspective and from that of Sebelius and Pelosi, the genuine Catholics still within the Democratic coalition are no more than what Vladimir Lenin called "useful idiots," and, now that the progressive project is near completion, they are expendable - for there is no longer any need to curry their favor.
In his piece in The Washington Examiner, Michael Barone mentioned Obama's decree with regard to contraception and abortifacients in tandem with a brief discussion of the President's decision to reject the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He was, I think, right to do so - for there is no good reason that any student of public policy can cite for doing what the President did. Cancelling the pipeline will not delay or stop the extraction of oil from the tar sands in Alberta, and the pipeline itself would pose no environmental threat. If the President's decision had any purpose, it was symbolic - an indication to all that he cared not one whit about the plight of the white working class and that he was capable of punishing those whom he does not like and more than willing to do so.
In 2008, when he first ran for the Presidency, Barack Obama posed as a moderate most of the time. This time, he is openly running as a radical. His aim is to win a mandate for the fundamental transformation of the United States that he promised in passing on the eve of his election four years ago and that he promised again when he called his administration The New Foundation. In the process, he intends to reshape the Democratic coalition - to bring the old hypocrisy to an end, to eliminate those who stand in the way of the final consolidation of the administrative entitlements state, to drive out the faithful Catholics once and for all, to jettison the white working class, and to build a new American regime on a coalition of highly educated upper-middle class whites, feminists, African-Americans, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, and those belonging to the public-sector unions. To Americans outside this coalition, he intends to show no mercy.
Mark my words. If Barack Obama wins in November, he will force the Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, and the bishops, priests, and nuns who fostered the steady growth of the administrative entitlements state, thinking that they were pursuing "the common good," will reap what they have sown.
In the end, politics has as its focus persuasion. Our difficulties are a function of policy, not of mismanagement. If we are to stop Barack Obama in 2012, we will have to find a standard-bearer who can articulate a compelling argument against the administrative entitlements state and, by means of persuasion and praxis, reverse our democracy's inexorable soft despotic drift. Let us hope that one or another of the remaining candidates rises to the occasion.
This is ominous. It's not enough for Obama to force radical legislation through Congress without a single vote from the other party. But no opposition to any of his agenda is permitted. He ran for election as a moderate, and despite the attempts by many of us on the right to show otherwise, most of the media and American people took him at his word. If anyone had any doubt, he has certainly now been revealed for the leftist radical he his.
February 13, 2012
Obama's Fake "Compromise" on Contraception and Abortifacients
It's bad enough that abortion up to birth has to be legal, but the Obama Administration demands that everyone pays for it as well. Their recent ruling on contraception and abortifacients is one of their more abhorrent along these lines. The recently announced compromise is a joke.
During the 2008 election, I showed numerous times in posts that Obama was one of the most extreme politicians in the country with regard to abortion.
He also doesn't care much for the rights of religious organizations, or their sense of ethics and morality. But what do we expect from a man who went to Trinity United for 20 years and listened to Pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Obama's Free Abortion Pills
Revised White House contraception rule changes nothing
The Washington Times
February 10, 2012
Someone should tell President Obama there's no such thing as a free abortion pill. The White House is trying to douse a political wildfire sparked by an Obamacare mandate forcing religiously affiliated institutions to provide a full range of contraception measures for employees - including pills that induce abortions. Catholic and other religious leaders with principled objections cried foul, citing promises that they and their affiliates would be covered by a "conscience waiver" for any provisions of the law that created this kind of moral dilemma. On Friday Mr. Obama proposed a new rule whereby the onus would be on the insurance companies who cover the employees to reach out with cost-free contraceptives.
It was typical of the administration to make the proposed deal a giveaway program. Mr. Obama seems to be saying that if you don't see who is paying for the abortion pills then no one is. "Religious organizations won't have to pay for these services," he said. But of course they will. Insurance companies may be required by law to provide these services at no cost to the recipient, but costs are still involved. Employers will still be directly subsidizing the birth control plan. It was a classic Obama compromise; he gets 100 percent of what he wants and the other side gets a lecture about fairness.
Mr. Obama accused his opponents of politicizing the issue, which is what he usually says when people object to his extravagant use of government power. His proposed new rule is a pure election-year ploy. The White House cannot afford to bend on this issue and risk alienating feminists. Obama campaign planners may even see it as a useful wedge issue to keep women voters in the Democratic column. Even though Mr. Obama announced his decision "as a citizen and as a Christian," the White House is under no illusions that they will win the majority of votes of religiously observant Americans. According to Gallup weekly poll data, Americans who attend church weekly track 7 points below Mr. Obama's average approval rating, while those who seldom or never attend church are 4 points above. In a contest between the believers and the feminists, the Christians are clearly expendable.
The new rule does not address the root of the problem, which is nationalized health care. Mr. Obama's assumed power to dictate what types of coverage insurance companies must provide, and consequently what services employers must pay for, is what created this issue. Obscuring how religiously affiliated employers will have to support things they consider morally objectionable does not address the core principle. Mr. Obama still believes that the government has the power to force its will on religious institutions in the name of liberal dogma.
The fundamental issue is not health care, but freedom. America was founded in part as a haven for the exercise of religious liberty. A one-size-fits-all government mandated health care system necessarily will impinge on the rights of any religious denomination. No cleverly crafted, politically motivated tweaking of the rules will change that. Catholics will still be paying for abortion pills, like it or not.
January 19, 2011
House Republicans Vote to Repeal ObamaCare
The House of Representatives voted today to repeal the massive health care bill the Democrats passed last March. The House passed the bill 245-189 with three Democrats voting along with Republicans. Obviously all Republicans voted for repeal, but what's interesting is that ten of the 13 Democrats who voted against Obamacare when it was passed last March voted against repeal, thus reversing their previous stance. Given the popular sentiment against the health care bill, I can't figure that one.
I've no time to write up an analysis myself, but this editorial pretty much sums up my thoughts:
The Battle Rejoined
January 19, 2011 9:00 P.M.
The House of Representatives voted to repeal Obamacare today by a vote of 245 to 189. That's a most fitting way for the 112th Congress to begin.
The new Republican majority was propelled into office in large part because of the party's steadfast opposition to the new health-care law. Republican candidates promised without exception that they would vote to repeal Obamacare if they won office. Voters responded by electing more Republicans to the U.S. House than at any time since 1946. Republicans had to keep faith with their constituents and do as they said they would.
Some may argue the vote was a meaningless exercise, as the Senate is not likely to go along, and the president would veto the bill anyway in the unlikely event it was presented to him. But that kind of thinking is inconsistent with the way our government and politics work. For starters, it's not inconceivable that a few Democratic senators, particularly those up for reelection in 2012, might welcome the chance to show disapproval of Obamacare, now that they have seen what happened to some of their House and Senate colleagues in the 2010 midterm election. Getting them on the record in that regard would be extremely important as the battle over this legislation unfolds over the coming months and years.
The argument that the repeal effort is meaningless is offered in bad faith. Everyone knew that Pres. George W. Bush would veto funding for embryonic-stem-cell funding, but no one -- not even we -- said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was therefore wasting our time in advocating it. Moreover, in our constitutional system of government, the House and Senate often take positions that are opposed by the other chamber, and presidents quite regularly send proposals to Congress that are thought to be "dead on arrival." That does not make them unimportant. The president and his allies want to create the perception that Obamacare is now a settled matter, and that Republicans should get over it. Passage by the House of full repeal makes it abundantly clear that Obamacare is far from a settled matter. That's a crucial message to send to the public, to employers, to the states, and to participants in the health sector, as they make decisions about what is likely to happen with Obamacare in coming years.
The repeal vote is also an important statement for political accountability. The president and his allies jammed Obamacare through Congress with an arrogance not seen in many years. They had large majorities in the 111th Congress, and they were determined to use it to pass a government-run health plan, come what may. At every crucial step, they chose to go it alone with Democrats rather than compromise in any meaningful way. To get the votes for passage, they bullied opponents, bought votes, and made an end run around the Senate after Scott Brown's victory -- all because they wanted to pass their partisan and government-heavy health-care plan without any compromise whatsoever. (Procedurally, the most outrageous Democratic maneuver was to change election law in Massachusetts so that an appointed senator, Paul Kirk, could put the bill over the top.)
The only remedy for such a brazen power play is to oust those who orchestrated it at the next opportunity, which the voters did in November, and to undo the offending legislation. The House vote is just the first step toward remedying this situation and giving the American people a reform plan built on consensus, not division.
But it is just that, a first step. This will be a long struggle. The proponents of government-run health care are dug in, and will do anything to stop repeal. Republicans must bring an equal amount of determination and persistence to the fight -- because the stakes could not be higher. In terms of spending, deficits, debt, and size of government, health care is the central battlefield. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, no matter what else happens, the country will move steadily toward ever higher levels of spending and taxation, slower growth and less opportunity, and lower-quality health care. That cannot be allowed to happen. And today's vote gives us hope that it won't.
December 13, 2010
Liberal Heads Explode as Virginia Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional
Good news today; Judge Henry E. Hudson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled that the individual mandate part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; what is commonly called ObamaCare, is unconstitutional.
That's worth at least a hip, hip, hooray! in my book.
Responding to the ruling is the man who brought the lawsuit, the Attorney General of Virginia, Republican Ken Cucinelli:
More from the AG at his Stop the Mandate website.
Of course, the Obama Administration will appeal the decision to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, though no matter what they decide it will eventually go to the Supreme Court. Using just this reasoning AG Cuccinelli has even offered to bypass the appeals court and take it straight to the SOCUS.
A few legal details from Daniel Foster at NRO:
The ruling by District Judge Henry Hudson says the law "exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power" by requiring individuals to purchase health care coverage under the "individual mandate." It is the first federal ruling against the law.
"Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market," Hudson wrote. "In doing so, enactment of the [individual mandate] exceeds the Commerce Clause powers vested in Congress under Article I ."
Crucially, however, Hudson refused to issue an injunction preventing the implementation of the law, and ruled that the unconstitutional parts of it could be severed from the whole.
Bty, spare me the "so isn't this the sort of judicial activism you conservatives deplore?" What we don't like is judges pushing their social or economic agendas at us and twisting the Constitution in the process.
But What Do the People Want?
Is AG Cuccinelli and all of the other attorneys general who have filed lawsuits against ObamaCare trying to thwart the will of the people? Will the rascally Republicans take away what he people want?
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 60% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law while 34% are opposed. As has been the case since the law was first passed, those who favor repeal feel more passionately than those who want to keep the law--46% Strongly Favor repeal while just 23% who are Strongly Opposed.
I suppose die-hard liberals will say this is due to "misinformation" spread by Fox News, but given that they've got CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, heaven knows PBS, The New York Times, Washington Post, etc in their corner, not to mention that President Obama has talked his head off about the subject, that's not tenable.
As I said earlier, the case will of course be appealed, and I am not optimistic about the Supreme Court ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional as did Judge Hudson. As such, in the end the whole thing will be decided in Congress; either the Republicans will repeal and replace ObamaCare or they won't.
Jonathan H. Adler, again at NRO (which seems to have the best analysis, at least that I can find quickly) points out that
Today's district court ruling invalidating the individual mandate has tremendous significance. Among other things, it will make it much more difficult for defenders of the law to treat arguments that the mandate is unconstitutional as frivolous or extreme, as a federal court has now concluded otherwise. Given that federal judges are generally reluctant to strike down federal laws (as they should be), this decision could also give other judges considering parallel suits more confidence in their convictions.
They're spinning like tops over at the Daily Kooks, downplaying the ruling as much as possible. But I think that the political winds are blowing in the right direction, and that if things continue as they are the days of Obama Care are numbered.
November 6, 2010
John Boehner Promises to do the Right Thing
Yes I know, promises are one thing, deeds another. And liberals are consoling themselves with the notion that Republicans will not hold true to their promises. Nevertheless, it is good to see Republican House Leader John Boehner (OH-8) say the right things.
Excerpts below the fold
BAIER: First, let's start with the news of the day. The president is signaling he will be willing to make the middle class tax cuts permanent, but perhaps only extend temporarily the tax cuts for top earners for one or two years.
Would you accept a temporary extension on the top tax cuts?
BOEHNER: Bret, in our Pledge to America, we made clear that we believe that all the current tax rates should be extended for all Americans and permanently. And the American people spoke on election night. They elected Republicans in droves. And what we're going to fight for is -- is for all the current rates to be extended. We don't want to increase taxes on any Americans.
BAIER: So there's no compromise here?
BOEHNER: We do not want to raise taxes on any American.
BAIER: Do you see elements -- when you do take control -- that you can compromise with the president on?
BOEHNER: Bret, I am not going to compromise on my principles nor am I going to compromise the will of the American people. To the extent that the president wants to work with us on reducing the size, scope and the intrusion of the federal government, we're willing to work with him.
The American people spoke pretty loudly the other night. They want us to stop the spending. And it's going to be our principal goal.
The second goal is that they want jobs in America. And you can't have jobs in America when -- when you have all this uncertainty coming out of Washington. And when you extend tax rates for a year, you leave all the uncertainty hanging out there. People are going to invest. Like me, when I ran my small business, they want some certainty about what the future is going to look like so they can calculate a return on investments. You can't do that by these temporary extensions and other gimmicks.
BAIER: But the guys in line to be chairmen (of the House Appropriations Committee), they're big fans of earmarks.
BOEHNER: There's going to be an earmark moratorium, it's pretty clear.
BAIER: Why not an outright ban?
BOEHNER: Only because some things that people call earmarks here wouldn't -- wouldn't classify as an earmark to the American people. I've made it pretty clear, this process is going to stop. As you're well aware, I've been here 20 years. I've never asked for an earmark. And I'm never going to ask for one. I told my constituents in 1990 when they elected me that if they thought my job was to come to Washington and rob the public treasury on their behalf, they were voting for the wrong guy.
BAIER: Health care -- the president says he's willing to tweak the health care law. You say you're committed to repealing it. There's a big distance between tweaking and repealing.
BOEHNER: Oh, that's a very big difference.
BAIER: You're still committed to repealing it?
BOEHNER: This health care bill will ruin the best health care system in the world and it will bankrupt our country.....We are going to repeal Obama Care and replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the costs of health insurance.
Boehner knows that conservative activists will be watching him closely and will hold his feet to the fire if he wavers. This marks a big difference from 1994, 2000, or 2002 for that matter.
The hard part will be the tactics. Boehner and his colleagues cannot have anything like the government shutdown of 1995 that Gingrich and company precipitated. This backfired terribly on Republicans and we paid the price. The good news is that I think Boehner and Cantor have better political instincts and are less arrogant than Gingrich and Armey.
But in any event we are off to a good start and we will try and stall and overturn as much of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda as possible.
April 10, 2010
But Is It Constitutional?
All three are disturbing, but the first is the worst.
Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL):
Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI):
Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
One, not a single one of these congressmen has the foggiest notion of what is actually in the Constitution.
Two, none of them care.
Congressman Phil Hare blatantly says "I Don't Worry About the Constitution'
Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) thinks "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is in the Constitution when it is in the Declaration of Independence
Congressman Frank LoBiondo confuses Article 1 Section 1 with the First Amendment
This is disgraceful. The current attitude is "if we can pass a bill it must be constitutional."
Does The Constitution Matter?
Does the Constitution matter as anything more than a schedule for holding elections? We're all concerned with the Bill of Rights, especially the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, and we talk about them all of the time.
But what about the "welfare clause", which states that
Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Or the "interstate commerce" clause
Article I, Section 8, Clause 3. To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
Or, finally, the "necessary and proper" clause
Article I, Section 8, Clause 18. The Congress shall have Power ...To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
For that matter, what about the 9th and 10th Amendments
Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The truth is that to most of our politicians, both Republican and Democrat, none of this matters a whit. They trot out the Eighth Amendment when they want to ban the death penalty, or the Second when they want to defend our gun rights. The First, Fourth, and Fifth get a lot of attention too. Otherwise, a dispassionate observer can be excused for thinking that our government document provides little more than a schedule for holding elections.
This said, it is true that liberals, progressives, Democrats, whatever term you want to use, are the most blatant in their distain for using the Constitution as any sort of guide as to what laws Congress can or cannot pass. It is they who have twisted the interstate commerce clause out of all recognition, and why buy into a theory of a "living constitution" that essentially says "we're going to make it up as we go along."
If liberals want to bring up the Patriot Act or some such, fine, I'll trade you a Patriot Act for your health care legislation. I'll make those trades all day.
Progressives tried and failed to get FDR's Second Bill of Rights incorporated into the Constitution, they just decided to achieve the same set of objectives through legislative fiat and hope that they could get enough sympathetic justices on the bench who would approve. We've seen the results in everything from Roe v Wade to our current health care legislation.
Which brings us to Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Delegate Bob Marshall
Defenders of the Constitution
Many attorney generals around the U.S. (15 by last count) have filed suit against certain provisions in the Democrat health care bill. Since I live in Virginia, I'm going to concentrate there.
Former state senator Ken Cuccinelli was elected Attorney General last November, and wasted no time in setting forth a Constitutionalist agenda. He explained his lawsuit against Obama Care in an article in National Review yesterday:
There are very good reasons that the federal government has never, in the last 221 years, used the Commerce Clause of the Constitution as a vehicle for requiring citizens to purchase goods or services from other citizens.
The first is textual. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution provides that "the Congress shall have Power . . . To regulate Commerce with Foreign Nations, and among the several States." Although there have been disputes about just how far this should reach into commerce that is entirely intrastate, until now, it has been recognized that this constitutional provision deals with regulation of commerce -- that is, with the use of law to impose reason and order on the voluntary commercial actions of citizens, as well as on activities that substantially affect commerce. An individual mandate to purchase health insurance is not regulation in that sense.
Another good reason this has not been done before is that it turns the Commerce Clause into an alternative, off-books funding mechanism. According to the "findings" section of the law itself, the mandate achieves economies of scale, but in reality, it achieves income redistribution. The law caps the amount that insurance companies can charge based on age, and forbids them to exclude those with pre-existing conditions. As such, the young and healthy people the law forces to buy insurance are overcharged for the purpose of subsidizing the old and those with pre-existing conditions.
Fortunately, Virginia's governor and legislature acted decisively -- and in a bipartisan fashion -- to adopt Virginia's new anti-mandate law, the Health Care Freedom Act. The law states that in Virginia, citizens cannot be compelled to purchase health insurance against their will. It is in direct conflict with the federal health-care bill, and we have filed a lawsuit to defend it.
AG Cuccinelli discusses his lawsuit and how if Virginia loses it will mean the end of federalism in the United States
Also see this Q & A about the lawsuit on the website of the Attorney General.
Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R-VA-13) is the one who wrote and introduced the legislation AG Cuccinelli referred to above: HB10, Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act, which bans a mandatory federal health insurance mandate. The act was passed by the legislature with large bipartisan supportand signed into law by Governor McDonnell on March 24.
If you actually watch the video you'll learn that HB10 is not about '"nullification," so let's not have any silly comments comparing Bob Marshall to John C Calhoun or some such.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 38.2-3430.1:1 as follows:
§ 38.2-3430.1:1. Health insurance coverage not required.
