The Suspense Is Killing Me

I can’t stand the wait on the Supreme Court to announce its decision on Obamacare.  When it was tried, June seemed like a long way away, and now that June’s here…

It’s my hope, of course, that Obamacare is overturned completely, that the mandate is deemed unconstitutional and the lack of a severability clause invalidates the whole ugly hot mess of a bill.

Are there problems with our healthcare system? Yes. Is the massive, sweeping “reform” of Obamacare going to fix it? No. What we need are narrow, targeted, economically and constitutionally sound solutions. This is not what we’re getting.

But, rather than saying we should do nothing, here’s what I would do.

The state and Federal government should work together on easing restrictions on selling insurance in multiple states. Remove capricious barriers to entry. The states need to be an important part of the work to increase competition and individual coverage options – far more so than the Federal government.

We do have some systemic problems in the health insurance industry. Companies that drop people just because they’ll gotten ill and made claims is at best an unsavory practice, bordering on fraud. (I tend to think this doesn’t happen nearly as often as the Left would have us believe however.) It isn’t fair that someone who loses their insurance may be locked out of the market because they have a pre-existing condition, but neither is it fair for people who’ve never paid a dime for insurance to jump in the pool when they develop an expensive malady. I would suggest tax incentives, not mandates, for insurance companies to accept high risk patients. The incentive should be higher if the customer has been carrying insurance, but lost it. Perhaps a sliding scale based on the proportion of time they’ve been covered in the last 5 years or so. If you’ve been meeting your responsibilities, carrying insurance, and suddenly lose it, the tax incentive for the insurance company would subsidize the additional risk the new carrier would take on, allowing you to buy insurance at rates comparable to what you’ve been paying. The incentives could pay for themselves if a financial penalty is imposed for arbitrarily dropping patients who become ill. But if you have irresponsibly failed to provide insurance for yourself and/or your family, the rest of us should not be on the hook for it. You SHOULD pay more than the rest of us.

We should move to increase portability and decrease the amount of health insurance dependent on employment. The true cost of health insurance is masked by the fact that people do not usually pay for it directly. Just as we’d have a full-fledged revolution if we had to pay our income taxes in a lump sum, if the amount paid for health insurance weren’t mitigated by employers, we’d have seen market forces working to keep premiums down a long time ago. Obamacare takes us in the opposite direction. By continuing to play the shell game to hide the true price of insurance from the ultimate end-users, it negates the market forces that would otherwise work to lower costs and improve the product.

Another way Obamacare works contrary to economic common sense is in the mandate for insurance to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for a wide range of predictable and routine expenditures. We need to return to the concept that insurance should cover risk of the unknown and the unpredictable, not the normal. If our auto insurance was mandated to cover oil changes, so we weren’t responsible for our own car maintenance, we’d probably have $300 oil changes. I don’t think health care is any different. If health care providers had to compete for the dollars of informed consumers, we’d see much greater economy and efficiency in the market. We’ve seen it in the areas of health care that are not covered by insurance, like cosmetic surgery and Lasik. Those procedures haven’t been subject to the astronomical rise we’ve seen in other health care costs.

However, while one can easily get caught up in debating the minutiae of Obamacare, and the wisdom or lack thereof in the provisions contained within, I’d just like to take a step back from that particular monstrosity and review key provisions in a simpler, shorter, and wiser document that few seem to have any familiarity with. The Constitution of the United States.

In Article I, section 8, the powers of Congress are delineated, among them the power to lay and collect taxes, to borrow money on the credit of the US, to regulate foreign commerce, coin money, regulate bankruptcy and immigration, to establish post offices, raise and support a military, declare war, etc. This is but a partial list, but one can clearly see that the founders intended the Federal government to exercise only very specific powers.

This intent was reinforced by the adoption of the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

While the Constitution is continually and grievously abused, that is no reason to meekly accept more of the same.

There is simply no Constitutional authority, in my opinion, for the Federal government to regulate the health care and insurance industry to the extent Obamacare does.

