Some conservatives have complained that the House vote to repeal ObamaCare tomorrow is just for show and has no chance of passing the Senate or — even if it miraculously did — surviving a presidential veto. True, but so what? Many voters are just starting to tune in to the general election, and it’s worth getting the latest positions of House lawmakers on the record. For Democrats running in conservative districts, this could be the last shot to oppose the unpopular health care law before the election. For Republicans, it’s a chance to show they’re on the side of the majority of Americans who oppose ObamaCare.
And for the White House, it’s a potential political embarrassment, depending on how many Democrats switch over to the anti-ObamaCare side. The Hill reports:
Only three Democrats voted for repeal after the GOP took control of the House last year, but Republicans are confident they can add to this number on Wednesday in spite of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the law is constitutional.
Already, one politically vulnerable Democrat, Rep. Larry Kissell (N.C.), has said he will vote to repeal the health care law after opposing the same measure a year ago.
The GOP’s hope is that a strong House vote — and fresh Democratic opposition — will thwart the White House’s effort to boost political support for the law in light of the Court ruling, said one House Republican leadership aide. Conservatives complaining about symbolic votes are being unrealistic.
There is something about conservatives using the word “freedom” that drives the left insane. Maybe because progressives like to see themselves as champions of the people, fighting against the system, rather than what they actually are: statists, attempting to impose their beliefs on individuals through government power.
At the Huffington Post, AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka reimagines the concept of “freedom” today in a column that is just as Orwellian as you would think (h/t Washington Examiner):
I do believe that freedom isn’t free — but today the corporate and political right wing is trying to cheapen this truly American value. They’ve been cynically using the word “freedom” to rally the American public against its own best interests.
When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Sarah Palin tweeted, “Obama lies; freedom dies.”
She’s referring, I guess, to the freedom to go without health care when you’re sick.
In its otherwise positive decision, the Supreme Court gave states the “freedom” to deny Medicaid coverage to their poorest residents — even though the federal government would pick up the tab.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker received the National Rifle Association’s “Defender of Freedom” award recently. I guess they meant Gov. Walker is defending teachers’ freedom from joining with coworkers to bargain fairly about things like class size. …
Let’s call this right-wing “freedom” catch phrase what it really is: a grossly political strategy to dupe the public, which holds the word “freedom” as something sacred.
This Independence Day, I say let’s go back to a truer use of the word “freedom.” Let’s start with President Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. I would add the freedom to bargain collectively.
As Jonathan noted yesterday, the left doesn’t want to admit that the entitlement system built up since the New Deal is collapsing under unrelenting and ineluctable fiscal and demographic pressures. But there is another reason that the medical part of the system is in such a mess: the utter lack of market forces to bring down prices and inspire innovation and efficiency.
The New York Times has an article this morning on the wildly varying prices for standard medical procedures, such as an appendectomy:
Hospital charges are all over the map: according to the report published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, fees for a routine appendectomy in California can range from $1,500 to — in one extreme case — $182,955. Researchers found wide variations in charges even among appendectomy patients treated at the same hospital.
“We expected to see variations of two or three times the amount, but this is ridiculous,” said Dr. Renee Y. Hsia, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “There’s no rhyme or reason for how patients are charged or how hospitals come up with charges. There’s no other industry where you get charged 100 times the same amount, or 121 times, for the same product,” she said. Though she is an emergency room doctor herself, Dr. Hsia said, she has no idea what the hospital charges for various procedures. When patients ask her, she has to tell them she doesn’t know.
Before the Supreme Court’s oral argument on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I was told by people I trust that Paul Clement was an outstanding lawyer. He proved it. The New York Times’ coverage of one exchange illustrates why.
Reporter Adam Liptak, after claiming that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s “touchstone and guiding principle” is liberty, went on to write this:
The point was not lost on Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who concluded his defense of the law at the court this week with remarks aimed squarely at Justice Kennedy. Mr. Verrilli said there was “a profound connection” between health care and liberty.
“There will be millions of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease,” he said, “and as a result of the health care that they will get, they will be unshackled from the disabilities that those diseases put on them and have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of liberty.”
Paul D. Clement, representing 26 states challenging the law, had a comeback. “I would respectfully suggest,” he said, “that it’s a very funny conception of liberty that forces somebody to purchase an insurance policy whether they want it or not.”
