Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?

November 20, 2009

Politics

Senator Sam Brownback
Senator Pat Roberts

As a concerned citizen of the state of Kansas and the United States, I am horrified by the US Senate’s proposed health care legislation. I cannot fully define all of the problems that I believe are built into this legislative leviathan. But here are some of my major challenges:

1. This bill supports the creation of a federal bureaucracy in the health care sector of our economy. And while I do favor ensuring that US citizens are never w/o catastrophic health care, I cannot support any plan that expands government control of the health care industry. There are several reasons for my concerns:

a) I have read the Constitution many times. And the 10th Amendment is clear: the federal government has no powers that are not specifically articulated in the Constitution itself. And I see no clauses in the Constitution that empower the federal government to ever regulate the health care industry. And while I do recognize the Supreme Court’s authority to interpret the Constitution, where can they find such powers? In a mythical penumbra of powers given Congress in the commerce clauses? This is an absurd exaggeration of what our Founding Fathers intended.

b) Apart from defense spending, the government does not have any kind of a proven track-record in these areas. At the same time, the government has proven to be a sub-optimal player in health care (witness the VA and Medicare).

2. This bill will further exacerbate an already uncontrollable (and fiscally irresponsible) expansion of the national debt. I know I can’t afford to pay more taxes – unless I stop buying anything but essentials. Of course, such reductions in spending will only further deflate the economy. Worse still, this bill will imperil the future of my four children and my one grandchild. Finally, it is positively obscene that this bill would collect taxes for years even before a single penny is spent for currently uninsured citizens. Is this because the program is not self-funding? And if it isn’t, what happens in the second decade when there isn’t any surplus remaining?

3. While the current bill has not been finalized, there is no way that we should consider extending health care to people that are here illegally. I support relaxed immigration. But I can’t understand why we want to spend tens (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars to provide health care to criminals who violate our laws. The utter hypocrisy of such a situation is unfathomable.

4. I am horrified that even one penny of my income would ever go to fund the unconscionable murder of unborn children. I won’t belabor a thoroughly noxious debate. But I cannot imagine the government forcibly taking my income to kill innocent children. By not supporting the funding restrictions of the House bill (i.e., the Stupak amendment), you will be forcing me to commit what I believe is murder. This is a fundamental change to our system of compassionate governance.

With these and many more things in mind, I urge you to vote against even considering this piece of legislation. From my perspective, such a step would vacate our claim that we are a nation founded upon the motto “In God We Trust.”

Sincerely

Lorin Olsen
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10 Comments on “Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?”

  1. Ben Hoffman Says:

    I urge you to find out what’s really in the bill. You’re extremely misinformed.

    Reply

    • cyclingroo Says:

      Ben, I’m glad you stopped by to provide your input. But I challenge you to an informed discussion and not a recitation of fallacies. Specifically, please let me know which items of my post are misinformed? If you can’t do this, then I’ll have to assume that you just came to issue ad hominem statements.

      Reply

  2. Ben Hoffman Says:

    Hey cycling, I don’t mean to run you off the road, but here are some of your fallacies:

    [And the 10th Amendment is clear: the federal government has no powers that are not specifically articulated in the Constitution itself.]

    That’s a bit of a stretch. There are many federal agencies run by the government that are not defined in the Constitution. Where is the Constitution does it say anything about Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, to name a few?

    Now, the requirement for everyone to carry insurance may be a different story, but you didn’t mention that. And there is an opt-out clause so states don’t have to participate.

    [Apart from defense spending, the government does not have any kind of a proven track-record in these areas. ]

    Neither does the private sector. Medicare operates with a 3% overhead, which is pretty efficient. Compare that to about a 20% overhead for private insurance.

    [This bill will further exacerbate an already uncontrollable (and fiscally irresponsible) expansion of the national debt. ]

    No, the health care bill will actually cut the deficit:
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4d6e5098-d4ab-11de-a935-00144feabdc0.html

    [Finally, it is positively obscene that this bill would collect taxes for years even before a single penny is spent for currently uninsured citizens.]

    No, that’s called fiscal responsibility. First you complain about the deficit and the debt, but you criticize efforts to curb them.

    [While the current bill has not been finalized, there is no way that we should consider extending health care to people that are here illegally.]

    The bill specifically states that illegals will not get access.

    [I am horrified that even one penny of my income would ever go to fund the unconscionable murder of unborn children.]

    The Hyde Amendment prohibits any federal funding for abortions. That has not changed.

    There you go. 🙂

    Reply

    • cyclingroo Says:

      Ben,

      Thanks for spending the time for a very thoughtful reply. And while I don’t think I have the time to provide a full rebuttal, I think I’ll focus on a few points:

      1. Federal Power:

      “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.”

      Please read this and let me know if anything is unclear. I do agree that courts have “extended” things in the Constitution so they are not in direct conflict with the 10th Amendment.

      For example, the Commerce clause was used by Congress (and approved by SCOTUS) for Depression-era reforms. Indeed, Commerce clause expansion is the hear tof things like the FTC and the FCC. But a sound argument can be made that there is little (or no) foundation for such extensions. But that said, where can you conceivably find the power to regulate healthcare as a federal power. You can make the argument. But that doesn’t mean the argument valid. Indeed, I would contend that any such argument is specious and unjustified – based simply upon the intent of the Framers.

