Dissecting the Kennedy Health Bill No, you won't be able to keep your insurance if you like it.
By BETSY MCCAUGHEY Wall Street Journal
Last September Sen. Barack Obama promised that under his health-care proposal "you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves." On Monday, President Obama repeated that promise in a speech to the American Medical Association. It's not true.
The president is barnstorming the nation, urging swift approval of legislation that is taking shape in Congress. This legislation -- the Affordable Health Choices Act that's being drafted by Sen. Edward Kennedy's staff and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee -- will push Americans into stingy insurance plans with tight, HMO-style controls. It specifically exempts members of Congress (along with federal employees; the exemptions are in section 3116).
Members of Congress "enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country," according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. They "can choose from among consumer-driven and high deductible plans that offer catastrophic risk protection with higher deductibles, health saving/reimbursable accounts and lower premiums, or fee-for-service (FFS) plans, and their preferred provider organizations (PPO), or health maintenance organizations (HMO)." These choices would be nice for all of us, but they're not in the offing. Instead, if you don't enroll in a "qualified" health plan and submit proof of enrollment to the federal government, you'll be tracked down and fined (sections 3101 and 6055).
For a health plan to count as "qualified," it has to meet all the restrictions listed in the legislation and whatever criteria the Secretary of Health and Human Services imposes after the bill becomes law. You may think you're in a "qualified" plan, but the language suggests that only plans with managed-care controls such as the "medical home" will meet the definition (sections 3101 and 2707).
"Medical home" is this decade's version of HMO-style insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office, with a primary-care provider to manage your access to costly services such as visits to specialists and diagnostic tests. Medical home providers in "qualified" plans, states the Kennedy bill, will have a "payment structure" based on "incentives" rather than payments for each doctor visit or procedure (section 3101).
These requirements are reminiscent of the unpopular controls HMOs imposed two decades ago that caused public outrage and led to state laws reining in abuses. In December 2008, a Congressional Budget Office report evaluating early drafts of major federal health insurance proposals noted that "medical homes" were likely to resemble the HMO gatekeepers of 20 years ago if cost control is a priority.
That report specifically referred to a payment incentive called the "withhold." When HMOs became dominant in the early 1990s, they would withhold 10% or more of physicians' fees until the end of the year and give it back only to the physicians who met targets for limiting how many referrals to specialists or diagnostic tests their patients used.
The targets were so stringent that, if they were exceeded, what a doctor prescribed for you came out of your doctor's own pocket at the end of the year. This set up a conflict of interest between you and your doctor.
Mr. Obama tried to put a positive spin on such cost controls in his June 13 weekly radio address. He said "if doctors have incentives to provide the best care, instead of more care, we can help Americans avoid unnecessary hospital stays, treatments and tests that drive up costs." Fair enough -- if you want your doctor paid to police your care and to be financially penalized for that extra test or referral you get.
It is reasonable to require that people who accept a government subsidy for health insurance tolerate cost controls to protect taxpayers. But according to the terms of the Kennedy bill, you must enroll in a "qualified" plan or face a fine, even if you and your employer are paying the entire cost of the plan you already have (section 161).
The president has promised that if you like your plan you can keep it. Mr. Kennedy's bill says that too. It's doubletalk, as the consequences of nonenrollment make clear. How big a fine will you face? The bill doesn't specify or set a limit. It says the fine will be enough to "accomplish the goal of enhancing participation in qualifying coverage" (section 161).
If legislation similar to the Kennedy bill lands on Mr. Obama's desk, he has an obligation to keep his promises to the American people and veto it. And whatever health-insurance law is passed should apply to members of Congress. If it isn't good enough for them, it shouldn't be imposed on the rest of us.
Ms. McCaughey is chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former lieutenant governor of New York state.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., says Americans should refuse to comply with the Obama administration’s 2010 census because the data could be used for nefarious purposes, including the imprisonment of Americans in internment camps.
Appearing on Fox News, Bachmann said it was the census that allowed the internment of the Japanese during World War II. She also boasted about breaking the law in refusing to complete the census form she received.
“If we look at American history -- between 1942 and 1947 -- the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt,” Bachmann said.
“That’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.”
Bachmann said she was shocked that the census would ask for people’s telephone numbers. Although not required by law, the numbers are used only to contact recipients who have incomplete forms.
Bachmann also doesn’t like the fact the census asks about one’s age, race, and the type of home one lives in. According to the Census Bureau, questions on race have been asked since 1790; home language since 1890; rent since 1880; and income since 1940. The Census Bureau has asked what kind of heating fuel heats Americans’ homes since 1940.
Last Monday was a profound evening hearing Dr. Charles Krauthammer speak to the Center for the American Experiment. He is a brilliant intellectual, seasoned & articulate. He is forthright & careful in his analysis; news resorts to emotions or personal insults. He is NOT a fear monger nor an extremist in his comments & views. He is a fiscal conservative & has a Pulitzer prize for writing. He is a frequent contributor to Fox News & writes weekly for the Washington Post. The entire room was held spellbound during his talk. I have shared this w/many of you & several have asked me to summarize his comments, as we are living in uncharted waters economically and internationally. Even two Dems at my table agreed w/everything he said!
A summary of his comments:
1. Mr. Obama is a very intellectual, charming individual. He is not to be underestimated. He is a 'cool customer' who doesn't show his emotions. It's very hard to know what's 'behind the mask'. Taking down the Clinton dynasty by a political neophyte was an amazing accomplishment. The Clintons still do not understand what hit them. Obama was in the perfect place at the perfect time.
2. Obama has political skills comparable to Reagan & Clinton. He has a way of making you think he's on your side, agreeing w/ your position, while doing the opposite. Pay no attn. to what he SAYS; rather, watch what he DOES!
3. Obama has a ruthless quest for power. He did not come to Washington to make something out of himself, but rather to change everything, including dismantling capitalism. He can't be straightforward on his ambitions, as the public would not go along. He has a heavy hand, & wants to 'level the playing field' w/income redistribution & punishment of the achievers of society. He would like to model the USA to Great Britain or Canada.
