Free Markets, Free People

mandate


Obama and taxes

President Obama is on his newest attempt to change the subject and find something to take to the people that might interest them and distract from his abysmal economic performance.  It’s taxes.  Specifically, he’s decided to make an issue of the automatic tax increases that will take effect in January and claim he does not want to see taxes increase on anyone but those nasty rich who need to “pay their fair share”.  Or, back to class warfare.

A) He likes to refer to these as the “Bush tax cuts”.  In fact, they’re the current tax rate.  Have been for years.  What he wants to do is see a tax increase on the rich, but no one else.  I’m not sure how else one characterizes that but “class warfare”, especially given the percentage of total taxes that top income group pays already.

B) Republicans are saying no tax increases on anyone.  Democrats like to characterize that as protecting the rich.  I like to characterize it as an attempt to address the real problem – out of control government spending.

C) The nasty “rich” Obama wants to tax also include almost a million small businesses.  That’s one of the primary reasons, in this weakening economy, that Republicans are right not to agree to any tax increases.  It is both stupid and economically suicidal.  But then you have to know about economics and the business world to understand that.

D) Democrats had two years of a complete monopoly on government to get this done and didn’t.  It’s not the Republicans who have prevented anything.  It is total incompetence on the Democratic side of the aisle.  And, as Obama’s favorite pastor likes to say, “those chickens are coming home to roost”.

E) Finally, Barack Obama has already raised taxes on the middle class despite his statement in a speech yesterday claiming he had no desire to raise middle class taxes.

The tax is called the mandate in ObamaCare.  It goes like this:

 

Taxmandate

 

75% of the mandate tax falls on the middle class.    That is a middle class tax hike in anyone’s book.

So when he claims he has no desire to raise the taxes on the middle class, that may be true … now.  Because, in fact, he’s already done it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Is the fate of our liberty being decided today?

Just some random thoughts as we await the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare. 

I can’t help thinking the title is precisely what is on the line today.  Given the implications of upholding that odious law, I can’t help but feel this is indeed the most momentous decision in my lifetime.  Oh, certainly, there have been many other important ones, to be sure, but never one that had the potential, at least as I see it, to give government carte blanc to expand and intrude into my life.

I’ve said it often, liberty (freedom) equals choice.  Today’s decision will either uphold our ability to make individual choices (to include not having health insurance for whatever reason) in our lives or limit them – severely.

You know, when I was a kid I had to read the Constitution.  I didn’t find it either difficult to read or understand.  Yet since then, we’ve seen veritable oceans of words telling us what we read and the common understanding of what those words in the Constitution mean isn’t what they really mean.   And the way the Constitution is treated by our politicians is simply shameful (and that applies to both sides).

It has also been ironic to me to see the “living Constitution” crowd whine and complain that the SCOTUS may be overturning “years of precedent”.  That’s a true traditionalist argument.  In fact, though, if it does strike down the mandate, then it will be a traditionalist ruling.

I’m not sure how the left will reconcile that without their heads exploding.

I’m also convinced that even if overturned, either partially or completely, this is only the beginning of the fight to have government take over health care.  Next step?  Single payer.

In fact, there are probably many on the left who actually hope this monstrosity will be overturned so they can proceed to what has always been the extreme left’s dream – single payer, government run health care.  And, of course, Medicare provides precedence for that, doesn’t it.

So as we sit here waiting and hoping, it might behoove us to consider that even if the decision goes as we hope it will go, spiking the ball will be premature.

A ruling against the law won’t signal the end of this fight.  I’m afraid it will only signal the end of round 1 of a multi-round championship fight.

Whatever the ruling, I worry for our country.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


SCOTUS takes on ObamaCare–Bigger than Roe v Wade?

ObamaCare, as mentioned in a previous post, gets its Constitutional review by the Supreme Court today.  CATO’s Ilya Shapiro lays out the agenda:

This morning, as expected, the Supreme Court agreed to take up Obamacare.  What was unexpected — and unprecedented in modern times — is that it set aside five-and-a-half hours for the argument.  Here are the issues the Court will decide:

  1. Whether Congress has the power to enact the individual mandate. – 2 hours
  2. Whether the challenge to the individual mandate is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act. – 1 hour
  3. Whether and to what extent the individual mandate, if unconstitutional, is severable from the rest of the Act. – 90 minutes
  4. Whether the new conditions on all federal Medicaid funding (expanding eligibility, greater coverage, etc.) constitute an unconstitutional coercion of the states. – 1 hour

Those are critical questions.  They tend to define in four points, how threatened our rights are by this awful legislation.  Forget what it is about, consider to what level it intrudes and what, if found Constitutional, it portends.

If found Constitutional, you can take the actual Constitution, the one that no fair reading gives an inkling of support to such nonsense as ObamaCare, and cut it up for toilet paper.  It will be, officially, dead.

