219 for,… 212 against. Hurrah for bipartisanship!
I’m not a big Glenn Beck fan, but this morning in his radio show he made an excellent point: The only thing bipartisan about this health care bill was its opposition.
Aside from the list of complaints about the bill, the immense difficulty that Democrats have had in getting this thing passed, even with a significant majority in both houses of Congress, is enough to inflict strong doubts upon its value and credibility. This legislation is simply not popular by any standard of measure. Yet, it will become law this week. CBS provides a summary.
Among the issues I have with the new law are:
1) A decision not to purchase health insurance will be a Federal crime, beginning in 2014.
2) Taxes will be collected to pay for health insurance for people who earn up to 400 times the poverty rate ($88,200 for a family of four).
3) New taxes on investments, high-end insurance plans and… tanning salons?
4) Federal funding for abortion (the executive order that was supposed to “fix” this is non-binding and allows a lot of room for exceptions)
5) Employers with over 50 workers MUST provide insurance or face a $2000 per employee fine. Ouch. Bad news for all of you who would’ve been the 51st employee, and for all those small businesses that were hoping to expand.
6) The price tag: $940,000,000,000. That’s over $3,000 for every man, woman and child in America. A billion seconds ago it was 1979.
I am, however, relieved that the “Public Option” plan never made it through. That would’ve been a one-way street to full government-run health care. And there are a couple of positive adjustments to the system such as the coverage of pre-existing conditions, and the closing of the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” (an attempt to fix an existing government program).
There is a broader question though, over the proper extent of government interference in the medical industry – especially at the federal level. This requires us to examine both ethical and material arguments for and against. Let me make my stance on the former clear: I believe people ought to get the best care they can afford, and that the poor still ought to get basic care at no charge. Furthermore, I believe in reasonable protections for children of irresponsible parents, so if anyone is going to get more than the bare minimum it should be the children. However, there are always secondary, and usually unintended consequences.
In this case, Congress just passed a bill that is going to expand government power, bring more lobbyists to washington, increase taxes and insurance premiums, hurt the job market, increase our national debt, and further reduce the freedoms that individual citizens have in choosing their own way in life. I’m not just ranting here – this is reality. And the real question I want to ask is whether you believe the list of things I just described will ultimately help or hurt America’s economy and general standard of living.
If jobs are fewer and taxes are higher, how can we afford to take care of the poor, build hospitals and fund research? I suppose the government will do it. How about this idea: let’s just have a 90 percent tax rate and the government can dole out benefits according to an equal standard. We all get the same home, the same car, and the same groceries. The school system (including college) can be transferred to federal control and our churches,… well, they will be more like home bible study groups, since so few people could afford to tithe. Missionaries would have to find support elsewhere and we wouldn’t need non-profits because the government takes care of charity and other social wellness issues.
That’s a gloomy picture. But for all of you who feel the way I do about this, don’t hang your head – this deal isn’t quite over. A number of states, and probably thousands of individuals are already preparing the papers for legal suits against the federal government on the grounds of unconstitutionality. Even if the Supreme Court decides in favor of washington, there is still yet one last option: A constitutional amendment.
A Constitutional amendment can be ratified by a vote of 3/4 of the state legislatures, which would be 38 states. This happened in 1933 when the states repealed prohibition (18th amendment). Considering that most of the health care reform support comes from a handful of states, it seems quite likely that such an attempt could be successful. An amendment that prevents congress from requiring individuals or businesses to engage in a particular business transaction might put many worries at rest, and would be wholly of the spirit in which the first ten amendments were drafted.
While they’re at it, perhaps we should consider barring the national government from creating pseudo-businesses that create false competition in the market. Out goes Fannie and Freddie. Out goes Single-Payer health care. Out goes the further destruction of our economic system by the loose and abusive interpretation of the commerce clause.