Who’s To Blame for the Failure of the Healthcare Reform Bill?

 

 

On March 29th The Signal published a column by Gary Horton entitled “What’s next after health care”.

This absurd column was full of hyperbole and hysteria, with a lot of ad hominem thrashing about thrown in for good measure. A return to his old “style”.

That’s a shame, too, because his last few columns were pretty good. But those were on the topic of Measure H, on which he took an actual “conservative” position, so maybe what we’re seeing here is an illustration of how conservatism is easy to support rationally, while socialism needs wild-eyed ranting to seek its justification.

As to the latest healthcare debacle, there’s a lot more blame to go around than just facilely throwing it at Trump, though I’m sure he’s the bogeyman Horton likes to target. House GOPers have had over 6 years to come up with a viable plan, something that actually made sense and included realistic elements that would address the free-market shortcoming of the current wealth redistribution scheme in place. The “Ryan plan” was a non-starter from the jump; in reality just a place-holder they could point at when asking for votes in the past elections.

Now that they finally had both chambers of Congress and the White House, to have seriously rolled out that tired piece of garbage as their offering was stupid beyond belief. There was no way it was ever going to be passed, as bad as it was. It was hardly better at all than Obamacare. What would have been the point?

They should have taken their time and crafted something that actually would have repealed and replaced Obamacare, not just tinkered with it a little bit. And Trump’s biggest failure was in not making them do exactly that. Maybe due to his own political inexperience, I don’t know.

As I’ve written before, we need to get government out of the healthcare and insurance equation. Government is the problem, not the solution.

 

(Also published today in The Signal)

Repealing Obamacare

(The following was published today by my local newspaper, The Signal, as an opinion piece on 15 March 2017)

 

In the Weekender edition of The Signal published March 10th was an editorial by Jim de Bree entitled “Long road to fixing Obamacare”. Unfortunately, I think his column is very far off the mark.

The first clue: his use of the term “level playing field”. Every time I hear that nonsense, I know I’m about to be hit with some Big Government socialist scheme that usually involves wealth redistribution, and government interference in this arena is a perfect example.

What Jim doesn’t seem to accept is that government isn’t the solution to the problem; government IS the problem.

We need to get the government OUT of the health insurance field altogether. The Constitution guarantees equality of opportunity, not of outcome, so the government has no legitimate role to play in “leveling the playing field” while interfering with free-market solutions to the problem as would be realized by competitive product availability, as well as private philanthropic and charitable activities.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are three simple steps to addressing the problems in this arena:

  1. Remove the barriers to interstate sales of health insurance products. Free market product competition will, by its very nature, lower prices and increase choice options for consumers.
  2. Streamline the FDA drug approval process. It can currently cost upwards of a billion dollars to bring a new drug to market, or a medical procedure to accepted practice.
  3. Institute major medical tort reform to eliminate the need for the practice of “defensive medicine”. Patients are often subjected to unnecessary testing and other procedures their doctors require simply in an effort to indemnify themselves from potential future lawsuits. Defensive medicine is a significant cost multiplier.

Do those three simple things and we’ll see healthcare and related costs stop their spiraling ascent, and return those costs to an actual basis reflecting real needs and usage as determined by free market principles.

Socialized medicine, under whatever guise, is NOT the answer.

 

Obamacare Strikes Again!

Over 23 times between 2008 and 2010 Obama promised that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan”. In September 2010 he said, “If you’re happy with what you’ve got, nobody’s changing it”. (News article)

Then he kept kicking the political can down the road, delaying enactment over and over again in order to try to avoid the electoral consequences. But that could only happen so many times, and as I’ve pointed out several times in various forums, the health insurance open enrollment period occurs every other year just before election time. At SOME point, the piper was going to demand payment.

Well, guess what? THIS is that year.

HMO0001 copyA few days ago I received notification from my health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, that the Medicare Advantage PPO plan I’d been a member of for many years is no longer going to be offered. Further, as I researched my options on Medicare’s website, it turns out that NO PPOs are authorized anywhere in Los Angeles County. The only options I have are for HMO plans.

In June of 2009 Obama also promised that “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” (Wall Street Journal article). This turns out to be another big, fat lie. In 1998 I had a heart attack, and since then my cardiologist has been my “primary physician”. He was part of my PPO network, which is no longer available to me (as I said), but he’s NOT a member of any HMO group, nor does he intend to join one.

That means that in order to “keep my doctor” I’m now going to have to pay for that myself, without benefit of my health insurance plan. Granted, I can negotiate a “cash price” with his office, which I have in fact done (a saving of 20% of the “normal” billing fee), and fortunately I’m in a position to be able to afford to do that.

But what about people who aren’t so fortunate?

I have no doubt this same scenario is playing out across the country, just in time for the mid-term election in about three short weeks. It’s time for the Dem/socialists who single-handedly foisted this mess on the American people to pay the price for their arrogance. I hope they suffer a solid thumping at the polls in November.

 

©Brian Baker 2014

 

A Manifesto To Save America

 

“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy”

                                                                       Alexander Tytler   1747 – 1843 (Pop. Attrib.)

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. Sell not liberty to purchase power”

                                                Benjamin Franklin  1706 – 1790

People familiar with my writings, both in my blogs and in various Letters To The Editors and Guest Columns published in newspapers, know I’ve long maintained that this country is far down along the path to self-destruction. Back in February 2008, at my Townhall blog, I wrote an essay entitled “Bread and Circuses” (Read it here) in which I drew parallels between our country today and the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The Roberts Court

Most recently, we have the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) discovering and endowing the government with vast new powers to use taxation to force people to behave in certain ways, and enter into contracts to purchase goods and services. For the first time in our history, a tax can be imposed on people for not doing something. It’s as if King George imposed a tea tax on the colonists for not drinking tea.

To achieve this repugnant decision, as I’ve described previously, Chief Judas Roberts ignored all bounds of reason, logic and constitutionality in order to side with the liberal “ignore the Constitution” faction of the Court. Whatever his motives – and speculation on that runs rampant – neither Roberts nor any other Justice will ever suffer any consequences for their actions or decisions because the Constitution guarantees them lifetime tenure.

Then we have the problem with the inequitable nature of our current tax system which has led to debts and deficits that will inevitably bankrupt this country if not resolved somehow. Almost 50% of the populace pays little to no federal income taxes at all, and the top 5% of earners – those earning anything over a mere $154,643 (statistics) – pay almost 59% of all the income tax money collected. Yet they’re still castigated for “not paying their fair share”.

Meanwhile, that bottom 50% pays almost nothing at all but still has an equal say, through their power to vote, in how tax burdens are allocated and the funds spent. Naturally, as they really have no skin in the game as far as fiscal prudence is concerned, they’re going to be inclined to vote for their own economic self-interest, meaning that they’re all for robbing Peter to pay Paul, since someone else is always going to be the Peter that pays their Paul. Paul really doesn’t care if Peter goes broke.

Further, what’s going to happen when the tax non-payers outnumber the taxpayers? Then we’ll have a situation akin to three foxes and a chicken voting on what’s for dinner. It won’t be pretty, and at that point this country will be completely doomed.

I believe this country’s only hope of salvation lies in a major restructuring of how we do things, and that can only be properly enacted by amending the Constitution. Therefore I’d like to propose the following four constitutional amendments.

“Judicial Accountability Amendment:  After 12 years of serving on the federal bench, each judge including Supreme Court Justices shall be replaced, unless reconfirmed by the US Senate.”

Hopefully, that would force the judiciary to be more responsive to the actual Constitution, but no matter what it would impose accountability on the Mandarins In Black Robes.

“Flat Tax Amendment:  Every person who receives income, from whatever source and without exception, shall have that income taxed at the same rate of X%. The tax rate may be changed by Congress by votes of 2/3 in each House.”

The “X” rate of taxation would be determined during the amendment process, but this would certainly eliminate the inequality of tax rates and burdens. Further, it would eliminate the motivation of those with no tax exposure to burden those who actually do pay taxes with ridiculous obligations that simply can’t be met.

Everyone would then have at least some skin in the game.

Further, the super-majority requirement to change the tax rate would force some fiscal sanity on Congress, and force them to start to cut spending. Raising the tax rate would become a VERY politically risky move… as it should be.

“Voter Eligibility Amendment:  No person who is exempt, for whatever reason, from paying income taxes shall be eligible to vote.”