No resident of this Commonwealth, regardless of whether he has or is eligible for health insurance coverage under any policy or program provided by or through his employer, or a plan sponsored by the Commonwealth or the federal government, shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage. No provision of this title shall render a resident of this Commonwealth liable for any penalty, assessment, fee, or fine as a result of his failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage. This section shall not apply to individuals voluntarily applying for coverage under a state-administered program pursuant to Title XIX or Title XXI of the Social Security Act.
The bottom line is that it's not the government's job to provide you with health insurance. And it sure can't force you to buy a policy. Get over it.
We're not going to repeal all of the horrendous Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Care bill through lawsuits alone. In the end we've got to elect true conservatives to both the Congress and White House. But perhaps we can get rid of some of it's more onerous regulations through lawsuits, and at the very least we can get this country talking about the Constitution once again. It is more than a schedule for holding elections, it does limit the power of the federal government, and there is a growing consensus on these matters.
March 31, 2010
Obama Care is about the Redistribution of Wealth
Over the weekend we got some honesty from former Vermont Governor and DNC chairman Howard Dean and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) both admitted that much of ObamaCare was about good old fashioned
socialist redistribution of wealth.
No one who paid attention during the campaign can say this is a surprise. We all recall then-Senator Obama's infamous encounter with Joe the Plumber:
"Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed "more and more for fulfilling the American dream."
"It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success too," Obama responded. "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
via Gateway Pundit, first up is Howard Dean:
Next we have Senator Baucus, also via Gateway Pundit:
"This is also an income shift, it's a shift, a leveling, to help lower middle income Americans. Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America, because health care is now a right for all Americans, and because health care is now affordable for all Americans."
And on what basis is health care now a right? Because you say so? Because we passed a law? I thought we were supposed to justify these things by natural law, natural rights, or at least a reference to, you know, the Constitution. For that matter, where exactly in the Constitution does it specify that it is the role of government to level incomes?
More, if enough Democrats say this sort of thing often enough, can we just admit that this is what Obama and most leading Democrats are about?
The New York Times gets it
In Health Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality
By David Leonhardt
March 23, 2010
For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government's biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.
Everybody's Old Favorite
Barack Obama in a 2001 interview with Chicago Public Radio station WBEZ:
If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I'd be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the Federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn't shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.
Liberals object loudly whenever we on the right call Obama a socialist, and from a tactical standpoint we may want to avoid using that term.
March 28, 2010
Thou Shalt Not Oppose ObamaCare!
Being busy, I'm a bit late on this, but since I saved the links it's better late than never.
Taking McCarthyism to a new level, Democrat Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) says that people who oppose ObamaCare are racists who are aiding and abetting terrorism.
Ah yes, win a vote, the other side objects, and you accuse them of bring on violence. Over the past week we've seen all sorts of insane charges from the Democrats about how they've supposedly received all these threats, about how black Democrats have been called the n word, yada yada yada.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is warning that some of his Democratic colleagues are being threatened with violence when they go back to their districts -- and he wants Republicans to stand up and condemn the threats.
The Maryland Democrat said more than 10 House Democrats have reported incidents of threats or other forms of harassment about their support of the highly divisive health insurance overhaul vote. Hoyer emphasized that he didn't have a specific number of threats and that was just an estimate.
TheFederal Bureau of Investigation, Capitol Police and sergeant at arms briefed Democrats behind closed doors today about the incidents of violence -- the most high profile of which have been toward Democratic Reps. Thomas Perriello of Virginia, Steve Driehaus of Ohio and Louise Slaughter of New York.
Hoyer hinted that Republicans should do more to condemn these threats of violence.
Politicians, journalists, high-profile bloggers, radio-talk show hosts and the like get death threats every day. Some are serious, some not so much. All perpetrators should be prosecuted.
But it's pretty obvious that the Democrats are using this to change the subject. Their bill is unpopular and they know it. And this from t he party that never condemned the assassination chic rampant on the left when George W Bush was the target?
Eric Cantor Calls out the Democrats - by Name
Republican Whip Eric Cantor (VA) nails it when he condemned the Democrats for their tactics, saying that "It is reckless to use these incidents as a media vehicle for political gains." What I like is that he denounces Democrats by name, not content is he to just issue the standard blanket statement.
As for the bullet allegedly fired into one of his offices, neither he nor I are hanging our hates on any tit-for-tat argument, so commenters are advised not to try and waste keystrokes on that one, because I'm not falling for it.
Victor Davis Hanson reviews the hypocrisy of how a book and docudrama fantasizing about about assassinating George W Bush are excused but when the Democrats are (allegedly) on the receiving end it's suddenly all serious, and laments that
Like it or not, between 2001 and 2008, the "progressive" community redefined what is acceptable and not acceptable in political and public discourse about their elected officials. Slurs like "Nazi" and "fascist" and "I hate" were no longer the old street-theater derangement of the 1960s, but were elevated to high-society novels, films, political journalism, and vein-bulging outbursts of our elites. If one were to take the word "Bush" and replace it with "Obama" in the work of a Nicholson Baker, or director Gabriel Range, or Garrison Keillor or Jonathan Chait, or in the rhetoric of a Gore or Moore, we would be presently in a national crisis, witnessing summits on the epidemic of "hate speech."
Yup. After eight years of "Bush Lied, People Died!" a zillion references to Bush as the new Hitler by leftist bloggers ("bushitler," chimpy McHitler"), feting Michael Moore and a whole lot else, it's awfully rich for the left to start demanding civility now that their guy is in office.
John Hinderacker wonders "what was that line about the tree of liberty and the blood of tyrants?" and says that the media and Dem focus is on alleged threats against anyone who voted for ObamaCare. These are disgusting scare tactics and McCarthyism pure and simple. And this from the "Bush Lied, People Died!" crowd.
The current threats (assuming they are real, as I assume some of them are) are being played up in the press because the Democrats want to dampen the anger that has erupted over their adoption of a government medicine program through a series of legislative maneuvers that are in some respects unprecedented. It is important for the Democrats and their press minions to understand that there are many millions of Americans who regard Obamacare not just as misguided public policy, but as an illegitimate usurpation of power. I am one of the many millions who are outraged at the Left's attempt to destroy the private health care system that has served my family so well, and who regard Obamacare as illegitimate. ...
In large part, the current focus on threats of violence is aimed at the tea partiers, just as they were accused, apparently falsely, of racism. It is not hard to understand the Democrats' motives; the tea parties are the most vital force, and likely the most popular force, in American politics, so smearing them is mandatory. But anyone who has attended a tea party rally will consider laughable the idea that the movement somehow tends toward violence.
I've been to lots of protests in and around Washington DC; many to counterprotest and observe leftist anti-war groups such as ANSWER, Code Pink, and United for Peace and Justice. I've also been to conservative rallies such as the Gathering of Eagles, the March for Life, and a Tea Party. There are kooks on each side, but the conservative ones are definitely family-friendly where as the leftist ones are just about X rated for profanity, vulgarity, and sexual innuendos. Check out "Rallies and Protests" under "Categories" at right.
Bottom line I don't take the Democrat claims seriously as anything more than an attempt to divert attention from the issue at hand; the massive unpopularity of their health care legislation. Let them rant all they want, we'll defeat them at the polls this November and in 2012.
March 24, 2010
Barack Obama: The Most Divisive President Ever
How many times over the past twenty years or so have you heard liberals call conservatives "divisive?" Hundreds? Thousands? That and the charges of "racism" and "sexism" were their all-purpose responses to subjects they did not want to talk about. Democrats, we are told, are uniters who just want us to all get along, while it's those dastardly Republicans who are always so "divisive."
Carrying forth this theme during the campaign, Obama said he could unite the country better than Hillary:
Sen. Barack Obama said in an interview that he has the capacity she may lack to unify the country and move it out of what he called "ideological gridlock."
"I think it is fair to say that I believe I can bring the country together more effectively than she can," Obama said. "I will add, by the way, that is not entirely a problem of her making. Some of those battles in the '90s that she went through were the result of some pretty unfair attacks on the Clintons. But that history exists, and so, yes, I believe I can bring the country together in a way she cannot do. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be running."
Has Obama united us? One way to tell is whether his legislation has received bipartisan support. Let's take a look at the legislative record.
All vote tallies are: Yes, No, Absent/Abstain
House - June 26, 2009, 219 - 212: Democrats 211-44 -1 GOP 8-168-2
Senate - There has been no Senate action on this bill
House - April 2, 2009, 223 - 196: Democrats 233-20-1 GOP 0-176-2
Senate - April 2, 2009, 55 - 43: Democrats 53-3-1 GOP 0-40-0
House - March 21, 2010, 220 - 211: Democrats 220-33-0 GOP 0-178-0
Senate - Because this is being done as a "reconciliation" bill it has not yet been voted on in the Senate, but given that all it takes is a simple majority it's passage is a fait accompli. More importantly, I think we're all aware that Zero Republicans would vote for the measure, where as Obama has to bribe Democrats into voting for it
Landmark Legislation in History
Let's go through some of the landmark history of the past century and examine the breakdown in voting between the two parties (for the sake of clarity, and because it doesn't really matter for our purposes, I have not included the votes from third parties in this legislation)
House - August 8, 1935, 365 - 30: Democrats 284-15-20, GOP 81-15-4
Senate - August 9, 1935, 76 - 6: Democrats 60-1-8 GOP 16-5-4
House - April 8, 1965, 313 - 116: Democrats 237-48-8 GOP 70-68-2
Senate - July 27, 1965: 70 - 24: Democrats 57-7-4 GOP 13-17-2
House - August 3, 1965, 328-74: Democrats: 217-54 GOP Republicans: 111-20
Senate - August 4, 1965, 49 - 18: Democrats: 49-17 GOP 30-1
House - July 30, 1981, 323 - 107: (I cannot find the breakdown, but the party breakdown in the House for the 97th Congress were: Democrats 244, Republicans 191, so clearly many Democrats voted yes)
Senate - July 1981, 89 - 11: Democrats 37-9 GOP 52-1
While this is hardly an exhaustive list of legislation, I believe it to be a fair sampling of landmark legislation passed over the past 75 years. Before President Obama, in every single case the legislation was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Obama's legislation, however, is opposed almost unanimously by the Republicans. Worse, he can't even get all of his Democrats to go along with him without virtual bribes that stink to high heaven and legislative tricks that are foreign to most people.
Obama is worse than partisan; opposition to his bills is bipartisan, while support is strictly partisan. Obama even divides his own party.
This makes Barack Obama the most divisive president in modern history. This from the party that for the past few decades lectured the rest of us on the perils of "divisiveness." And this from the followers of Obama who told us how "divisive" George W Bush was and how Obama would unite us all. Liberals, I hope you're happy!
March 22, 2010
Our New Campaign Slogan: Repeal It!
Prior to the insane health care bill just passed by the Democrats, our campaign platform for the next few years was going to be returning our country to fiscal sanity. With the passage of Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Care, it's now
Don't get me wrong; it's going to be awfully hard to repeal the entire health care bill passed yesterday, but we're certainly going to try. I'll be happy if we can get rid of it's most onerous sections, but I'm going for the whole enchilada. And yes I know that history is against me, but by the same token this situation is unique. Landmark legislation like the 1935 Social Security Act, the 1965 Civil Rights Act, or the Medicare bill of the same year were passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
This healthcare bill, however, is unique in that not a single Republican voted for it, and 34 Democrats opposed the measure. As I pointed out the other day, between this and his other major pieces of legislation, all of which almost unanimously opposed by Republicans, makes Obama the most divisive president in modern American history.
First, why should it be repealed?
I'll let the editors of the Wall Street Journal answer that. A few excerpts, but read the whole thing:
We think all of this except the subsidies will turn out to be illusory, as most of the American public seems intuitively to understand. As recently as Friday, Caterpillar Inc. announced that ObamaCare will increase its health-care costs by $100 million in the first year alone, due to a stray provision about the tax treatment of retiree benefits. This will not be the only such unhappy surprise.
While the subsidies don't start until 2014, many of the new taxes and insurance mandates will take effect within six months. The first result will be turmoil in the insurance industry, as small insurers in particular find it impossible to make money under the new rules. A wave of consolidation is likely, and so are higher premiums as insurers absorb the cost of new benefits and the mandate to take all comers.
It gets worse from there, but you get the point
Rich Lowry over at National Review gives us 5 reasons not to despair and why this thing can be overturned. I'll list them and summarize his points in my own words
Public opinion - on our side. The Democrats barely got this thing through, and had to resort to legislative tricks and bribes to do so, and threatened to do more. This leaves a huge distaste in the mouths of the public, who don't like the substance of the bill in the first place.
Structured so can it be overturned - most benefits programs are set up so that the benefits come first and the taxes later, the better to hook the public. This one is just the opposite; the taxes and chaos (in the insurance industry) come first and the benefits later. If much of the public hate it now, they'll really hate it in a year or two.
A moment of clarity - Democrats usually campaign as moderates and act like they're moderates once in power, but now the mask is off. Obama-Pelosi-Reid and other nuts like Barney Frank are out and out leftists and make no bones about it.
The truth will out - Obama has misrepresented his bill, and this will become clear in the next few years. As such, public opposition will only increase.
The GOP has been better than expected - much to our great surprise the Republicans have stuck together in opposition to Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Care. They were almost unanimous in opposing the stimulus and cap and trade. Their leadership has been much better than was expected. This gives reason for hope.
The bottom line is that the Democrats have no mandate to do what they did, and public opinion polls as well as the partisan nature of the vote bears this out.
More, the conservative base is already fired up, and passage of this bill will light another fire under it. Whatever you think about the Tea Party activists, they're not equivalents to the leftist anti-war groups of 2003-7. I know, because during that time I looked into and went to many anti-war protests in and around Washington DC (as a counterprotester, I hasten to add)(see here, here, and here for my extensive blogging) and I've been to a Tea Party and know some of the organizers local to my area. Not the same.
Obama has also ruined his approval ratings over this thing. He could have addressed the issue(s) on everyone's mind; jobs and the economy, as did Bob McDonnell in his successful bid for the Virginia governor's mansion. But he went after healthcare, which a January 2010 Pew poll showed was 8th on the list of voter concerns, below even "deficit reduction," an issue that works against the Democrats.
The bill will end up costing far more than anyone thinks it will. The latest CBO projections were a joke and everyone knows it (here and here if you need links). Who are we kidding; all government programs, military or civilian, cost more than first projected.
Yes yes, we can't just oppose what the Democrats have done. We must offer solutions of our own. But this said, I and I think the majority of Americans will conclude that even the status quo that we're all supposed to think is so terrible is better than Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Care.
Of course, Republicans and conservatives have been offering healthcare solutions, it's just that given the large Democrat majorities few have been listening. Here, though, are a few of them for anyone who cares to follow the links:
Google is your friend, there are a ton more. Agree or disagree with them as you will, but it's intellectually dishonest to say that Republicans and conservatives (not always the same thing) just want to keep the status quo and have no reform plans of our own.
March 21, 2010
Over the Hump and Over the Cliff
It looks like the Democrats will get the required 216 votes to push Obama-Pelosi-Reidcare through. Rep Bart Stupak (D-MI), leader of the pro-life Democrat holdouts, caved earlier today. President Obama convinced him that an executive order will prevent federal money from funding abortion.
And if you believe that I've got a bridge you can buy.
Consider this; both pro-choice and pro-life Democrats are going to vote for this thing, both sides believing it supports their cause. The National Right to Life Committee thinks that the executive order is worthless, as do the Catholic bishops. Although pro-choice groups slammed the executive order, if they really thought it would prevent federal money from going to abortions they'd withdraw their support. As of this writing, they haven't. Therefore, one side has to be wrong.
And the wrong side are the pro-life Democrats. What they don't seem to realize is that an executive order cannot override actual legislation, is only enforceable in the executive branch (assuming no overriding legislation), and will most assuredly be ruled irrelevant by the courts, who will say that the pro-abortion language in the actual bill trumps. The executive order is not binding, and anyway can be overturned with the stroke a a pen. Stupak is pretty dumb if he thinks he's gotten a concession with having.
At least the Democrats abandoned "deem and pass," though that's a small concession.
In the end, though, troubling though the issue of abortion is, that's not the main problem with the bill, which is that it pushes us in the direction of a European-style socialist system. You know, the ones with the permanently moribund economies and where the citizens have been reduced to zombies under the care of all-knowing-all-providing bureaucratic monster governments.
As is so often the case, Mark Steyn is not lost in the trees but sees the entire forest
If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada and elsewhere.
More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the US is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.
Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side...
I actually think many American liberals might agree with Steyn, but think these results a good thing. Many or most of them think America is an arrogant nation who uses it's military too often and too unilaterally. They want us to be just another nation, and not a particularly powerful one at that. We shouldn't do anything without a Security Council resolution, and only if our "allies" participate too. Our sovereignty should be diluted with as many treaties (think Kyoto, Convention on the Rights of the Child, more) as possible. And of course the government should guarantee your health insurance coverage.
But as Steyn has also pointed out, it was one thing for the British to lose their empire, because we were able to step up and fill the gap. Whether anyone likes it or not, the reason why the world has held together as best it has since World War II is United States military and thus diplomatic power. And the only reason why Italy can be Italy, a nice country with a small military, is that the United States is the United States. Take away the United States Sixth Fleet and the Mediterranean suddenly becomes a much more dangerous place.
The Democrats are over the hump and the country is headed over the cliff. Hold on while we Republicans try these next few years to grab a hold on the way down and climb our way back up.
Monday morning update
We're on the road to ruin. The bill passed the House last night by a vote of 220 - 212. Every single Republican voted against it, as they have Obama's other major initiatives, making him the most divisive president in modern history.
Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI) says it all
In the wake of the vote,the editors of National Review remind us that all is not lost:
It is quite possible that the majority of America that rejects this legislation will get its way in the next few years -- if it is given the right leadership. And it is worth the effort to try.
It is possible, for example, that the results of the legislation will turn out to be unpleasant more quickly than most observers realize. The bill requires insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions the same as everyone else, and the only reason for people not to game the system -- dropping their insurance until they get sick and the insurer has to take them -- is because the law requires them to buy insurance or pay a fine. For many people, the fine will be a cheap price to avoid premiums that could run around $8,000 a year for a family of four. The effect of the legislation could be to cause the number of healthy people with insurance to fall dramatically -- and for premiums to rise, which would cause more people to drop their insurance. If this happens, we can expect liberals to agitate for a single-payer system; but we can also expect the public to blame the Democrats whose health-care system it will now be. A less lopsidedly Democratic Congress is not going to respond to this chaos by enacting single payer or strengthening the fines.
For that matter, the lengthy legislation could turn out to have little time bombs, the nature of which cannot currently be guessed. Nothing about the process that produced the legislation, after all, suggests that it was put together with careful consideration. Conservatives will be able to capitalize on the discrediting of Obamacare, however it takes place, only if they campaign this fall on a pledge to replace this government-heavy system with true reform. Republicans running against Democrats who voted for this legislation will have the easiest task. But even Republicans running against Democrats who voted against it can advance the cause by challenging those Democrats either to advocate repeal and replacement themselves or to expose themselves as false opponents of Obamacare.
