Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”     Barry Goldwater

March 21, 2010

A Victory for the Democrats

by Quincy

Tonight’s Obamacare vote was a victory for the Democratic Party. That much cannot be questioned. Was it just a victory over heathen Republicans who have yet to see the light? No. It was so much more…

It was a victory over ethics:

“When the deal goes down… All this talk about rules… we make ‘em up as we go along.”

It was a victory over the economy:

When Congress inevitably fails to implement the Obama plan’s spending cuts, and expands its subsidies to more and more people, the cost of this legislation will grow beyond $3 trillion. The CBO did an admirable job of projecting the cost of this legislation as written. But the text of the legislation does not reflect the reality it would create.

Most Democrats know that even though the projected cost is $1.2 trillion, they are setting in motion political forces that will guarantee even more government spending. The question is, do enough Democrats know it?

It was a victory over the Constitution:

Can Congress really require that every person purchase health insurance from a private company or face a penalty? The answer lies in the commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power “to regulate commerce . . . among the several states.” Historically, insurance contracts were not considered commerce, which referred to trade and carriage of merchandise. That’s why insurance has traditionally been regulated by states. But the Supreme Court has long allowed Congress to regulate and prohibit all sorts of “economic” activities that are not, strictly speaking, commerce. The key is that those activities substantially affect interstate commerce, and that’s how the court would probably view the regulation of health insurance.

But the individual mandate extends the commerce clause’s power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying “cash for clunkers” is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.

It was a victory over the People of the United States:

My health insurance policy, which is an actual “insurance” policy that insures me against catastrophic medical costs but leaves me with responsibility for day to day expenses, just became illegal. Over the last couple of years, I have documented my learning curve as, for the first time, I actually had an incentive to shop around for medical care, or to push back on doctors when I thought they are calling for too many tests and procedures. I have learned a lot about saving money, but all of this education is now for naught, as I will now be required to buy a pre-paid medical policy that leaves very little of the decision-making to my family and provides zero incentives for me to be cost conscious. Apparently, the operators of the US Postal Service and US military procurement felt they were better qualified to manage these cost/value trade-offs than I am.

Barack Obama says tonight was a “victory for the people”. As one of the people, I know no victory was won for me. A victory was won over me. I will have less money, less privacy, and less freedom under Obamacare than I had before, and I know who to blame.

I hope Obama, Pelosi, and Reid celebrate heartily this night, because they have made clear that they are the enemies of the People of the United States. With this bill, they will make us pay in ways we don’t fully yet understand. We will make them pay by taking from them the power they worked a lifetime to assume. It is our duty as freedom-loving Americans.

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11 Comments

  1. Check out the original meaning of regulating commerce, wow:

    http://federalistblog.us/2006/08/busting_congress_interstate_commerce_myth.html

    Comment by Toby — March 21, 2010 @ 10:39 pm
  2. Toby,

    Thanks for a great link. Unfortunately, such analysis seems above the skills or the will of our current crop of Supreme Court justices.

    That said, I would hope that not even the politically-hamstrung analysis of the Supreme Court would cause them to reject the most obvious abuses of the Commerce Clause in ObamaCare.

    Comment by Quincy — March 21, 2010 @ 10:51 pm
  3. This voter is MAD AS HELL!

    http://tinyurl.com/teadoff

    Comment by johnnyring — March 22, 2010 @ 12:27 am
  4. “Can Congress really require that every person purchase health insurance from a private company or face a penalty?”

    That is, can people be taxed and not get a tax break if they don’t do something that is w/i Congress’ power to regulate? Yes, since it is done repeatedly.

    What sort of “economic inactivity” is at stake here? Who doesn’t in some fashion get involved in the health industry? Not that paying for others who do (e.g., those on Medicaid) isn’t something long allowed. The narrow definition of commerce to not cover insurance also is a ship that has long sailed.

    I’m unsure where there is a “private company” rule in the Constitution either. Is Congress denied the power to require people in D.C. to vaccinate their children if the vaccine is only provided by private firms?

