The March 31st deadline for enrolling in Obamacare has come and gone. How fast time flies.
It was only late last year that the March 31st hard deadline was created. Oh, you don’t recall? The March 31 deadline for signing up was created in the end of October. Initially, you needed to have active insurance by March 31st, not just successful ‘enrollment’. Under the law, to successfully meet the rules of the individual mandate, you needed to enroll by March 1st, in order to have active insurance by the deadline of March 31st. And furthermore, this new deadline had been held as the final date; until, of course, the Administration allowed another waiver for anyone ‘enrolled’ to complete the enrollment process well into the month of April.
In any case, this is now, technically, the day by which most have pointed to as the first real target date by which the government should be making solid progress in insuring the uninsured, and providing an adequate pool of payers into the insurance exchanges.
What we know, and maybe more importantly, what we don’t know, is critical to understanding the debate that will revolve around health care for the next few months.
So what do we know, for certain?
We know that around 7 million enrollments have gone through the exchanges by the end of March. That is admittedly a relative success in and of itself for the administration, which had such a disastrous start to the enrollment period. In my piece in the end of December, I did believe they would get the exchanges fixed, but I still thought they would be hard pressed to reach the 7 million mark.
The problem now becomes what the definition of enrollments are. Enrollments are NOT people who have actually successfully been insured. They ARE people who have successfully chosen an insurance policy on the exchange, and placed it in their ‘shopping cart’ on the website.
I am sure many can already see the problems with this. First, the system has no way of telling if you are a repeat customer. I for one have two accounts that have insurance policies in my cart, neither which I ever plan to purchase. I was simply testing the exchange website. Am I being counted? I am unsure, but I do know I am receiving emails regularly to remind me to complete my purchase.
Second, until you complete the payment process, you are not insured. HHS has clearly stated this on many occasions. Health experts such as Bob Laszweski have stated that in his discussions with insurers, he puts the ‘unpaid policy’ number at somewhere in the range of 15-20%. My own personal discussions with insurers backs this up; and on March 30th, HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius stated the rate was around 10-20%. So there is general agreement on this issue.
The rate of people insured really is the crux of the issue for the overall cause of health care reform. The other metrics are far less important in the long run. Several surveys, including the Gallup survey, have shown a short-term decreases in the rate of uninsured, but it is uncertain whether this is statistical noise or a true permanent trend. A new RAND corporation survey that was leaked to the LA Times has also shown a trend in decreasing the uninsured.
My own opinion is that the rate of uninsured must be dropping. The real question is, by how much, and by what method?
Let us remember that initially, the CBO predicted that the vast majority of those purchasing health care insurance on the Obamacare exchanges would be uninsured persons, looking for access to the health insurance. If this had been the case, then we should see a dramatic decrease in the number of uninsured.
However, it is difficult to believe this is the case. The same RAND study referred to above also shows that only about 1/3 of those on the exchanges were previously uninsured. Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic uses specific state numbers, like the enrollments in Kentucky and New York, to show that the number of uninsured is outpacing CBO predictions. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case nationwide; I am willing to stipulate there are probably a few states that are doing well, but overall, it appears they will miss their target. Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner points out the counter case, that is that it appears the exchanges are underperforming when it comes to insuring the previously uninsured.
Even using Cohn’s arguments, even he accepts it is highly unlikely that even a simple majority of those on the exchanges nationwide were uninsured previously. Thus, the majority of those purchasing on the exchanges were persons who were buying insurance already, but simply were looking for government subsidies so they could get a better deal.
What does this mean in the grand scheme? It means that the decrease in the rate of uninsured will be less than expected by many. That doesn’t mean the rate will not decrease; Medicaid enrollments alone should decrease the rate of uninsured by a couple of millon, at least. It just means those actually purchasing insurance on the exchanges, by and large, were not the uninsured at all.
The next issue that will arise is how all of these factors affect premiums for the coming year. I have talked about the demographics affecting the exchanges; primarily that young people have not signed up at a rate as great as expected initially. The CBO and HHS had initially predicted that about 39% of those in the exchanges would be composed of those ages 18-35. The average, across the nation, appears to currently be less than 30%, a number that Kathleen Sebelius now has basically accepted publicly.
This is important because, to subsidize those that are older or in poor health, the insurance pools require more healthy (and generally younger) payors into the system. Without those payors, the general cost of premiums will increase. Liberals argue that age is a poor metric to calculate whether people are healthy or not. This is true. However, do they really believe that the people rushing to buy health insurance are the healthy among us, and not the ill? There is a selection bias obviously involved here, and it is far more likely that those with poor health are the first to arrive in line for health insurance under Obamacare.
Almost everyone now stipulates that insurance premiums will rise more than the baseline expectations for 2015. In fact, overall costs are already increasing. USA Today reported that health costs are increasing at the fastest rate in a decade…and that is before these cost pressures arise to affect premiums.