A decision that supports those 4 points (or even some of them) means the end of federalism and the final establishment of an all powerful national government which can (and will) run your life just about any way it wishes.   If it has the power to enact a mandate such as that called for in ObamaCare, it can mandate just about anything it wishes.  And, if the new conditions on all federal Medicaid funding stand, the states have no grounds to resist or refuse other federal intrusion.

In any event, the Supreme Court has now set the stage for the most significant case since Roe v. Wade.  Indeed, this litigation implicates the future of the Republic as Roe never did.  On both the individual-mandate and Medicaid-coercion issues, the Court will decide whether the Constitution’s structure — federalism and enumeration of powers — is judicially enforceable or whether Congress is the sole judge of its own authority.  In other words, do we have a government of laws or men?

If you’re devoted to freedom and liberty and opposed to intrusive and coercive government, you know how you want this to come out.

And it isn’t to the advantage of ObamaCare.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Rick Perry’s Gardasil problem

Rick Perry got some deserved heavy fire for something he attempted as governor of Texas.  That is, he attempted to mandate a vaccine for sixth grade girls designed to help prevent cervical cancer.  

Last night Michelle Bachman, trying to revive her flagging campaign, lit into the Texas governor for attempting to establish the mandate by executive order:

“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just wrong,” Bachmann said. “Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan.”

Two points here that need to be considered.  One, as some defending Perry are saying, we mandate shots for kids right now before they can attend school and there are some who suffer adverse effects.

True.  But here’s the difference – they’re for communicable diseases that can spread quickly in schools and cause all sorts of problems up to and including death.  Most Americans realize the difference between a program designed to prevent the spread of a communicable disease and one that isn’t.  They accept the need for the shots to prevent communicable diseases among children as well as the risk associated with them.

The HPV vaccine is designed to help prevent a non-communicable disease.  It isn’t a “public health” matter or threat the same way the communicable diseases are.  So the vaccine should be optional in terms of whether or not a person decides to chose to be vaccinated.  

Additionally there are some pretty bad side effects if a child has a negative reaction.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) has been reported after vaccination with Gardasil® . GBS is a rare neurologic disorder that causes muscle weakness. It occurs in 1-2 out of every 100,000 people in their teens. A number of infections have been associated with GBS. There has been no indication that Gardasil® increases the rate of GBS above the rate expected in the general population, whether or not they were vaccinated.

Blood Clots

There have been some reports of blood clots in females after receiving Gardasil®. These clots have occurred in the heart, lungs, and legs. Most of these people had a risk of getting blood clots, such as taking oral contraceptives (the birth control pill), smoking, obesity, and other risk factors.

Deaths

As of June 22, 2011 there have been a total 68 VAERS reports of death among those who have received Gardasil® . There were 54 reports among females, 3 were among males, and 11 were reports of unknown gender. Thirty two of the total death reports have been confirmed and 36 remain unconfirmed due to no identifiable patient information in the report such as a name and contact information to confirm the report. A death report is confirmed (verified) after a medical doctor reviews the report and any associated records. In the 32 reports confirmed, there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine and some reports indicated a cause of death unrelated to vaccination.

It is obviously unclear if Gardasil was the culprit here, but then it’s also unclear it wasn’t.  However, it does seem rather interesting that 68 youngsters died after its administration.  That many young people dying in close relation to the administration of the vaccine is at least highly suspicious.

You could write it off to bad screening … why was it administered to those people who had risks of getting blood clots.  But that’s irrelevant if it is mandated, isn’t it?

Unless the mandate specifically states such exceptions, everyone, to include those with the risks outlined, are going to get the vaccine and health care workers aren’t going to bother to screen, are they?

And of course that brings us to the real problem.  The mandate.  Sort of hard to be outraged about ObamaCare’s mandate when you’ve been mandating things yourself, and without even a legislative okay – not that that would justify a mandate.  However, the point is Perry decided to do this with an executive order, thereby placing the entire fiasco squarely on his shoulders.

The point, of course, is what he did is not exactly in keeping with what he claims he wants to do as president, i.e. “get Washington (government) out of our lives”.  His action in this case was exactly the opposite.  And while, as he claims, his intentions were good, we all know the road to hell – and serfdom – are paved with good intentions.

“At the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer,” Perry said. “At the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life.”

Not your job, Governor, at least in this context.  And especially by executive order mandate.

Compound this mess with the fact that also a hint of political cronyism involved:

“There was a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate,” Bachmann said. “The governor’s former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company.”

The company in question is Merck and his former chief of staff was indeed it’s chief lobbyist.  And we know that sort of former relationship buys access in political circles.   And we also know that fosters cronyism.  None of that may be the case here, but politicians running for president can’t really afford that sort of implication, can they?

