1. THE SELLING OF THE SENATE. The Senate needed sixty votes to get their health care bill passed - all 58 democrats and the 2 independents. However, there was much dissension in the dems ranks, so Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had to BUY votes. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska objected to the language on abortion. But somehow, he ended up getting Nebraska PERMANENTLY exempt from the payment for ANY Medicaid expenses for future Medicaid recipients in Nebraska. Currently, each state pays a share of Medicaid and the Feds also pay a share for each state. Now, the taxpayers in the other 49 states will pay for their own Medicaid (Medi-Cal in CA.) recipients and for a share of Nebraska's as well!
Perhaps George Will said it best: "Reid was buying the votes of senators whose understanding of the duties of representation does not rise above the looting of the nation for local benefits. And Reid had two advantages - the spending, taxing and borrowing powers of the federal leviathan, and an almost gorgeous absence of scruples or principles." (From the 12/22/09 Ventura County Star.) Of course, Nelson was not alone in accepting bribes (is there any other word for it?). Senator Mary Landrieu managed to get an extra $300,000,000. for her state by holding out.
And how harsh was the mainstream media about this vote buying and bribery in the United States Senate? The 12/22/09 Ventura County was emblematic in their editorial: "...in the end, he (Reid) held together his 58 fractious fellow democrats and plus two independents..." Held together? Don't they mean bribed? Let's be realistic. If this type of bribery occurred in any city council in the country, the participants would be going to JAIL! In fact, if this type of bribery occurred in any state legislature in the country, the participants would be going to jail. But when it happens in the highest deliberative political body in the country they call it "deal making," or "horse trading," or "earmarks." But make no mistake; Reid was giving away taxpayers' dollars (YOUR MONEY) to buy votes.
Obama came into office promising transparency in government; trying to put an end to "earmarks;" bipartisanship; and a new way of doing business in Washington. Transparency? Reid engaged in one back room deal after the next. An end to earmarks? See above giveaways! Bipartisanship? No bill of this magnitude has EVER passed on a single party vote. New way of doing business in Washington? Really? So the question is, do any of these politicians even SEE a problem here, the way the rest of America does. Mary Landrieu: "Nothing could make me vote for a bill if I didn't think it was the right thing to do for my state and for the nation." Really Mary? Did $300 million help you come to the conclusion that it was the "right" thing to do? Reid: "A number of states are treated differently than other states. That's what legislation's all about: compromise." (Quotes from the 12/21/09 USA Today.) I think Harry's a little too easy on himself - "bribery" fits a lot better than "compromise." And Obama? He was so impressed with the fact that the Senate was "working" so hard he delayed his holiday trip to Hawaii. "If they're making these sacrifices to provide healthcare to all Americans, then the least I can do is to be around and to provide them any encouragement and last minute help if necessary." (From the 12/23/09 LA Times.) So it appears that mister "Hope and Change" does not see any problem.
So to my readers who support the proposed healthcare legislation: do you agree that the ends justify the means, as the dems in the Senate do? Or do you agree that people like Reid and Nelson and Landrieu should be prosecuted and go to jail? Is anyone NOT totally disgusted by the behavior of these senators?
2. NO NEW TAXES? Obama said the healthcare bill should not increase the deficit or raise taxes. LIE! Seriously, just how did you think they were going to pay for all of this? Obama also said that "the federal government will go bankrupt" if the healthcare bill fails. (From 12/16/09 Verizon News online.) ANOTHER LIE! Where's the proof for that? And how does spending trillions more PREVENT bankruptcy? One of the biggest proposed taxes in the Senate bill is on "Cadillac" health insurance plans costing more than $8500. per year. This writer pays $2053 per month or $24636 per year. The tax would be on the amount over $8500 which is $16136. 40% of that is $6454.40! That's my new tax. Millions of people across the country pay more than $8500. per year for their premiums. So the Dems tell us we have a health care crisis that is making insurance too costly for an increasing number of Americans. So it would be fair to ask: why is the government making it MORE costly? (More on this below.) (Correction on 12/28/09: I am told by my insurance agent that his understanding is that the $8500. tax free limit is per PERSON and not per POLICY. If that is the case, my apologies to my readers.)
All Americans will be required to buy health insurance. If you cannot afford it, the taxpayers will pay it for you. If you can afford it and refuse, you pay a 2.5% income tax surcharge under the House bill; and "fines" (read "taxes") under the Senate bill (up to $750. in 2016, $350. in 2015 and $95. in 2014). However, higher earners pay 2% of their income up to $2250. per family. And businesses get to pay separate taxes: under the House bill up to 8% of payroll for companies with $500,000. or more total payroll; and under the Senate bill a "fine" (read "tax") of $750. for each qualified full time employee with companies employing 50 or more people. (Data from the 12/21/09 USA Today.)
3. CONSTITUTIONALITY? Hopefully, republicans will be challenging the constitutionality of some of the soon to be law's new provisions. Can the feds mandate that people actually buy a particular good or service; in this case, health insurance. As Orrin Hatch noted, the Congress has previously "regulated" activities that people voluntarily engaged in; and not mandated that they actually do an activity. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says Congress' power comes from Article 1, Section 8, which allows Congress to provide for the "general welfare." (Quotes from the 12/24/09 Investor's Business Daily) If that becomes the standard, then there is absolutely no limit on what Congress can do, from requiring you to buy certain cars, buy certain foods, participate in government run/supervised exercise programs and on and on and on; all for the purpose of the "general welfare." Clearly, the dems have no understanding or respect for the Constitution, which was intended to create a government of limited powers.
Apparently, the Senate also put a provision in their bill that future Congresses would NOT be allowed to amend or change certain parts of this proposed law. That hardly seems constitutional. That would allow this Congress to pass legislation in every major area that could never be changed. Why would we need future Congresses?
4. WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? Clearly, the dems did not get everything they wanted in the current senate bill. No public option. No Medicare buy-in at age 55. Employers will have to pay fines or subsidize their employees health benefits; or, as seems likely, lay people off. Individuals will have to become law-breakers or buy their own insurance if their employers do not come under the mandate. Small businesses and the self-insured, as usual, will be very hard hit. I think the socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is on to something: "government run health insurance will return when the realization dawns that private insurance companies are no longer needed." I think the dems intend to revisit the issue down the road when enough people and businesses complain about the new costs and taxes. Then the dems will step in as the saviors, presenting the people with a fully nationalized healthcare system that will forever eliminate private insurance company involvement in healthcare. As Sanders says, his approach "eliminates the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, administrative costs, bureaucracy and profiteering that is engendered by the private insurance companies." (Quotes from the 12/16/09 Verizon News online.) Billions in waste? Administrative costs? Bureaucracy? Profiteering? Funny - I thought he was talking about the federal government!