      If you think the federal government needs such powers based upon the current situation, then amend the Constitution accordingly. That way, it is clear that this power is approved by the States and the citizens.

      2. The Efficacy of the Federal Government

      You and I may have “to agree to disagree” on this. I would submit that a blanket statement about governmental efficacy will not hold – on either end. There are good programs and their are bad programs. And good programs can become ineffective just a bad programs can become effective.

      My point is more abstract. I trust people – not institutions. And I sometimes don’t trust people. I agree with Lord Acton that the concentration of power into the hands of fewer people invariably leads to corruption. I also believe in the words of Thomas Payne: “That government governs best which governs least.”

      At the deepest level of this argument is a fundamental truth: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I don’t expect governments to act any different then I expect people to act. And the best way to build a hedge against the selfish nature of people is to disseminate power and not concentrate it into fewer hands.

      3. The Healthcare Bill Will Not Be Self-funding

      Given the current budgetary forecasts, it’s hard to tell what would really be the immediate and long-term fiscal impacts of this policy. So let’s look at history. Very few federal programs meet their initial budgetary claims. BTW, this is no different than corporate budgets and corporate business cases.

      The only way that this will every be budget neutral is if tax revenues are raised. Indeed, the very basis of this program’s financing is that it will take ten years of anticipated revenues to fund five or six years of anticipated expenses.

      This kind of math doesn’t work in elementary schools, let alone in the hallways of Congress.

      If you want to trust estimates from biased sources, then please feel free to do so. I would rather trust in historical precedent. If my child has lied to me, then I am less likely to trust their “word” than if they had always spoken truthfully.

      In my case, I cannot trust any politician on this. I just watched Mary Landrieu support the motion for cloture. She will vote against the bill in the end. But by supporting the cloture vote, she has allowed the bill to pass with a simple majority. She will claim that she voted against the bill. But her cloture bill was bought and paid for. She demonstrates why I cannot trust self-serving budgetary estimates.

      4. Abortion Is An Intractable Issue

      You and I must agree to disagree on this. I believe abortion is murder. You do not. I do not want to pay to murder God’s creation. You have a different opinion. If everyone agreed that the Hyde Amendment would preclude such expenses, then the Stupak language would be unnecessary. It is necessary as untrustworthy politicians are looking for a way to have it both ways. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.” If you want to fund abortion, then say so. If you want it unfunded, then say so.,

      As for me and my house, we say abortion is wrong. And I will not pay for it.

      Reply

    • cyclingroo Says:

      BTW, I really do like the “run you off the road” analogy. It made this cyclist smile a bit – as it happens to me all the time. And while I go by “Roo,” my name is Lorin. And I’m very glad to have a good discussion on this matter.

      Reply

  3. Ben Hoffman Says:

    [My point is more abstract. I trust people – not institutions. And I sometimes don’t trust people. I agree with Lord Acton that the concentration of power into the hands of fewer people invariably leads to corruption. I also believe in the words of Thomas Payne: “That government governs best which governs least.”]

    I like the football analygy. Football is a great sport — not as good as when Elway played — but still a great sport. (I live in Denver, by the way.) Now, how good would the game be if they took away all the rules?

    Business is the same way. There need to be rules to keep everybody honest and to provide a level playing field. In the late 90s, some of the major rules for banks were repealed — specifically, the Glass-Steagall Act, which was enacted during the Great Depression to prevent banks from gambling with our money.

    With insurance, the insurance companies play by their own rules. They’re exempt from anti-trust laws. The can deny coverage to whoever and whenever they choose. And they can raise rates because they operate as cartels.

    Now, I’d rather see regulation to keep insurance companies honest, and that’s part of the new proposals, but what’s wrong with a government run plan? The question is: who would you rather make a decision about your health? Someone who profits by denying your coverage or someone with no financial motives?

    Reply

    • cyclingroo Says:

      Ben,

      I agree that insurance companies need to be monitored and/or regulated. Indeed, that is a valid check and balance. But the various healthcare bills don’t do that; they replace the entire system with a government system that has NO checks and balances. You are right not to trust private businesses as they are not responsive to anyone except shareholders. But don’t trust the government either – for the very same reason. Let’s keep the checks and balances in place and not replace an oligarchy with a dictatorship.

      Reply

      • Ben Hoffman Says:

        [they replace the entire system with a government system that has NO checks and balances.]

        That’s just plain wrong. They don’t replace anything. They offer another option. All the existing insurance plans will remain as they are, albeit, they may need to lower their rates to compete with the government option.

      • cyclingroo Says:

        Ben,

        If you believe that the government “option” will be optional (in the long term), then I’ve got some waterfront property for you… When the government enters a market, it destroys that market. It will crowd out all economically viable alternatives. It can do this for one simple reason: the government doesn’t have to show a profit to anyone. Instead, it can operate at a loss (deficit) until it drives private offerings out of business. Indeed, it is the same unfair competition that you see in monopolies and oligopolies.

      • cyclingroo Says:

        Ben,

        I’m not the only person who thinks that the Senate Democrats are smoking something foul. Today, Rasmussen released some fascinating numbers. Only 16% now believe passage of the plan will lead to lower health care costs. Nearly four times as many (60%) believe the plan will increase health care costs. Most (54%) also believe passage of the plan will hurt the quality of care.

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