4. His 3 main goals are to control ENERGY, PUBLIC EDUCATION, & NAT'L HEALTHCARE by the Fed. govt. He doesn't care about the auto or financial services industries, but got them as an early bonus. The cap & trade will add costs to everything & stifle growth. Paying for FREE college education is his goal. Most scary is healthcare program, because if you make it FREE& add 46,000,000 people to a Medicare-type single-payer system, the costs will go thru the roof. The only way to control costs is w/ massive RATIONING of services, like in Canada. God forbid.
5. He's surrounded himself w/mostly far-left academic types. No one around him has ever run even a candy store. But they're going to try to run the auto, financial, banking & other industries. This obviously can't work in the long run. Obama's not a socialist; rather a far-left secular progressive bent on nothing short of revolution. He ran as a moderate, but will govern from the hard left. Again, watch what he does, not what he says.
6. Obama doesn't really see himself as President of the USA, more as a ruler over the world. He sees himself above it all, trying to orchestrate & coordinate various countries & their agendas. He sees moral equivalency in all cultures. His apology tour in Germany & England was a prime example of how he sees America, as an imperialist nation that has been arrogant rather than a great noble nation that has at times made errors. This is the 1st President ever who has chastised our allies and appeased our enemies!
7. He's now handing out goodies. He hopes that the bill (& pain) will not 'come due' until after he's reelected in 2012. He'd like to blame all problems on Bush from the past, & hopefully his successor in the future. He has a huge ego; Mr. Krauthammer believes he is a narcissist.
8. Republicans are in the wilderness for a while, but will emerge strong. We're 'pining' for another Reagan, but there'll never be another like him. He believes Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty & Bobby Jindahl (except for his terrible speech in Feb.) are the future of the party. Newt Gingrich is brilliant, but has baggage. Sarah Palin is sincere & intelligent, but needs to really be seriously boning up on facts & info if she's to be a serious candidate in the future. We need to return to the party of lower taxes smaller govt., personal responsibility, strong Nat'l defense, & states' rights.
9. The current level of spending is irresponsible & outrageous. We're spending trillions that we don't have. This could lead to hyperinflation, depression or worse. No country has ever spent themselves into prosperity. The media is giving Obama, Reid & Pelosi a pass because they love their agenda. But eventually the bill will come due & people will realize the huge bailouts didn't work, nor will the stimulus pkg. These were trillion-dollar payoffs to Obama's allies, unions & the Congress to placate the left, so he can get support for #4 above.
10. The election was over in mid-Sept. when Lehman brothers failed. Fear & panic swept in, we had an unpopular President, demonized by the media, & the war was grinding on indefinitely w/o a clear outcome. The people are in pain & the mantra of 'change' caused people to act emotionally. Any Dem would have won this election; it was surprising it was as close as it was.
11. In 2010 and 2012, if the unemployment rate is over 10%, Republicans will be swept back into power. If it's under 8%, the Dems continue to roll. If it's between 8-10%, it'll be a dogfight. It'll all be about the economy.
I hope this gets you really thinking about what's happening in Washington & Congress. There's a left-wing revolution going on, according to Krauthammer & he encourages us to keep the faith & join the loyal resistance. The work will be hard, but we're right on most issues & can reclaim our country, before it's far too late. Rick
And it came to pass in the Age of Insanity that the people ofthe land called America, having lost their morals, their initiative,and their will to defend their liberties, chose as their Supreme Leader that person known as "The One".
He emerged from the vapors with a message that had no meaning; but He hypnotized the people; telling them, "I am sent to save you. My lack of experience, my questionable ethics, my monstrous ego,and my association with evil doers are of no consequence. For I shall save you with Hope and Change.
Go, therefore, and proclaim throughout the land that he who preceded me is evil, that he has defiled the nation, and that all he has built must be destroyed." And the people rejoiced, for even though they knew not what "The One" would do, he had promised that it was good; and they believed.
And "The One" said "We live in the greatest country in the world. Help me change everything about it!"
And the people said, "Hallelujah! Change is good!"
Then He said, "We are going to tax the rich fat-cats." And the people said "Sock it to them!""And redistribute their wealth."
And the people said, "Show us the money!" And then He said, "Redistribution of wealth is good for everybody"
And Joe the plumber asked, "Are you kidding me? You're going to steal my money and give it to the deadbeats??" And "The One" ridiculed and taunted him, and Joe's personal records were hacked and publicized.
One lone reporter asked, "Isn't that Marxist policy?" And she was banished from the kingdom!
Then a citizen asked, "With no foreign relations experience and having zero military experience or knowledge, how will you deal with radical terrorists?" And "The One" said, "Simple. I shall sit with them and talk with them and show them how nice we really are; and they will forget that they ever wanted to kill us all!" And the people said, "Hallelujah!! We are safe at last, and we can beat our weapons into free cars for the people!"
Then "The One" said, "I shall give 95% of you lower taxes." And one, lone voice said, "But 40% of us don't pay ANY taxes." So "The One" said, "Then I shall give you some of the taxes the fat-cats pay!" And the people said, "Hallelujah!! Show us the money!"
Then"The One" said, "I shall tax your Capital Gains when you sell your homes!" And the people yawned and the slumping housing market collapsed. And He said, "I shall mandate employer-funded health care for EVERY worker and raise the minimum wage. And I shall give every person unlimited healthcare and medicine and transportation to the clinics." And the people said, "Give me some of that!"
Then he said, "I shall penalize employers who ship jobsoverseas." And the people said, "Where's my rebate check?"
Then "The One" said, "I shall bankrupt the coal industry and electricity rates will skyrocket!" And the people said, "Coal is dirty, coal is evil, no more coal! But we don't care for that part about higher electric rates." So "The One" said, "Not to worry. If your rebate isn't enough to cover your expenses, we shall bail you out. Just sign up with ACORN and your troubles are over!"
