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Friday, March 26, 2010
Musings on ObamaCare

Where do we go from here, and what if we win this one?

Is This More Choice than We'll Eventually Have in Health Care?

I haven't blogged about ObamaCare since the President signed it. Rather than telling you why just now, I think I'll let you choose a reason:

  1. LBB didn't allow it.
  2. I was suffering from ObamaCare burnout.
  3. I bought it when Speaker Pelosi said the other day that one reason to pass the bill was to find out what's in it, and I was waiting to find out what's in it.

Hmmm. Perhaps it's a trick question. I'm not sure than any of the options is altogether false. The first and second are basically true. The third may be true in the sense that I think I'm still waiting for a clearer picture of what's really in the bill -- but not in the sense that I agree with Speaker Pelosi.

The following thoughts are not particularly organized; nor are they thematically united, except in the general sense that are rooted in my opposition to the measure.

Really Big Constitutional Crisis Averted, Remaining One Is Just Big

The constitutional crisis which seemed to be looming when the House leadership was seriously considering pretending they had passed the bill, but not actually voting on it, was averted. What they would have done if they hadn't had the votes, I don't know. At least the constitutional crisis which remains is of a more conventional variety: Congress passed, and the President signed, a bill which is beyond their constitutional authority. It's not as if that hasn't happened before, though of course this bill is much greater in cost and transformative intent than most. But at least they really passed it.

Lawsuits have already been filed, and there are more to come. Their outcome is uncertain, and it would be unwise to count on them to overturn the whole package, even if the Supreme Court is currently the most conservative branch of the US goverment. Remember how President George W. Bush reportedly signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, only because he was sure the Court would overturn it right away? Oops.

Hence . . . Whither?

What do we do now? some have wondered in my general direction. By "we" we mean people who are fonder of limited, constitutional government and our splendid American heritage of personal, adult freedom than of shallow promises of security and a child's freedom from want and worry. Conservatives, I mean.

We calmly, firmly, intelligently set about repealing ObamaCare, that's what. It will probably require substantial conservative victories in the next two elections to get there, and some of the damage will already have been done, but much of the legislation doesn't kick in until after 2012 anyway.

It's possible that by 2013 even some Democrats still in Congress will be ready to repeal it, but we clearly cannot rely on them. A conservative third party is another phrase for surrender. We'll have to rely on the Republicans.

This means that we have to fix the Republican Party first, which will take more than a bandaid. A small revolution is more like it. The Republican Party which led us to this ugly juncture, the corrupt, spendthrift Congressional majority which got the defeat it so richly deserved in the November 2006 election, cannot do what needs to be done. I think the needed revolution is already under way, but its victory is not a given, and neither is that victory's longevity, should it actually occur.

As I told my precinct at Tuesday evening's caucus . . .

We need articulate, intelligent, experienced representatives who can reach beyond a likely conservative minority to build a larger, but still conservative, majority on specific major issues, rallying their peers to the language of the Constitution, not to someone else's list of principles or some right-wing litmus test. We need practical leaders with sound conservative principles, not ideologues who have nothing but principles.

We have a great deal of work to do, and some of it will be messy. But it is good, consequential work. It is American work, and it is less daunting -- though perhaps just as important -- as American work others have done before us, not to mention for us.

By the way, that work includes devising, then selling, a compelling conservative solution to our health care issues. The ideas are out there, though widely ignored by the BMA and the party they mostly serve. These ideas need to be assembled intelligently into a coherent, sensible, irresistible package, which must then become the object of a long, aggressive campaign. By long I mean years. (One of the best places to look for such ideas is the Heritage Foundation. Read and reread there.)

Calmly, Calmly

Remember that I used the word calmly just now? The people threatening and actually committing violence directed at Democrats who voted for the package are criminals and should be treated as such. I know that some of the stories are proving to be false or exaggerated. I know that the media is making a much bigger deal about these incidents than about a few similar crimes directed at Republicans lately. I know that they largely ignored the hoods who desecrated churches and disrupted church services in many states after Proposition 8's passage in California. The playing field is severely slanted; this is widely known. We simply have to deal intelligently with that fact and not lose our cool.

The only threat we need is the threat to send those elected officials into retirement. Even it is of limited use; any number of Democrats voted to pass ObamaCare knowing full well that it would likely end their careers on the Hill. So we can threaten their defeat all we want, I guess, but we might as well save our breath and energy and calmly, firmly, and intelligently set about defeating them.

While we're at it, by the way, let's reserve some energy for defeating other big, bad things, like the EPA's attempt to impose devastating carbon dioxide restrictions, even after cap-and-trade legislation failed. It's really part of the same battle.

If I Had a Nickel for Every Question . . .

There are still many questions about the health care bill. A lot of them matter, and some of them matter a lot.

Will it fund elective abortions after all?

Will people decide it's cheaper to pay the fine than to buy the health insurance they don't want? Will people making rational economic decisions wait to buy health insurance until they're sick, if they cannot be denied then, and thus increase costs for everyone?

Will the bill of "fixes" ever be signed, making the whole thing worse and more costly?

How draconian will the bureaucrats be, when expensive care for a senior citizen is proposed? What about the same question, but involving a baby who will impose unusual costs on the system for its entire lifetime, if its life is saved in the first place?

Where will Canadians go for health care, once our system is as broken as theirs?

How much more will it all cost than they said, in taxes and in premiums? In economic and social devastation?

Will the government respond to an increasing number of doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies turning away Medicare patients (because real businesses cannot operate at a loss indefinitely) by making it illegal to turn them away, or by radically increasing funding (and therefore tax burdens), or both? Will many providers actually leave the business, because they can't survive financially or can't stand the extreme micromanagement from above? Will Congress have to make it illegal for a medical business to go out of business? (We're verging on Atlas Shrugged with this one -- a massive novel, by the way, with far fewer pages than the health care takeover bill that just passed.)

Will this one-trillion-dollars-and-counting new obligation be the straw that breaks the US credit rating's back? What will happen when debts we already can't afford become much more expensive as a result?

Will ObamaCare cover illegal immigrants, after all those promises that it would not? Does it really provide Viagra for sex offenders?

Will anyone who is anyone bat an eye over Castro's enthusiasm for ObamaCare?

There are more questions, including many we haven't discovered yet, but that's enough for now.

Something to Ponder in the Long Term

What if the Democrats had put together a leaner health care takeover package, with economic calculations that were somewhat credible instead of ridiculous? What if they hadn't already increased our debt and deficits radically, and had waited to propose the legislation until the economy was more or less booming? What if they hadn't been so arrogrant and corrupt -- and so publicly -- in crafting and passing this legislation? What if they had cunningly proposed a bill which was actually moderate on its face, and not so immediately transformational, but which just as surely sounded the death knell for the private health care and insurance industries? Would the people have risen up as they have? Would they have had to buy votes in the Senate with multi-hundred-mllion-dollar bribes?

I think it would have passed, and with much less drama, too, because I don't think that enough of the opposition is grounded in a love for freedom and personal responsibility. Remove the fiscally irresponsible prologue and the anger and horror at the blatant payoffs and bullying, and remove some of the more offensive provisions from the bill, thereby denying the opposition their most effective talking points and much of their passion, and the cleaner legislation would have passed with more Democratic and some Republican votes and would be virtually impossible to repeal. We'd be up Welfare State Creek without a paddle.

As it is, at least we have a paddle. Two or three, maybe.

Suppose we win this one eventually. The statists will learn their lesson and put forward that other bill. How will we oppose it then, and with what? Think about it, then we'll talk. This is one form of what has been the foremost political question in my mind for a year and a half.

Meanwhile . . . and even after that . . . calmly, firmly, intelligently.

Non Sequitur: I Shouldn't Do This

Shouldn't the expression be down the creek without a paddle? That's more of a problem. If you're upstream, you can come down with the current, right?

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