Category Archives: Health Care

The Supreme Court Sends Obamacare Back to the People, Where it Rightfully Belongs.

“Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war.”  William Shakespeare

Like many conservatives I had come to hope the United States Supreme Court would not only put an end to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but would also breathe life into the 10th Amendment by placing much needed limitation on the “Commerce Clause”. That hope was awkward and indeed misplaces as one who has opposed judicial activism relying on the court to overturn a legislative act was uncomfortable. It ended just after 10 am yesterday as the court essentially upheld most of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. In doing so the court put Obamacare exactly where it belonged, in the hands of the American People who will almost certainly decide its fate at the ballot box November 6, 2012.

John G. Roberts, 17th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court

To be clear, I disagree strongly with Chief Justice Roberts and his majority opinion, believing Justice Anthony Kennedy’s strong dissent was on firmer constitutional ground. Yet my faith in the constitution and the institutions it defines necessitates respect for the decision of the court. I suspect history will long debate the words we first read yesterday but the fate of Obamacare has now passed back to the legislative branch the people who elect their representatives.

We can play “who wins the polls” all day and do nothing but waste hot air. What is clear is Obamacare has failed to secure the majority support among the American people that any major piece of social legislation (think Civil Rights which had strong majority bi-partisan support) has in modern American history. The President and the Democratic leaders in congress were hard pressed to pass the legislation despite strong majorities in both houses of congress. Indeed in all votes more Democrats voted in opposition to their own parties proposal than Republicans voting for healthcare. Then Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi famously told Democrats they had to pass the bill so the public would come to understand and support healthcare reform. Without a doubt this was the central issue in the 2010 Congressional election which resulted in significant Democratic losses in the senate and a near record loss in the House which saw control pass to the Republicans. Throughout the 112th Congress Obamacare has continued to be the focus of debate with the House passing legislation repealing and Senate democrats killing those bills without a vote. Indeed the repeal votes have been little more than political theater since with Barack Obama in the White House, no repeal can ever become law. So Republicans have had to settle for preventing key elements of Obamacare from being funded (such as IRS agents being hired to enforce the taxation elements).

Obamacare

Obamacare is the Largest Tax Increase in American History

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, the solution to this situation seems crystal clear as Obamacare now stands to be one of if not the central issue of the 2012 Presidential & Congressional elections. Indeed, it would seem that in authoring that decision, Chief Justice John Roberts may have helped the conservative cause much more than was first apparent. Clearly, the Obama fabrication that Obamacare was not a tax increase was undermined by his own Solicitor Generals oral argument and was killed in Roberts ruling. Republicans how have a clear case to present that Barack Obama has put into place the largest tax increase in American history, for the middle class and every other class. While initially less apparent but potentially of greater long term significant, Chief Justice Roberts has for the first time in modern history placed significant limits on the Commerce Clause, indeed stating that if the act had relied upon that it would have been unconstitutional. This guidance will live on for generations and many liberals may come to have considerable indigestion over this.

Mitt Romney Pledges to Repeal and Replace Obamacare as First Act Upon becoming President in the Wake of June 28th Supreme Court Decision

Thus Obamacare will be put to its most significant vote exactly where the decision should be made, by the American People. Mitt Romney was quick to say that if he is elected president and sworn in on January 20, 2013 his first act will be to repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Given the GOP has a strong majority in the house and with 23 Democrats to just 10 Republicans up for election in the senate this year, a President Romney would almost certainly have majorities in both houses of congress. Obamacare would soon find a place of honor on the ash pile of history. However, if President Obama is reelected, it much less likely he would have both houses of congress, yet he would have a real mandate to move forward with Obamacare. He may well have to finally negotiate in a truly bi-partisan manner to realize the funding required to implement Obamacare, but he would have a moral mandate to move forward (even though we conservatives would like it no better). The only way Obamacare can be implemented as it now exists would be for the American People themselves to show their support by not only re-electing President Obama but giving the Pelosi-Reid Democrats a majority in both houses of Congress.

So the battle lines are drawn and the fight has been joined. Within 24 hours of the court’s decision Mitt Romney raised more than $5 million in small donor online funds and a yet unknown non-online donations. While many things have been said and debated about Barack Obama, one thing is for certain, he is the great unifier of Republicans. Mitt Romney in one day has seen significant divisions in his own base evaporate and conservatives find enthusiasm for his candidacy. Mitt Romney has become the great, if unlikely, savior of free market health care in America. Barack Obama is now clearly the advocate of socialized medicine and the massive tax increases which will be needed to affect such a program. To be certain there will be other issues in the 2012 election such as America’s role in the world, keeping American’s Safe and restoring our nation’s economic base and getting millions of Americans back to work. Yet the fate of health care in America is almost certainly to be decided in this election and the debate over it pivotal to the election itself.

