Liberals and the Health Care Bill

This weekend Republican Representative Anh Cao, a Vietnamese American from Louisiana, voted “yes” for the recently passed health care reform bill; I am proud of Cao and others that realize just because I have health insurance, or they have health insurance… that does not mean that we should not help the many that do not have health insurance. Mr. Cao stated that he represents a poor district in which many of his constituents do not have health insurance. What is impressive is that Cao’s district is largely lower-income blacks — a population that does not vote for a party that traditionally has been anti-poor. However, Cao’s passion for doing what is best and what is right escapes both ideology and political affiliation.

Blue dog Democrats and conservative Republicans do not favor this bill. Why should they? This group represents a population of upper middle-class whites that can afford health insurance. I want the wealthy and middle class to set aside the notion of rugged individualism for a second and evaluate the day-to-day fears of driving in a car without health insurance. If one hit another car in a collision, how would that person afford the thousands it will cost them in rehab? Former American president and Constitutional framer James Madison warned against majority factions dictating the way of life for all; in this situation, the majority is made up of those who can afford health care and who are against this bill. In Madison’s Federalist Paper number 10, contends that the Constitution should guard against what he calls majority rule, hence stating that direct democracy is dangerous, thus ruling in favor of representative democracy; still, the fallacy is that a majority still lives in a representative democracy; I suspect we will hear commercials that liberals are evil, un-Christian, immoral, and communist.

But the reality is this: Liberals are not negative adjectives. In essence, we advocate for the working class, the poor, and minorities against big business. Moreover, we are  supporters of civil rights for blacks, women, and ethnic minorities against the repression of government and business. Thus we see ourselves as defenders against what Madison might call a ” direct faction.”

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21 thoughts on “Liberals and the Health Care Bill

  1. Balancing the needs of the one (the person injured in a car accident) against the needs of the many (the country falling into an economic black hole) is what responsible people do.

    Reason.com posted an article in 1993 about another government program created to help the less fortunate:

    “At its start, in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost only about $12 billion by 1990 (a figure that included an allowance for inflation). This was a supposedly ‘conservative’ estimate. But in 1990 Medicare actually cost $107 billion. … The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Medicare will cost $223 billion by 1997.”

    Medicare cost by 2007? $440 billion.

    What is the projection for the current health care plan? Depending on who you ask, over the first 10 years it’s somewhere between $1-3 trillion. If that number inflates the same way Medicare (and most other government programs) did…

    You’ll have to excuse fiscally responsible representatives (from either party) believing there might be a sounder way to address the problem of health insurance.

  2. On some things, I am apologetically socialist. We have a responsibility, as a moral and humane society, to see to the needs of ALL our citizenry. Your last paragraph got me, Carson. Dr. King taught is that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Our continued resistance to the idea that equal treatment means equal treatment for EVERYONE (not just those who can afford it) is disheartening to me…

  3. The question is not whether to leave any “one” behind, but how do we help every “one” in a reasonable manner. Rather than drag everyone down to a watered down version of health care, let’s figure out a way to pull everyone up to the high quality that can be achieved now.

    Is it unfair to suggest that liberals are driven more by feelings than by logic? Claiming to support the little guy while having no practical means of doing so without ballooning the deficit even further is weak. Does the breadth of liberal imagination begin and end with government control? I ask this sincerely, without malice (though with a little frustration). What really gets me is after trillions of dollars of spending, THIS BILL STILL DOES NOT COVER EVERYONE! The whole purpose for the exercise!

    Over 80% of folks with insurance LIKE their coverage, so *something* is working… our advanced medicine, choice of doctors, choice of treatment, and quality of treatment. The private system has good bones! We just need to tweak what we have to lower costs and get everyone else under the umbrella. Throwing out the baby (what works) with the bathwater (what doesn’t) in favor of trusting a new government-run system seems counter-intuitive.

    Set me straight, my liberal-leaning friends. Explain to me how this makes long-term sense.

  4. Mr. Carson, you forget what James Madison also Stated in the Annals of Congress to the House of Representatives. He stated, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” Our government was founded on principles of minority rights, but that does not mean minority rule. Does our health care system need a change? Most Americans would agree that it does which was misconstrued as a calling for only this type of change. However, if one were to ask the majority of Americans if they trusted Congress to solve their insurance woes and create for them a bill that those same congressmen are not even willing to take part in, I believe that the answer to that question would also be a resounding no. What Mr. Cao did was what any representative in the house should do, represent the wishes of the people that elected him. He performed his constitutional duty, which is to represent the will of the people in a Representative Republic. However, as Mr. Madison stated, it is not the job of the government to serve as the charity distributor for the people. We can talk statistics all we want. Some interesting ones from the Census Bureau reported that nearly one-fifth of the uninsured population is in financial means to afford it. Another quarter is already eligible for public coverage, and the remaining 56% needs financial assistance of some sort. So the question is why not just provide the financial aid rather than making health care a mandatory amenity? Though it may seem that this question is valid in discussion of public health care, in reality it is a moot point. Why? Because there is not constitutional right to health insurance and there is no constitutional precedence for the bill itself. Our president says that this bill will lead one step closer to the economic prosperity of our nation. Well, in the words of Winston Churchill, “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

  5. There is ample evidence that having uninsured people at such high numbers in the country is bad for all of us, not just them.

