Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Un-American Solution

The House recently passed their version of healthcare deform, with all the bad stuff (e.g. individual mandates) and a very limited public option. Plus the Stupak Stupid Amendment about abortion. It's all a giveaway to the greedy insurance companies, like the bailouts were for Wall Street, at taxpayer expense. But it will finally "fix" healthcare, right? Wrong--that's like throwing all of us into a pool full of sharks, and maybe one or two small dolphins, and expecting no one to be eaten. In a nutshell, it would "force everyone, with some small exceptions, to buy an overpriced, defective product, year after year, or face a stiff financial penalty," according to one highly astute critic. Since when did a right (to healthcare) become mandatory anyway?

Aside from the ethical implications, there are also constitutional ones to consider as well.  Some supporters of the plan say the General Welfare Clause somehow gives the feds the power to force people to buy private insurance.  But there is absolutely no precedent for that in this country, and for good reason.  Car insurance is a poor comparison since it is only forced by the states, not the feds, and driving on public roads (as opposed to merely existing) is a privilege rather than a right.  And while the clause gives the feds (and by extension the states) the power to tax and spend, forcing people to buy something from a private entity is clearly not the same thing.  And the current attempt to make an end run by disguising it as a (punitive) tax fails since such a tax on personhood is a direct tax that is unconstitutional when done by the feds unless apportioned among the several states according to population (which it clearly is not).  But I guess the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, is now "void where prohibited," and we might as well just replace it with the phrase "anything goes."  How did America sink so low?

But this will most likely not pass the Senate, thank God. There is no way this can survive a filibuster, especially a bipartisan one. Republican Senator Tim ("Dr. No") Coburn said he will do so by reading the entire mammoth bill out loud on the floor. Read the bill? That's a first for Congress! Hey, how about we do that for EVERY bill that comes to the floor from now on? Takes too long? Well maybe we should put a limit on how many pages a bill can have.

And maybe more people will read between the lines. The healthcare deform bill is really just a capitulation to the insurance industry, plain and simple. Let it die a quick death in the Senate, and may it never be resurrected in a similar form.  The American people agree:  only 32% say Obama's (really Congress's) plan is a good idea, a new low, while nearly half (47%) say it is a bad idea.

Also being debated is that the Senate bill also may expand Medicare to everyone over 55 instead of having even a weak public option for all ages.  At the expense of younger people, of course, who will be taxed to pay for it AND be forced to buy private insurance!  If so, that is intergenerational robbery on an unprecedented scale.  But hey, as long as the ruling Boomers benefit, to hell with their kids and grandkids, right?  Wrong.

The TSAP believes in a single-payer healthcare system for all Americans, funded by progressive taxation, not regressive premiums and penalties. Few Americans know that there is currently an excellent bill in Congress that would do exactly that, but is currently stalled.  Healthcare is a human rights issue above all else. Anything less would be uncivilized.

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