Let the fight begin, it sure will not be boring.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Congress, Constitution, Free Markets, Health Care, Mitt Romney, Obama Administration, Politics, Supreme Court of the United States, Taxes, The White House, United States House of Representatives, US Senate

Democrats Engineering Economic Disaster as Foundation of 2012 Election Strategy

As much of the financial world waits with anticipation the outcome of the so called Budget Super Committee whose report is due in just seven days, the back room strategists for the Democratic Party and Team Obama 2012 are giddy with anticipation of the economic train wreck to follow. The plan is elegant in its simplicity; allow a budget disaster which will have dire economic consequences and then cast the “obstructionist” republicans in congress for the resultant economic consequences. They have not had to be overly covert in their strategy as their pet tools in the media have been gladly echoing the White House talking points. Indeed this is the only strategy left for the leftists in Washington as the American public has rejected every element of their tax, spend and government control agenda. What is unfortunate is this destroy America strategy may well work.

Senate Democrats Ploting Stratewgy With President Obama and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office (White House Photo)

The scheme is largely the work of New York Senator Chuck Schumer who is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s political war monger in chief. Throughout more than a decade in the senate and 18 years before that in the house, Schumer has gained a reputation as a narcissistic publicity hound. With an anemic legislative record comprise almost entirely of attaching his name to bills constructed by others, Schumer has developed the finely honed skills of a political ambulance chaser. If the media is there, so if Chuck with political incendiary bombs to toss at his opponents. Credit needs to be given as he has built a successful political career by blaming opponents for everything while personally accomplishing very little.

The first stage of the “Blame the Republicans” was to create the ruse of Republican control of Congress. Forgotten is that the democrats remain in full control of the senate where Senator Harry Reid has been the Majority Leader since January 2007. Not only have the Democrats controlled the senate for the past 5 years, for almost 2 years that had the lofty position of 60 seats constituting a filibuster proof majority allowing them to proceed without Republican cooperation. Reid’s period as Majority leader is most notable for the senate never producing a single years worth of budget authorizing bills but rather relying on an uninterrupted stream of continuing resolutions. Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer have succeeded in one of the most audacious Orwellian “Big Lie” strategies, and the media has embraced their message and are now full partners in the narrative.

Team Obama has been quick to join in on this destroy the American economy and blame republicans game. President Obama won the White House by promising a new political climate in Washington. Credit must be given to him he has kept his promise, as while it was almost inconceivable that the political acrimony of the final Bush term could be exceeded, Obama has done just that. I must admit as with the Democrats in the senate, Team Obama 2012 has had no choice in this strategy, everything else they have proposed has been soundly rejected by the American people. His signature achievement, Health Care Reform is opposed by more than 60 percent of Americans and is largely responsible for Democrats suffering the second biggest loss in the 2010 elections for the House of Representatives. If he were to again propose Health Care, he would be lucky to get 35 votes in the senate his own party controls. One component of that package, the SMART long term care insurance was withdrawn by his own administration when they admitted it was irreparably insolvent. In his first year in office he said in an interview 8 percent unemployment was intolerable and if he did not improve the situation his administration would be “a one term affair”. With unemployment stuck in the 9 percent range, his administration’s economic record is the most dismal since the Carter administration.

Unfortunately the GOP in congress handed the Democrats a political life jacket this past August by agreeing to $1.5 trillion in mandated cuts, divided equally between defense and entitlements, in exchange for raising the national debt ceiling. I’m not even going to get into the constitutionality of a 12 member joint senate house committee with automatic sending authority, which is questionable at best. But politically it set up an artificial Thanksgiving deadline which stood almost no chance of being achieved. Team Obama and Senators Reid and Schumer saw the opening almost immediately. President Obama initiated immediate class warfare and demanded tax increases on the “rich”. Schumer and Reid pronounced the republicans obstructionist while not allowing votes on more than 2 dozen bills passed by the house. In the single biggest act of political hypocrisy in memory, Reid prevented the Presidents own “Jobs Bill” to come to a vote in the senate less Obama be embarrassed by the repudiation it would have received by his inability to get even senate democrats to support it. As the same time President Obama was flying around the country on Air Force One blaming the do nothing republicans, while raising millions in campaign contributions from his “1 percent” supporters.