That is at the core of my opposition to the bill and my hope it is overturned.

That said, something should be done to make health care more affordable and available. But the impetus should come from the individual states. Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii – all states that have attempted to “do something” about the problem, with varying degrees of success. I believe that with 50 different laboratories working on the issues we face, we are more likely to come up with something workable that other states will come to emulate. We will have far more input and viewpoints entering into the debate than the narrow lobbyist-driven, Beltway-blindered course Obamacare would lead us down.

Meanwhile, we wait.  The suspense is killing me.

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"Miss Me Yet?"

In response to the billboards and other media with a smiling George W. Bush with the caption “Miss me yet?”, I’d have to say “No”.

Oh sure, I suppose I could miss W in the way a woman being tortured and killed might miss the old boyfriend who slapped her around but broke no bones.

But really, miss Bush?

TARP started on his watch.

No Child Gets Ahead – Oops, I mean No Child Left Behind.

Implementation of another huge social welfare program, Medicare Part D, was on his watch.

The coining of the phrase “compassionate conservatism”. I always resented the implication that us regular Goldwater-Reagan conservatives are not compassionate.

With a Republican Congress for 6 of his 8 years, he accomplished no meaningful conservative reforms or significant cutbacks in the growth and reach of the Federal government into areas best governed by states and local communities.

While I think he governed with the best of intentions and isn’t the Anti-Christ as portrayed by many in the far left, he didn’t come close to embodying true conservative values.

No, I don’t miss him.

In a way, he made things worse for conservatives, due to the common misconception that being Republican means a person is conservative. We have the Far Left telling us conservatives had our chance and our conservative policies failed.

No, we haven’t had our chance. Conservative policies didn’t fail because they were not implemented.

Don’t get me wrong. Obama is far worse than Bush. Things got worse under Bush when the Democrats took over Congress in 2006. W is not entirely to blame. But I really can’t say I miss him.

Who Needs Socialism?

If one calls Obama a socialist in mixed political company, there is always the progressive who (with a haughty sniff) insists you don’t know what socialism is, and you should look it up in the dictionary. America, they sneer, isn’t anywhere close to socialism, since we still have individual and corporate ownership of the means of production.

Within the strict definition of the word socialism, they are correct. However, the policies of the Obama administration accomplish the same end – removing control of commerce from individuals, and in doing so, reduce if not eliminate the value of investment in private enterprise.

Healthcare “reform” is a prime example. With the passage of Obamacare, the Federal government literally dictates what insurance products may and may not be sold, what customers they must sell to, and how much profit they are allowed to keep from these sales. Who needs socialism when the government can simply micromanage an industry legislatively?

Take the auto industry. What good is owning an automobile factory if you want to produce gas-eating fire-breathing muscle cars but government says you must build econoboxes? With further increases in CAFE standards from a target of 35.5 mpg in 2016 to 54.5 mpg by 2025, it’s getting there. For every Corvette and Cadillac sold, they’ll need more and more Cruze Ecos and Volts built to meet the average. Profit margins are greater on Cadillacs and Corvettes, but GM will be allowed to sell fewer and fewer of them. By regulation, the Federal government negatively impacts the earning capacity of a major industry. Who needs socialism when government can instruct industry to ignore consumer demands and instead supply the product the government thinks citizens should buy?

There is also the manner in which Obama took the GM bankruptcy out of the courts and into his own hands to turn over a large part of the ownership of GM to the UAW at the expense of bondholders. Who needs socialism when the government can ignore the rule of law in order to turn over industry to workers?

The Obama administration has made significant changes to the regulation of the financial industry. Banks made huge investments in the programming and infrastructure that allows greater numbers of merchants to accept debit and credit cards. These investments were made on the premise that the costs would be recouped by fees collected from merchants at the point of sale. Merchants across the country agreed to pay these fees. That is, until major retailers were successful in lobbying Congress to cap the merchant fees as part of financial system “reform”. The end result? Retailers save billions, banks stuck with the bill. Add to that the continual efforts to dictate mortgage terms and retroactive revision of loans already entered into. The inviolability of a contract is a cornerstone of a capitalism system. Who needs socialism when the government can reach in to change contract terms at will?