The biggest question left this year regarding Obamacare really is, how much will premiums increase? If they increase at the same rate as the past 5 years (less than 4% a year on average) that will be a major success for the administration. However, if they increase at a rate above 6% a year (and there are rumors the rates could increase by double digits), that could be catastrophic for the popularity of the program.
These are the core issues, though many other issues do remain. Will people continue to be resentful to President Obama and Democrats for lying to them about being able to keep their insurance plans, and being able to keep seeing their same doctor? Will the changes in their insurance policies make them more or less content? Will increases in deductibles raise the ire of many Americans, who may or may not have understood those costs when they purchased their health policies? These and many more questions remain, all of which ultimately will be more significant than the enrollment numbers of March 31st, 2014.
The only advice I can give is, be patient; only time will tell.
Thanks to Leslie P for sharing a post today about how we conservatives need to act more like liberals. I agree that it is time to change our tactics and to work like liberals do. I think Leslie’s comparison of the ways liberals are similar to Evangelicals is spot on.
As one who has spent two years as a full time missionary in a foreign country please allow me to share a few of the things that I found very effective in this method.
1. Living the principles and being happy. I have seen the change in my happiness and state of mind between when I live the principles that I am taught in my church and when I am not living according to those teachings. Since Conservatism has essentially those same principles of kindness, love, service, hard work, self reliance, family, study etc… I can also say that living a conservative lifestyle makes me a much happier person. Often when a person sees how happy you are, especially if they knew you when you weren’t happy, they will ask why. This will give you a chance to tell them why and this also brings me to my second point.
2. Be able to testify of the truth through personal experience. Being able to tell someone for example that welfare is only supposed to be a temporary help for you to learn new skills and get back on your feet is much more powerful coming from someone like +Te Tillet who was on welfare at one point in her life, but worked hard to better herself and get back on her feet then coming from someone like me who has only recently graduated from college and been in a career under 10 years. Her family will also benefit immeasurably from her hard work and character because when they come across struggles in their lives they will be able to look back on that example. Stick to the conservative principles that you know and testify of them through the power borne of experience.
3. My third and final point is service. Most of the close relationships I have in my life were either started or have been strengthened through acts of service. When we serve others we come to know and love them far better than any other way. As you work hard side by side with someone you get to see not only the face they put on out in public, but their inner self as well. They will open up to you as you open your heart to them in service. This is where lasting relationships will be forged and where trust will be gained. As we are out serving in our communities it will inspire others to go and do likewise and we can make this country a better place one neighborhood at a time.
Join with me in reaching out to those in your circles of influence and speaking of the conservative principles that have made your life better. But don’t just tell them, show them through your example and service.
Did THAT headline get your attention? I hope so, There are actually quite a few ways we conservatives should be more like the liberals and progressives. Why? They are successful. How? Lots of ways, actually, today’s post will be about evangelism.
Liberals are successful. As you know, all too well, they control the culture, they control the media, they successfully claim the moral high ground. They win elections, and even when they lose elections, they stil advance their cause. They move forward without mercy when in the majority and extract significant concessions when they are in the minority. That’s success no matter how you look at it.
We must decide to be like these successful liberal / progressive folks.
I know, you’ve heard it a lot:
We need to be more like them, so we need to elect moderate (i.e.: liberal) politicians, adopt moderate (i.e.: liberal) policies, change our platform, and everybody get in line behind the Moderate Establishment.”
Um no. That’s the kind of lazy, shallow, toughtless response and “plan” we get from lazy, shallow, thoughtless people (like our media, a lot of our politicans, and a lot of the political class).
I’m not lazy, I’m not shallow, and I’m not afraid to think. I’m going to assume the same from you.
I don’t want to become a successful liberal. I want to become a successful conservative. So I want to adopt and adapt the successful techniques of the liberals and use them to further my own philosophy of conservatism.
First I have to figure out why they are successful.
They’re successful because they give out free stuff, so we have to give out free stuff! Otherwise we’ll stay the losers we always have been.
Typcial answer, you’ve exerted little effort, little introspection, and very little thought to come up with it. That’s a REACTION not an analysis.
If you’re on the “we have to do the same” bandwagon, I’m sure you’ll be a successful political consultant or lobbyist, and you’ll be very wealthy, and the conservative movement will not advance one bit. You are totally self-motivated, you care not for the nation as a whole or your fellow man. Stop reading this now, go away. I wish you well, but see no need for you to be part of my world.
If you are on the “we’ll stay the losers we are” bandwagon, I’m asking you to give it a little more thought, analyze things a bit differently, and see if maybe there’s some hope. If I can change your perspective a bit, perhaps we can all work together to make things better. Please hang in there with me.
They’re successful because they are the Evangelicals, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Mormons of the political world.