Do voters exist? In the United States, that is–do we still have voters? All available evidence points to yes, we have millions upon millions of them who vote in national elections. But maybe I’m getting too caught up in the numbers. Recent anecdotal evidence challenges my theory. I’m referring, of course, to the obvious consequences if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare. The result, everyone says, will be single-payer, government-run health care for all.
The problem, though, is that this was suggested and polled repeatedly during the health care debates in 2009-10. As the debates dragged on, a single-payer health care program repeatedly polled as the least popular path to universal coverage, and its poll numbers dropped over time. So I’ll pose a simple question: If the entire Obamacare law is struck down, will President Obama campaign on a single-payer system? No, he won’t. And the reason is because it will hurt him with voters, who in the end really do exist. Ezra Klein has, however, proposed a feasible way for the Democrats to move toward a default single-payer system:
I think that path would look something like this: With health-care reform either repealed or overturned, both Democrats and Republicans shy away from proposing any big changes to the health-care system for the next decade or so. But with continued increases in the cost of health insurance and a steady erosion in employer-based coverage, Democrats begin dipping their toes in the water with a strategy based around incremental expansions of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. They move these policies through budget reconciliation, where they can be passed with 51 votes in the Senate, and, over time, this leads to more and more Americans being covered through public insurance. Eventually, we end up with something close to a single-payer system, as a majority of Americans — and particularly a majority of Americans who have significant health risks — are covered by the government.
During the past year, opinion polls have consistently shown widespread public disapproval of President Obama’s health care reform law. The Hill has a new survey out reaffirming this, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the law later today.
The most interesting takeaway from the poll is that the disapproval for ObamaCare is spread across most voting demographics, including two key groups that Democrats have argued benefit most from the law: young people and women. From The Hill:
By a 52-percent-to-39-percent margin women are more opposed to it than men, who oppose it 48 percent to 45 percent, a difference that matches the poll’s 3-point margin of error. …
While even the youngest voters oppose the law (47 percent to 42 percent among those aged 18-39), opposition grows to 53 percent among voters aged 65 and older.
ObamaCare’s gross cost during the next ten years is expected to nearly double the $940 billion price tag projected in 2009. Phil Klein reports on the Democratic Party’s sketchy math that resulted in the discrepancy:
Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO’s standard ten-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama’s pledge that the legislation would cost “around $900 billion over 10 years.” When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10-year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation.
Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law’s core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion.
Could the Obama administration make it any clearer that it has little regard or respect for the men and women who make the world safe so that the president can indulge so happily in the rich man’s game, and his wife and family can gallivant so luxuriously around the globe?
Bill Gertz at the Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday on some strong opposition from the VFW, the Military Officers Association of America, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon to the Pentagon’s plan to lay some of its budget cutting squarely on the backs of military personnel by raising their healthcare fees.
The debate about Obamacare and the way the government is using it to mandate that institutions pay for services they oppose such as contraception has brought the whole question of intrusive federal regulation back into the public eye. But those who believe this is something that will be limited to health care are probably deceiving themselves. The impulse to tell people how they should live and what they should do is implicit in the ideology that gave birth to Obamacare. If some influential people have their way, Washington’s power to impose its will may be extended into other spheres that were heretofore considered so far out of the government’s purview as to have been considered laughable. But as New York Times Magazine food columnist Mark Bittman wrote yesterday, the day may be fast approaching when government bureaucrats will be telling some, if not all citizens, what foods they may or may not eat.
Bittman picks up on the attempt by a conservative Republican in the Florida legislature to pass a bill that would prevent recipients of food stamps from spending their chits on junk food like candy, chips or soda. The willingness of a right-winger to join the food police encourages Bittman to think the time will not be long before sugar is regulated the way the production and marketing of alcohol and tobacco are controlled by the government. While Bittman’s nutritional advice about the dangers of over-consumption of products drenched in sugar and corn syrup is well taken, the notion that such choices will be taken out of the hands of consumers ought to frighten anyone who values individual freedom and understands the perils of a nanny state. Some may scoff at this possibility, but the Obamacare precedent and the power the president’s signature program will give the government may change everything in the future. Bittman’s argument that the costs of health care will make such government micro-managing of our lives inevitable may prove prophetic if Obamacare is not repealed next year.