    “Obamacare”

    Coverage has suggested it might be better entitled “Pelosicare,” since she had a large part in staying the course. Given the concern for constitutional norms here, a bill passed by Congress should not be labeled for the President, should it? Anyway, Republicans assured us that they wer 80% in support. Shouldn’t they get some

    Comment by Joe — March 22, 2010 @ 6:26 am
  5. That is, can people be taxed and not get a tax break if they don’t do something that is w/i Congress’ power to regulate?

    Wrong. There is jail time with associated with not buying insurance or paying the fine. Also, contracts *within a state* are not *interstate* commerce. This is a requirement that has *no parallel* in US law.

    The narrow definition of commerce to not cover insurance also is a ship that has long sailed.

    Just because the Constitution has previously been debased to expand government power doesn’t mean it’s still not a breach of the contract between the People and their Government.

    I’m unsure where there is a “private company” rule in the Constitution either. Is Congress denied the power to require people in D.C. to vaccinate their children if the vaccine is only provided by private firms?

    That is, of course, precisely the point. The government, in fact, does not have the power to do this because it’s not *stated in the Constitution*. A bill that so fundamentally alters the role of government above and beyond the Constitution really should have been preceded by a Constitutional amendment rather than further shredding an already-abused document.

    Given the concern for constitutional norms here, a bill passed by Congress should not be labeled for the President, should it?

    The President and his administration were the principal architects and advocates for the bill. Remember that under the Constitution the President can introduce legislation to Congress. That is precisely what happened in this case.

    Comment by Quincy — March 22, 2010 @ 6:42 am
  6. Wow, that’s sad your “rights” to shop around are more importent then other people having helth care.

    You know, I would like to shop around for a better fire or police service, but I can’t, and for the better good.

    Comment by Jarrett — March 22, 2010 @ 1:16 pm
  7. Let me be clear on this… It’s not about *my* rights to shop around, it’s about each American’s right to control the health care they receive. The current bill is not about getting more people health care, it’s about getting control of the health care the people already have.

    Also, with regards to police and fire, those are functions of government because they have to do with ensuring the safety of the public at large. Most police and fire districts have no duty to help you, as an individual. Remember, the police and fire districts have the power to disregard your life for the public good.

    Besides, there are already public health laws in place that treat medicine like the fire and police services when the threat posed by a health problem is high impact and *communicable*, e.g. tuberculosis. These also allow doctors and public officials a great deal of latitude in treating individuals to preserve the public good.

    Now, I know you’re just being a smart ass, but I challenge you (or any of the other ObamaCare supporters) to answer these questions:

    1. Why does providing health care for the uninsured (a minority) call for new regulations affecting everybody?

    2. Why are the health insurance plans most effective at extending coverage to the “uninsurable” outlawed by ObamaCare?

    3. Is a plan that would throw people in jail for not playing along really about health care at all?

    Serious attempts at answers only, please.

    Comment by Quincy — March 22, 2010 @ 4:24 pm
  8. 1. Everyone was mandated to be in the program by the insurance companies, it was the only way the stop excluding people with pre-existing conditions.  

    2. They’re not effective, that’s what this whole thing is about practically.

    3. Yes, goes back to #1. It’s everyone or no one, it just doesn’t work otherwise. But I’m betting it will rarely if ever happen, that would way too much bad press!

    Comment by Jarrett — March 23, 2010 @ 2:34 am
  9. 1. Everyone was mandated to be in the program by the insurance companies, it was the only way the stop excluding people with pre-existing conditions.

    This is a talking point, not an answer. It would have been possible to handle people with pre-existing conditions any number of ways including government-backed reinsurance. The individual mandate is *not* about health, it’s about control.

    2. They’re not effective, that’s what this whole thing is about practically.

    There are insurance products that can very easily be offered to the “uninsurable”. They are variants of the high-deductible plans that specifically exclude coverage against only the pre-existing conditions. When paired with the re-insurance idea, they would have been highly effective in making sure pre-existing conditions are no longer a problem.