What? Hmmm. This seems right. They’re always working to gain converts, to preach the good news. They are confident that their belief system is correct, it is the best for everyone, and the path to political salvation for all. By trying to convert you, they are trying to help you. They want you to be saved. What does an Evangelical-type DO that is different from other religious folk?
They will postpone their careers and spend a few years on mission.
They will form mega-churches with massive outreach communities
They will go into the neighborhoods of the poor to try to reach large numbers
They will speak the good news to anyone who will listen, and a lot who won’t.
Their every phrase is tinged with their belief system – they wish you a blessed day rather than just a good day.
There is a certain percentage of any population who simply want to be evangelical outreach missionary type people. Some do it with their churches, others do it with their politics. there’s also a certain amount of everyone’s day/week/year that we are willing and able to spend evangelizing about our passion.
Conservatives tend to do their evangelizing and mission work for God and their Church. Liberals tend to do their evangelizing about politics..
Thus, there is a certain number of “default” people and a certain amount of “default” time from others that the liberals can count on, and DO count on, to perform the necessary work. To do the activism. You see it, I know you do. The activism and outreach of the liberal side of the aisle absolutely kicks the butt of the conservative side.
The people with evangelizing tendencies who are conservative, devote their efforts to evangelizing for their church. The people with evangelizing tendencies who are liberal, devote their efforts to evangelizing for their political causes. There’s a massive labor imbalance, massive. Liberals simply have more man-hours devoted to activism.
That’s the imablance. It’s simply an effect of human nature. I don’t expect it to change, and I certainly wouldn’t want people to stop evangelizing for their church.
No, think about this differently, and more deeply.
Accept that we will never match their political outreach, it’s simply not who we are. Our mission-oriented evangelizers (activists) are working for their churches (temples, synagogues, etc).
Understand that the basic comparison, using Christianity, is that Democrats are the evangelicals with the massive churches and the TV stations and the incredible growth. Republicans are the Episcopalians – we go to church on Easter and Christmas (we vote regularly) but the rest of the time we’re busy working and raising our families and stuff. Most of our friends have no idea what we think of God, or if we go to church at all,
Membership in the Episcopal church is declining, rapidly and badly. The influence of the Episcopal Church on Chritendom is waning. The evangelicals have all the juice right now. (Also the Cathloics are resurgent, and many Episcopalians talk about converting to Catholicism, but that’s not part of the point of this post, though it’s kind of related)
As regards our political lives, we can’t keep being like the Episcopalians, we have to be more like the Evangelicals.
You know Evangelicals, you know THAT they are evangelical. They have tried to get you to go to their church.
Evangelicals wish you a blessed day, not just a good day.
Evangelicals are confident, they know they have the right answers, and they want to share them with you.
They want to you to JOIN THEM.
Why can’t we do that with our political beliefs? The other side certainly does.
You know what else the successful churches do?
They spend very little time talking about the other faiths
They don’t focus on how bad the other faiths are
They spend ZERO time talking about how bad the other churches are
Their message is one of joy, success, happiness, togetherness, friendship, and love
They spend their time explaining why someone should join them
So…you have very little time to add “political activism” to your schedule. Make better use of the time you DO allocate.
Be a conservative evangelist. Focus on how great conservatism is, and talk about how great conservatism is, and carry the happy conservative warrior message everywhere you go. Everyone should know that you are a loving, happy person and that your conservative philosophy (not just politics, your life philosophy) is part of what makes you such a loving happy person. Everyone should know that you would be happy to help them to become a loving happy conservative as well.
So, though we may have fewer hours, nationally, dedicated to conservative activism, and that might not change drastically, we can, and must, be more effective with the hours that we do spend. You can’t change anyone else, change yourself. Are your own political activism hours spend like an evangelical? Could you perhaps retune your focus and be a bit more like the evangelicals?
An interesting dynamic is brewing in Congress among Democrats, and with the White House in the middle, as their circular firing squad on Obamacare continues.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post as well as other liberals have pointed out that Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act , which is a various of Republican Rep. Fred Upton’s Keep Your Health Plan Act, is forcing the hand of Democrats in the House of Representative.
Landrieu’s plan is going to be hard for Red State Democrats to ignore. Poll numbers on Obamacare are plummeting as the Administration’s incompetence becomes more apparent. Sen. Kay Hagan’s vanishing lead in North Carolina will only hasten to increase the pressure on these vulnerable Senators. Furtherm0re, even relatively safe liberals like Jeff Merkley of Oregon have signed on to Landrieu’s plan, showing the political pressure Democrats are under.
For the House, who has always been more steadfast in their support of President Obama, this puts them between a rock and a hard place. Most House Democrats are in safer districts than their Senate counterparts, and thus can afford to hold the line. But how much pressure is too much?
This builds an interesting dynamic of triangulation for the White House. They need to balance the needs of their liberal allies in the Senate, while still making the political choices palatable to their friends in the House.