Perry shot back that he was offended that anyone would think, after raising $30 million dollars that he could be bought off by a $5,000 campaign contribution.  Well he wasn’t running for president then was he?

Lots of questions.  Less than satisfactory answers to this point.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, “Romneycare” still stands as my answer to any question Mitt Romney might ask.  If you think Perry’s answer was unsatisfactory about the HPV vaccine, I’ve still yet to hear one from Romney about his mandated health care for MA.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Health insurance mandate’s Constitutionality and the "necessary and proper" clause

It appears that the main question, or at least one of the main questions, about the health care mandate in Obamacare that requires Americans buy health insurance may revolve around the "necessary and proper" clause and not just the badly abused Commerce clause.

From the New York Times:

The necessary-and-proper clause sits at the end of Article I, Section 8, after 17 paragraphs that enumerate the powers delegated to Congress, ranging from the establishment of post offices to the declaration of war. It conveys authority “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.”

The reason that is a key is because the latest decision that went against the administration involved Judge Henry Hudson rejecting the “necessary and proper” defense.  As the Times mentions, the court has struggled over the years to define the necessary and proper clause.  Here’s the case as it stands now:

The [DoJ] , which represents the Obama administration, argues that the insurance requirement is constitutional under the commerce clause and allowed under the necessary-and-proper clause as a rational means to an appropriate end. It points to a series of Supreme Court precedents that interpret those provisions as allowing the regulation of “activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.”

The act of not obtaining health insurance, the federal government’s lawyers contend, is effectively a decision to pay later rather than up front in a market that consumers cannot avoid. Such decisions, they say, have a substantial impact on the market because many of the uninsured cannot afford their care and shift costs to governments, hospitals and the privately insured.

Furthermore, the lawyers argue, the insurance mandate is essential — both necessary and proper — to making other changes work, particularly prohibitions on discrimination by insurers against those with pre-existing medical conditions [emphasis mine].

Obviously, at least in my estimation, the argument fails for a number of reasons.  Obviously, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m simply giving my arguments based on the stated particulars of the case as outlined above. 

First the wording “rational means to an appropriate end.”  I’d argue the end is not at all appropriate – i.e government dictating that someone must have insurance certainly smacks of what government had denied and called a “myth”.  That is government is now in charge of health care for everyone.  Unless you accept that premise, the argument is invalid.  Acceptance of that premise and the “appropriate end” argument means government can pretty well do whatever it wants and the Constitution as a guiding document has been mostly rendered moot.

The argument goes on to say that not having health insurance is “effectively a decision to pay later rather than up front in a market that consumers cannot avoid.”  Obviously, in the strictest sense that’s not true.  “Consumers” can avoid that market.  And do.  That’s not to say they will – but the fact is no one is forced to use it and no one has to use it if they so choose.   Arguing that consumers must be required to buy insurance because they will use the market seems a claim that is unfounded in fact.  People of means, for instance, may decide they’d rather pay as they use the service, vs. obtaining insurance.  That should be their decision, not governments if we’re really a free country.  And while they may be a small set of those who will seek health care, they still give lie to the necessity of insurance to cover the costs of their care – the “pay later than up front” mentioned in the emphasized argument.

Finally there’s the argument which says the mandate is necessary “to making other changes work, particularly prohibitions on discrimination by insurers against those with pre-existing medical conditions

No.  It’s not. Consider the fact that much of the problem we face with health insurance  today revolves around the structure of the market as one in which employers provide the coverage.  Then there’s a problem of  government’s making.  The restrictions on selling  health insurance across state lines.  This has essentially segmented the huge pool we see in other insurance markets to 50 segmented markets.  It has made the ability to buy an insurance product at the best price and outside the traditional employer furnished insurance all but impossible.  Removal of that restriction would go a long way in solving some of the toughest problems – pre-existing conditions and portability. While government may feel compelled to place “prohibitions on discrimination by insurers against those with pre-existing medical conditions”, there would probably be less of a need to discriminate in larger pools of insured.  Anyway, that solution is found nowhere in the existing law.

There is no “right” to health care.  As far as my opinion goes, I find nothing in the Constitution that gives government the power or authority to require I pre-pay for health care.  And that is precisely what it is claiming – that health care is something I will use and since I will use it, I must pre-pay for that use.  No matter what my health, age, etc.   It argues that it can remove my choice in the matter by law.

One more time – freedom is choice.   When it is removed, so is freedom.  This is just another step toward a more oppressive government presence in our lives.  One can only hope that the SCOTUS will rule against the administration on this travesty of a law and cripple it to the point that repeal is the only valid choice for Congress.  Otherwise, the door will be opened to all sorts of mandates we haven’t even imagined.   And with each mandate more choice is eliminated.

If anyone can argue that was the vision of the founders of the country or the writers of the Constitution, and do so with a straight face, I’ll be glad to nominate them for an Oscar next year.

