Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blow By Blow

The House health care vote is scheduled for tonight. Supposedly, this will be The End, as unlikely as that might be. Here's a round-up of perspectives from around the Horn:

Powerline notes that the concept of progressive health care reform remains unpopular. Americans Holding Firm Against Government Health Takeover

As today's House vote approaches, Scott Rasmussen released his final pre-vote health care poll. It shows opposition to the Democrats' government takeover bill as strong as ever, with only 41% of likely voters supporting the legislation, while 54% oppose it. So the Democrats' final push, with all of President Obama's personal efforts, has completely failed to convince Americans that the Democrats' approach to health care reform is the right one.

That's one of the marvels of this whole process: that Democrats have persisted in their vision of reform, despite wide-spread opposition. All Democrats have are other Democrats. Admittedly, there are plenty of Dems out there, but you can't continue to govern as a majority with just Democrats.

Legal Insurrection offers a final warning to progressives: you will lose much more than you will gain: Freedom So Willingly Relinquished
It truly amazes me that the left-wing of the Democratic Party, which foams at the mouth at the thought that the NSA might intercept a phone call from someone in the U.S. to a known al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan, is so willing to hand over to the government the power to control the most personal aspect of our lives.

What if Barack Obama were not President, and Democrats did not control Congress. Would liberals be so willing to give the federal government this sweeping power?

The answer to that question is so plainly obvious that it should give pause even to those so infected with
Obamamania that they have lost the ability to reason.

Liberals shouldn't wish too hard for the mandate, because they just may get it. Freedom, once
relinquished, is very hard to get back.
Fine sentiments. I agree with all of it. But, it will likely fall on deaf ears. Progressives sincerely - if wrongly - believe that there should be a "freedom from want." Also, the reform bill mostly takes freedom away from the people who don't support the bill. Members of the progressive coalition end up with the advantages, whether it's "free" health insurance, subsidized abortions, union carve outs, etc.

Larry Ribstein notes that the contentious 14-month process to get health care reform to this point should at least put to rest the idea that government is more efficient and rational than the free market: Sharks Or Pirates?

In any event, the stories about tomorrow's vote have given me a sort of perverse joy. It used to be hard to explain to somebody who didn't like markets that the political process wasn't any better. No longer will that be a problem.

Arnold Kling notes that this ostensibly "progressive" reform, touted by the leading lights from the media, politics, and academia, reflects an old-fashioned way of running a railroad: David Brooks Provokes

In this information age, the Progressives may be as threatened with irrelevancy as the industrial labor unions that they romanticize about. I think even most progressives recognize that it would be crazy to put a central control point or regulator in charge of all Internet content. Well, the economy as a whole shares the same complexity and dynamism as the Internet--indeed, the economy is in some sense merging with the Internet. So a highly-regulated economy is just not where trends are suggesting we should go.

At a point in history where the trend has been toward the diffusion of information, already the concentration of political power is creating anomalies, crashes, and mismanagement. Yet for now, the elite responds to this historical trend favoring diffusion of power by trying to grab more and more power for monopoly government in general and for Washington in particular.

Yeah, but many of the architects of the decentralized market are the sort of Prius-driving sophisticates who are Obama's most enthusiastic base of support, further evidence that voters often are unable to conceive that their political choices will impact their personal choices.

Kling also critiques the bizarre funding precedent set by the reform bill. Rather than setting aside money to fund health care reform, Dems have made Medicare cuts and declared that to be part of the funding: The Substantive Precedent In The Health Care Bill

What troubles me is the substantive precedent of using future cuts in Medicare benefits as a funding source. This is really weird, if you think about it.

Imagine that your crazy uncle Fred had bought a dozen cars on credit. As a result, he faces car payments far in excess of what he can afford. He comes to you and says he has a plan that in a couple of years will reduce his car payments by a few thousand dollars. "Now I have the money for a down payment on a boat!" he exclaims, as he runs off to the boat dealer.

The equivalent is for Congress to treat future cuts in Medicare as if they were a newfound source of wealth to be tapped. Once they adopt this precedent, they can increase spending on whatever they want, in unlimited amounts, while claiming deficit neutrality. Future Medicare spending is so high that you can always come up with cuts, as long as they deferred.

There's a lot in this bill that is unprecedented, yet the talking point has been "common sense reform." Come on! Common sense reform would be popular and could be set out in a short series of bills, not in 2000 page monsters. Not only has the political process been abused by health care reform, so has language itself.

Zombie re-posts an essay from earlier this year where she sets out the real reason people are opposed to health care reform. Consider this your warning of things to come: Why America Hates Universal Health Care

What I don’t like about the very concept of universal health care is that it compels me to become my brother’s keeper and insert myself into the moral decisions of his life. I’d rather grant each person maximum freedom. I’d prefer to let people make whatever choices they want, however stupid or dangerous I may deem those choices to be. Just so long as you take responsibility for your actions, and you reap the consequences and pay for them yourself — hey, be as foolish or hedonistic or selfish or thoughtless as you like. Not my business.

But if the bill for your foolishness shows up in the form of higher taxes on me, then I unwillingly start to care what you do. And, trust me on this, you don’t want me turning my heartless judgmental eye on your foolish lifestyle. Because I’d have no qualms criticizing half the stuff you do.

Do you want that? No. Do I want that? No. And that’s the point. Instituting a single-payer universal health-care system, or even a watered-down version as the government is now proposing, compels me to become a meddlesome busybody in your personal choices. And it will compel you to become a meddlesome busybody in everyone else’s personal choices. It forever douses the beautiful flame of individualism — freedom to act without interference, just so long as you are ready to accept the consequences, whatever they may be.