Through regulation, legislation, and executive fiat, this administration is engaging in a form of virtual eminent domain. There is no physical, legal “taking” of property, but rather the encumbrance of private enterprise with expensive and counterproductive mandates. The impact of this insidious process erodes the value of business ownership. With the overreach of the government into the private sector, businesses can’t rely on contracts entered into by parties of their own free will, but must deal with the risk that government may arbitrarily change these terms, possibly to the detriment of both parties. Neither can businesses operate in the most sensible and cost-effective manner, sensitive to consumer demands. Instead, they are stuck with costly and inefficient mandates and restrictions on what consumer demanded products they are allowed to manufacture. Without the freedom to control the means of production, legal title becomes increasingly meaningless.

This process did not start with the Obama administration, but it has escalated, and it seems to have become increasingly accepted by voters and legislators. This trend cannot continue. This election is critical. We must elect a President and legislators who respect the rule of law, respect free market capitalism, and respect the rights of business to manage themselves responsibly for the benefit of their owners, their employees, and their consumers. If we let Big Government continue to make slaves of business enterprises, it will make slaves of us all.

Voting Rights AND Responsibilities

There are no rights without responsibilities. This is as true of the right to vote as it is other rights we hold dear. Our right to vote is infringed upon when it is not counted or when it is cancelled out by a fraudulent vote. It is not infringed upon by requirements that merely require one behave as a responsible adult.

Voter ID is a prime example. Many States are making the attempt to prevent voter fraud by requiring voter ID at the polls. In response to criticism that the poor, disabled and/or elderly may not have valid state ID, states have offered to provide a government issued ID free of charge. This is not enough for the Left. The requirement to show ID such as a birth certificate to secure a valid state ID is also apparently too much of a burden for the disadvantaged. But while it certainly isn’t against the law to have misplaced your birth certificate or naturalization papers, responsible adults in this country should have this and other important paperwork and know where it is. Parents should be responsible with their children’s birth certificates or other evidence of citizenship until the children come of age. This is nothing more than common sense. Having these documents or securing them when you need them is just part of the privilege of being an adult in this country. It is time to start treating all people as adults, not as children who cannot be counted on to do their homework without supervision. The only exception I might consider making is when communities and public records are destroyed by natural disasters and documents are therefore not replaceable. If the Left wishes to focus its GOTV campaigns on people who are for one reason or another lacking either state-issued ID or the documents needed to secure one, then it needs to focus as well on helping people get those documents too. For that matter, the Republicans could make a sincere effort in that area. If you can provide a ride to the polls election day, you can provide a ride to the DMV or help someone get a copy of their birth certificate ahead of time.

I’m originally from Nevada, where voters are required to register 30 days before an election in order to vote in it. I oppose same day voter registration. In my opinion, it is an invitation to fraud, as it makes it possible for people to register and vote at multiple locations. It is up to the individual to pay attention to deadlines and register on time. A voter is no more disenfranchised by the requirement to register ahead of time than they would be trying to vote the day after the election.

There is currently outrage on the Left due to the state of Florida attempting to purge its voter rolls of non-citizens. The Left would have you believe that people are going to show up at the polls and be denied the right to vote with no warning. But all Florida is asking is for people who may not be citizens to verify their legal status. They are being notified there is a question, well ahead of election day, and being given ample time to respond. I simply do not see this as unreasonable. “But what if someone doesn’t get their notice?” the Left whines. Two points. One, this has been all over the national news, so I have no doubt it is big in the local news also. If a voter has any reason at all to think they might be part of the purge, all they probably have to do is call and ask. Two, maybe they didn’t receive it because it was sent to the wrong address. If it was sent to the wrong address, it means the voter didn’t properly update their voter registration with their new address, as required by law. So it all comes back to personal responsibility. Naturally, since Obama, Holder and his DOJ see absolutely everything through racism-colored glasses, they’re screaming that the voter purge is targeting minorities. No, it’s targeting possible non-citizens fraudulently voting in U.S. elections. Has it occurred to the leftists that perhaps, just perhaps, non-citizens residing in the Florida just happen to be minorities in a greater percentage than the general population of the state? It’s not as if there has been a steady stream of Northern European immigrants to Florida in recent years.

