Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health care discussion

UPDATE2: Content added on 3/24 at 6:36 AM - scroll down
UPDATE: Content added on 3/22 at 9:34 AM - scroll down
Original Post added on 3/22 at ~8:00 AM

I've heard it said that a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. I may be a fanatic, at this point, with regards this so-called "health-care reform" bill, soon to be signed-into law despite its glaring constitutional deficiencies. There are likely to be several posts about this before the week is over, mostly saying the same things, or linking to other people saying the same things. If you are as sick of this whole topic as I am, this may irritate you. And there's certainly a possibility that I'm just going to stop, because rather than releasing frustration, every keystroke and article read are increasing it.

So consider yourself warned.

Some health care thoughts from discussions I've had elsewhere with Someone Else (SE)1. This may get longer as the day goes on...

LB: I would love to have someone explain a) where the United States Constitution empowers the federal government to require that individual citizens purchase health insurance, and b) how this legislation will cut the federal budget deficit.

SE: a) The same place where it says Congress may make laws???

LB: That's not good enough. The Congress has limited powers which are specifically enumerated in article 1, sections 7 & 8. If they've got the power to make you buy health insurance, it's in one of those. I don't see it - maybe you could point it out to me. One would assume that would also mean that they have the power to make you buy diapers or cat food or velvet Elvis paintings or dwarf pornography, if that were to strike their fancy. If not, if you really think that Congress doesn't have the power to make you buy products you don't want, how is health insurance any different? If you do believe that they've got that power, well, your property isn't your property anymore, is it? You'd best hope they decide to let you keep it, since you've decided that you've no right to it.

SE: b) reduce the overall costs of Medicare and Medicaid (Oh, my, government run socialized health care!!).

LB: What experience with government, at any level, has convinced you that it's capable of doing ANYTHING efficiently? What on earth makes you think that Medicare and Medicaid are going to get less expensive now that the government's going to put more people on them? What government agency have you ever seen run more efficiently, effectively and cheaply than a comparable private enterprise?

SE: I think I'd look at the issue from another angle. Defeat of health care reform in Congress is the only obstacle to its fruition. Can you realistically foresee a constitutional challenge to the legislation?

LB: Are you suggesting that this somehow does NOT get a constitutional challenge?

"Attorneys general in three states — Virginia, Florida and South Carolina — have indicated they will file legal challenges to the measure, on the grounds that it violates the Constitution by requiring individuals to purchase insurance."

NY Times

There's a large group of state attorney's general who had a conference call last night and are planning a multi-state lawsuit. "We plan to file the moment Obama signs the bill. I anticipate him signing it tomorrow. Check back for an update at that time. I will post a link to the lawsuit when it is filed. It will lay out why the bill is unconstitutional and tramples individual and states rights."

Now, what the courts will do with is anyone's guess, but it's absolutely going to the courts. That's not even a question.

Look, we're either governed by a Constitution which means something or we're not. The powers of Congress are enumerated in Article I, section 8. Keep in mind that the 10th amendment decrees that "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." Now go back to Article I, section 8, and tell me where the constitutional authority for forcing citizens to purchase any specific product is. (Hint: The reason it's hard to find is that IT ISN'T IN THERE!)

UPDATE: Bumped at 9:34 AM

SE: No suggestion of that at all. I'm simply looking at the likelyhood of success of the challenge as telling.

No doubt the challenge will have an excellent argument as you've intimated, however the view is clearly partisan and the speed and urgency of its timing smacks of political drama more than anything.

LB: Seriously, is the Constitution a partisan document? If the Federal Government has the power to force citizens to buy a product, from whence does that power spring? Cite me an article and section, quote some text.

Again, I don't know what the courts will do. They've allowed the federal government to do a great many things which are not sanctioned by the Constitution. That doesn't mean that they'll allow this, but who knows?

But if it's a partisan argument to be saying, "hey, the Constitution is supposed to limit the power of the federal government, and We The People have NOT granted them the power to take this step," then hell yes, I'm partisan. I know for damned sure which side of that argument I want to be on.

It isn't enough that someone thinks that it might be a good idea. It isn't enough that Nancy Pelosi has the best intentions in the world (a premise which I don't grant anyway, but for purposes of discussion...) It wasn't enough that Richard Nixon's men thought it was vital to the national interest that he be re-elected, or that he thought it was important to preserve the prerogatives of the executive branch. If the Constitution doesn't give them the right to do it, they can't do it, and you can't acquiesce even if you like the result. Because once you've ceded this ground, how do you argue against the next thing, the one that you DON'T like? How do you argue when they pass a law decreeing that all American citizens must purchase a gym membership and food from specified "healthy food" dealers, because after all, it's for their own good? Either there's a legitimate constitutional power being exercised here or there's not. If not (and I believe that there's not), they must not be allowed to do it. If there is, show me where in the document that it comes from.

UPDATE2 (4/24):
SE: Repeal it? Really? Wow. Huh. Unconstitutional? Really? Huh. Don't think I've ever seen so much kicking and screaming among supposed adults. Or so much sore loser-ness. 'But Daddy! sniffle...cry...I want the Big ice cream cone!! And I don't want anyone else to have ANY!

LB: The high deficit concern on the part of Republican voters has been there for years - disgusted conservatives are a big part of the reason that the Democrats won the Congress in 2006, at which point in time, the deficit explosion began. Before that, it was trending downward.

And if you believe that the Federal Government is constitutionally empowered to force a private individual to purchase some good or service from a private company, please show me, article and section, from whence that power derives. Because I don't see it. I think that the "individual mandate" is unconstitutional. Blatantly. I've yet to see a compelling argument that it's not.

And it's just plain wrong to be forcing people to buy things they don't want. Seriously, if the government can make you purchase health insurance, what can't they make you purchase? And why not? Where's the constitutional prohibition on making all citizens subscribe to pay pornography channels to keep the adult film business in the black? Yeah, they're probably not going to do that, but if they wanted to, is it your position that it would be constitutionally permissible? If it isn't, how is it that they can make a single man buy health insurance that includes (and charges for) pediatric, gynecological and maternity services?

We live, at least theoretically, in a constitutional Republic. Our representatives are supposed to be bound by the constitution. If you, as apparently they, don't give a damn what the constitution says, then be honest and say it. But don't whine and moan when those of us who do believe that the government should be bound by it express that.

As for repeal, that can't happen with Obama in the White House. But a majority of the American people, according to all of the polling data, did not want this bill and still don't. The bill's been 10+ points underwater in the polls for seven months now, and they still bribed congresspeople and twisted arms and forced it through. It's a constitutional abomination. It has special deals all over the place, including airports for Bart Stupak's district, every other state paying Nebraska's share of the Medicare costs in exchange for Ben Nelson's Christmas Eve vote, etc.

And that "don't want anyone else to have any" is a disgusting comment. The idea that this bill is going to make anything better for anyone is a fantasy. This is a delusional bill that allows the people who support it to climb into bed at night secure in their virtue, because they "care" about "the less fortunate," and ignore the fact that it's going to drive up costs, drive up premiums, put people out of work, put companies out of business, stop innovation and bring the country closer to the brink of bankruptcy. But hey, it's those EEEEVIL Republicans that don't care about anyone...

1 - Someone Else is two different people at first posting - again, that may change...

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