The next few years are going to be interesting, and we on the right have our work cut out for us. I'll certainly be on the front lines trying to get the right people elected.
March 20, 2010
Obama: The Great Divider
B. Daniel Blatt at GayPatriot has such a brilliant insight I'll steal both the title of his post and the theme (while giving credit, of course!).
For years the left complained that George W. Bush was "the great divider, not uniter." The charge did have a certain amount of merit, in that for a time the war in Iraq bitterly divided the nation. Never mind, of course, that most Democrats voted for the war. But it is true that for various reasons, most of them dishonest, I think, they turned against it.
But Obama has divided America like no president for the past century. His proposals, from the "stimulus" to this insane health care bill have been met with almost unanimous opposition from Republicans. He has made no meaningful attempt to reach out to the right and incorporate any of our ideas.
Instead, Obama has shown himself the most vain, arrogant, narcissistic president since.... I don't know, Teddy Roosevelt? No, Obama even beats him. With large congressional majorities he proclaimed "we won" and that was that.
This is not how public policy should be enacted.
As much as I'd like all pieces of legislation to toe the conservative line one hundred percent, I know that's not possible (this is also what separates me from the purists on the right). As a practical matter, all legislation will take some bipartisanship to enact, which is why the Democrats are having such trouble. And as a policy standpoint, you want at least some buy-in from at least some people on the other side of the isle.
Consider that all of the major pieces of legislation over the past 100 years; Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, were passed with mostly bipartisan majorities. Not this one. This shows an astounding ignorance or contempt of history by this president and his minions in congress, and they will pay a steep price at the polls this November if they enact it.
In a much quoted column in the Wall Street Journal, , Peggy Noonan nails it
And so it ends, with a health-care vote expected this weekend. I wonder at what point the administration will realize it wasn't worth it--worth the discord, worth the diminution in popularity and prestige, worth the deepening of the great divide. What has been lost is so vivid, what has been gained so amorphous, blurry and likely illusory. Memo to future presidents: Never stake your entire survival on the painful passing of a bad bill. Never take the country down the road to Demon Pass.
("demon pass" being a reference to how "deem and pass" sounds).
Whether this bill passes or not, Obama will have divided this nation like nothing I've ever seen. We've had temporary divides, like the impeachment of President Clinton, but that was a special situation. With Obama its over policy, and a lot of them. And it just seems to get worse and worse as time goes by. Whatever will he do if the Republicans make strong gains in November, perhaps even taking back one or both houses of congress?
Note on Peggy Noonan because this is bound to come up
Yes yes, fellow conservatives, I know that Noonan was once a sort-of supporter of Obama. But isn't that just the point?
If the normally clear-thinking Peggy Noonan was fooled but now smells the coffee, imagine how many others are also having second thoughts? A poll I saw after the last election showed that 20 percent of self-identified conservatives voted for Obama. We've certainly got them back. Many in the middle voted for him. We can get them back. All on the left voted for him, but are now disappointed. They may not vote for anyone in 2012 and will certainly not campaign as hard and contribute as much money. All of this presents us with an opportunity. Rather than beat up on people like Noonan, let's forgive them and move on.
March 16, 2010
If The Democrats Lose, They Still Win
The line is that if the Democrats pass their healthcare bill they're doomed in the next election because it's so unpopular. That is correct as far as it goes; I do think the Democrats will lose many seats in Congress this year. I also think it may cost Obama a second term.
So by this way of thinking it is foolish for the Democrats to forge ahead. Much better, it goes, for them to abandon their efforts and start over, crafting something that is truly bipartisan.
But I think the true progressives within the Democrat party are thinking much farther ahead than the next few elections. They see a golden opportunity to permanently change the United States in a way that will work to their advantage. What the progressives aim to do is to fundamentally change the relationship of the American citizen to his or her government. They want to reduce us to dependence in a way never before done. And once they have done that they control the politics, because dependency breeds Democrat voters.
The American people may hate the changes in the short term, and they may even dislike them in the long term, but due to the nature of our government it will never be overturned.
If Republicans and conservatives think they can overturn whatever the Democrats pass they are kidding themselves. Reagan was never able to carry though on his promise to fold the Department of Education back into Health and Human Services (before Carter split off Education it had been the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare). Newt Gingrich and his Congressional majority were never able to end funding for PBS and the arts. If neither of them could achieve these relatively minor things, what makes any of us think that we can overturn Obamacare?
Mark Steyn agrees:
Why is (Obama) doing this? Why let "health" "care" "reform" stagger on like the rotting husk in a low-grade creature feature who refuses to stay dead no matter how many stakes you pound through his chest?
Because it's worth it. Big time. I've been saying in this space for two years that the governmentalization of health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. It redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in fundamental ways that make limited government all but impossible. In most of the rest of the Western world, there are still nominally "conservative" parties, and they even win elections occasionally, but not to any great effect (let's not forget that Jacques Chirac was, in French terms, a "conservative"). The result is a kind of two-party one-party state: Right-of-center parties will once in a while be in office, but never in power, merely presiding over vast left-wing bureaucracies that cruise on regardless. ...
Once the state swells to a certain size, the people available to fill the ever expanding number of government jobs will be statists -- sometimes hard-core Marxist statists, sometimes social-engineering multiculti statists, sometimes fluffily "compassionate" statists, but always statists.
A bigtime GOP consultant was on TV crowing that Republicans wanted the Dems to pass Obamacare because it's so unpopular it will guarantee a GOP sweep in November. Okay, then what? You'll roll it back -- like you've rolled back all those other unsustainable entitlements premised on cobwebbed actuarial tables from 80 years ago? Like you've undone the federal Department of Education and of Energy and all the other nickel 'n' dime novelties of even a universally reviled one-term loser like Jimmy Carter? Andrew McCarthy concluded a shrewd analysis of the political realities thus: "Health care is a loser for the Left only if the Right has the steel to undo it. The Left is banking on an absence of steel. Why is that a bad bet?"
It's not. It's a very good bet, and one I'd take. Steyn explains why:
Look at it from the Dems' point of view. You pass Obamacare. You lose the 2010 election, which gives the GOP co-ownership of an awkward couple of years. And you come back in 2012 to find your health-care apparatus is still in place, a fetid behemoth of toxic pustules oozing all over the basement, and, simply through the natural processes of government, already bigger and more expensive and more bureaucratic than it was when you passed it two years earlier. That's a huge prize, and well worth a mid-term timeout.
Even if we push the Democrat return back from 2012 to 2014 or later, it makes no difference. The healthcare apparatus is still in place, and there is more dependency than ever. Democrats simply promise free ice cream for everyone, and the votes line up. Even if they lose, they still win.
March 2, 2010
Obama and the Arrogance of the Liberal Elites
I'm busy this week with projects, and so have no time to post much original writing. This piece though sums up much that is wrong with the progressive movement
An FDR lesson Obama missed
by Wesley Pruden
The Washington Times
Barack Obama is trying to be the new FDR before the concrete settles around his image as the new Jimmy Carter. History will ultimately decide, but last week's celebrated health care summit made him look more like Mr. Jimmy than FDR.
The president was full of self-righteous talk, mostly about himself, and he twice felt it necessary to remind everyone that he's the president, recalling Richard Nixon's bizarre reassurance that he was not a crook. Some things are self-evident, and if they're not, such things are usually not true. We can stipulate that, like it or not, he's the president.
The Democrats relished the opportunity to portray the Republicans as the wrinkled party of "no," a crabby relic of the 20th century, devoid of anything that anybody could want, and Barack Obama's low-church eloquence would melt skepticism like butter on warm toast. But it didn't happen. Setting out the idea of a plain and simple alternative to Obamacare -- smaller measures to reform, taken step by step -- the Republicans sounded like the party of common sense, purveyors of the kind of kitchen-table solution that would work a lot better than an elaborate welfare-state scheme.
The health care summit was not the demolition derby the Democrats expected, instead it's a pothole the president and his party will have difficulty climbing out of. The first public-opinion polls this week will measure who won and who lost. But the prospect of a lot of changed minds in the wake of the talkfest is a small prospect.
The president was in his favorite role, the long-winded professor trying hard to be patient with half-bright students who hadn't done their homework. Like most liberals, he suffers from a severe occupational hazard. Anyone who disagrees with him must be dumb, unlettered and redneck crazy. If Lamar Alexander, John McCain and Eric Cantor had only gone to the right Ivy League university they could understand the prescription for what's good for them. It's a fatal mindset that afflicts the cult. Jonathan Chait of New Republic put it plainly in a revealing blog post: "President Obama is so much smarter and a better communicator than members of Congress in either party. The contrast, side by side, is almost ridiculous."
The contrast was so stark that he could only liken the professor's summit seminar to basketball, our least cerebral sport, where oversized men in gaudy underwear run up and down a court to stuff a ball down a hole. The president is "treating [Republicans] really nice, letting his teammates take shots and allowing the other team to try to score. 'Nice try, Timmy, you almost got it in.' But after a couple minutes I want him to just grab the ball and dunk on these clowns already."
No one would have confused FDR -- or Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan -- with somebody shooting hoops on a schoolyard. Nor would anyone have confused one of those presidents with a professor showing off his mastery of detail and trivia by presiding over a congressional seminar. Mr. Obama should remind himself that he's the president, not a professor.
The president who would be FDR has squandered much of his authority and mystique in pursuit of something the people clearly don't want. The more he pursues it the more the people don't want it. He has yet to understand any of the parts of "no." He is learning too late, if he is learning at all, that too much of a good thing is too much. The powerful hold a president can have on the public is weakened by too much visibility. "The public psychology," FDR once wrote to a friend, "cannot be attuned for long periods of time to a constant repetition of the highest note on the scale."