Then He said,"Illegal immigrants feel scorned and slighted. Let's grant them amnesty, Social Security, free education, free lunches, free medical care, bi-lingual signs and guaranteed housing..." And the people said, "Hallelujah!!" And they made him King!
And so it came to pass that employers, facing spiraling costs and ever-higher taxes, raised their prices and laid off workers. Others simply gave up and went out of business and the economy sank like unto a rock dropped from a cliff.
The banking industry was destroyed. Manufacturing slowed to a crawl. And more of the people were without a means of support.
Then "The One" said, "I am the "The One" - The Messiah - and I'm here to save you! We shall just print more money so everyone will have enough!" But our foreign trading partners said unto Him, "Waita minute. Your dollar is not worth a pile of camel dung! You will have to pay more..." And the people said, "Wait a minute. That is unfair!!" And the world said, "Neither are these other idiotic programs you have embraced. Lo, you have become a Socialist state and a second-rate power. Now you shall play by our rules!"
And the people cried out, "Alas, alas!! What have we done?" But yea verily, it was too late. The people set upon "The One" and spat upon him and stoned him, and his name was dung. And the once mighty nation was no more; and the once proud people were without sustenance or shelter or hope.
And the Change "The One" had given them was as like unto a poison that had destroyed them and like a whirlwind that consumed all that they had built. And the people beat their chests in despair and cried out in anguish, "Give us back our nation and our pride and our hope!!" But it was too late, and their homeland was no more.
I'm a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone. Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now.
You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would horribly feel so disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me?
Well, these are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:
One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I'm not a racist. This isn't to be confused with legal immigration.
Two, the TARP bill. I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.
Three: Czars. I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.
Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.
Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!
Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don't you start there.
Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.
Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why -- what do you have against shareholders making a profit?
Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.
Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band-Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.
Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try -- please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.
Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now. Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let's just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I'm busy. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.
I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.
From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington. Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we're morons.
We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work, pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when he will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.
Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don't care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.
"Today, a ghostly question of the past hangs over America as a reminder of the penalty for complacency. That question is, "What should the German people have done, and when should they have done it?". Historically, Americans try to rectify domestic wrongs in courts, or at the ballot box. If the administration continues to tilt the courts away from justice, and stuffs the ballot box with the votes of 13 million newly created Hispanic "citizens" from illegal aliens, what then is the recourse? Do the words, "In the course of human events...." begin to take on a more current meaning? Will there be a 'forced' call to arms? Where is the line in the sand?
Just what is the "requirement" for the Internal Security Force in this country? Why would such a force be necessary? Is it in anticipation of the response of patriots pushed too far into a corner? Perhaps we shall see. If the balance of power cannot be restored in the federal government, if the Constitution becomes a meaningless document due to bureaucratic shredding, the answer to these questions may not be pleasant for those accustomed to peace in the streets of America. It will be a sad day for Lady Liberty, if freedom cannot be managed through the open discourse of informed citizens. And, if the mainstream media continues to delude citizens, they will carry the stigma of traitors for the rest of history.
It has been said that people get the type of government they deserve. If that be true, will we remain free, or will we become slaves to an all powerful socialist government? In the end, we will get the kind of government we deserve based on our action, or inaction, in response to a clear and present danger to our freedom. Is that not the same predicament faced by the founders of the Republic? Have we lost our moral and ethical bearing, our principles, our values, and our courage to the extent that we will actually relinquish our freedom and dignity without so much as a whimper? We are rapidly approaching a deadline for answering that question one way or another."
A New Public Health Plan: How Congressional Details Will Impact Doctors and Patients by Greg D'Angelo
President Obama and congressional leaders are proposing the creation of a new public health insurance plan to compete with private insurance plans. The President first proposed a public insurance option during the 2008 presidential campaign, but now the details and design of this new option--like most other aspects of the health reform legislation currently under development--have been left almost entirely to Congress.
Many in Congress are looking to Medicare as a model for a new public health plan, yet they fail to realize the consequences for patients and providers alike, as millions of Americans would lose the private coverage that they have today.
According to the Lewin Group, a nationally prominent econometrics firm, the two most crucial design details of this new option are the size of employers eligible to buy into the new plan and the provider payment levels used for reimbursement under the plan.
These key issues are bound to be contentious in the upcoming debate over health care reform. The Obama campaign proposal would have made individuals without employer coverage, the self-employed, and small employers (defined as fewer than 25 employees) eligible for the public plan. But the President never specified provider payment levels or the method for determining reimbursement rates for doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals for the thousands of medical services that would be delivered.
Members of Congress and their staffs will thus have to hammer out these crucial details in legislation if a public plan is to be introduced.
Unlevel Playing Field
If Congress creates a public plan modeled on Medicare--as some have previously proposed--the result, of course, would be to undercut any pretense of a promised "level playing field" for competition with private health insurance. Public plan premiums would be 25-40 percent lower than private insurance premiums as the public plan would reimburse providers less than private payers would--and often less than the cost of care delivered.
Payment rates for doctors and hospitals under public programs are set administratively, not by the market. They are, on average, lower than private payment rates for similar care. Medicare provider payments for hospital care are only 71 percent of private rates, while Medicare provider payments for physician care are only 81 percent of private rates. In other words, Medicare payment levels are roughly 19-29 percent lower than private levels.
Congress's ability to impose low provider payments and artificially reduce the cost of the public option compared to private insurance will increase enrollment in the public plan while crowding out, or displacing, existing private coverage.
Loss of Private Coverage
When considering a public plan modeled after Medicare, Lewin finds that the estimated reduction in the number of uninsured does not vary greatly (observing a change of only 800,000 individuals) as eligibility for the plan is extended beyond small employers to employers of all sizes. Instead, there is a substantial increase in enrollment in the public plan and in the loss of private coverage.
If the public plan were opened to only small employers, enrollment in the public plan would reach 42.9 million, and 32 million Americans would lose their private coverage. However, if the public plan is opened to all employers, enrollment in the public plan increases dramatically to 131.2 million, and 119.1 million Americans would lose their private coverage. In this particular case, of the 171.6 million people who currently have private coverage, about 70 percent of them would lose the coverage that they have today.