~McQ


Election post-mortem

An incredible election night by any measure.  The obvious question that pundits will be concentrating on is “what does it mean”?

Well I think there is consensus on both sides that it doesn’t mean that the voters love Republicans.  Even establishment Republicans are acknowledging that fact.  And Marco Rubio made that clear in his acceptance speech where he called this a “second chance” not an embrace of the GOP.

So that leaves us with a number of other options to consider.  What needs to be kept in mind is this is the third consecutive wave election and in each case the party holding the White House suffered losses.  That’s unprecedented.  And this particular midterm is the largest shift of seats since 1936 (update: House numbers now have a projected 242 seats on the GOP side, a net of +64 – historic or as one Democrat strategist said, a defeat for Democrats of “biblical proportion”).  So one meme that isn’t going to fly is this election is “no big deal”.  Democrats got spanked and got spanked hard.  They have a lot of work to do to win back voters.

Another thing that seems to be a developing narrative is that this is a repudiation of the Obama agenda.  I think that’s true to an extent.  The biggest driver of the dissatisfaction with Democrats is the health care law as  indicated by polls. And they are certainly mad about the deficit spending.  But as Charles Krauthammer said last night, “this isn’t a failure of communication by the Democrats, this is a failure of policy”.  So it would seem that at least part of the vote was a repudiation of the president despite claims by some on the left that its only about the economy.

That said, part of it is also about the economy.  Historically the party in power doesn’t do well in a down economy.  So that too must be factored in to the formula.  While much of that is beyond government’s control, that which it could impact was perceived as poorly done.  Very poorly done.  That exacerbated the loss.  And, with the focus on health care reform, most Americans thought that the legislative priorities were wrong as well.  Voters have historically turned to the GOP to handle economic matters. But this is still no mandate for the GOP.

Finally voter anger hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just taking a breather.  Again, watch the direction of the country polls over the coming two years.  It’s an interesting set up in DC now.  Democrats actually would have been better off if the Senate had gone to the Republicans.  They still control it and the Presidency and that leaves the onus on them as we head toward 2012.  It also gives the GOP a free hand to pass whatever it wants in the House, regardless of where it goes, if anywhere, and make the case that they tried to reform what the people wanted reformed and Democrats (in the Senate and the President) stood in their way (reverse the “obstructionists” claim).

I think, after last night, that 2012 is definitely in play.  It will be interesting to see how both parties react.  I’m eagerly awaiting the Obama presser at 1 pm today when we’ll hear the first reaction from the President.  But as always with him, judge him by his actions, not his words.  His words have become empty rhetoric that many times doesn’t support what he ends up doing.

~McQ


Win isn’t GOP mandate, just another chance

One of the things I keep harping on is the "direction of the country" polls. Forget all this generic polling and other such nonsense for a moment. I continue to try to point out that the dissatisfaction with the federal government isn’t confined to one party as some of the establishment Republicans (and establishment Democrats) seem to think, or at least want to believe.

Scott Rasmussen makes that point today while talking about the generic ballot lead the Republicans enjoy. As he asserts, this isn’t because voters think the GOP is great and wonderful nor is it to hand them a "mandate", no matter how big their win. It is the change from awful to maybe less awful with the warning that in two years they’ll do it all over again if the pols don’t start catching on.

But none of this means that Republicans are winning. The reality is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power.

This is the continuation of a trend that began nearly 20 years ago. In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected president and his party had control of Congress. Before he left office, his party lost control. Then, in 2000, George W. Bush came to power, and his party controlled Congress. But like Mr. Clinton before him, Mr. Bush saw his party lose control.

That’s never happened before in back-to-back administrations. The Obama administration appears poised to make it three in a row. This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties.

Absolutely and positively correct. The reason there is a shift to the GOP is they’re the only alternative. My guess is if there were a viable third party, the GOP wouldn’t be feeling quite so smug right now. And that is a critical point that the establishment party needs to understand and understand quickly. I don’t know how many ways or how many days we have to repeat this, but if the GOP thinks this is a Sally Field ("you like me, you really do") moment they are as mistaken as a party can be.

For the GOP, here’s a free clue provided by Rasmussen:

More precisely, it is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that’s lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Precisely and the key to the consistent frustration found in the “direction of the country” polls for years.  Time to get out of the "big" business for both parties. The "American people" are the ones that vote. They should be the absolute and primary "special interest" of both parties. But they haven’t been for decades. And that’s why you see the probability that, for the first time in our history, the party in power will loose seats in back-to-back-to-back administrations.

The voters don’t like any of you in elected office and they’re not at all enamored with your parties either. Time to wake up and smell the coffee. For the GOP this is like sudden-death overtime in a football game and they get the ball first. They’d better score or the refs – that’d be the voters – will had the ball over to the other side and give them another shot. And we all know how badly that might turn out.

~McQ

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