Mr. Obama's profligate use of the highest note on the scale follows the example of his immediate predecessors, and it may be that the presidential mystique, with its power to accomplish a president's aims, was gravely wounded by the invention of the jet airplane. Air Force One is not only an impressive presidential icon, it makes every congressional district convenient to visit, and presidents are tempted to use it ever more frequently. In his 15 years in the White House, FDR, who preferred trains and was the first president to fly, never got around to visiting all the states.
A visit by a president meant something. Now it's often a hindrance and a distraction. Last week, Mr. Obama should have stood in bed. That may be the ultimate lesson from his great health care summit.
February 21, 2010
"Reconciliation" and the Fraud that is ObamaCare
The Obama administration's apparent intention to use the "budget reconciliation" process to try to advance its proposed health-care overhaul has shined the spotlight on why it, and the federal government as a whole, should not control what will soon be one-fifth of our economy. Simply put, the president has repeatedly emphasized three problems that must be addressed, while pursuing a course of action that would exacerbate all three.
Lack of bipartisanship: As President Obama said last month in his State of the Union address, the government can't pass needed reforms "if we don't also reform how we work with one another." His "health-care summit" is supposedly an attempt to bring Republicans and Democrats together. The president has said, "Well I think that what I want to do is to look at the Republican ideas that are out there." "Bipartisanship" has been a theme of nearly all of his recent health-care remarks.
Now, Politico reports that the president, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Harry Reid plan to try to use the "budget reconciliation" process after next week's bipartisan summit to jam through elements of their proposed health-care overhaul over widespread opposition. Politico quotes one Democratic insider as saying, "They are coming out of the summit guns-a-blazing, and they're committed to reconciliation."
"Budget reconciliation" prevents use of the filibuster, a feature of the Senate since the early 19th century. The arcane process is designed to help the Senate pass bills that would balance the budget. President Obama would use it to try to pass portions of a $2.5 trillion health-care overhaul without having to get any Republican (or even all Democratic) votes. This is the new era of bipartisanship?
Political cronyism: Interviewing President Obama before the Super Bowl, Katie Couric asked about "all these special deals that were given to certain senators," which, she said, made the American people "pretty sick to their stomachs." He replied, "They did not help. They frustrate me."
Now, Politico reports that part of why the president wants to use the "budget reconciliation" process is to exempt union workers from the tax on "Cadillac" insurance plans. In other words, Americans would pay a 40-percent tax on health benefits above a certain point -- unless they belong to a union, a core constituent of the Democratic party. This is the remedy for cronyism?
Health costs: The President and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have been highlighting recent increases in insurance premiums. These increases are almost entirely the result of two things: rising hospital and drug costs, which Obamacare would do essentially nothing about; and the poor economy, which causes some healthier people to take the calculated risk of dropping their insurance for the short-term, leaving a mix of unhealthier people in insurance pools and raising average costs accordingly. President Obama is willing to blame the economy for the fact that he will run up more deficit spending in just two years than President Bush did in eight, but he's reluctant to admit that this same economy affects entities run by somebody other than the government.
In any event, both the Congressional Budget Office and the Medicare Chief Actuary have said that, under Obamacare, insurance premiums would be higher than under current law. So, the solution to high premiums is to pass legislation that would raise them?
In each of these ways, the disconnect between cause and effect, problem and solution, rhetoric and reality, is astounding.
Of course, the biggest disconnect is between the Obama administration and the American people. Americans have made it abundantly clear that they don't want Obamacare. President Obama has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't care.
But House and Senate Democrats are unlikely to continue to turn such a deaf ear toward their constituents.
Healthcare will be the Democrat's Waterloo.
Now, my problem with what the Democrats are doing is not so much with "reconciliation" or any other parliamentary maneuver, so liberal commenters are advised not to get their panties in a wad over how Republicans did this or that when they were in power.
My problems are that
1) They are trying to pass an insane bill that bill make the situation in our country much worse in both the short and long terms,
2) Their real objective is to take over and/or control as much of the economy as possible. In other words, de facto socialism, and
3) The will of the people is so obviously against it.
You might say "if you think it'll be their Waterloo they aren't you glad they're doing it?" Of course not, because they'll wreck tremendous damage on the country in the process that will be difficult to undo.
We've got to find a way to stop this freight train before it's too late.
December 20, 2009
Obama - Pelosi - Reid Care Will Bankrupt Us All
Obama care will bankrupt us all while simultaneously decreasing services for most Americans. What an accomplishment.
As it is, the Democrats don't seem much interested in turning out a good bill. They just want any bill. Healthcare is the big enchilada for the left, and they know that now is their chance to get what they've always wanted. They've got the White House and large majorities in Congress, and the stars don't align this way very often.
All of the horse trading has cost them some of their most cherished goals, such as the "public option," which has much of the left in an uproar. The fight over public funding over abortion threatens to derail whatever compromise Reid comes up with.
There are many objections to the current bills. One is simply that it's none of the government's business, another that the current bills will make the situation worse. Third is that it will be hugely expensive, and this in a time when we're already running large deficits.
Yuval Levin, writing over at The Corner, has the scoop:
The CBO assessment of the bill tells the appalling story. We are going to raise taxes by half a trillion dollars over the next ten years, increase spending by more than a trillion dollars, cut Medicare by $470 billion but use that money to fund a new entitlement rather than to fix Medicare itself, bend the health care cost curve up rather than down, insert layers of bureaucracy between doctors and patients, and compel and subsidize universal participation in a failed system of health insurance rather than reform or improve it. Indeed, this bill will make it exceedingly difficult to fix our health insurance financing system in the future, since it sucks dry the potential means of such reform but leaves the fundamental cost problem essentially untouched (and in some respects worsened.) After all the back and forth, pulling and tugging, it is hard to see what is left in this bill that any member of Congress, liberal or conservative, would want to support.
The public seems to see that, and is increasingly opposed to the bill, but for now Democrats in congress still persist. It's no wonder Obama, Reid, and Pelosi want to rush this process through before their rank and file members can grasp what they're doing. But it's a bit of a wonder that those rank and file members so far seem to be playing along. Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, and a few others have been bought with taxpayer-funded favors for their states. What's everyone else's excuse?
November 21, 2009
Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) Runs the Numbers on Reidcare
On the Senate floor a few hours ago Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told us how expensive and flawed the current bill is:
I am going to spend my time before this historic vote to highlight some very important numbers, so every member of this chamber understands what they are voting to advance. Make no mistake, our actions today will not be without consequences. History and our future generations will judge us on this. Here are some numbers:
· 0 - the number of provisions prohibiting the rationing of health care.
· 0 - the number of government-run entitlement programs that are financially sound over the long-term.
· 10.2 percent - our national unemployment rate, the highest in 26 years.
· 70 - total number of government programs authorized by the bill.
· 1,697 - times the Secretary of Health and Human Services is given authority to determine or define provisions in this bill.
· 2,074 - total pages in this bill.
· 2010 - the year Americans start paying higher taxes to pay for this bill
· 2014 - the year when this bill actually starts most of the major provisions of this bill
· $6.8 million - cost to taxpayers per word
· $8 billion - the total amount of new taxes on Americans who do not buy Washington-defined health care.
· $465 billion - Cuts in Medicare at a time when it faces a $38 trillion unfunded liability to finance more government spending.
· $494 billion - total amount of new taxes in this bill
· $2.5 trillion - the real cost of the bill
· $12 trillion - our total national debt
These numbers are facts. They are undisputable.
Let me finish by reading an excerpt from a letter from one of my fellow Utahans from Provo, who is worried just like me about what this bill will mean for our country:
"I am writing out of deep concern over the increasing expansion of government. I moved here from Germany 20 years ago. I love America because it is free - freer than Germany in that I have the freedom to choose, among other things, how I want to insure my family (we have six children). I'm all for affordable health insurance which requires affordable health care. I am self-employed and have been hit hard by the economy.
There is a good chance that we would actually benefit from [this bill]. Business has been so bad that we would qualify for free school lunches if we asked for it. But I don't want more government handouts.
I don't want the government telling me what kind of insurance I need to have. I don't want the government telling me what services I can receive when I need them. I don't want them taking an ever greater part of my income to help finance government programs such as the 'public option' and the army of government employees it will take to administer such a program. I do not want more government. I want less. A lot less."
November 8, 2009
Pelosicare Passes the House
So the Democrats narrowly passed their massive healthcare bill in the House with a vote of 220-215. One Republican voted in support, Louisiana Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao. 39 Democrats voted against the bill, as did 176 Republicans.
This makes it a partisan bill with bipartisan opposition. How unique.
Otherwise, I think that Mark Steyn has it about right:
I don't like to say I told you so, but I've been saying for months now that the trick is to drag this thing across the finish line with 50.0000000000001 percent of the vote as soon as possible. From my "Happy Warrior" column in NR back in July:Obama believes in "the fierce urgency of now", and fierce it is. That's where all the poor befuddled sober centrists who can't understand why the Democrats keep passing incoherent 1,200-page bills every week are missing the point. If "health care" were about health care, the devil would be in the details. But it's not about health or costs or coverage; it's about getting over the river and burning the bridge. It doesn't matter what form of governmentalized health care gets passed as long as it passes. Once it's in place, it will be "reformed", endlessly, but it will never be undone.
Right now, they can trade anything -- abortion, death panels, whatever. The trick is to plant the seed and let the ratchet effect of Big Government take care of the rest. I said on Rush's show on Friday that if Barack Obama had been Bill Clinton he'd have woken up on Wednesday morning and begun triangulating. Instead, Obama woke up and figured that he needed more fierce urgency, and right now. The short-term hit in 2010 is worth it for the long-term benefits: Obscure congressmen will be just as happy as obscure ambassadors or obscure chairmen of obscure agencies. And the prize of permanent irreversible statist annexation merits the risk: Governmentalized "health care" puts us on the fast track to Euro-sclerosis and redefines the relationship between citizen and state in ways that make genuine conservative politics all but impossible.