Zombie has a list of health-destroying behaviors that should really be the responsibility of the individual. But that's the whole point of progressive health care reform: freeing the individual from responsibility and making them dependent on the state.

Ed Morrissey writes that there are already quasi-military teams fanning across the country repossessing transplanted organs and other body parts:

In the future, the ill will be able to replace their failing organs with artificial body parts. They’d better not fall behind on their payments, however, or else Jude Law, Forest Whittaker, and a host of unsavory characters will come around not to break kneecaps but to repossess them.

Oh, wait. That's a review of Repo Men.

Randy Barnett repeats the argument made elsewhere that the individual mandate, among other things, may well be deemed to be unconstitutional. We should be so lucky. Such a result would require a judicial revolution on a par with the end of the Lochner era in the Thirties: Is Health Care Reform Constitutional?

The individual mandate extends the commerce clause's power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying "cash for clunkers" is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.

Barnett lists several other avenues of attack, but the mandate is the big one. How can it be that you have to enter into a particular transaction as a condition of citizenship? It is indeed unprecedented. Yep! Nothing but "common sense reform" here!

And, as a final insult, Gateway Pundit notes that the MSM barely covered the tens of thousands of people who showed up at the Capitol on 48-hours notice, while giving outsized attention to the usual 1,000-man rabble "protesting" the Iraq War. Didn't anyone tell these losers that the war is over and that we won? State Run Media Reports On 1000 Antiwar Nuts, Ignore 30,000 Anti-Obamacare Protesters

The state-run media today was all over the antiwar protest in Washington DC. At least 1,207 articles were published on the socialist’s march in DC.


Meanwhile, 30,000 tea party protesters met in Washington DC today to protest the democratic take over of the health care industry.

Maybe 288 articles were published on the massive turnout in the nation’s capitol. It was mostly ignored by the liberal media.

There were NO pro-Obamacare organized protests today in Washington DC.

The opposition to health care reform managed to crystallize in spite of the self-appointed "truth tellers" in the media is itself one of the remarkable elements of the health care struggle. And, I don't think enough attention has been paid to the last point above: there is absolutely no evidence of any groundswell of support for Obamacare. Quite the opposite. Oh, you might find some man on the street willing to discuss it on TV, or you might hear people discuss reform at the next table at the cafe, but there is simply no great outpouring of popular demand for the Democrat's bill. Its support really is built on sand.

Looking to the future, Red State suggests avenues of investigation for future GOP congressional chairs: List Of Items For The GOP To Begin Investigating Once They Take Back Power

Here is my initial list:

  1. The bribes to get health care passed.
  2. What did the Democrats know and when did they know it about Eric Massa.
  3. ACORN
  4. Kevin Jennings’ appointment
  5. The Sestak promises
  6. The Andrew Romanoff promises
  7. Barack Obama’s foreign campaign donors and what happened with that money
  8. Obstruction by the DOJ of North Carolina’s non-partisan elections laws
  9. DOJ lawyers who represented GTMO detainees
  10. Democratic congressional staffers disrupting Republican offices in 2006 in Colorado*

Maybe we could finally have some hearings about what's in the Democrats' health care bill (rimshot). But seriously, folks, if the GOP is going to enter into divisive congressional investigations, they need to be focused, targeted investigations, not the lame fishing expeditions that we saw in the Nineties. Don't use Dan Burton or Ken Starr as your models, study what someone like Chuck Schumer could do: he used a handful of "fired" US attorneys to humiliate Alberto Gonzalez and make Republicans look like idiots. For all the mendaciousness involved, so did Plamegate. It shouldn't be too hard to return the favor.

And finally, Bob Owens does some good old-fashioned rabble rousing: Fraud, Treason & Violence

The fraud Obama, Pelosi, and Reid and engaged in is a clear economic threat to the future of the United States, one which may bankrupt the nation. Their attempt to fundamentally transform our Republic through trickery and deceit are no less an affront to this nation that was the deception carried out by General Benedict Arnold when he attempted to hand over West Point to the British.

Does their fraud and conspiracy meet the legal definition of treason? No documents or conversations currently known to the public could support such a charge. But I defy anyone to proclaim that a conspiracy of politicians to seize one-sixth of the most powerful economy in the history of the planet by means of deception and lies is not morally a capital crime.

Nor do I suspect the Founding Fathers would have stood idly by as the Republic they envisioned was subverted into a lesser state where people became unwilling subjects to a greedy and ever-hungry government.

They would fight. They would kill, if they had to. They did.

I cannot forecast the future, and do not know if Sunday's vote on Obamacare will bring about a momentary respite from encroaching tyranny of our present government or usher us ever faster towards the precipice.

Like you, though, I am a student of history. We know that tyrants are never sated by small bites of freedom. They will continue to consume liberties until they are driven off, are killed, or are victorious.

Violence is in our nation's future. It remains to be seen if it will be violence towards tyrants, or violence towards liberty.

Now, when Owens uses a word like "violence" I think he means metaphorical violence, not physical. It's certainly easy to imagine continued dissension, if not civil disobedience, as health care reforms are implemented. It's also very easy to imagine black market medical care, an expansion of off-shore medical care in places like Costa Rica, American pharmaceutical companies incorporating in foreign jurisdictions, etc. There are a lot of ways to protest health care reform besides wandering around the Mall carrying funny signs. Busing was an emotional issue in the Seventies and while many people protested, the greater damage was done by the dreaded "white flight," whereby millions quietly left the cities for the suburbs, rather than allow their kids to be used in a massive, poorly conceived social experiment. Americans might not be able to escape the reach of Obamacare's taxes, but I bet we will continue to obtain health care - if we have the $$.

*I have no idea what this refers to.

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