A companion piece to the prior Amendment, this would assure that anyone who might still escape any tax obligation would also lose their ability to influence the outcome of legislation that forces everyone else to pay up.

“Tax Legitimacy Amendment: Taxes shall be imposed solely to raise revenue for the legitimate function of government as defined in the US Constitution. Any tax or spending bill must cite the appropriate and legitimate constitutional authority for that program or expenditure. No tax shall be imposed whose purpose is to influence the behavior of citizens, either individually or as a group; nor shall taxes be imposed as a penalty.”

The most immediate effect of this Amendment would be to void Obamacare and repeal the recent SCOTUS decision, much like the 14th Amendment killed the Dred Scott decision; and it would prevent the kind of laws – as well as judicial decisions – that grant such unbridled power to the government that the people’s ability to make their own decisions is completely pre-empted.

Unless these amendments – or something very much like them – are enacted, this country as we know it is finished. We may still be in existence physically, but we’ll ultimately devolve into a Euro-trash “social democracy” like Greece. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the political will exists in this country to take those necessary steps.

I hope I’m proven wrong, but I am not sanguine…

© Brian Baker 2012

The Obamacare Decision’s In. What’s Next?

Chief Judas John Roberts

Well, as I noted in last week’s essay, the stunning decision of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was handed down last week on the Obamacare challenge, and Chief Judas Roberts – traitor to the Constitution and conservative principles – has granted the Federal Government expansive new powers to regulate behavior through the power to impose taxes; not only on what you actually do, but also on what you don’t do.

Another aspect of this new authority is that since exercise of this power is through the taxation process, such laws don’t require the usual 60 votes in the Senate required for most bills. It’s tax law, and as such can be passed by a simple majority in that chamber (as has always been the case with any law in the House). Thus has SCOTUS ruled.

That means that come November, if the GOP retains the House, wins the Presidency, and holds 50 seats in the Senate after the election (Romney’s VP would give the GOP a Senate majority as President of the Senate), they’ll be able to pass any such law they want without any fear of it being blocked by the Democrats (in the exact same manner as Democrats enacted Obamacare in the first place).

This does open up some interesting possibilities.

I’d like to propose a law that requires every eligible adult to own a gun. This would accrue a benefit to the country under the General Welfare Clause, as statistically it’s been shown that the more law-abiding citizens own guns, the lower the crime rate is. Further, gun ownership is actually a right enumerated in the Bill of Rights, as opposed to “healthcare”. Anyone who refuses to own a gun would see a “tax surcharge” penalty on their federal income taxes.

How about an abortion tax? You’d still be able to exercise your “right” to abort your baby; you’d just be dinged a few thousand bucks in a “tax surcharge” if you did it. There’s no doubt this would accrue benefits to the country’s “general welfare” as it will cut into the numbers of unborn babies slaughtered in the womb, not to mention the benefits accrued to the babies themselves. And think of the added revenue!

There are endless possibilities, and the limits have been removed. Get together with your friends. Think up a policy you’d like to see enacted. Turn it into a drinking game!

Then raise a toast to our socialist countrymen who have given us this wonderful opportunity.

©Brian Baker 2012

It’s Official! We Live In A Tyranny!

I have to admit; I called this one completely wrong, and have been doing so for almost three years. When Obamacare was first proposed by the Democrats, herded by Nancy the Red Pelosi and Dingy Harry Reid, I forecast – loud and often – that the mandate that people buy health insurance or face financial penalties imposed by the government would never pass judicial scrutiny. How could it? What in the Constitution empowered the government to force people to buy products or enter into contracts to purchase certain services?

Well, in a terrible decision handed down today by the Supreme Court Jesters, we found out. According to the majority opinion, written by the Chief Justice (John Roberts), it turns out that the government has the power to pretty much regulate any behavior they want, as long as their enforcement mechanism is called a “tax”.

Chief Justice John Marshall

In the Supreme Court case of McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819, Daniel Webster made the argument, with which Chief Justice John Marshall agreed, that “the power to tax is the power to destroy” and overturned Maryland’s tax on banks. In today’s decision, however, Roberts wrote that the “power to tax is not the power to destroy while this Court sits”, in direct contradiction to the man generally considered to be this country’s greatest Chief Justice.