Will the Senate stop it? And, if they don't, will a post-2010 GOP Congress reverse it? The way they reversed, say, the federal Department of Education?
Yesterday was a tragedy for America. Hence, the Bard in the headline. And while I'm quoting Macbeth, let me cite Mrs. Thatcher on who gets stuck with the tab for all of this:
'To borrow and to borrow and to borrow' is not Macbeth with a heavy cold. It is Labour Party policy. Most people do not want to mortgage the future and leave their children to pick up the bill.
"Most" people? We'll see about that.
Indeed you don't have to be too familiar with groups like the AARP to know that they really couldn't care less about the generation that follows as long as they get theirs. Ditto for many of the other groups the agitate for more and more government benefits.
But I think that the average Obamabot on the street actually believes the spin about how their healthcare bill will be deficit neutral. They'll whistle a different tune in a few years, but most have invested too much in Obama to abandon that ship just yet.
Sure, the finances of this bill are important, but as Steyn points out, who are we kidding? This thing is going to be changed every year from hear on out, and in one direction only; more and more and more and more spending which will increase the deficit more and more and more and more. Once these government programs are in place they're almost impossible to reverse.
For those unfamiliar with another reference above, Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education as a payoff to the teachers unions. President Reagan came into office promising to eliminate it. It's still around. In the 1990s Newt Gingrich and his cohorts promised to end federal funding of the arts. They're still being funded.
It's also why I'm not at all impressed with the Stupak amendment, which bans spending on abortion as part of this bill. Either the Democrats will reverse it at the first opportunity and we'll fight this battle every single year, or Obama will pack the Supreme Court with leftists who will declare it unconstitutional.
All of this is why it's so important to stop Obamacare, Pelosicare, and Reidcare. Some on the right may think that if it passes it'll be the deathknell of the current Democrat party are probably right, but by the same token we'll still be stuck with most of their healthcare bill for the rest of our lives and then some. Even a Repubican president and a GOP majority in each house won't be able to get rid of it entirely.
The battle is joined.
September 9, 2009
President Obama's Big Health Care Speech
Ok, so President Obama flattered himself by giving a big speech to a joint session of Congress tonight on one of his signature pieces of legislation. Since no one is going to read a post about Iran or the cost of energy anyway I may as well do the obligatory post.
Text of speech here.
Text of Republican response here.
The short version is that Obama told one whopper after another. He told so many that I simply don't have the time to set up links swatting all of them down. Let's go through some of them.
I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.
Please. If Obamacare passes every president and congress from now until eternity will fiddle with health care. But he's probably arrogant enough to think that if his bill passes it will take care of us from here on out.
We are the only advanced democracy on Earth the only wealthy nation that allows such hardships for millions of its people
Who cares what they do in other democracies? Every other democracy on the planet denies their citizens their natural law rights to own firearms mostly unencumbered by government regulation. I don't' want to emulate Europe or anyplace else for that matter.
There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canadas, where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everyone. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end the employer-based system and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.
I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both approaches. But either one would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have. Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesnt, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch. And that is precisely what those of you in Congress have tried to do over the past several months.
No, you have tried to completely revamp our system. And as I pointed out a few weeks ago, you do indeed want a single-payer system. You just lie about it now.
Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan:
First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.
Lie. His plan creates incentives designed to move people off of their work plan onto his government option.
And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies - because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.
Preventative care might be a good idea, but the idea that it saves money has been disproven.
Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most.
Presto, free ice cream for everyone! Hope he doesn't hurt his elbow patting himself on the back.
The power of government to regulate is a fearful thing. Amazing how the same people who freaked out over the Patriot act see no problem with the president issuing such regulations. All for your own good, of course.
Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those - particularly the young and healthy - who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people's expensive emergency room visits. If some businesses don't provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek - especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions - just can't be achieved.
That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance - just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers.
You either believe in freedom and liberty or you don't. Obama and the liberals don't. It is flat out wrong to force people to take part in such a program. I don't even think people should be forced to take part in Social Security. There should almost always be an opt out.
He has no business telling people that they must buy health insurance. This line about "otherwise we all pay for it" is a crock because it's not their real argument. The motivation is not cost accounting, it's the arrogant "we know what's best for you so listen to your betters you dumb little people!"
People must be free to make dumb decisions. Not wearing a seatbelt is dumb, but you must be free to take that decision. If you get in an accident and are hurt where in a situation where you'd otherwise be fine then it's your problem. Am I a meanie? No, I'm in favor or personal responsibility.
Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable.
Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.
Actually, the charge is true. Universal coverage always means care gets rationed. And what they'll do is start denying treatments to old people with stage four cancer, and stop allowing the most expensive treatments in situations when they figure you're going to die in a few months anyway.
There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false - the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
Lie. There are no provisions to verify citizenship. Democrats voted down amendments offered by Republicans that would have incorporated verifications. If there is nothing to verify whether you're a citizen or not, of course illegals are going to sign up. I would if I was an illegal, and so would you.
And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up - under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.
Sigh. Obama just repeats the same old falsehoods again and again. Even Factcheck concludes that the house bill "would allow both a "public plan" and newly subsidized private plans to cover all abortions."
Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies dont like this idea. They argue that these private companies cant fairly compete with the government. And theyd be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they wont be. I have insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects
Lie. If you believe that the government won't subsidize the "public option" so as to drive private insurance companies out of business I've got a bridge to sell you.
But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits, excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers.
Profit is what is left over after overhead expenses are met, you idiot. But I guess this is what happens when you spend your entire life living off of the taxpayer dole and not being involved in making a real living.
First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits either now or in the future.
My g_d he really does think we're stupid if he expects anyone to believe this. YOU CANNOT INCREASE DEMAND AND HOLD PRICES DOWN... unless you plan on withholding care. I.E. rationing. It's that supply and demand thing we're supposed to have learned in high school.
Second, we've estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system a system that is currently full of waste and abuse.
I don't believe any politician who says they'll save money through introducing efficiencies, because they never comes to pass. This applies to Republicans as well as Democrats.
In fact, I want to speak directly to Americas seniors for a moment, because Medicare is another issue that's been subjected to demagoguery and distortion during the course of this debate.
Demagugue? Stop talking about yourself so much.
he only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies subsidies that do everything to pad their profits and nothing to improve your care.
There's a name for bashing the profits of companies that don't do the government's bidding.
Finally, many in this chamber particularly on the Republican side of the aisle have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.
In other words, no tort reform.
I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that its better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent whats in the plan, we will call you out.
Gee that sounds like a call for bipartisanship. Guess what? We'll call you out too.
Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing.
Another lie to insinuate that conservatives want to do nothing. Google around for "Republican health care plans" or some such if you're some lib who actually believes Obama. If you don't like Republican or conservatives plans fine, but don't lie and say that the other side isn't proposing anything.
A very partisan speech. it was full of threats and attacks on conservatives for allegedly misrepresenting Obamacare. If he thought he was going to bring in any Republicans he's going to be sorely disappointed. Sure, he'll get an Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, but I hardly count them as Republicans anyway.
So the battle lines are drawn. His main problem is holding his own party together. With a 60 - 40 lead in the Senate and 256 - 178 advantage in the House, they should be able to pass whatever they want. That they can't shows how incompetent Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are.
We now come off of August recess, after all the rucus over the town halls, demonstrations and such. It's clear that at least Obama doesn't think they were representative of the majority of the American people. I think otherwise, and hope I right. Obama may get his proposals through Congress mostly unscathed, and it may well doom his party.
August 31, 2009
Everything You Wanted to Know About Why Government Health Care is a Rotten Idea
Via NRO. Enjoy!
August 23, 2009
Barack Obama Does Think We're Stupid
Today's Washington Times reports that President Obama used his Saturday weekly radio address to tackle health care reform rumors:
Some of the statements about the pending health care reform are "phony claims meant to divide us," President Obama said Saturday during his weekly radio address....
"It should be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are," the president said.
"Lets start with the false claim that illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform. Thats not true," he said, a few days after his former campaign apparatus now run by the Democratic National Committee started a Web site to combat rumors.
Mr. Obama said the legislation would not establish "death panels" and that nothing will alter the ban on using taxpayer money for abortions.
As National Review editor Rich Lowry said the other day, Obama is counting on the American people to be stupid, because not a single thing he said in his radio address is true.
Obama claims that illegals won't get insurance coverage under this plan. However, Democrats have worked to make sure that no one who applies for the "public option" with have his or her immigration status checked. Republican Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV)offered amendments that "would have enforced income, eligibility, and immigration verification screening." However, all Democrats voted against the amendment.
Get it? Apply for the public option and you won't have your immigration status checked. Obviously, people in the country illegally are going to apply, knowing that their secret is safe. Democrats surely know this. The only plausible reason that they voted against the safeguards is that they secretly want benefits to go to illegals.
President Obama says that "the legislation would not establish "death panels"."
This one is a bit more complicated, and I'm indebted to Mike's America for this
(Obama) insisted that it was an "extraordinary lie" to suggest that there would be "death panels" to decide who gets care and who dies. Sarah Palin has already debunked that nonsense and the Senate acknowledged the problem by removing that provision in their version of the bill. And what's more, we have Obama's own words in an interview he gave to the New York Times on April 28 in which he discussed end of life care:THE PRESIDENT: So that's where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that's also a huge driver of cost, right?
I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.