But this becomes more difficult by the day. Again, from Sargent:
A senior Democratic aide tells me opposition to the Upton plan will be increasingly difficult to maintain among House Dems if the administration doesn’t offer a workable fix of its own. The aide adds the need to maintain House Dem opposition has been made more urgent by another problem: Senate Dems (the latest being Dianne Feinstein) supporting their own politically expedient “fixes” that could also undermine the law.
“Now that Feinstein has broken off, that makes it even more important that House Democrats stay together as much as possible — to keep Senate Ds from caving,” the senior Dem aide says. But the aide adds, in a reference to this week’s House action: ”We need an administrative fix that works before the vote.”
This puts all the pressure on Obama; but his choices are slim. Delaying the individual mandate is actually very bad policy now (I personally oppose the Upton plan for a myriad of reasons). Obama cannot do that and not make the systemic problems worse. There is no Presidential order that will give people their insurance back to them. And the other legislative fixes are nonstarters either in the House or Senate.
So one of two dynamics shape up: one, the Senate passes Landrieu’s bill, and House Democrats are left fighting a losing fight against the Upton bill, in which case they will have to defend voting against this bill to the public.
The second option is that House Democrats fold, and Obama is forced to veto this bill, in which case all the blame falls upon him, after he just promised he would do ‘everything imaginable’ to fix the problem.
Either way, there isn’t any safe harbor for Democrats on this issue. They are fooling themselves that any of this will protect them from the wrath of the American voter if the ACA fails as incredibly as events so far have shown. From a political standpoint, I think at this point they would be better served to circle the wagons and defend their progressive policies. But the panic instinct among politicians is so profound, they must appear like they are doing something productive, even when the target of their attacks are members of their own party, or their own President.
Utah Senator Mike Lee spoke to the Heritage Foundation recently, and his remarks are well worth watching and reading. Real Clear Politics has the video and transcript.
What do we do next, not only to stop Obamacare… but to advance a larger, positive vision of America, and craft a practical plan to get us there? What’s next for conservatives?
That is the question I would like to try to answer today.
I expect that we will cover this speech in detail over at the Conservative Union community, perhaps as a “Topic of the Day” later in the week.
It’s important for us to not only HAVE ideas for what we want to do once we take power, but to discuss these ideas, and then to figure out how to communicate them efffectively. This speech is a terrific step towards getting that process kicked off. I see it that the Defund Obamacare campaign woke up and engaged the troops, helped us identify one another and declare our intention to keep fighting – to not just roll over and accept the world of Big Government.
Now it’s time for the next step, which involves some hard work, thinking, research, discussing, etc.
Read and watch this speech, form your own opinions about what he says before reading the opinions of others, and then…let’s talk.
Liberal editorialist Joan Walsh isn’t too happy that some of her liberal cohorts are…telling the truth about Obamacare.
Always remember, Facts are racist™.
In her piece in Salon.com on Tuesday, Walsh goes on a diatribe against the traitorous liberals who have the audacity to…tell the truth that the Obamacare web portal is a debacle:
Again, Lizza and Klein are describing real problems with the Healthcare.gov site, and it’s enough to make those of us who wanted a single-payer system say, “I told you so.” All the biggest problems with the ACA have to do with its commitment to working mostly through the existing patchwork of private insurance programs. That’s also the only way it could have gotten through Congress in 2010, though, so saying I told you so is satisfying but politically irrelevant.
So basically, Walsh’s argument isn’t that the Lizza and Klein are factually incorrect; in fact, she stipulates they are basically right. No, her complaint is liberals shouldn’t be pointing it out, because it may damage the Democrat Party.
Which tells you all you need to know about what kind of ‘journalist’ Ms. Walsh is.
Klein and Lizza (both of whom I have personally scuffled with on Twitter, but have never though of as mindless shills) of course defended themselves:
This is a perfect example of my description of the Left’s Obamacare Debacle Denialists. Many of the so-called media simply will defend this administration and their policies, facts be damned. If the facts become too inconvenient, well…ignore the facts. Avoid the evidence. Delude yourself from reality.
More importantly, this is the kind of infighting we more commonly seen among the GOP. The circular fighting squad is almost a hallmark of Republican party politics. But when you start seeing liberals do the same, you know things in Obamaland are not well.
I predict you will start seeing some small cracks in the actual Democrat Party as well as time goes on. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen just announced she wants a delay in deadline for open enrollment for Obamacare, which is an integral piece of maintaining the individual mandate; how will that go over among the diehard liberals in the White House, who believe that such a delay will cause a death spiral to their signature program?
Another example? The blame game regarding the website itself. The White House and the Department of Health and Human Services have tried to lay the majority of the blame on CGI, the independent contractor hired to build the site. That isn’t going to last. CGI is starting to push back, claiming that overtly political considerations helped delay and, in some ways, substantially degraded the quality of the site. For example, from the Politico article:
Other decisions were made late in the process, according to information gathered by the House oversight committee. The administration told contractors one month before HealthCare.gov went up to make consumers register before they see prices, the committee found. The idea of getting through the clunky registration process before seeing prices has been blamed for the poor customer experience.
