In January, House Republican Chris Smith introduced HR 3, the so-called No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. And yesterday, a Florida federal judge ruled that the health insurance mandate is unconstitutional.

Both are examples of the unintended consequences of well-meaning legislation.

Yesterday’s ruling against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare” or the health reform law) was the second to cite the individual mandate as the chief sticking point. Simply put, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t grant Congress the authority to require Americans to buy a private product or service. (Most state constitutions do, which is why we have to have auto insurance if we drive.)

Proponents of Obamacare either scoff at A) these rulings as mere “judicial activism” or B) the idea that someone would want to refuse to buy health insurance. Or both.

But they haven’t considered the implications of this law, if these judges’ ruling are overturned. It would mean that Congress can require private citizens to buy ANYTHING.

Do you like the idea of a future Congress beholden to Big Oil pushing a law requiring we buy a certain amount of fuel? It’s not outside the realm of possibility if Obamacare’s individual mandate stands.

Lawmakers don’t do this nearly enough, but they really ought to slow down, look at the logical end of their bill(s) and consider this question: “If my bitterest political enemy got ahold of this legislation — or the precedent it sets — what harm could he do with it?”

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EXHIBIT 2:

Chris Smith’s a pro-life, anti-abortion congressman, and his bill is an attempt to squeeze the funding for this practice that’s wiped out over 50 million young Americans (at the behest of their own mothers).

I’m not against that. I frankly find it offensive at best that some of my tax dollars are funneled into abortions, a medical procedure that is almost never, EVER medically necessary. So any legislation that starves this grisly industry of public money is a good thing in my book.

However, just like Obamacare, there’s some nasty unintended consequences in this bill.

See, federal funding for abortion has long been restricted only to cases of rape and incest. Smith’s bill would narrow that restriction to include only “forcible rape” as defined by the FBI — that is, rape that occurs under the use or threat of physical harm.

The bill doesn’t actually legally redefine rape as some fear it does. But come on! Rape is rape because it’s forced! Regardless of how it happens!

This is a bad bill. Just as the health insurance mandate sets a dangerous precedent for unwanted government intrusion down the line, so too does this well-meaning attempt to constrict the holocaust of abortion have a negative effect on the equally horrible epidemic of sexual assault.

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Yesterday, almost straight down party lines, health care reform got repealed in the House of Representatives.

Readers know I’m not a fan of the law, so I’m rather OK with this largely symbolic development (after all, it’s not like this little repeal is going to pass the Senate AND escape being vetoed by President Obama). And this is actually good form on the part of the Republicans to actually attempt to deliver on a major campaign platform.

However.

For all my vehement objections to the health care law’s immoral aspects and the super-partisan, closed-door, zero-involvement-from-the-minority-party nature of its creation, I still just as forcefully say that some sort of health care reform is still needed.

Republicans need to step up to the plate with their ideas for health care now that both parties are forced to listen to each other for the first time in this century. And they need to do it soon.

Many, many moons ago, before I got off on my months-long nostalgic tangent about a 30-year-old movie, I opened this blog with a critique of the then-not-quite-passed health care reform law.

My chief objections then were that:

  • A) Key congressional votes had to be extorted;
  • B) The truly indigent and uninsured STILL won’t be covered;
  • C) It treats abortion as essential health care; and
  • D) It’s fiscally irresponsible. Since then, I’ve added one more objection to the list, which I only mentioned in passing before but has risen to the top: the mandated health insurance requirement forcing everyone to get insurance whether they want it or not.

I can’t stress enough how much I hate that aspect of the law or how great a slippery slope it could represent in the wrong government’s hands. The feds can force its citizens to buy private products? Really?

One might argue we’ve been doing it for years with automobile insurance. But the distinction there is that we’re using public roads built, paid for and maintained by the government. Our health care system isn’t like that (yet).

Despite a large and vocal majority of Americans being opposed to the reform effort, the Democratic majority in Congress passed the massive law virtually without formal debate or even the slightest concession to the opposition party. That was a mistake that not only cost Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections, but it may cost them the law itself.

Around noon today, a Virginia judge ruled the law’s mandate to buy coverage as unconstitutional. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but in the rush to pass this huge law, its writers neglected to add a common clause allowing parts of the law to be struck or repealed while retaining the whole.

Therefore, by (correctly, in my opinion) striking the mandate unconstitutional, the whole 2000+ page law may be unconstitutional.

Back in March, I wrote this:

“The nation’s gone long enough without meaningful health reform that it’s simply good sense to do it right with relative baby steps instead of doing it wrong all at once and spending the next generation trying to fix the mistake we made.”

It turns out I was right, though not in the way I expected. The Democrats didn’t do their due diligence. They did a rush job in the dark and overlooked something important in their desperately overreaching reform effort.

I wrote a longer version of this over in my Facebook notes page that directly addressed, point-by-point,  a propaganda piece posted by the White House. I thought it deserved a mention in my own blog.

I agree that health care in the U.S. could use some fixing. Insurance costs keep rising and rising, pricing many people out of needed coverage. Generally healthy people are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Health care reform’s time has come and it’s the right thing to do.

But the bills Congress is voting on tonight and in the days or weeks to come are not the right thing, because of these major ethical blind spots:

1. Key congressional votes had to be extorted. A good plan doesn’t need bribery. But that’s precisely what it took to persuade some non-party-line-toeing Democrats to go along with it — a new hospital here, an exemption from Medicare cuts there — and the rest of the country’s footing the bill. That’s not right. That’s wrong.