Q: So how do you -- how do we deal with it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that's part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It's not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that's part of what I suspect you'll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.
This one is complicated, but I also think that Andy McCarthy and Mark Steyn have it about right. It's important to understand that no, there won't be panels that decide "A lives and B dies," but that they will decide that "this level of care isn't necessary, and gee, it will also save money." Obama and his Democrats are determined to save money, and they're going to do it by cutting end of life care.
The president says that "the legislation would not... alter the ban on using taxpayer money for abortions."
Again, not true. As the AP explains,
Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue...
A compromise approved by a House committee last week attempted to balance questions of federal funding, personal choice and the conscience rights of clinicians. It would allow the public plan to cover abortion but without using federal funds, only dollars from beneficiary premiums. Likewise, private plans in the new insurance exchange could opt to cover abortion, but no federal subsidies would be used to pay for the procedure.
"It's a sham," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life. "It's a bookkeeping scheme. The plan pays for abortion, and the government subsidizes the plan."
More from the National Right to Life:
As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps-Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions. Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government-collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies. The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions -- this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion. In 2007 Obama explicitly pledged to Planned Parenthood that the public plan will cover abortions (see the video clip here). Some journalists have reported that Obama "backed off" of this commitment in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, broadcast July 21, but Obama actually carefully avoided stating his intentions -- instead, he simply made an artful observation that "we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care." It is true that there is such a tradition -- which Obama has always opposed, and which the Obama-backed bill would shatter. On August 13, NRLC released a detailed memo explaining the provisions of the pending bills that would affect abortion policy, with citations to primary sources. Many of the "factcheck" articles that have appeared in the news media in recent weeks reflect, at best, unsophisticated understandings of the provisions they purport to be explaining, and also give evidence of a weak understanding of Obama's history on the policy issues involved. The memo is downloadable in PDF format here.
See the trick? The bill doesn't explicity allow for abortions, and technically taxpayer funds don't pay for it. But in the end whether it's a "premium" or a tax it all comes out the same in the end. When asked about it directly,
An Obama administration official refused Sunday to rule out the possibility that federal tax money might be used to pay for abortions under proposed health care legislation.
Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director, asked whether he was prepared to say that "no taxpayer money will go to pay for abortions," answered: "I am not prepared to say explicitly that right now. It's obviously a controversial issue, and it's one of the questions that is playing out in this debate."
Given the Obama is one of the most pro-abortion politicians in Washington, I think that we can conclude that any public option will cover and pay for abortions.
August 20, 2009
Obama Plays the Religion Card on Healthcare
Seeing his cherished healthcare bill going down the drain, President Obama has gotten desperate:
President Barack Obama on Wednesday tried to retake the upper ground in this month's healthcare debate by casting reform as a "moral conviction" in a conference call with religious leaders. "The one thing that you all share is a moral conviction," Obama said. "This debate over healthcare goes to the heart of who we are as American people... This is part of an ethical and moral obligation that we look out for one another.
"In the wealthiest nation on Earth, we are neglecting to live out that call," the president said.
Obama asked religious leaders to help him "spread the truth" about reform, and also took the opportunity to push back against critics...
More than 30 religious groups have banded together to support the Democratic-led reform efforts, including the progressive group Catholics United, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., the National Council of Churches in Christ and the United Church of Christ. The group sponsored Wednesday's call and describes itself on its Web site as "an effort from the faith community to make clear to Congress that quality, affordable health care for every American family is a moral priority for millions of people of faith."
Can you imaging the outcry if George W. Bush had done this?
What's ironic is that it's the liberals who always accuse the conservatives of mixing politics with religion, or of using religion to advance their political agenda. But during the last campaign it wasn't the GOP injecting religion into politics. It was the Democrats.
Consider these two events:
1) In June of 2007 John Edwards, Barak Obama, and Hillary Clinton participated in discussion on an Presidential Forum on Faith, Values and Poverty. The event was hosted by the Sojourners, and was broadcast on CNN (transcript here).
2) Then, in April, then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton participated in a "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Grantham Pennsylania. Messiah College is a private Christian institution. CNN broadcast the event.
As I said at the time, I was glad to see the Democrats get religion. I think it only common sense that your religious convictions will influence your public policy.
But using religion as your philosophical basis for public policy is different than using organized religion to promote a cause, or from using it to beat up your political opponents, which is what Obama is doing
Victor Davis Hanson has it about right:
There is something creepy about the sudden invocation of Christian morality by the president to galvanize support for his state-run health care plan, as if his opponents are suddenly to be seen as somehow selfish or even un-Christian. This is an unfortunate, counter-productive tactic for at least four reasons:
1) The moral argument comes at the eleventh hour, rather than the first, of public debate, as if it is a desperate fall-back position intended to shame opponents who happen to think that massive state intervention will make health care worse rather than better;
2) Ironically, the religious trope would argue against the entrance of the state that would relieve citizens of their own moral responsibilities to help out family and friends in times of illness. It is no accident that secularism, agnosticism, and atheism are strongest in socialist Europe, where the government has relieved citizens of traditional moral responsibilities emphasized by religion;
3) This contrived use of religiosity (e.g., "There are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness.") has a Reverend Wright flavor of mixing politics and religion in cynical fashion to bolster Obama's fides as an authentic moral figure. And isn't the use of religion as a political tool precisely what Obama and others have objected to in the Christian Right?;
4) Rather than demonize opponents as callous and disingenuous, all the president has to do to refute their supposed scare tactics is to explicitly assure the public that abortion receives no state funds in his program, that illegal aliens are not included in his proposed new blanket coverage, and that autonomous government panels will not withhold federal health-care coverage, in the case of the elderly, on the basis of perceived cost-benefit considerations.
I think we are seeing a sort of presidential meltdown. As Obama's polls free-fall, and threaten wider political damage, it causes him a certain novel exasperation that for the first time in his life soaring hope-and-change rhetoric for some strange reason no longer substitutes for a detailed, logical, and honest agenda. The problem right now is not with un-Christian opponents, but dozens of congressional Democrats who simply do not wish to run on state-run medical care (as well as higher taxes, larger deficits, cap-and-trade, etc.), and no longer sense the president's popularity trumps the unpopularity of his agenda and gives them cover with the voters.
August 4, 2009
Obama Talks Out of Both Sides of His Mouth on Single-Payer
In this clip from 2003 we hear President Obama say pretty clearly that he wants a single-payer healthcare system:
"I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House."
Sounds pretty straighforward to me.
In case you've been living in a cave, "single-payer" means replacing private health insurance with a government program similar to Medicare. All doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers are paid from this government fund. Universal or near-universal coverage is usually a feature. Doctors do not directly get their salaries from the government, so it is said that this is not a socialist system, but since the government pays for all covered procedures, it seems a distinction without a difference.
But let's not get off track. In response to the above video, the Obama Administration has fired back with this
Opponents of health insurance reform may find the truth a little inconvenient, but as our second president famously said, "facts are stubborn things."
Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to "uncover" the truth about the President's health insurance reform positions.
In this video, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House's Health Reform Office, addresses one example that makes it look like the President intends to "eliminate" private coverage, when the reality couldn't be further from the truth.
Ok, so which is it? Obama directly contradicts himself the videos. In the one from 2003 he is quite clear that he wants single payer. In the one below he just as emphatically denies it.
In the White House video, Communications Director Linda Douglass tries to tell us that those dastardly right-wingers "taking sentences and phrases out of context and cobbling them together" to leave a false impression. They "take a phrase here and there and they cherry pick..."
This is patent nonsense. There was nothing taking out of context in the first video. Obama spoke at length and was very clear in what he meant.
The fact is that Barack Obama is a leftist more radical than he let on during the campaign, where he tried to paint himself as a moderate. This should have been no surprise to anyone who simply looked at his record. His pastor, Jeremiah Wright, wasn't shy about stating his views, and Obama sat and listened to him for 20 years. Obama also knew all about Bill Ayers but didn't find his background too objectionable to not associate with him.
Once again Obama has been caught in a video in which he revealed his true colors, and all the White House spin in the world won't change that fact.
August 3, 2009
Is Health Care a Right?
Is heath care a right? Short answer; no.
Consider our Bill of Rights
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Did you read it? I hope so.
Now consider Franklin Delano Roosevelts' proposed Second Bill of Rights, sometimes called his "Economic Bill of Rights"
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
Thankfully this was never formally adopted. Unfortunately some of it it has been adopted in practice, which was Roosevelt's intent. He was not one to let the Constitution stand in his way.
The difference between the two is striking. The first tells us what the government cannot do to us, the second what it should do for us. The first simply requires it to stay out of the way, the second to proactively interfere in our lives. The first describes what the government must do in cases where it wishes to charge a citizen with a crime, the latter what it must do to make us happy.
Today we are told by the left that health care is a right. The government may or may not have an obligation to provide it, but it most certainly is not a right as properly defined.
Theodore Dalyrymple has some thoughts in his piece in last week's Wall Street Journal that are well worth pondering.
If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that "someone" is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.
People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing.
Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating), but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.
Where does the right to health care come from? Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?
If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?
When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination. Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, "So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?"
When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.
Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things.
The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.
Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.
The government-run health-care system--which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care--has pauperized the entire population. This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.
Universality is closely allied as an ideal, ideologically, to that of equality. But equality is not desirable in itself. To provide everyone with the same bad quality of care would satisfy the demand for equality. (Not coincidentally, British survival rates for cancer and heart disease are much below those of other European countries, where patients need to make at least some payment for their care.)
In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years of universal health care, free at the point of usage and funded by taxation, inequalities between the richest and poorest sections of the population have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe.
There is no right to health care--any more than there is a right to chicken Kiev every second Thursday of the month.