More specifically, of the estimated 157.4 million Americans who have private employer coverage, up to 107.6 million people could lose their private employer coverage, even if they like it and would prefer to keep it.
Imposing Higher Costs on Individuals and Families
Increased enrollment in a new public plan would likely result in higher premiums for those with private insurance.
Historically, public programs--specifically Medicare and Medicaid--have reimbursed providers at levels below the costs of their services. For example, in 2003, on average, Medicare paid hospitals only 95 percent of the cost of providing services, while Medicaid paid hospitals only 89 percent of the cost of providing services. These below-cost payments in public programs are at least in part offset by above-cost reimbursements to providers by private payers--as evidenced by hospital reimbursements to the tune of 122 percent of costs in 2003. This cost-shift, in turn, inflates private health insurance premiums for individuals and families.
The cost-shift dynamic plays a prominent role in the health care sector. A study by the actuarial firm Milliman calculated that public programs currently shift $88.8 billion in costs onto private payers per year, increasing the typical American family's annual private health insurance premium by $1,512, or 10.6 percent. Moreover, Lewin speculates that a new public plan could increase the annual cost-shift per privately insured by as much as $526, which will only serve to further perpetuate the crowd-out of private insurance.
Lower Incomes for Physician and Hospitals
A new public plan could also significantly reduce provider incomes. As more people gain insurance, physicians and hospitals would benefit from decreased levels of uncompensated care. However, the increase in public coverage along with new demands to provide services to the newly insured could outweigh any increased revenues from reductions in uncompensated care.
If all employers become eligible for the public plan, the annual net income of hospitals could fall by $36 billion while the annual net income of physicians could drop by $33.1 billion. Increasing demands on health care providers coupled with decreasing provider incomes could compromise patients' access to high-quality care. Faced with low reimbursement, doctors are already reportedly opting out of Medicare--a problem that is likely to be exacerbated with the creation of a new public plan.
Consider the Consequences
Discussions surrounding the creation of a new public plan, based on Medicare and intended to compete with private health plans, have not adequately considered the potential consequences for patients and providers. Creating a new public health plan option is likely in direct conflict with the many promises Congress and the Obama Administration have made regarding health reform.
While many claim that a public plan would merely represent an alternative choice to private health plans operating on "a level playing field," the reality is that Congress will use the government's power to artificially deflate the cost of the public plan by lowering provider reimbursement rates.
It has been suggested repeatedly that if Americans like their health plan they can keep it and that nothing would change except that they would pay less. But the creation of a new public plan modeled on Medicare could result in the loss of the private coverage that millions have today by undermining the current system of employer-sponsored insurance. Those who are actually able to keeping their private insurance will likely be forced to pay more--not less--to cross-subsidize the public plan.
While patients have been ensured their choice of doctor and care without government interference, great uncertainties remain regarding what the future holds for the doctor-patient relationship as millions of Americans are pushed into a new public plan.
The Devil Is in the Details
It is unlikely that Congress and the President will be able enact a major overhaul of the health care system that both includes a new public health insurance option and meets their many oft-stated promises.
When it comes to health care policy, what politicians promise is less important than the details of their policy prescriptions. Watch carefully.
Jun 5, 2009 20:31 | Updated Jun 7, 2009 5:14 Column One: Obama's Arabian dreams By CAROLINE GLICK
US President Barack Obama claims to be a big fan of telling the truth. In media interviews ahead of his trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt and during his big speech in Cairo on Thursday, he claimed that the centerpiece of his Middle East policy is his willingness to tell people hard truths.
Indeed, Obama made three references to the need to tell the truth in his so-called address to the Muslim world.
Unfortunately, for a speech billed as an exercise in truth telling, Obama's address fell short. Far from reflecting hard truths, Obama's speech reflected political convenience.
Obama's so-called hard truths for the Islamic world included statements about the need to fight so-called extremists; give equal rights to women; provide freedom of religion; and foster democracy. Unfortunately, all of his statements on these issues were nothing more than abstract, theoretical declarations devoid of policy prescriptions.
He spoke of the need to fight Islamic terrorists without mentioning that their intellectual, political and monetary foundations and support come from the very mosques, politicians and regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt that Obama extols as moderate and responsible.
He spoke of the need to grant equality to women without making mention of common Islamic practices like so-called honor killings, and female genital mutilation. He ignored the fact that throughout the lands of Islam women are denied basic legal and human rights. And then he qualified his statement by mendaciously claiming that women in the US similarly suffer from an equality deficit. In so discussing this issue, Obama sent the message that he couldn't care less about the plight of women in the Islamic world.
So, too, Obama spoke about the need for religious freedom but ignored Saudi Arabian religious apartheid. He talked about the blessings of democracy but ignored the problems of tyranny.
In short, Obama's "straight talk" to the Arab world, which began with his disingenuous claim that like America, Islam is committed to "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," was consciously and fundamentally fraudulent. And this fraud was advanced to facilitate his goal of placing the Islamic world on equal moral footing with the free world.
In a like manner, Obama's tough "truths" about Israel were marked by factual and moral dishonesty in the service of political ends.
On the surface, Obama seemed to scold the Muslim world for its all-pervasive Holocaust denial and craven Jew hatred. By asserting that Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are wrong, he seemed to be upholding his earlier claim that America's ties to Israel are "unbreakable."
Unfortunately, a careful study of his statements shows that Obama was actually accepting the Arab view that Israel is a foreign - and therefore unjustifiable - intruder in the Arab world. Indeed, far from attacking their rejection of Israel, Obama legitimized it.
The basic Arab argument against Israel is that the only reason Israel was established was to soothe the guilty consciences of Europeans who were embarrassed about the Holocaust. By their telling, the Jews have no legal, historic or moral rights to the Land of Israel.
This argument is completely false. The international community recognized the legal, historic and moral rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel long before anyone had ever heard of Adolf Hitler. In 1922, the League of Nations mandated the "reconstitution" - not the creation - of the Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel in its historic borders on both sides of the Jordan River.
