Tuesday, March 16, 2010

National Review Online has a collection of articles on this week's "health care reform debate." I use scare quotes because it's not really about health care, and it's not a debate. It's about power and control, and it's being fed to us whether we like it or not.

First we have economist Thomas Sowell on the financial implausibility of it all:
In a swindle that would make Bernie Madoff look like an amateur, Barack Obama has gotten a substantial segment of the population to believe that he can add millions of people to the government-insured rolls without increasing the already record-breaking federal deficit. [...]

However money is juggled in the short run, the government’s financial liabilities are increased by adding this huge new entitlement of government-provided insurance. The fact that these new financial liabilities can be kept out of the official federal deficit projection, by claiming that they will be paid for with money taken from Medicare, changes nothing in the real world.

Here's Rich Lowry on the bizarre legislative machinations the Democrats have resorted to, which is more improvisation than legislation:
House Democrats are considering passing an exotic parliamentary rule relieving them of the burden of voting for the underlying bill, which will be “deemed” passed. [...]

Because they no longer had 60 votes in the Senate, Democrats decided to bypass regular order in (Senate) with so-called reconciliation rules dispensing with the filibuster. [...]

Ordinarily, differences between Senate-passed and House-passed bills are worked out in a conference committee, producing a compromise bill for consideration by both houses. Instead, Democrats want the House to pass an un-amended Senate bill that will be cleaned up later. But the Senate bill is so radioactive that the House wants to sidestep a direct vote on it. No conference committee, no separate House vote: Change has indeed come to Washington.

Mona Charen notes the inclusion of student loan legislation in a so-called health care bill:
It’s interesting that the Democrats are attempting to roll two of their highest priorities into one bill this month. The labyrinthine legislative legerdemain called health-care reform now includes a reconciliation package that would fold in student-loan reform. And by “reform” the Democrats mean increasing direct lending to students by the federal government.

Though the two issues may seem utterly unrelated, they do have this in common — both health care and higher education are realms of American life in which government has undermined the operation of market forces and caused artificially high prices. These are two arenas in which the Democrats now propose to do exactly the wrong thing. Their reforms reinforce old errors and will infinitely compound the problem of rising prices.
Dennis Prager observes that as government expands, the individual shrinks:
Fifty years ago, the men of the local Rotary Club had prestige and societal significance. So did fathers. So did clergy. With the ascendance of the Left and the expansion of their state, much of their power and societal significance has eroded.

Now, as the state expands further into health care, the same will happen to doctors, as power and prestige are transferred from them to the heads of dozens of new government health-regulatory agencies. Over time, neither you nor your doctor will fully decide your treatment.

Indeed, over time, if the Left has its way and the state keeps expanding, you will also not decide what temperature to keep your house at or how to get to work. Nor will you be needed to educate your children (that is already the job of the state, and much of Europe now bans home schooling), or to raise and discipline your children (the state will ensure you are doing it correctly, and spanking is now illegal in 25 countries). Fathers will be needed primarily (and after divorce, only) as providers of child and spousal support.

In short, you will be needed essentially for one thing: to finance the one entity that is truly needed — the state.
Finally, Andy McCarthy blogs that Supreme Court precedent on the line item veto may render the Democrat strategy unconstitutional.
in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), in which the Supreme Court held the line-item veto unconstitutional, Justice Stevens's ruling explained that for a bill to become law, both Houses of Congress must vote on precisely the same text, and it must then be signed into law by the president. As they quote the decision:

If one paragraph of that text had been omitted at any one of those three stages, Public Law 105—33 would not have been validly enacted. If the Line Item Veto Act were valid, it would authorize the President to create a different law - one whose text was not voted on by either House of Congress or presented to the President for signature.

Something that might be known as 'Public Law 105—33 as modified by the President' may or may not be desirable, but it is surely not a document that may 'become a law' pursuant to the procedures designed by the Framers of Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution.

Of course, that was twelve years ago and we now have a Court with more empathy. But if the Dems proceed according to their outrageous plan, the House will not have voted on the same 2,000 pages of paragraphs that the Senate voted on.


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