I liken voting to serving on a jury. We have the right to a jury trial, and by extension, the people have a duty to serve on juries when possible. If you are chosen to be on a jury, you will be thrown off the jury if you snooze throughout the trial or fail to follow the rules of the court. So it is with our right and the duty to vote. We The People are the judge and jury of our elected officials. Those who sleep through the electoral process or don’t follow the rules may end up not exercising their right to vote, i.e. be thrown off the jury. And that is no one’s fault but their own.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

I understand there are many Republicans who supported Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum in the primary who feel Mitt Romney engaged in a scorched earth campaign against fellow GOP but is now treating Obama with kid gloves, relatively speaking. But primary tactics are necessarily different from those for the general.

In the GOP primary, Romney was the perceived frontrunner from the beginning, and therefore, he was taking heavy fire from everyone else in the race. In addition, each primary state campaign was a sprint, while the general is a marathon. The time he needed to make an impact in each primary state was much more limited than it is for the general election in November. Anyone who is frustrated by the perception Romney is too nice now, have patience.

Primary voters are more engaged in the voting process than the average voter. The average voter isn’t really paying a great deal of attention to the race right now. However, the fact that you are reading this, that you found your way to my average-citizen little-nobody blog, indicates that you are much more engaged, involved and informed than average. (Not to say this little blog is all that, but to find me in the boonies of the internet takes a little effort.) Romney doesn’t need to shoot off all his cannons right now, and it would be a bad idea to do so. You don’t want all of the negative information about Obama to be old news in September and October. It may be old news to us, but not to the average voter.

I’ve seen some speculation that Romney may select his Vice-Presidential candidate well ahead of the convention. If he does, it may be for the express purpose of having the VP candidate serve as the attack dog, while Romney stays above the fray. I can see such a strategy working, since Romney does have to fight the mean old McScrooge meme and it could serve him well to “play nice”. This is pure speculation on my part, though, and I may be way off base.

Maybe Romney is just letting the economy speak for him for now. The most recent employment numbers are devastating to Obama. But what is more important than mere numbers is each individual’s perception of the economy. There are few people in this country who don’t know someone who is out of work (perhaps long term unemployed), underemployed, or has given up looking. There are few people in this country who are not aware of the impact of rising gas and grocery prices on their family budget. No matter how much Obama spins the numbers, people feel the impact of his policies, and no matter how much he blames Bush for what he inherited, people increasingly feel the statute of limitations is up and Obama owns the economy after over three years and trillions spent (allegedly) to try to fix it.

After Tampa, after Romney has the national spotlight cast on him in the convention, and the public is engaged, I think we’ll see a far more aggressive campaign by Romney. We’ve seen a preview in web ads by Romney, the RNC, and SuperPACs. From what I have seen so far, it’s really a cakewalk to make Obama look like the inept and irresponsible President he is. It will be brutally effective once the Romney campaign is making huge ad buys in swing states. I think we should take a deep breath, and let Romney run his campaign as he and his advisers see fit. He’s proven he can take out other Republican candidates. I think we’ll see some kick-ass ads on the air once people are paying attention. The Romney campaign has an absurdly wide vein of Obama incompetencies to mine. The broken promises, green crony capitalism, the state of the economy, and possibly the overturning of Obamacare by the Supreme Court will be exploited when the time is right. If needed, I’m sure we’ll see more about Obama’s radical associations and appointees. If by mid-September you don’t see Obama simply eviscerated in TV advertising, come back here and tell me what an idiot I am. In the meantime, hang tight.