But in his self-described exercise in truth telling, Obama ignored this basic truth in favor of the Arab lie. He gave credence to this lie by stating wrongly that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history."
He then explicitly tied Israel's establishment to the Holocaust by moving to a self-serving history lesson about the genocide of European Jewry.
Even worse than his willful blindness to the historic, legal and moral justifications for Israel's rebirth, was Obama's characterization of Israel itself. Obama blithely, falsely and obnoxiously compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to white American slave owners' treatment of their black slaves. He similarly cast Palestinian terrorists in the same morally pure category as slaves. Perhaps most repulsively, Obama elevated Palestinian terrorism to the moral heights of slave rebellions and the US civil rights movement by referring to it by its Arab euphemism, "resistance."
BUT AS disappointing and frankly obscene as Obama's rhetoric was, the policies he outlined were much worse. While prattling about how Islam and America are two sides of the same coin, Obama managed to spell out two clear policies. First, he announced that he will compel Israel to completely end all building for Jews in Judea, Samaria, and eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem. Second, he said that he will strive to convince Iran to substitute its nuclear weapons program with a nuclear energy program.
Obama argued that the first policy will facilitate peace and the second policy will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Upon reflection, however, it is clear that neither of his policies can possibly achieve his stated aims. Indeed, their inability to accomplish the ends he claims he has adopted them to advance is so obvious, that it is worth considering what his actual rationale for adopting them may be.
The administration's policy toward Jewish building in Israel's heartland and capital city expose a massive level of hostility toward Israel. Not only does it fly in the face of explicit US commitments to Israel undertaken by the Bush administration, it contradicts a longstanding agreement between successive Israeli and American governments not to embarrass each other.
Moreover, the fact that the administration cannot stop attacking Israel about Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, but has nothing to say about Hizbullah's projected democratic takeover of Lebanon next week, Hamas's genocidal political platform, Fatah's involvement in terrorism, or North Korean ties to Iran and Syria, has egregious consequences for the prospects for peace in the region.
One 'top-rated' listing features more than 550 'looks promising' votes on the Obama eligibility issue With more than 200 individual threads and thousands of comments on the eligibility issue alone, moderators of the White House website on "open government dialogue" have been working tirelessly to edit the dialogue about Barack Obama's elusive "long-form" birth certificate.
Many of the top-rated threads are from citizens calling on Obama to release his birth certificate. The postings in the "top rated" category have received the most "looks promising" votes from users. New threads on the topic of Obama's constitutional eligibility to serve as president are appearing by the minute.
WND observed the "Making Data More Accessible" section for several hours as more suggestions appeared and at least 60 were subsequently deleted on the first page alone – all requests for the president to submit proof of citizenship.
One deleted post echoed many others in asking President Obama to "Prove that you are a U.S. citizen and valid president."
The post asks why Obama doesn't simply release his "real birth certificate and end all of this controversy."
"Are you a fraud?" it asks. "Is your election to the highest office in the land the largest scam ever pulled on the American people? Are you really not eligible for office? End the speculation and prove who you are."
Let Obama and everyone else know you care about the Constitution. Take part in the WND's "Where's the Birth Certificate?" billboard campaign!
Another removed thread titled, "Where is the Obama legal documentation to prove who he actually is?" asked the president to provide the following documents: original, vault copy birth certificate, records of attorney fees, marriage and divorce records for Obama's parents, passport, adoption records, school records and various other documents.
One displeased user who had his post deleted wrote, "I posted a comment about the lack of transparency in President Obama's administration and history, and down it came in minutes. So much for a open dialogue or, for that matter, freedom of speech."
Another man suggested U.S. citizens consider a class-action lawsuit against President Obama until he surrenders his documents. His post stated, in part:
Dear President, If only you would show us your long form birth certificate that shows location (hospital) of birth as well as attending physician info. Be it duly noted that We the People of this constitutional republic do hereby note many of the abuses of power that you and your administration's representatives are currently engaged in.
We the People do hereby certify that we are considering all legal options available to restrict your audacity to run roughshod over the Constitution, abuse of power and office, as well as spending too much friggin' money when we are, as a nation, broke. …
His post was subsequently deleted.
"Who would have thought that even contemplating such action would be required against a sitting president and administration? A class-action approach may be the only viable way to force reporting in the mainstream press," he told WND.
Meanwhile, a thread titled "Contact the media to get it out in the open that the 'birthers' are a racist terrorist organization practicing electronic espionage" remained in place for much of the day while messages from the so-called "birthers" were removed. It has now been flagged. A link for providing news tips to CNN accompanied the message.
However, at least 200 threads urging Obama to prove his eligibility still remain.
The website dialogue is hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration. Its website says it operates a moderation policy "to ensure that your comments are appropriate and not harmful to others." Comments on the Open Government website may be deleted if they include the following:
Threats or incitements to violence Obscenity Duplicate posts Posts revealing your own or others' sensitive/personal information (e.g., Social Security numbers) Information posted in violation of law, including libel, condoning or encouraging illegal activity, revealing classified information, or comments which might affect the outcome of ongoing legal proceedings "Moreover, while we invite open participation and diverse viewpoints to be shared, the main goal of this dialogue is to answer the overarching question: How can we strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness by making government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative?" the National Academy of Public Administration website states. "Moderators therefore reserve the right to remove posts which are not 'on topic' or do not address some aspect of that question. Our desire is to remove as few posts as possible while ensuring that a focused, constructive discussion takes place."
The "brainstorming" phase of public engagement in policymaking is coming to a close at midnight tonight as the suggestions are compiled for a "discussion" phase.
But despite the resounding popularity of the subject of Obama's eligibility, it is still undetermined whether the topic will be included in the next phase.
"Our goal is to use the ideas from this first phase of the process as well as other input to inform deeper discussion on the Open Government blog in the Discussion phase," a message posted on the White House website states. "While the voting on the brainstorming submissions will be instructive, it will not determine which topics are discussed in the second phase. Rather, the Discussion is designed to dig in on harder topics that require greater exploration or refinement."
The website will keep the "brainstorming" portion active and open to public participation through June 19, but new posts may not feed into further discussion.
As WND reported, on Sunday night only 30 percent of respondents in one of the 200 forums demanded the president release the document. But that number exploded to nearly 80 percent the following day after WND alerted the public to the White House resource.
The entire transparency portion of the website has been overrun with citizens demanding presentation of the long-form birth certificate. Every one of more than 200 threads features dozens – and even hundreds – of people in agreement that Obama should release the document.
Meanwhile, the visibility of the Obama birth certificate issue has also been raised by a new national billboard campaign initiated by Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. Launched just over a week ago, the campaign has raised about $65,000 and begun erecting billboards that ask the question, "Where's the birth certificate?"
That campaign followed one launched months earlier to collect names on an electronic petition demanding accountability and transparency on the issue. So far, that petition has gathered nearly 400,000 names.
In his questioning of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving specifically made reference to the WND petition.
"Are you looking for the president's birth certificate?" he asked incredulously. "Lester, this question in many ways continues to astound me. The state of Hawaii provided a copy with the seal of the president's birth. I know there are apparently at least 400,000 people – (laughter) – that continue to doubt the existence of and the certification by the state of Hawaii of the president's birth there, but it's on the Internet because we put it on the Internet for each of those 400,000 to download. I certainly hope by the fourth year of our administration that we'll have dealt with this burgeoning birth controversy."
It was the first time any member of the press corps has publicly asked a member of the administration a question directly related to Obama's constitutional eligibility for office as a "natural born citizen."
Farah announced the billboard campaign to raise public awareness of the fact that Obama has never released the standard, "long-form" birth certificate that would show which hospital he was born in, the attending physician and establish that he truly was born in Hawaii, as his autobiography maintains.
The "Certification of Live Birth" posted online and widely touted as "Obama's birth certificate" does not in any way prove he was born in Hawaii, since the same "short-form" document is easily obtainable for children not born in Hawaii. The true "long-form" birth certificate – which includes information like the name of the birth hospital and attending physician – is the only document that can prove Obama was born in Hawaii, but to date he has not permitted its release for public or press scrutiny.
Congressional hearings were held to determine whether Sen. John McCain was constitutionally eligible to be president as a "natural born citizen," but no controlling legal authority ever sought to verify Obama's claim to a Hawaiian birth.
Both the petition and the billboard campaign are part of what Farah calls an independent "truth and transparency campaign."
The first sign to be posted under the week-old campaign, a digital, electronic one, is up and online on Highway 165 in Ball, La. – the result of a donation by the owner. In addition, based on the heavy volume of financial donations in the first two days of the campaign, WND was able to commit to leasing two more standard billboards – one in Los Angeles and the other in Pennsylvania. It will take several weeks to get those billboards up because of the vinyl printing and shipping involved. Yesterday, WND agreed to lease another electronic billboard in Orange County, Calif.
While the campaign is off to a robust start, many viewers have asked why Obama's name is not included in the billboard. Farah said the matter was carefully considered.
"There are several reasons we chose the message: 'Where's the birth certificate?'" he explained. "There is only one birth certificate controversy in this country today – despite the near-total absence of this issue from coverage in the non-WND media. This is a grass-roots issue that resonates around the country, as our own online petition with nearly 400,000 signers suggests. In addition, I like the simplicity of the message. I like the fact that the message will cause some people to ask themselves or others about the meaning of the message. It will stir curiosity. It will create a buzz. I'm assuming when these billboards are springing up all over the country, it might even make some in the news media curious. And there's one more factor that persuaded me this was the way to go.
Birth certificate question being raised in Ball, La.
"Come 2012, campaign laws will pose restrictions on political advertising mentioning the names of presidential candidates. This one clearly doesn't. I would like to see the federal government make the case that this is somehow a political ad," he said.
Farah said the campaign was born of frustration with timid elected officials in Washington, corrupt judges around the country and a news media that show a stunning lack of curiosity about the most basic facts of Obama's background – especially how it relates to constitutional eligibility for the highest office in the land.
"As Obama transforms this country from self-governing constitutional republic to one governed by a central ruling elite, the simple fact remains that no controlling legal authority has established that he is indeed a 'natural born citizen' as the Constitution requires," Farah said. "Obama's promises of transparency have become a bad joke as he continues to hide simple, innocuous documents like his birth certificate and his student records."
The idea behind the billboard campaign is to make sure Obama cannot avoid this question any longer. He must be asked to produce it at every turn, Farah says. Billboard space is currently being hunted in Houston, Dallas, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle and other metro areas.
"Is it unusual for a news agency to launch such a campaign?" asks Farah. "Yes it is. But we live in very unusual times. The founding fathers built special protections into the First Amendment for the free press. The reason they did that is because they understood a vibrant 'Fourth Estate' was necessary as an independent watchdog on government. It is in that tradition that WND assumes this role – since nobody else in the press will do it."
WND previously launched a petition campaign that has collected more than 375,000 names demanding Obama's eligibility be verified and demonstrated publicly. That campaign continues. That list has been shared with members of the Electoral College and the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
"I wish such a campaign were not absolutely necessary," said Farah. "I wish there were checks and balances in our political and electoral systems to ensure that constitutional eligibility of presidential candidates was established before politicians could assume the highest office in the land. I wish my colleagues in the news media believed the Constitution really means what it says and pressed this issue as hard as we have pressed it at WND. I wish radio talk-show hosts were bold enough to ask this question. But wishing is not enough. It's time to raise the visibility of this issue vital to the rule of law in America. I ask everyone to pitch in and help WND make a simple yet profound statement: The Constitution still matters."
Your donation – from as little as $5 to as much as $1,000 – can be made online at the WND SuperStore. (Donations are not tax-deductible. Donations of amounts greater than $1,000 can be arranged by calling either 541-474-1776 or 1-800-4WND.COM. If you would prefer to mail in your contributions, they should be directed to WND, P.O. Box 1627, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Be sure to specify the purpose of the donation by writing "billboard" on the check. In addition, donations of billboard space will be accepted, as will significant contributions specifically targeted for geographic locations.)
If you are a member of the media and would like to interview Joseph Farah about this campaign, e-mail WND.
You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.
You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.
You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle with no visible signs of support.
You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American. You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.
You scare me because you have never had military experience, and don't understand it at its core. You scare me because you lack humility and class, always blaming others.
You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America, and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.
You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America ' crowd and deliver that message abroad.
You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.
You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.
You scare me because you prefer wind mills to responsible capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.
You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world. You scare me because you have begun to use extortion tactics against certain banks and corporations.
You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.
You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.
You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.
You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do. You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Relllys and Becks who offer opposing conservative points of view.
You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.
Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years. Lou Pritchett
Obama says Iran's energy concerns legitimate By NANCY ZUCKERBROD The Associated Press Tuesday, June 2, 2009 9:24 AM
LONDON -- President Barack Obama suggested that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy _ provided it proves by the end of the year that its aspirations are peaceful.
In a BBC interview broadcast Tuesday, he also restated plans to pursue direct diplomacy with Tehran to encourage it set aside any ambitions for nuclear weapons it might harbor.
Iran has insisted its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. But the U.S. and other Western governments accuse Tehran of seeking atomic weapons.
"What I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations," Obama said, adding that the international community also "has a very real interest" in preventing a nuclear arms race.
The president has indicated a willingness to seek deeper international sanctions against Tehran if it does not respond positively to U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Obama has said Tehran has until the end of the year to show it wants to engage with Washington.
"Although I don't want to put artificial time tables on that process, we do want to make sure that, by the end of this year, we've actually seen a serious process move forward. And I think that we can measure whether or not the Iranians are serious," Obama said.
Obama's interview offered a preview of a speech he is to deliver in Egypt this week, saying he hoped the address would warm relations between Americans and Muslims abroad.
"What we want to do is open a dialogue," Obama told the BBC. "You know, there are misapprehensions about the West, on the part of the Muslim world. And, obviously, there are some big misapprehensions about the Muslim world when it comes to those of us in the West."
Obama leaves in the evening on a trip to Egypt and Saudi Arabia aimed at reaching out to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. He is due to make his speech in Cairo on Thursday.
Obama sounded an optimistic note about making progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although he offered no new ideas for how he might try to secure a freeze on new building of Israeli settlements. The United States has called for a freeze, but Israeli leaders have rejected that.
Asked what he would say during his visit about human rights abuses, including the detention of political prisoners in Egypt, Obama indicated no stern lecture would be forthcoming.
He said he hoped to deliver the message that democratic values are principles that "they can embrace and affirm."
Obama added that there is a danger "when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture."
Reagan’s Unfinished Agenda A potent brew for the Tea Parties?
By Steven F. Hayward
Two questions currently preoccupy intramural conversations on the right. This first is, What’s up with the Tea Parties? Is this wave of spontaneous protests against President Obama’s program of sharply higher taxes and spending a movement of genuine depth, or just a spasm of discontent over losing an election? Once the teabags have been thrown figuratively into Boston Harbor again, is there a program, or just a caffeine jolt?
The second question is, Are the principles and example of Ronald Reagan still relevant for conservatives? Reagan ran at a different time; his famous axiom that “government is not the solution to our problems—government is the problem” is said to be inapplicable to the current economic crisis, which requires substantial government intervention to avoid total calamity. Some Republican leaders and even some conservatives say it is time to “get beyond Reagan,” and look for something or someone new and different.
There will never be another Ronald Reagan, but before discarding his principles and example the Right might wish to ask itself a serious question about why what was called “the Reagan Revolution” 25 years ago is being apparently swept away with such ease by President Obama. Why didn’t the Reagan Revolution succeed in erecting any lasting barriers to the governmental gigantism we are seeing today? What might Reagan say about this if he were surveying the scene now? Answering these questions might provide a program around which the Tea Party phenomenon can coalesce into a consequential movement.
The answer is contained in what I call “Mansfield’s Razor,” after Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University. Right after Reagan’s election in 1980, Mansfield wrote, “Reagan would be well advised to find his conservatism in the Constitution rather than to adopt a conservative populism. If he does the latter, he is likely to discover that the radical means of populism will overcome and outlast the conservative ends.” The paradox of American constitutionalism is that it rests our government on a popular basis, but also deliberately constrains government precisely to safeguard against populist excess, such as we are seeing at present.
Conservatives are dismayed and baffled at the sight of Obama’s Latin American-style personality cult and at poll results showing astonishing erosion in public support for free markets and limited government. “This is a center-right nation,” conservatives continue to insist. To be sure, Reagan and the conservative movement stoked the populist flames from the 1970s through the 1990s, with considerable success. But conservatives became too comfortable with the thought that populism would remain a reliable conservative force in American politics, and largely lost or disdained the art of constitutional argument.
Madison and Tocqueville knew better (as Mansfield has warned us repeatedly over the last two decades), and would not have been surprised by the present crisis. The other person who would not have been surprised is Ronald Reagan. This sunny optimist also warned repeatedly that “freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation.” Reagan’s greatest frustration as president was his inability to control spending. In contrast to Pres. George W. Bush, Reagan vetoed several “budget-busting” bills in the course of his presidency, only to see many Republican members of Congress join Democrats in overriding his vetoes. This led Reagan, late in his second term, to recognize the wisdom of Mansfield’s Razor and to embrace a bold constitutional strategy that no one much remembers today.
Throughout his presidency Reagan argued repeatedly for a balanced-budget amendment, and also for an amendment granting the president a line-item veto. But, starting in 1987, Reagan offered a more comprehensive package he called the “Economic Bill of Rights.” In addition to the balanced-budget and line-item veto amendments, Reagan proposed three additional amendments that would impose a federal spending limit, require a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate for any tax increases, and prohibit wage and price controls.
These amendments never had a chance of passage during Reagan’s presidency (the only one that ever came close was the balanced-budget amendment, which passed the Senate but failed in the House), and might not necessarily be good ideas to write into our fundamental charter — there are good arguments on both sides of each proposal. But, as a thought experiment, one can imagine how a constitutional spending limit, a supermajority requirement for tax increases, or a ban on wage and price controls would constrain Obama’s agenda today. (With wage controls currently contemplated for the financial sector, and price controls for the health-care sector, how long before a burst of inflation inspires the Obamanauts to extend the idea across the whole economy again?)
One of the notable aspects of Obama’s governmental gigantism is that there has been not the slightest peep about the constitutionality of his dictatorial manner of taking over the auto and banking industries, and hence little prospect of any serious constitutional argument over the coming conquest of the health-care sector. In this, Obama is simply following the advice of Woodrow Wilson that an increased role for the federal government could be accomplished “only by wresting the Constitution to strange and as yet unimagined uses.” In other words, liberals have been effectively able to amend the Constitution simply by reinterpreting it (or essentially ignoring it). Conservatives do not have this luxury. Now that the implicit constitutional barriers to unlimited government have been deliberately eroded, turning back unlimited liberalism may require reviving what might be called the unfinished agenda of the Reagan Revolution — it may require formal constitutional amendments.
Constitutional amendments are deliberately difficult to pass, but one notable aspect of constitutional amendments in American history is that they tend to come in bursts, and usually at the behest of populist reform movements rather than as a matter of partisan calculation. Several of the Progressive Era amendments — especially women’s suffrage and Prohibition — came as a result of pressure from populist agitation; likewise, a couple of the amendments of the 1960s and ’70s came as a result of pressure from the civil-rights movement. Similarly, the failed attempt to enact the Equal Rights Amendment was a product of the feminist movement.
Here’s where the Tea Parties come in. If the Tea Party movement wishes to stand for something concrete, and sensibly avoid being co-opted by the Republican party, it might consider embracing Reagan’s Economic Bill of Rights (perhaps with the addition of term limits and an anti-earmark provision just to make sure the politicians stay away). It is not necessary that agitation for constitutional amendments actually succeed in getting the amendments adopted in order to have a significant political effect. There is no chance that the current Congress would even bring any of these amendments to a vote, though the Tea Parties could agitate for resolutions from state legislatures. The progress of feminism showed the Equal Rights Amendment to have been unnecessary for its larger social goals. Advocating amendments to secure new limits to government would have the salutary effect of putting liberals on the defensive, just as the balanced-budget movement and tax revolt of the 1970s assisted the rise of Reagan and conservatives in general in the 1980s. It is the kind of populism that would gain Tocqueville’s approval and Madison’s acquiescence. Above all, picking this fight would reintroduce constitutional ideas to America’s political conversation. And not a moment too soon.
—Steven F. Hayward is F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counter-Revolution, 1980–1989, forthcoming in August from CrownForum.
President Barack Obama said in Turkey : "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
Do you know the Preamble for your state? . .
Be sure to read the message at the bottom!
Alabama 1901, Preamble We the people of the State of Alabama , invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution.. Alaska 1956, Preamble We, the people of Alaska , grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land. Arizona 1911, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arizona , grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution... Arkansas 1874, Preamble We, the people of the State of Arkansas , grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government... California 1879, Preamble We, the People of the State of California , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom... Colorado 1876, Preamble We, the people of Colorado , with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.. Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy. Delaware 1897, Preamble Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences... Florida 1885, Preamble We, the people of the State of Florida , grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution... Georgia 1777, Preamble We, the people of Georgia , relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...&nb sp; Hawaii 1959, Preamble We , the people of Hawaii , Grateful for Divine Guidance ... Establish this Constitution. Idaho 1889, Preamble We, the people of the State of Idaho , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings. Illinois 1870, Preamble We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil , political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors. Indiana 1851, Preamble We, the People of the State of Indiana , grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government. Iowa 1857, Preamble We, the People of the St ate of Iowa , grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution. Kansas 1859, Preamble We, the people of Kansas , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution. Kentucky 1891, Preamble.. We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties.. Louisiana 1921, Preamble We, the people of the State of Louisiana , grateful to Almighty Go d for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy. Maine 1820, Preamble We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity .. And imploring His aid and direction. Maryland 1776, Preamble We, the people of the state of Maryland , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty... Massachusetts 1780, Preamble We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the Stat e of Michigan , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, establish this Constitution. Minnesota, 1857, Preamble We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings: Mississippi 1890, Preamble We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work. Missouri 1845, Preamble We, the people of Missouri , with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness . Establish this Constitution... Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution . Nebraska 1875, Preamble We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom . Establish this Constitution. Nevada 1864, Preamble We the people of the State of Nevada , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution... New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. New Jersey 1844, Preamble We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors. New Mexico 1911, Preamble We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty.. New York 1846, Preamble We, the people of the State of New York , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings. North Carolina 1868, Preamble We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign R uler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those... North Dakota 1889, Preamble We , the people of North Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain... Ohio 1852, Preamble We the people of the state of Ohio , grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common. Oklahoma 1907, Preamble Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance.... Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing... South Carolina , 1778, Preamble We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution. South Dakota 1889, Preamble We, the people of South Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ... Tennessee 1796, Art. XI..III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience... Texas 1845, Preamble We the People of the Republic of Texas , acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God. Utah 1896, Preamble Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution. Vermont 1777, Preamble Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man .. Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other Washington 1889, Preamble We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution West Virginia 1872, Preamble Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...&nb sp; Wisconsin 1848, Preamble We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility... Wyoming 1890, Preamble We, the people of the State of Wyoming , grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution...
After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control federal courts are wrong! If you found this to be 'Food for thought' send to as many as you think will be enlightened as I hope you were.
(Please note that at no time is anyone told that they MUST worship God.)