2014 will get very interesting, when each and every Democrat politician is forced to defend the incompetence of the ACA implementation, the falsehoods told by the President and Democrats to get the bill passed, and most importantly, the increased cash flows out of the pockets of Middle America to pay for this absurd healthcare debacle.
OK, now that we are arriving at the end game for the government shutdown, we need to once again find our bearings.
Many conservative commentators want to point fingers, say this person or that did or did not do damage to the GOP cause, etc. etc..
What a complete waste of time and effort.
I find the blame game to be worthwhile only in teaching us what we can do better next time. And in that line of thought, I personally do my blaming behind closed doors. Airing our dirty laundry for others to later use against us is a level of stupidity I simply cannot understand. Yes, mistakes were made. Yes, we could have done better and should do better. But bad talking our own team in the public does none of us any good.
In the weeks to come, I am sure the media and Democrats will try to maintain the public focus on the government shutdown. This, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans barely knew there was a shutdown, nor really cared that much. The polling that the media likes to repeat over and over again showing poor support for the GOP strategy also consistently shows the public largely didn’t think this episode was all that relevant to their daily lives. Surprise, surprise.
The biggest drawback to the timing of the defunding maneuver and government shutdown was it took the media spotlight off the debacle of the Obamacare exchange website rollout. Our entire focus should be on that issue for the next few months.
Our job is to get the focus back on the issues that matter. In the short-term, that is the Obamacare rollout.
Obama will do what he always does: he will try to distract. Maybe it will be gun control, maybe some abortion issue, I have no idea. But he usually flashes some shiny object at conservatives, and we jump at it.
We need to keep our eye on the ball. No shiny objects, no ‘SQUIRREL!’ moments.
The website disaster is only the tip of the iceberg. The website itself will likely not be fully functional for months, if then. Then, early in 2014, the deadlines for IRS penalties come quickly, as everyone must have proof of insurance by February 14th. How this is going to occur with the current website dysfunction, nobody in the administration can answer.
Then, to compound matters, the sticker shock is starting to resonate. Average Americans are seeing extraordinary premium costs, on top of decreased access and higher deductibles . To be sure, some people are seeing lower costs, primarily from the large subsidies the Federal Government is providing. But these are not the people who matter; most of these people are actually going to end up in the Medicaid system.
The people who really matter, that the CBO and others state MUST buy insurance to make this system work, are young people, with young families. Their insurance rates on average are going to be significantly higher than before. These are the people who the GOP must listen to, hear their cries for help, and then allow their message to resonate to the rest of America.
So let whatever deal is going to happen on the shutdown come sooner rather than later. And then, we can focus on the grand incompetence that is the Affordable Care Act.
So in the fury of the Government Shutdown, the left has become apoplectic about the “Affordable Care Act”. You’ll more likely recognize it as “Obamacare”. They consider it to be Constitutionally tested by the Supreme Court, therefore it’s the “law of the land”.
This logic is fundamentally unsound, let’s debunk it.
1) The Constitution does not grant “kingly” powers to the Supreme Court. Their job is to rule on the law brought before them, and to clear up controversies between states.
2) Nowhere in article III of the Constitution or in the Federalist papers, Thomas Jefferson’s letters, etc do you see that the Supreme Court was supposed to be the “final say”. Jefferson in fact believed their power should be limited even further, than the Constitution did already.
3) We know for a fact the left doesn’t actually believe their own words. Let’s go through their history of fighting against the Constitution itself :
3.A) The Progressive Income tax was tried several times before the amendment was brought up and each time it was found unconstitutional. Did that stop the Progressives from trying to trash the Constitution and implement their marxist utopian tax? NOPE. They kept fighting and eventually (and illegally) amended the Constitution to add the Progressive Income tax.
4) The Supreme Court only ruled on one part of the law, the individual mandate. But as this site states;
Feel free to examine the entire text of Article III to assure yourself that no power of Judicial Review is granted by the Constitution.
“Well,” you might say, “someone has to review laws for constitutionality. Why not the Supreme Court?” Some possible answers:
First and foremost, it is not a power granted to the Supreme Court by the Constitution. When the Supreme Court exercises Judicial Review, it is acting unconstitutionally.
It is a huge conflict of interest. The Federal Government is judging the constitutionality of its own laws. It is a classic case of “the fox guarding the hen house.”
The Constitution’s “checks and balances” were designed to prevent any one branch of government (legislative, executive or judicial) from becoming too powerful and running roughshod over the other branches. There is no such system of checks and balances to protect the states and the people when multiple branches of government, acting in concert, erode and destroy the rights and powers of the states and the people.
Even if the Supreme Court could be counted on to keep the Executive and Legislative branches from violating the Constitution, who is watching the Supreme Court and will prevent the Judicial branch from acting unconstitutionally? Unless you believe that the Supreme Court is infallible (and, demonstrably, it is not), then allowing the Supreme Court to be the sole arbiter of Constitutionality issues is obviously flawed.
Justices are appointed, not elected and may only be removed for bad behavior (which has happened in the distant past but these days, appointment to the Supreme Court is like a lifetime appointment). If the court upholds unconstitutional laws, there is no recourse available. We the People cannot simply vote them out to correct the situation. Thomas Jefferson wrote, in 1823:”At the establishment of our constitution, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account.“
Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the individual mandate was ruled constitutional by the Government. They are exercising an authority that doesn’t belong to them. It certainly was never meant to be the *final* verdict on constitutionality. As http://constitutionality.us/SupremeCourt.html – so poignantly points out;
“It is the Constitution, not the Supreme Court, which is the Supreme Law of the Land. Even the Supreme Court should be accountable for overstepping Constitutional limits on federal power.”
Obamacare is bad and unconstitutional law, just like the Alcohol Prohibition, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, and Slavery, which was also upheld in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is not the final say in our Country, we are not a country ruled by Justices. The Constitution is the final say, and it’s up to EACH body and Representative to uphold and fight for that document. The Government Shutdown MUST continue until we defund/delay the implementation of this HORRIBLE law, that none of the proponents bothered to read before voting YES.
The goal of Obamacare, is not to increase Health Care access.
It’s goal is to decrease the amount of money we’re spending on Health Care. That’s all the left talks about. How much more we spend on Healthcare than countries with “wonderful” universal Healthcare.
I hate to burst their bubble, but life is not all sunshine and lollipops with Universal Healthcare. ObamaCare AKA the Affordable Care Act, is a step towards Universal Healthcare and will destroy the wonderful Health Care this nation enjoys.
It is completely appropriate to compare it to Slavery, as the Government will judge your worth, and determine if you are worthy of being helped. You belong to the state.
That is why Republicans need to keep the Government Shutdown! We CANNOT stop fighting hard enough against this bill, it is bondage.
What American Exceptionalism Meant, What Destroyed It, and How we can Re-establish our Heritage
While listening to the September 10th episode of the Adam Carolla Show(Warning and apologies!!! Not Safe for Family Setting or Work! I love ACS, but he’s rough. Not for those averse to cursing and VERY blue humor!) I was pleased to hear Adam’s continued collaboration with Dennis Prager. The discussion they had inspired me to write about the decline of the very spirit that drove the first Americans to fight tooth and nail, risking annihilation, to defend the liberty they believed was their right as a matter of natural law.
Our Nation’s Founding was an Anomaly
Our Nation’s Founders belief that their rights were not given to them as a result of their government’s benevolence, but were instead theirs simply as a result of the citizen’s existence, was a foreign concept in all of the world. Furthermore, that the government didn’t derive its status as the overseer of these natural rights from some other source, but that the right to govern was bestowed upon the government by the citizenry, was the most revolutionary idea ever implemented up to that point, or since. This seemingly complex, but in reality, very simple concept is the primary reason why America is Exceptional. This is why people who believe in the Constitutional Republic our Founders created as the “most perfect” form of governance also firmly believe in American Exceptionalism.
Dennis Prager spent a large portion of his life studying Russian history, philosophy and political culture. You could say he’s something of an expert in the subject, both in terms of what the Soviet Union was like before the Iron Curtain fell, and afterward in a post-Soviet Russia. His understanding of the gestalt of Russian society is profound, and can be summed up thusly:
Russians want very little out of life. They want their vodka, they want their housing and their heating in the winter. They want their health care, and they want to be left alone.
Simply put, Russians are content to be taken care of as long as that which they have been promised continues to come to them unbidden. Entitlement is a way of life in Russia, and has been for generations. The people know very little of the more noble aspects of human nature, that which drives us to achieve more than previous generations in an effort to better the self, and through self-improvement, better society. That isn’t to say that Russian society is absent these aspects; there is simply no reason to better the self when one’s needs are seen to absent effort beyond what is asked for by the government. The effect is a muting of aspiration and the desire to excel.
Human Nature is What Drives Us to Excel
Human nature is, at its very core, selfish. The betterment of society is never really the goal while the individual is pursuing betterment of the self; more importantly, self-improvement has the very catalytic side effect of the bettering of the society in which one lives. When you mow your lawn and care for the upkeep of your home your neighborhood is improved by the aesthetics of your home’s facade. Your neighbors see your property, and, through the mechanics of human nature’s more basic trait of jealousy, more often than not will endeavor to emulate or improve upon the conditions your home’s facade presents, thus spreading the improvement you have made of yourself throughout your neighborhood. This cascading of competitive behavior and outcomes is what shapes positive societal evolution. This all, of course, depends heavily on the preservation of personal property rights. Absent ownership, the desire to improve one’s material conditions loses meaning. If your home is yours, but your neighbor’s home isn’t theirs, well, they may very well not care a whit about the attention you pay to the aesthetics of your home’s facade. Therein lies a fundamental problem. Without empowerment through the ability to possess property obtained through one’s efforts above and beyond that which sustains the self and the family, one finds no need to excel. Excellence garners rewards. In Russia, there have been no rewards for excellence for quite some time.
Russia is far from a utopian society. However, Russians having their simple needs fulfilled by an all-powerful centralized government, and in such a manner and for so long so as to render desire for more pointless, had a grand purpose. A pliable and uncomplaining workforce focused toward the sustainment of the status quo created a means for continued control of the populace to support the avarice of the ruling elite. There is no equivalency between those who “serve” in Russian Government and the citizen. There never has been. To allow for the citizen to hold the same status under the law as the ruling class allows for the ruling class to be pulled from their towers to be judged by the same laws and regulations that were created to control the citizenry by that same ruling class.
What Exceptionalism Created, Progressivism Attempted to Destroy
America, in similar fashion, has lost her way. We’ve begun wholesale emulation of what the Russian Government has been doing to its citizenry, albeit in a much more benevolent manner. Starting in 1913, the Progressive Movement, with several well–aimedstrokes, weakened the constraints which, until that time, had prevented direct Federal interaction with the citizen in fundamental ways. The passage of the 16th Amendment created a means with which the Federal Government could interact directly with the individual as a “taxable person”. Never before in American History was the Federal Government able to impact the individual so fundamentally. The scope of this Amendment has been considered the catalyst that created a cascade of Statism through American society; a society which, until that time, had never seen direct interaction between the Federal Government and the individual in any regard. Following the passage of both the 16th Amendment and the Revenue Act of 1913, the relationship between the individual and the Government whose power was derived from said individual had become radically altered. From 1913 on, individuals were expected to provide proof of their income from all sources, under penalty of law, so as to provide revenue to the Federal Government. This revenue was to be used to fund such activities as were to be apportioned by the Congress. For the first time in American history, save for the years preceding the Revolutionary War, Americans were forced by a Government to pay a tax to said Government; a tax that didn’t have a direct defined purpose. 126 years earlier the Founders of the United States had just finished ratifying a Constitution that was birthed from the ashes of a war fought for, among other things, the very purpose of casting off the shackles of taxation without purpose or representation. In two very clear examples of Progressive Statism, Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats who controlled the House and Senate at the time did to America what Americans had bled to defend against at our Nation’s Founding. While it can be argued that the Revenue Act of 1913 lowered tariffs in such a way so as to encourage commerce, the development of the individual income tax created a means through which the Federal Government was able to, in six short years, eclipse the entirety of all tariff revenue which, up to that point, had been the bulk of the Federal Government’s revenue stream. The direct confiscation of income from the American Citizen was to become the proverbial golden goose, and, it was thought, she would never stop laying eggs.
As if to add insult to injury, and, quite possibly in defense of the Progressive Movement’s steam-rolling of individual sovereignty with the 16th Amendment and the Revenue Act of 1913, Congress passed, and the States ratified, the 17th Amendment, decoupling the State’s only influence over the legislative activities of Congress. Prior to 1913, Congressional Senatorial Seats were filled by an electoral process governed by the individual State Legislatures. The States had a means of controlling the Senator they sent to serve in Congress, and therein the States retained a measure of sovereignty, and through that measure a means of influencing Federal legislative outcomes. Because the House of Representatives was elected directly via popular vote, the Founders saw the Senate as being a means for the States to have the ability to counter pure majoritarianism in Congress by allowing for the States to place Senators chosen by their legislatures as opposed to chosen by the same electoral process as elected the House Congressional Representatives. This was seen as a means of divesting power from those states that enjoyed a large population, such as New York and New Jersey, when compared to the Southern States such as Georgia and the Carolinas. With each state only having two Senators, the legislatures in the various states selecting those Senators allowed for the states to check the House of Representatives’ population based representation; Two Senators for every state as opposed to a Representative for every 647,000, giving each state an equal ability to counter legislation by more populous states, should a counter be desired or warranted.
Following the ratification of the 17th Amendment, the Progressive Movement had established a means of controlling outcomes in the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government by effectively institutionalizing majoritarian rule. This single act flew in the face of 126 years of Federalism, having the crippling effect of creating a democracy where a republican form of government had been established. From this point forward the will of the people in population centers would wash over the land, flooding over the banks of Federalism and effectively eliminating the boundaries created by the 10th Amendment by establishing an all-powerful centralized government absent the ability for individual states to redress their grievances through legislative action in the Senate. The 17th Amendment, though seemingly simple in language, decoupled the states from the legislative process, and thereby destroyed over a century’s worth of Federalism. Following its ratification, the 17th Amendment created a Congress whose power derived directly from the popular vote in totality, and, as such, the political power of population centers such as New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco became the means through which Congress’s power was expanded. As Statists were elected to more and more seats for more and more terms, the representation of the states waned, and eventually became irrelevant.
What had made America exceptional on the world stage in terms of governance was supplanted with Federal entitlement and the empowerment of sloth. Exceptionalism in America stemmed from the most admirable aspects of human nature that drove human beings to better themselves and the lives of their loved ones through self-improvement, innovation and delayed gratification in hopes of improved outcomes. The Progressive Movement saw in these seemingly self-serving character traits the supposed roots of evil, and sought to disarm those who had built, as a matter of pursuing their dreams, independence; Independence, even, from the need to be governed. The Progressives thought they had a better way.
Progressives saw government, and the pursuit of the power that it grants, as a means to an Utopian end. Their goal was a society where no one need want for anything. The core failing in this pursuit, however, is that key aspects of human nature that our Founders sought to empower so as to encourage America to thrive were entirely ignored. Aspiration is not an evil. Aspiration is what drives the Progressive Movement, at least in terms of its leadership’s aspirations of power of their fellow man. However, as is common in many progressive legislative measures, even to this day, the ends always justify any means, even the subversion of individual liberty, so as to create an equality of outcomes instead of an equality of opportunities. This phenomenon has, over the course of the ensuing century, created an entitlement mentality that has stymied the American Spirit, and thus undermines the Exceptionalism America used to be recognized for – both within and outside her borders.
American Exceptionalism, or that which drove Americans at our Founding to fight, knowing failure guaranteed annihilation, to establish “…a more perfect union…” that would endure all tests, so as to protect, defend and empower the futures of their progeny into perpetuity, had, in one short year, and the century that followed, been effectively dismantled and replaced with a form of governance very much like that which the Founders had cast off only 126 years prior. America, during World War 1 and World War 2 showed, for two brief moments in history, that she could be Exceptional again, but, as with many moments, these were fleeting, and the damage that had been done by the Progressive Movement dragged society back to the baser aspects of socialistic rule.
Welfare, a “social safety net”, Medicare; wealth redistribution methods made possible expressly by the 16th Amendment and Supreme Court decisions upholding their Constitutionality, allowed for ever more direct control over the citizenry by the Federal Government. Where the government used to derive its authority to govern from the people it was sworn to defend, now the people derive their subsistence in order to survive from the ability for the Government to tax their neighbors and the rest of society, or the benevolence of that Government to not tax all of their income to provide for the State’s, and thus the citizen’s neighbor’s, needs. These entitlements have been more destructive to society than we can ever truly know. As people find they are not truly responsible for their livelihoods they also find that they do not have a desire to see that their lives are improved through their ability to excel. The individual’s needs met, society declined due to the weakening of the will of the individual having been very softly, but thoroughly, broken. Through effective propaganda campaigns developed around the premise that those who have obviously gathered their wealth at the expense of those who have not, the poor, near poor and the “middle class” were lulled into an acceptance that Government would see justice served, and, as long as the entitlements continued to flow, the population was accepting of this fallacy.
There is Hope
Our fates are not sealed. American Exceptionalism does not have to die in the annals of history, a forgotten relic of an age that may never be realized again. There are those Conservatives who understand the words I have written here, and who feel within themselves the desire and drive to excel. Perhaps that drive is due to the indomitable human spirit and the more noble aspects of human nature. If this is the case, perhaps, then, there is hope.
Liberty’s Torch still burns. Her torch burns in the hearts of men and women across this great nation, once great for casting off her shackles of tyranny, and perhaps great again for the same act. I implore you to take the opportunity to read a book that has educated and inspired me to express my desire to see America restored to her now nearly forgotten greatness. “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic”, by Mark Levin, is a clearly written plan to use the mechanisms established in the Constitution to begin a process of proposing Constitutional Amendments that, if ratified, have the potential of undoing the damage that has been wrought upon the American Republic by the Progressive Movement over the course of the last century. The course is suggested, and it is long, and not without hazard. The course cannot be set without action, and that action starts with the States. The 17th Amendment didn’t completely destroy Federalism, but its impacts have made it seem as though our Federal form of governance had been mortally wounded and left for dead. Article V of the Constitution, crafted specifically by our Founders as a bulwark against an out of control tyrannical Federal Leviathan, created a means through which an organized effort of and by the States can bypass Congress in the creation and ratification of Amendments to the Constitution.
Do not lose hope. America shall not die in the ashes of the fires of socialism and tyranny so long as Patriots are willing to fight to defend her honor. We are stronger than what Statism has seen us show ourselves to be. We have been before, and we shall be again.