Team Obama 2012 Capital Hill Leads: Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Dick Durbin

So here we stand with a week until a train wreck which will further damage the American economy, potentially even resulting in further downgrades in the credit rating of US government securities. Give the democrats credit, they may have out foxed republicans and have kept President Obama in the race for a second term. But what cost are the Democrats prepared to make the American people pay for their political games? They could not win the battle of ideas in the 2010 election where their tax and spend policies were rejected. Today they are prepared to drive the economy over the cliff in order to manufacture an issue that could preserve their own jobs in 2012. Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Harry Reid and President Barack Obama; three who are prepared to further devastate the American economy to preserve their own political viability. They may well win, but will not be able to escape the shame that will forever tarnish their reputations.

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Filed under 2010 Election, 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Budget, Congress, Constitution, Health Care, Leadership, Liberals, Media, National Debt, Obama Administration, Politics, Republican Party, Spending, Taxes, The Grand Old Party, The White House, United States House of Representatives, US Senate

The Reality of National Debt

After years of uncomfortable silence, the nation’s political discourse is now full of, if not dominated by, discussions of the crisis created by the national debt. This is long overdue as the seeds were planted for this over decades. Headlining the news today is the social unrest created in Greece as they have finally reached the edge of the financial cliff and faced with the prospect of going over that rim, are trying to find a solution which apportions the pain across the population. It is easy for American commentators to dismiss the situation in Greece as a flawed comparison which could never happen in the United States. Indeed Greece is a small country with a population of just 11.3 million, as part of the euro zone it had limited monetary control and is not considered a strong economy. The United States is still the largest economy in the world, both in nominal terms, but also more importantly on a per capita basis among the major economies and among the most diverse economies in the world. The US Dollar is the international reserve currency and considered the safest in the world; the one international investors seek in times of financial and political risk. Most importantly the Greek debt has passed 125 percent of GDP while the US is at a much more manageable 75 percent. While all this is true, it overlooks some of the challenges we face in the US in resolving the debt crisis, the liabilities within the social Security System which are not counted in the national debt calculation and the potentially devastating effect of an international exodus from the US dollar if investors lost faith in our ability to manage our finances.

Greek People Take to the Streets to Protest Government Cuts

What the Greek situation today does illustrate is the significant social strains which will be places on American society in the event we do not find a long term solution to our fiscal situation. Somewhere around 2026, just 15 years from now, the majority of Americans who as of now depend on Social Security for a majority of their retirement will get a shock when their benefits are cut by 30 to 40 percent when the Social Security runs out of money. The social implications of this should be alarming to policy makers as it will place at risk the basic structure of American society. On one hand we will potentially have a massive displacement of older Americans, many of whom will be facing homelessness or massive restrictions of basic needs of life which we as a people have found to be unacceptable. On the other hand there will only be between 2.0 and 2.5 workers in the workplace to support each of those then receiving benefits and any tax increase to support those receiving benefits could easily double their total effective tax bill, a situation which would be socially, let alone politically unacceptable. The massive cuts in all spending and unavoidable tax increases would likely send Americans to the street.

Back in 1985 Ronald Reagan’s commission on Social Security proposed relatively modest adjustments to the cost of living increases in Social Security, many of which simply better reflected the actual cost of living for seniors, as well as a gradual increase in the retirement age. This represents the inevitable truth of Social Security, when created you received benefits at 65 when life expectancy was just 62. Then Senate Majority leader Bob Dole courageously endorsed the commission’s recommendations and as a result saw the Republican majority reduced to a minority in the 1986 midterm elections as the Democratic demagogues portrayed it as forcing seniors to eat cat food. Thus the myth of Social Security being the “third rail” of American politics was born, a myth reconfirmed in 2005 when President Bush half heartedly attempted to allow private investment and management of social security. Policy makers today can only wish they had options as painless as those Bob Dole chose to champion.

At its core, the federal budget deficit is a reflection of the fight for America’s self identity in the coming decades. President Obama is in fact a social-democrat, progressive, socialist or whatever you want to label those who seek a dramatically expanded a European style role for government. If you choose to support this view it is impossible not to dramatically increase taxes to pay for those services. This will also result in a change in the nature of American society to one where government replaces the entrepreneurial private sector as the leader of society. Those of us who believe that government’s role should be limited to national and domestic security and providing only a social safety net enough to ensure our citizens are not neglected must recognize the time has arrived to stop the inertia of government spending. This means revitalizing the private sector and true capitalism. We must restore the concept of moral hazard to the private sector: if your business is not successful and well managed then it should fail to be replaced by those who can. We must stimulate the private sector not with shovel ready dreams but with tax cuts to spur investment (a dramatic acceleration of capital depreciation on new investments as an example), reductions in government regulations and eliminating regulatory activists such as the NLRB (if Boeing wants to build a factory in South Carolina, it is no concern of the federal government, period). And raising the debt ceiling should be done to a reasonable ceiling, then prevented from increasing the next time we fail to live within our means.