How he comes to such a conclusion is entirely beyond me, and defies all reasoning and common sense.

The tortured rationalizations in Roberts’s controlling majority opinion rely on two absurd contentions:

1.  That a tax penalty isn’t enforced by imprisonment, and

2.  the tax penalty isn’t “onerous”.

Well, refuse to pay the tax and see whether or not you end up in prison. And what may not be “onerous” to Roberts – with his six-figure income and government benefits – may well be “onerous” to a couple of young married kids barely squeaking by while juggling a mortgage and car payments while underemployed – if employed at all – in this terrible economy.

According to Roberts, the government is perfectly within its rights to use tax law to “encourage” certain behaviors, and discourage others. So… what can we anticipate moving forward?

How about “weight penalties”? If your body mass index (BMI) exceeds certain levels, or if your weight falls outside certain arbitrary parameters for your height as set by the government, can you expect a “tax surcharge”? Why not?

How about a “tax surcharge” for smokers? After all, the government, in the interest of cost control for the “public obligation” of controlling healthcare costs, now has a vested interest in your behavior.

How about a “tax surcharge” if you had a traffic ticket that year? Hey… that’s “risky behavior”, and you could incur “healthcare costs” if you get in an accident, right?

What about if you want to buy a foreign car? The government has determined that the American car industry is “too big to fail”, and therefore if you “choose” to buy a foreign car, you’re contributing to the risk that American auto makers will fail. So I guess you should pay a “tax penalty” for not buying American.

Don’t laugh. Way back when the hysteria about second-hand smoke was taking place I predicted that if the penalties being considered against tobacco companies ever passed into law we’d ultimately see similar actions taken against other unpopular behavior, like fast food consumption. People laughed.

Well… look around you. Laws against trans-fats in foods (bye-bye, flavor), Bloomberg’s limits on soft drink sizes in New York, pate banned in Commiefornia, San Francisco’s ban on Happy Meal toys at McDonald’s, on and on and on.

The reality is that the endorsement of the mandate by the Supremes opens the door for government to regulate virtually every aspect of human behavior through the abuse of the power to tax.

Justice Marshall was completely right; in this case, the power to tax has completely destroyed the right of free choice.

© Brian Baker 2012

The Rubber Meets The Road

On  Monday, 26 March 2012, The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) begins hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Long-time readers of my blog (my thanks to you) may recall that way back in September of 2009 (Here) I predicted that any “mandate” that people buy health insurance would guarantee a constitutional challenge that would reach the Supreme Court. I was one of the first to make that prediction.

Time has borne me out on the accuracy of that prediction. Even aside from the legal issues involved, Obamacare has proven to be hugely unpopular with the people. The major GOP presidential candidates have vowed to repeal it should they become President. It was one of the big issues that led to the “shellacking” the Democrats took at the mid-term elections in 2010.

But even though there’s an alternate political route to getting rid of Obamacare – repeal – it’s not an acceptable alternative. Here’s why.

The “mandate” in Obamacare requires people to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Whether that penalty is called a “fine” or a “tax surcharge” is irrelevant. A penalty is a penalty. By doing so, Obamacare takes the unprecedented step (in this country) of forcing people to enter into a contract to purchase something from a vendor under the guise of “the greater good”. Once that rationale becomes accepted as valid, there’s no limit to the power the government has to regulate and control what people must do or buy moving forward; government’s power becomes unlimited. A rationale of “greater good” can always be found for whatever the latest “crisis du jour” is. Not enough domestic cars sold? You must buy an American car. “Unhealthy” eating habits? You must buy and eat three carrots per week per person. No matter how silly an example you can dream up, it can become a government “mandate”.

Our Constitution defines a federal government of strictly limited powers. Obamacare’s mandate removes all limits on those powers, all under the guise of “the greater good”, of course. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that Obamacare – or at least the mandate – be found unconstitutional. Otherwise, this country’s liberty is completely doomed.

And that’s why the political alternative of repeal isn’t acceptable. If the mandate is somehow held to be constitutional, a repeal is meaningless, because the power to reinstate it remains for the next change of watch; and future laws imposing draconian mandates are just around the corner. The whole idea has to have a judicial stake driven through its heart.

© Brian Baker 2012

Panic at CNN: