Wednesday, 03 March 2010

Obama Healthcare Redux: One Way or Another

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President Barack Obama does not know how to take a hint. Despite Scott Brown’s remarkable victory in the special senatorial election in Massachusetts and the momentous maneuvering in nearly every state to block federal healthcare demands, President Obama continues his Sisyphean labor of rolling this giant ball of taxes, penalties, and mandates up Capitol Hill, across the Tenth Amendment, and onto the backs of working Americans.

As reported Wednesday in the New York Times and elsewhere, President Barack Obama has revamped his healthcare proposal and has now spruced up that monstrous eyesore with a little Republican window dressing.

As reported in The New American, last Thursday President Obama posed while Republican congressional leaders postured during a five-hour sideshow billed on the White House website as a “Bipartisan Meeting on Health Reform” convened to “put Americans back in control of their health care.” That claim certainly lives up to the President’s standard for “audacity.”

As a result of that meeting, the President claims in a letter to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, he came to appreciate the merit of some of the Republicans’ proposals for rehabilitating the quality of medical care in America. Specifically, President Obama praises the GOP for a few suggestions they made during the recent soporific summit.

First, the President expresses his support for a Republican-sponsored proposal to have “health care professionals pose as patients in undercover stings to root out fraud.” Of all the legitimate, effective means for exposing, punishing, and thereby reducing the fraud so indisputably rampant in the healthcare insurance system, the President and some Republican lawmakers apparently have settled on the “Mission: Impossible” gambit.

Next, the letter sent by the President to leaders of both major parties asserts the President’s approval for a Republican plan to award $50 million in grants to states fund their research into viable alternatives to the various state procedures for prosecuting multi-million dollar medical malpractice lawsuits. Noticeably, the President did not recommend a cap on awards as advocated by some Republicans in the Senate.

Finally, the President suggests in his missive that he isn’t opposed to discussing the inclusion of some sort of mechanism in the proposed federal healthcare exchange for permitting consumers to combine qualifying health insurance policies with health insurance savings accounts. This concession would be very accommodating and generous were it not for the fact that Congress is not constitutionally empowered to create a healthcare exchange, require the purchase of a health insurance policy, or provide allowances for the funding of a savings account earmarked for the payment of medical treatment. None of this is mentioned in the President’s letter.

The tenor of the letter is clear: We all agree something needs to be done, so let’s do it. The President claims (and correctly so) that although they differ on the ways and means, both parties agree that “the health care status quo is unsustainable. And both [parties] should agree that it’s just not an option to walk away.” President Obama came to this conviction as the result, says he, of a yearlong conversation with, “Republicans and Democrats, doctors and nurses, health care experts and everyday Americans.” Given the way he so neatly framed this discussion, President Obama missed his calling.

Regardless of the President’s assurance that this isn’t a solo project, but a composition praised and promoted by a chorus of concerned citizens and their elected representatives of every political stripe, unfortunately, the upshot of the President’s assertions is true: Republicans and Democrats have taken turns swinging the sledgehammer of socialism at the once impenetrable wall of sovereignty separating the national and state governments. If those politicians have their way, all that will be left of that mighty barricade will be an unrecognizable pile of rubble, the scree of self-determination.

Republicans, eager to act out their roles as the “loyal opposition” welcomed the President’s paean to their proposals and lauded him for his “bipartisanship.” All of this goodwill is for naught, however, if congressional Democrats follow through with their threat to shove the trillion-dollar legislative package already passed in separate bills in the two houses, down the throat of the resistance through the use of a parliamentary tactic known as reconciliation. Essentially, reconciliation is a method of legislative manipulation whereby bills that have already passed are merely altered in any way that is germane to the underlying measure and may be enacted by a simple majority. This, says the Republican Party, is dirty pool and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) swears that his party will oppose any such attempt to pass revolutionary health care legislation “over the objections of the American people.”

What the American people object to even more than sketchy parliamentary procedure of questionable provenance is the habitual and institutional disregard for the Constitution on the part of 535 men and women each of whom took a sacred oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” It is a most unforgivable violation of that oath to consistently legislate beyond the bright-line boundaries drawn by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution of 1787. Article I clearly enumerates the universe of Congressional power and all this extra-constitutional power mongering, even when performed in the name of “the people” is degrading to the office and must be restrained.

On Wednesday, the President will once again take to the stage and present his critical path for passage of this element of his legacy. As the President approaches the podium adorned with the seal of the “Office of the President of the United States,” that shield should stand as a reminder to the people of those united states that it is time to retrench and reclaim their ultimate sovereignty in this Republic. The surest way to steer the ship of state back between the buoys demarcating the limits of the channel of congressional authority is to cast ballots in November solely for those candidates who without reservation promise to hew rigidly to the standard of the Constitution and the timeless principles of liberty and limited government enshrined therein.

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