The riots in the streets of Greece should be seen as a somewhat blurred and distorted by the filter of time look into our future if we stay on our current track. Over the past few years I have resisted supporting some of the more emotional movements calling for reductions in government. I believe we as Republicans must present a free market alternative to Obamacare rather than simply call for repeal. The responsibility of governing calls for the adoption of real solutions not just opposing the socialist programs of the left. We must show true fiscal stewardship of all elements of government spending such as defense (the elimination of programs even the Generals don’t want like the F136 “alternative” engine for the F 35). Every American must embrace less government spending even in their home town, not just the rest of the country. This will not be a one program Silver bullet but rather a line item by line item review of spending. While I truly fear the empty rhetoric we hear from all sides in Washington today, I have tremendous faith in the American people. When challenged the people have always faced sacrifice and restraint with strength and resolve. What is needed is the courage of leadership to make the case to the people those real solutions exist and a path to stability is defined. What we need is detailed reforms, not empty rhetoric; what we need are real leaders, not blow hards and demagogues. It truly is time to man up.

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Filed under 2012 Election, American Leadership, Barak Obama, Budget, Congress, Conservative, Free Markets, Health Care, Liberals, Obama Administration, Politics, Social Security, Spending, Taxes

Battleground 2012: An Insight into the Electorate

Way back in late 1999 (yes it was a long time ago) I became a regular reader of a great website called Voter.com which was a blog style site with prominent contributors from all perspectives mostly discussing the upcoming 2000 presidential election. Now Voter has long since disappeared, replaced by left or right dominated sites (welcome to the echo chamber) and more developed sites like Real Clear Politics or the Politico. But one gem has survived, The Battleground Poll, and now finds its home at The Politico and is sponsored by George Washington University. What makes Battleground special is it is a relatively deep poll with approximately 1,000 likely voters and is jointly conducted by Republican Pollster The Terrance Group and Democratic Pollster Lake Research Group. Additionally Battleground has an extensive set of relative questions and is very transparent in the polling methodology.

Read Analysis or Get a Copy of The Battleground Poll at the Politico

The current version offers an interesting insight into the minds of the American electorate that offers hope and caution to those of us who support the Republican Party, and also Democrats. On the surface, it appears Americans have endorsed divided government with the generic congressional ballot at 39 percent Strongly Democratic and 3 percent leaning Democratic while 37% Strongly Republican and 5 % leaning Republican and 16% expressing no opinion. In the November 2010 election the actual vote gave the republicans a 5 percent lead. On Job approval President Obama has a reasonable level of support with 34 percent Strongly Approving of his job performance, 18 percent Somewhat Approving, 34 percent Strongly Disapproving and 10 percent Somewhat Disapproving. This shows that the truly partisan sides are essentially equal, with 34 percent strongly Approving and Disapproving it’s those who feel less sure that seem to be driving the dynamic. It also seems the President received very little bound for Killing OBL. One cautionary note is the level of personal support President Obama has with 48 percent Strongly Approving of him and 24 percent Somewhat Approving as opposed to 15 percent who Strongly Disapprove and 4 percent who Somewhat Disapprove. This message is clear, the path to defeating Barak Obama rests in contrasting his policy positions and job performance as President, not is personal attacks. Really this is not a surprise since most Americans of all political affiliations genuinely want the President in office to succeed and support the office if not the occupant.

It is when you begin to look at the issues that it becomes clear the electorate is not in a good mood at all and the Administration is on the wrong side of many of the issues. To put it bluntly we as a people are scared of our economic future with 73 (58 strongly/15 leaning) percent feeling the next generation will be worse off than the current and just 24 (13/9) being optimistic for the next generation. This level of pessimism is almost without precedence and consistent with many other polls. Americans favor repealing the Healthcare Reform law 49 (37/12) percent to 42 (30/12) percent. Without any doubt the voters are focused on the economy and when asked what the single most important issue to them is, 28 percent respond the economy and jobs and 20 percent reply government spending and the budget deficits. This swamps all other issues in the poll. Please note this poll asked dozens of other questions and is packed with interesting data making it well worth a good solid read.