    Instead, we have a law that will drive up premiums on everyone because it outlaws insurance and demands everyone be placed on a subsidy plan.

    3. Yes, goes back to #1. It’s everyone or no one, it just doesn’t work otherwise. But I’m betting it will rarely if ever happen, that would way too much bad press!

    Your point in number 1 is fundamentally wrong and indefensible. The fact that you support jailing people to support the idiotic notion above is scary.

    I would say get informed, but it’s clear you believe the left-wing propaganda supporting this bill is information.

    Comment by Quincy — March 23, 2010 @ 8:13 am
  10. Your right, it could have been done a hundred different ways both less and more intrusive. The fact is however, it hasn’t been done, unitl now that is.
    And #2, again, with 30 million still unable to be insured those policies are not being effective.

    The first point that you so offhandedly dismissed was from a right new source. I get most of my info however straight from reading the bill and listing to congress debate it which would probably do you some good.

    Comment by Jarrett — March 23, 2010 @ 8:52 am
  11. Your right, it could have been done a hundred different ways both less and more intrusive. The fact is however, it hasn’t been done, unitl now that is.

    So doing something, *anything*, would have been better than the status quo? Hell, if you want to make health care really affordable, just make it all free, by law. It’s not the status quo so it’s better!

    Really now. The status quo is bad. This bill is worse.

    And #2, again, with 30 million still unable to be insured those policies are not being effective.

    Do you know what the two major causes of the “uninsurable” class in America are? Mandatory coverage laws and the bias towards employer-supplied health care.

    Take this scenario: You have a high-stress job throughout your 20s. You work yourself into the ground and start to have major problems with ulcers that require expensive drugs.

    You realize your problem is your job, so you quit. Or, worse, you get fired for poor performance after you get burned out. You lose your health coverage at the same time.

    Now, you’ve got no health coverage and an expensive pre-existing condition. Trying to get a new policy, even through an employer, would be difficult.

    The first reform that would fix this would be to fix the tax laws to provide any tax break to individuals, not employers. If you were buying your health insurance in the open market, you could keep it between jobs, just like your auto insurance, your homeowners insurance, your cable, your phone, and every other monthly expense. If you can stay with a single insurer for a long time, the chance of having to change carriers with a pre-existing condition declines significantly.

    The second reform would be the repeal of mandatory coverage laws that would allow you to seek insurance for *everything else*. Insurance is about risk mitigation. By the strict definition of insurance, asking an insurer to cover an active pre-existing condition is like asking them to cover a burning building. Most insurers won’t, and you therefore have an “uninsurable” class.

    The first point that you so offhandedly dismissed was from a right new source.

    The reason I dismissed it out of hand was it was insurance-industry bullshit. Since the bill strips away all the other risk mitigation measures they use, they wanted to at least continue the sham that they will be offering insurance with talk about “expanding the risk pool”. It’s a handout to the insurance companies *and* expands the power of government. Who in Washington could say no?

    I get most of my info however straight from reading the bill and listing to congress debate it which would probably do you some good.

    Actually, I have and have been. However, since I have a grounding in both economics and insurance, I can filter the facts from the lies. The Democrats have been putting out whopper after whopper in the Congressional debate, and you’re parroting them here.

    I mean, you do know that actual health insurance will be illegal once this law goes into effect, right? You know, the kind where insurance companies use actuarial analysis to make sure that they are not insuring too much risk? What will be legal is a pseudo-private series of subsidy plans controlled by HHS regulators.

    The one requirement that insurance companies still have to meet is solvency. They are required, by statute, to be able to pay out on all claims they might possibly be on the hook for. By making it illegal for them to control their risk pools, the Obama health care law will absolutely, unequivocally drive up premiums. Without charging all policyholders more, the insurance companies will not be able to meet their reserve requirements.

    Simply looking at the bill and the congressional debate around it isn’t enough. When you place this bill in the constellation of laws and economic realities that surround insurance, it looks completely and totally different.

    Comment by Quincy — March 23, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

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