2. The truly indigent and uninsured STILL won’t be covered. The homeless, especially the mentally ill, won’t be able to pay into the system and yet they need the health care more than the rest of us. And how about the absolute weakest among us: the unborn? As currently written, this bill doesn’t protect them if their mothers won’t. Again…wrong. And, related to this point…

3. It treats abortion as essential health care. Even if one doesn’t think life begins at conception, one must concede that abortion should then be considered elective surgery at best. The American people shouldn’t be paying for elective surgery — especially because in the eyes of many people, including myself, it’s ending an individual life.

The latest news has President Obama promising an executive order banning abortion funding in health care reform, which swayed a crucial bloc of anti-abortion Democrats. The problem with that, I understand, is that when an executive order directly conflicts with the bill signed into law, the federal statute takes precedence.
If true, I have to marvel: did Obama knowingly make such an empty promise? Or was he unaware of the executive order vs. law issue? Neither option casts him in a good light.
Bottom line? Abortion’s still in this bill, and it’s still wrong. The truly insane thing is that this whole bill would have passed months ago if not for the pro-abortion crowd’s utter insistence on passing it with the abortion funding sans existing federal restrictions on the practice.

4. It’s fiscally irresponsible. This plan does little to actually address the main reasons for high medical costs (why is there zero tort reform in these bills? Why doesn’t it allow plans to cross state lines?) and, Congressional Budget Office projections notwithstanding, we simply can’t afford it. The only reason it’s “deficit-neutral” is because it begins collecting money from new taxes and cuts from other programs years before it begins paying out any benefit. The amount that’s being spent on this bill is at least twice what it’d take to buy an insurance policy for every uninsured American.

Those are just the major reasons. I won’t go into:
  • the mandated health insurance requirement forcing everyone to get insurance whether they want it or not or
  • that a lot of non-health care stuff is funded (student loans? Really?) or
  • that a majority of polled Americans are against it yet the majority party continues on this course or
  • that the promised-to-be-transparent process was almost completely done in secret or
  • that the health insurance lobby has been oddly silent through all this, especially lately (Hmm.) or
  • that they’re voting into law a massive bill that isn’t even final.
The nation’s gone long enough without meaningful health reform that it’s simply good sense to do it right with relative baby steps instead of doing it wrong all at once and spending the next generation trying to fix the mistake we made.

That’s my take. What’s yours? I’d like to hear some different pro and cons I may not have considered.

It’s time.

2010/03/18

I’ve been sitting on this blog for a while now.

I’ve been wondering what tack I should take, since I hear that the most successful blogs tend to have a razor-sharp focus on a particular subject. But I don’t want to be stuck on a single subject.

The other issue is that I didn’t want to jump directly into some heavy subject right away. Yes, I want to write about Truth. Contrary to what our morally relativistic culture would have you believe, absolute truth does exist. And it behooves us as thinking beings to strive to know that absolute truth to the best extent that our finite minds can grasp it.

Yes, I want to write about Justice. Plainly put, some things are just right and some things are just wrong. The element that steers matters toward the “right” side of the scale is Justice. That’s what I’m about.

Yes, I want to write about the Way. Not the “American way,” but the Way referred to in the New Testament. And I wish to do so in a thoroughly non-religious fashion.

Finally, I want this blog to also have a fun side, as evidenced by its title’s evocation of the introduction to the old “Superman” TV Show (see 0:35-0:45):

I like comic books and superheroes. Always will. So I’ll frequently write about them as well.

I hope you’ll stick with me as I feel my way through this new venture.

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Now. The reasons why I finally decided to quit waffling and just do this.

1) The graphic design programs I was working on just crashed. I needed something else to do for an hour or so while I burned off my frustration.

2) I keep hearing about new nonsense coming out of Washington D.C. surrounding this health care reform bill.

First: somehow, a nearly trillion-dollar new government program is supposed to reduce the federal deficit.

What?

The reason it can do this, apparently, is that the taxes and other revenue-building tactics begin years before any benefits start to pay out. Oh.

Second: I’m starting to notice that the health insurance industry is not very vocal in its opposition to this reform bill. That’s really got my alarm bells ringing. Some of my left-wing fellow Americans are noticing, as well.

Third: Meanwhile, my right-wing American neighbors across the nation are railing against something called a “deem-as-passed” procedure that could sort of pass a not-finalized, not-voted-on health reform bill. Is that even legal? ‘Cause it’s certainly not right.

I could go on, but I really don’t want to get any further into it.

3) I read some great comic books this week, including one starring my favorite superhero, Aquaman.

Back in grad school, I used to write a little comic book review column on Usenet forums called “This Ain’t A Library, Kid!” I’m wondering if I ought to start something like that again. For now, though, I think I’ll leave it at quoting my favorite line from a comic this week:

…..

…actually, it’s a tie.

“The sea covers 70% of the Earth’s surface…the land, only 30%. Why would I ever wish to settle for less?”Aquaman, replying to a devil’s offer to rule the surface world in The Brave and the Bold #32 (April 2010).

“Who can stop me? WHO?!”Gamora, “deadliest woman in the galaxy,” in combat against endless hordes in Guardians of the Galaxy #24 (April 2010).