Inside this poll is a roadmap to the 2012 election for those who take the time to think about how the people feel. Personal attacks against any of the candidates are much less likely to gain traction than directly addressing and contrasting positions on economic issues. Addressing the current economy and real private sector job creation is what the voters seek. It seems people have become focused on how the threat the debt poses to the very future of the country. In many ways this is a flashback twenty years to the 1992 election and that campaign may provide a guide to victory. Lastly I think Healthcare poses a threat and opportunity to the GOP. While a plurality favor repealing it, a strong majority feel it went too far. Thus a proposal which did not simply propose repealing the law but contained real free market reform would significantly increase the popularity of such policies. Additionally comprehensive free market healthcare would prevent the leftists from trying to socialize healthcare down the road when they inevitably gain power again. Let’s just hope our candidates for the nomination keep the focus on the economy, in doing so they will ensure the retirement of Barak Obama.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Budget, Free Markets, Health Care, National Debt, Obama Administration, Politics, Republican Party, Spending, The Grand Old Party, The White House

The Executive Office of the Grim Reaper: The Sequel

Given how much our friends on the left love the Hollywood crowd, it should be no surprise that they would adopt one of their favorite tools, the sequel. This weekend we see the Obama Administration beginning to implement by way of administrative action that which they failed to achieve by legislative.  Over the Christmas holiday while the President had left Washington to join his family in Hawaii, the New York Times Reported (December 25, 2010) that Medicare would enact a regulation, effective January 1st 2011 that would provide for “end of life planning”. This is the concept that they attempted to include in the health care reform act last year which, after being dubbed “Death Panels” became the sing most controversial portion of the debate and which in the end had no support at all in congress, at least publically. So now the President will put into place through the back door that which he failed to get through the front.

Like so much the left proposes, End of Life Counseling has a very reasonable sound. The idea that an individual should discuss their wishes in advance with their physician and with their next of Kin is a very reasonable and indeed needed event. Less than a month ago my mother passed away and I found myself in the position of having to make certain decisions about what treatments she should be subjected to at the point where the chances of recovery were slim. Fortunately she and I had discussed her wished on a number of occasions and she has prepared a medical power of attorney which clearly assigned the responsibility to me. The doctor and I discussed her situation and the only other person I consulted was my wife, a Respiratory Therapist. No amount of preparation can prepare you for that moment, but in the end it was a family choice made with her physician.  I can think of no other situation, with the possible exception of the bedroom where the state has no role to play. Well apparently Barak Obama thinks the government has some good advice.

So why does the left want to get involved with end of life issues so bad? The answer is very basic; cutting spending on end of life care is the pot of gold that they need to fund their dream of socialized medicine for all. Additionally it is characteristic of the intellectual left’s view that the bureaucratic brain trusts they establish know better than the individuals whose lives they seek to intrude upon. They reason that the money spent on the last days of life can be better spent on their other pet projects. So they will begin to prepare guidelines as to how families should be counseled. However, the complication with end of life decisions is that rarely is it totally clear that you are at the end of a life. Yes, in some cased it may be obvious, or the use of “extraordinary measures” counter to the individuals wishes that a choice may be clear. But in most cases it is a much more complex decision, with multiple factors to consider and uncertain outcomes. It is not obvious in advance that death is indeed near.  This is where the family and the doctors directly involved with the case of the loved one are the only relevant decision makes. I can think of no more clear decision where government adds nothing to the situation, of insurance companies for that matter. On this I believe the vast majority of the American people agree, decisions on end of life health care are to be between the patient, their families and their doctors.

The next step in this process for the left are to “simplify choice’ by limiting the treatment options for the soon to be dead. With this decision we have begun yet another step in the establishment of a dominate role for the state in health care decisions.  The goal of the left, for the most part unstated, is to have decisions regarding health care made by those obviously more able to make good decisions, the government bureaucrats who are familiar with the issues. If those apparatchiks simply can make the populace understand the issues, there is no doubt they will agree. That was the Democrats entire logic regarding Health Care Reform: If we pass it they will ultimately agree. We see the same intellectual arrogance with this policy taking effect this week. Yet as the New York Times points out, the left are advising their supporters not to publically celebrate this “victory”, lest the American people react to it, before realizing the wisdom of the administration.

No other single action of the Obama administration had as much effect on the outcome of the November 2 election as Heath Care Reform.  The president would do best to listen to the American People and work with the Republicans to Reform the Reform of Health Care. If that does not happen, the GOP must act to stop this administrative action. The only tools that can have this affect is to explicitly prohibit the expenditure of ANY funds for any measure not expressly approved by congress. If the president prevents such controls by way of veto, they Republicans must defund the bureaucrats plotting these intrusions. If we allow this form of intrusive creep into the private decisions of the American people, it is almost inevitable that we will end up with a socialist health care system as our friends in Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union now have. Once we get to that point, reversing course will be almost imposable, a fact the left seems to be counting on now they cannot win the debate directly with the American people. This quite literally is a fight over life and death.

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Filed under Barak Obama, Congress, Health Care, Obama Administration, Republican Party