Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘health care bill’

Republican leaders continue to embarrass themselves on healthcare reform

Posted by sanityinjection on July 14, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has just released the latest version of a Republican healthcare bill to replace Obamacare. And almost immediately, the bill is in danger of failing a procedural vote just to allow it to be debated. And so, like the sand in the hourglass, these are the days of the Republican-controlled Congress, marked chiefly by a complete inability to accomplish anything of importance. But the paralysis on healthcare is especially embarrassing because this is the issue on which so many Republican legislators ran. Remember the refrain: “Repeal and replace!” It seems like forever ago now.

The danger is very real that voters will punish a do-nothing Congress in the next election. Republican voters who believed the promises will be especially ticked off. So knowing this, why can’t the GOP caucus get its act together?

The problem, as usual, is that leadership is over-complicating the bills. In order to try to please and gain the support of all three wings of the party – liberal, centrist, and conservative – they keep adding things to the legislation to win over these groups. Of course, since those factions have very different goals, each thing leadership adds ends up losing more votes on one side than it gains on the other.

What McConnell and his team should do now is abort this latest bill and start fresh by remembering *why* Republicans were opposed to Obamacare in the first place. It wasn’t because they were against expanding access to health insurance for the poor. For most, it wasn’t even because they opposed spending more federal money on healthcare. No, think back and recall that there was one single provision of Obamacare that Republicans across the spectrum were dead-set against. That was the individual mandate, which forces Americans to purchase health insurance and fines us if we don’t.

The individual mandate is prima facie unconstitutional (I don’t care what the Supreme Court said.) It is difficult to imagine a similar federal law requiring Americans to purchase any other good or service. It’s also thinly disguised socialism, as the purpose of the mandate is to force wealthier and healthier people to pay into the insurance system to subsidize the premiums of poorer and sicker people.

The essence of effective legislating is not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. Or to put it another way,  a small victory is always better than a large failure. The only way I can see for Republicans to salvage something out of the healthcare mess is to simply pass a stripped-down bill that only does one thing: repeal the individual mandate. GOP legislators would then be forced to either support the bill or be caught nakedly going back on their campaign promises without any extra language they can point to to justify their opposition. It should be able to get enough Republican votes to pass both the House and Senate.

Of course, the Democrats will scream that repealing the individual mandate will “kill children” because of the socialist funding system mentioned above. This polemic, however, can be easily undercut by establishing a private, non-profit charitable fund to help pay for health insurance for those who cannot afford it but are ineligible for Medicaid. Contributions to the fund, however, will be a matter of public record. Then it will be up to the Democrats to get all their rich Hollywood celebrity friends, and George Soros, to put *their* money, instead of our money, where their mouths are. Heck, if they want to, they can buy multiple health insurance policies for themselves to put more money into the system. But once again, there will be no political place to hide on either side of the aisle.

I’m not under any illusion that anything as sensible as what I’ve just outlined is going to happen. Over-complicating things is what keeps Washington going, it’s what pays the salaries of all the bureaucrats and lobbyists. It’s an excellent example of why bigger government invariably becomes worse government.

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Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Senators bribed to pass health care bill

Posted by sanityinjection on December 21, 2009

Every time you think Congress can’t possibly hit any more new lows, they always find a way to prove you wrong. The latest embarrassment? It turns ou that the only way Senate Democrats were able to herd all 60 of their cats into voting for their Frankenstein’s monster of health care bill was by outright bribery. The bill includes a slew of special provisions and giveaways only for the home states of the Senators  who needed convincing – to the tune of more than $10 billion.

What this means is that on top of the higher taxes we’re all going to end up paying to support this fiasco, most of us will be paying even more to finance Medicaid in Nebraska, Louisiana, Vermont and Massachusetts, community health centers in Vermont (does Vermont even have enough people to fill *one* community health center?), tax exemptions for non-profit insurers in Nebraska and Michigan, and Medicare supplements in Pennsylvania, Florida, and New York.

The most disgusting example was Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who at least had the grace to be embarrassed enough that he referred all questions about the bribe to Senate leader Harry Reid.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

F*** the rich

Posted by sanityinjection on July 15, 2009

Apaprently, that’s the new motto of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Their newly unveiled health care expansion bill proposes to pay for its $1.2 trillion cost primarily by way of a new surtax (surtax means, “on top of all the other taxes they already pay”) of between 1 and 5.4% on those who earn more than $350,000 annually.

For the record, let me state that I don’t make anything close to that figure and probably never will. So I have no immediate self-interest at stake if such a tax is imposed. But I’m appalled that the party controlling our federal government has apparently committed itself to wide-scale redistribution of wealth – punishing those who have been successful in order to help those who have not.

You have probably heard the economic arguments a million times, how taxing the rich simply shrinks the overall economic pie by diminishing investment capital. (In fact, something like 60% of tax revenue already comes from just the top 5% of earners.) I’m not going to belabor this point, as true as it is.

Instead, let me make a philosophical argument. Most of us accept the principle of paying taxes to the government to support the essential services that government provides (though we often disagree about what those services should be.) We like to imagine that every American makes a contribution – though in fact huge swathes of people pay no federal taxes at all because of their low incomes. (I am not convinced that someone who makes $20,000 a year can’t afford $1 in federal taxes as opposed to $0.) We also like to imagine that every American pays a fair percentage of their income in taxes. (In fact, wealthy Americans not only pay more in absolute dollars – which they should – but are taxed at higher rates determined arbitrarily.)

However, it should make us uneasy when the government starts singling out groups of taxpayers and making them pay more in taxes while others are spared. Imagine, for example, if the federal government decided that Asian-Americans should be taxed at a higher rate because they are, on average, better educated and more successful than other Americans, and can “better afford to pay.” I think we would all agree that would be an outrage.

So why isn’t it an outrage when the group in question is defined by income level? People who make $350,000 or more are not crooks who take advantage of the poor; they are ordinary Americans who have worked hard to become successful in their fields, and generally added great value to our economy by creating jobs, developing new products and services, or expanding consumer access. They are already paying *more* than their fair share under our current tax system. To impose an additional surtax is just punitive.

With each passing day of this Administration, our government’s policies seem more and more to reflect the maxim, “From each according to ability; to each according to need.” If that sounds familiar, it should – it is one of the founding principles of socialism – and an official slogan of the Soviet Union. Is that what we want to model our country after? Was that model so stunningly successful that it should be resurrected here in America?

Keep this in mind when you hear the Democrats talking about the “ability to pay” of the wealthy and those who “need” subsidized health care. They are not trying very hard to conceal their goal here. I just wish there were more voices outside the Republican Party (Nobody takes Republicans seriously when they cry socialism anymore) willing to stand up and denounce this for what it is. Middle America needs to remember that, to paraphrase Martin Niemoller, if they do not speak out on behalf of the rich now, there will be no one left to speak out for them, when our government eventually comes for them.

Our society will self-destruct when we reach the point where all those who are productive are sucked dry of their lifeblood in order to nurture those who are not. Don’t look now, Ayn Rand, but Atlas is shrugging.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »