Daily Archives: November 13, 2010

Health Care: The Canary in the Coalmine

By Jerry McDaniel

America is perhaps one of the only places on earth where ordinary citizens have the power to substantially change the policies of government without armed revolution; that is, IF we act before Obama and his minions become so entrenched that he can completely override the Constitution and rule by Executive Order as many of his advisers are already encouraging him to do.

During the next two years, Republicans will attempt to dismantle much of the Obama agenda, particularly, the recently passed health care bill. At present, there are a number of plans for doing so. Some twenty states have filed a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the individual mandate. Other states have indicated they will not attempt to enforce parts of the legislation requiring major outlay of funds by the states. Several Republican members of Congress have half-heartedly promised to introduce bills to repeal the health care legislation, while expressing the belief that outright repeal will not be possible.

Any efforts short of total repeal will constitute a major victory for progressivism and another giant step toward the eventual abandonment of the Constitution. It is not necessary that we accept the health care bill as written in order to give the federal government ultimate control over our lives and almost one third of our economy.  It is only necessary that we accept the premise that the federal government has the power to regulate the nation’s health care system.

Money is always the key. Currently, most health care for persons under sixty-five is paid for through private or employer paid insurance. Private health care insurance companies are now regulated by the individual states. Once the power to regulate has been shifted from the states to the federal government, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires, the federal government will be able to regulate insurance companies out of business by requiring coverage that private companies cannot meet and remain solvent. As private insurance companies abandon the marketplace, the only alternative is single-payer insurance through the federal government.

As is now true with Medicare, once the government becomes the only source of health care funding, it can then determine through its payment schedules the medical treatment and procedures individual patients will be eligible to receive. Federal government involvement in the health care field through Medicare and Medicaid for the past fifty years or so has already pushed the cost of medical treatment far beyond the financial ability of the average person, by increasing the demand.

Alaska and Minnesota so far, have refused to apply for ACA grants to set up insurance exchanges in their states. However, as a recent article in TIME points out, there is a provision in the legislation that permits the federal government to step in and take over when states refuse to cooperate. If that isn’t bad enough, what will trigger the Fed’s take over has not been defined yet. That is left for the Health and Human Service’s rule-making authority to determine. The ACA is a lose-lose proposition for the American people. Accepting any part of the bill requires that we first accept the federal government’s power to regulate health care and health care insurance in America.

A centerpiece of the Republican plan is to allow for the purchase of health care across state lines. On the surface that sounds good, however, once that becomes law then the insurance companies can be regulated by the feds with little resistance under the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution. Either way the result is the same. Health care has become the canary in the coalmine. If we are unable to effect a total repeal of ACA, we can wave goodbye to the Constitutional Republic our ancestors and we have enjoyed for the past two-hundred plus years.



Earmarks: An Efficient and Economical Form of Corruption

By Jerry McDaniel

Congress is scheduled to return to Washington on Monday for its 2010 “lame duck” session. It is shaping up to be one of the most watched sessions in recent memory as everyone will be waiting to see whether Congress “got the message” sent by the voters on November 2. Next to the health care bill and tax increases, the practice of earmarks is likely to be one of the more contentious items on the agenda.

Earmarks have for decades been the safest, most economical and efficient form of the political art of corruption practiced in Washington. Democrats and Republicans alike will attempt to defend earmarks based on the relative low costs when compared with the overall budget. That is a good argument if we ignore the purpose of earmarks and do not measure it against the “gold standard” for Congressional actions, the Constitution.

Earmarks are the most efficient way for incumbents to “buy” the votes of their constituents without running afoul of election laws. One of the anomalies of American politics is the contradiction between the low approval level of Congress and the percentage of incumbents returned to Congress in election after election. Voters have been conditioned to judge their elected officials on their ability to “bring home the bacon”. When talking to voters, one of the most frequently given reasons why they like their own Congressman or Senator while disliking Congress as a whole is the perception they have of what their representatives have done for the state or community. That perception is primarily based on earmarks slipped into appropriation bills.

Next to the practice of allowing lobbyists to craft specifications for items purchased by the federal government that favor their own production capabilities at the expense of their competitors, earmarks are one of best methods for acquiring large campaign contributions. Contractors that supply the goods and services paid for by earmarks are always the primary beneficiaries of government largess. Earmarks for projects that utilize union labor give the politicians the most “bang for the buck”. In return, unions provide millions of man-hours to their political benefactors at election time for “get out the vote” drives, in addition to the millions in direct and indirect campaign contributions.

Last but not least, earmarks provide an efficient method for wealth redistribution among states and communities as elected officials compete for their slice of the pie. Doing away with earmarks would upset a system painstakingly built up over the years by the political parties for protecting the jobs of their incumbents. That may mean that politicians, in order to continue to enjoy salaries and perks unmatched anywhere in the world, would have to resort to actually keeping their oath of office and being faithful to their constituents and the Constitution.