Monday, 22 March 2010

House Passes Healthcare Bill; President Promises Prompt Signing

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It’s becoming customary to pass healthcare bills late at night and on holidays and weekends. It happened again Sunday night as the House of Representatives by a vote of 219 for and 212 against to pass healthcare legislation and give President Obama the landmark slice of social engineering that was the premier plank of his platform.

Unremarkably, the President’s Democratic congressional claque united in proclamations of praise for the bill. Saying more than he intended to, Representative James Clyburn, Democrat from South Carolina and House Majority Whip touted the bill as the “civil rights act of the 21st Century.”

Ironically, this bill alienates individual liberties more than any other bill in recent history. The government is now empowered to use the sword of state to compel all Americans to purchase a qualified health insurance policy. Failure to comply will result in fines and penalties, all payable to the paymasters on the Potomac.

Apart from the coercive mandates governing the purchase of insurance, the bill redistributes wealth by guaranteeing federal subsidies to those earning less than 400 percent of the poverty level. The bill takes from one pocket in the form of compulsory insurance premiums and then takes from the other in the form of healthcare handouts to those who qualify.

The figures provided to Congress by the Congressional Budget Office in advance of passage of the bill add up to quite a costly enterprise for working Americans. According to CBO accountants, the cheapest qualifying insurance policy that a family of four will be forced to enroll in comes in at a cost of about $12,000 per annum. The price tag on the average policy rings up slightly higher at $15,200.

For millions of middle-class families that are clinging precariously on the precipice of financial failure, this additional bill will bring them closer to plunging headlong into the mire of poverty, thus increasing their reliance on the largess of the federal government that is itself breaking them. It’s as if the national government breaks your leg, sells you a cheap pair of crutches, and then brags that without its help you wouldn’t be able to walk!

A particularly disconcerting (and dictatorial) aspect of the legislation is the unfettered power it affords the executive branch to appoint bureaucrats and regulators that will be tasked with overseeing the insurance industry, as well as the administering of medical treatment from the hospital to the examination room, as new standards for when and how to dispense medicine and medical care are enforced nationwide.

Prior to passage of the bill, as many as 32 states had declared their intent to resist the federal government’s demand that their citizens purchase health insurance. According to the CBO, the mandates expounded in this healthcare legislation is the first time in the history of the United States that the national government has forced the American people to purchase any good or service.

As cited in an earlier article in The New American, not a single Congressman or Senator when pressed could point to any provision of the Constitution authorizing Congress to compel citizens to purchase anything.

The last obstacle impeding passage of the bill was removed when President Obama met with Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and other soi-disant pro-life Democrats and promised to immediately issue an executive order explicitly outlawing any federal funding of abortion still extant in the iteration of the bill that was being considered.

In parsing the precise promises made by President Obama to Stupak and his fellows, it is revealed that the language used is more nuanced than those genuinely opposed to contributing (even indirectly) to the subsidizing of abortions. According to the draft text of the executive order released by the White House, the purpose of the order is “to establish a comprehensive, government-wide set of policies and procedures to achieve this goal and to make certain that all relevant actors — Federal officials, state officials (including insurance regulators) and health care providers — are aware of their responsibilities, new and old.”

The order implements various accounting guidelines designed to provide guidance to the heads of various agencies in order to “ensure that exchange plan funds are segregated by insurance companies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, OMB funds management circulars, and accounting guidance provided by the Government Accountability Office.”

The upshot of the deadly deal struck by President Obama and erstwhile abortion foes in Congress is that the power of monitoring the numerous abortion funding loopholes that pock the new system will be delegated to accountants and bureaucrats (all appointed by the Obama administration), whose prime directive will be to “segregate” fungible dollars into distinct accounts, not to protect the lives of the unborn.

It is unseemly to discuss the monetary cost of this “overhaul” in light of the human fare likely to be exacted, but given the nearly unanimous chorus of Democratic Congressman and administration lackeys flogging the frugality of this nearly trillion-dollar plan, it is requisite to examine not only this act’s vitiating toll on the livelihood of American families, but the cost to industry, as well.

Caterpillar, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines, reported that the mandates set forth in the legislation would cost that company over $100 million in the first year alone. In a letter from the company to the leaders of both parties in the House of Representatives, lawmakers were urged to oppose the bill as the substantial financial burden placed on the Peoria, Illinois-based outfit would be unsustainable and would significantly harm the thousands of shareholders, retirees, and employees that depend on the company for their income.

Finally, as reported by Americans for Tax Reform on their website, the bill contains at least seven tax increases that, “unquestionably violate President Obama’s ‘firm pledge’ not to raise ‘any form’ of taxes on families making less than $250,000.”

Not content with that bit of promise-breaking, President Obama’s statement that he will sign the bill into law as early as Tuesday morning, contradicts his assurance of transparency, known as the “Sunlight Before Signing” promise:

Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

On his group’s website, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, accurately summed up the President’s perfidy:

When the President signs the bill on Tuesday, he will have broken yet another one of his promises to American people. But what’s another broken promise? In the context of his healthcare-related promises alone, negotiations were held behind closed doors and not on C-SPAN, and lobbyists did have access to the White House — so why should he bother beginning to keep his promises now? Taxpayers, who were promised more openness and transparency from their government, however, will take note.

Americans will now take note, as well, of the trustworthiness of their state governments. As cited above, at least 32 states have passed or are considering measures designed to protect their borders from the army of federal mandates mustered into service by the healthcare bill. The mettle of these states will now be tested. Will they now implement the bold precautions against tyranny they enacted in advance of passage of the measure?

Idaho, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Utah, Arizona, et al: the eyes and hopes of the Republic are on you.

Picture of Democrats cheering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the House passed healthcare legislation: AP Images

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