Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Keep plucking that Congress

Jerry Stratton, January 21, 2010

I’m not a fan of political Hail Marys. They provide the illusion that we can wait until the last minute and let someone else fight bad laws. Everyone loves a good contest, but there’s rarely a magic bullet to stop government power grabs. So Massachusetts was a pleasant surprise, but it also shows the dangers of government health takeover. Massachusetts voters know that federal health care will be worse than state health care because they’ve seen the transition from employer care to state control. They strongly oppose the federal takeover.

But they’re still not willing to give up their own flawed system. That’s the danger of government takeovers. The inertia is difficult to overcome, even as people know it’s wrong.

The most annoying part about these last few months, as someone who is neither Republican nor Democrat, is that both sides wanted to pass health care reforms. It was the issue of the last election. There could have been a bipartisan effort to make things better, but the Democrats locked the Republicans out of the process. None of the cost-saving and consumer-friendly measures that the Republican presidential candidate ran on are included in the current bill. Under the new bill, Americans would still be locked in to buying only from insurance companies in their own state; they would still be locked in to what a faceless organization chooses. They would still be penalized for trying to get customized insurance. And health insurance would be managed down to the letter to the point where there would be no personalized care.

Yes, there is a problem with people being unable to afford health care and health insurance. This is a problem that Congress helped to create. It is well within Congress’s power to reduce the scope of the problem, by reducing the artificial barriers they’ve erected that keep health care expensive and health insurance unresponsive. But the Democrats tell us that to fix the problems government created, we need to give the government more power. That’s unacceptable.

It’s ridiculous, for example, that when Congress set up health care expenditure accounts, they deliberately excluded health insurance from them. This forces people to use their employer health care even when it isn’t what they want; and, of course, it severely penalizes people who don’t have an employer.

Health care reform is a two-step process. The more people who can afford their own health care and insurance, the easier it will be to care for the rest. The first step is bringing costs down. Taking the government policies that cause health care costs to rise, and making those policies bigger and forcing more people to use them, was never a good idea. Treating the government as the universal employer makes politicians and political appointees the universal boss.

If the Democratic leadership in Washington cared about real reform, they’d use this election as an excuse to say, hey, you know what, voters? You’re right. We’re going about this all wrong. We still believe that the government should provide health care for people who can’t afford it, but the first thing we’re going to do is bring down the price of health care, and increase the options people have for health insurance.

There are Republicans who support health insurance reform and health care reform. Two of them ran for the White House in 2008. But the reforms they support increase options and decrease artificial barriers. The reforms they support decrease government power and increase health care freedom. Listen to them; if you adopt competitive reforms this year, then two years from now when prices fall, you’ll be better able to convince the country we can afford paying for other people’s health care.

Be fiscally responsible. A prosperous country can do a lot more for its underprivileged citizens than a bankrupt one can.

If, on the other hand, they double down on higher taxes, more government power, reducing choices, and bailing out moribund companies to stifle innovation, we can expect to see more Massachusettses in November. Maybe even here in California. Carly Fiorina has to be looking at these results and thinking, anything a man can do, a woman can do better. (If you’re reading this, Ms. Fiorina, I recommend that your truck be a Ford.1)

Obama came in on a horse called “change”, but immediately exchanged it to ride “more of the same”. Everything that put us in our current predicament, he wants to do more of. More bailouts, more expensive political boondoggles, more government restrictions on health care. That has to change.

  1. Disclaimer: I own a handful of shares. As well as a 1984 Mustang GT convertible. The GT came first.

  1. <- Short-sighted supermajorities
  2. Citizens United ->