    Clearly the argument on moral grounds isn’t enough to persuade those that are against universal coverage. That’s fine. There is a political argument to be had as to whether a government should be responsible for the health and welfare of its people to such a high level. Liberals would say yes. Most would say sometimes. And some hardcore conservatives and libertarians would say no.

    But, the argument for providing healthcare on economic grounds makes for an easier pill to swallow.

    We spend on the order, as a society, of $125 billion a year on the uninsured already. $40 billion of that is totally uncompensated. Bottom line, having people without insurance is a drain on the economy. It’s a major drain in part because the costs are directly felt by insurance companies, and hospitals themselves.

    Further, small businesses required to provide coverage of their employees are shackled. Health insurance costs up to 18% MORE for small businesses than it does for large businesses. So, it isn’t a surprise that 60% of the uninsured are employed by small business.

    It’s an unreasonable economic constraint (read: regulation) to require businesses to provide healthcare at all. It prevents them from growing at a reasonable rate (growing the economy) and from hiring more employees (that is, creating more jobs).

    Would we require businesses to provide their own firemen for their workers? What if they had to provide police protection to their employees? That’s nuts. But, we have that system with health insurance. On the one hand we say we don’t want the government to pay for it, but then we still require all businesses of a certain size to provide it. This is a defacto tax on the country and the people. But, it is one that is ill planned.

    I happen to agree with many of the moral sentiment of liberals on this issue. But, the economic arguments are substantial alone.

    Universal coverage, with a government backing, will save us money, and will grow the economy. It will release small business from their current shackles. And it will put more money in individuals pockets so that they can buy more stuff (instead of spending every last dime to pay out of pocket for medical bills).

    I’m not a Liberal, I’m a Libertarian. And I’m all for universal health care paid for by the government with tax dollars. It will cost me less.

  6. I disagree that government-run insurance will save us money. Again, what example of government fiscal prudence is to be had? Every program the government creates (a) balloons in cost, and (b) never goes away. We are already scrambling on how to prop up Social Security, and yet we are going to start an even bigger ponzi scheme? Does…not…compute…

    Universal coverage must be paid by someone. Milking the wealthy and large businesses sounds great in theory, but those are the people who create jobs and cut paychecks. Bigger tax burdens mean less jobs and increased prices on goods and services (no one is going to “eat” these extra taxes rather than pass them on to the consumer). Less choice reduces economic expansion.

    What of the QUALITY of service we will be giving up? Medical innovation? Gone. Choice of treatment? Gone. Speed of treatment? Gone. Young people eager to become doctors and nurses? Gone. We are giving up massive tracts of land for beads and shiny objects. Surely there are still some vestiges of liberty in liberalism. Let us not shuffle off to the reservation of universal health care because the Big Chief in Washington D.C. promised us we’ll be better off there. Liberals seem to assume they are blessing the less fortunate with the high standard of health care those with insurance currently enjoy, but all they will do with government coverage is to give everyone mediocre coverage. (Cue tear rolling down the cheek of a native American standing in line at the Department of Motor Ventricles).

    Again… why is government the solution? Why does auto insurance work and health care does not? Affordable… cross-state competition… transparent prices that allow consumers to price shop. I’d much rather try proven free market methods that cost the taxpayers nothing rather than a dubious bureaucratic labyrinth created by politicians. It is a false choice to offer up universal health care or the abyss.

    I agree about separating employers from health care. Rather than have their insurance drawn out of their check automatically, imagine if everyone had to shop for a deal (like auto insurance) and health insurance companies were forced to post real prices. Costs would go down to win the customers!

    Is there a role for government in health care? Sure, but there is a lot we can do to lower costs to put more people under their own coverage before we pay for those who cannot. The government should be our last resort, not our first.

  7. Health Care for All? This is yet another hand out. Why have you the right to take from my earnings? There should be shame when it comes to forcing those who have to “give” to those who dont. Sometimes the reason people dont have is because they dont work. The church cant force you to give but the state can? What if you object to whom the state gives? The new religion is the old religion of the state. Just it now has no master.

  8. There are other places in the world where they have universal health coverage. There are different plans with different admixtures of government and private participation. None of those places is a nirvana. But in them people don’t go bankrupt and die early from the expense of their care. And they don’t seem to be writhing in pain from the taxes. I’m a Christian but not a fundamentalist one. I believe in the value of the market and competition but I’m not a free market fundamentalist either. I just learned of a person close to me with serious health problems who has delayed seeing a doctor since about July because they’ve moved and are waiting for the health insurance to kick in. Libertarianism is great but all good things can be taken too far. We are not gentleman farmers living independent self-sufficient lives apart from other people. We live in a complex world, a network of interdependence, where everything each of us does affects everyone else. Let’s pass this thing now. It is a worthy and necessary experiment.

  9. Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to fix the problem with moving from state to state rather than blow up the whole current system? Wouldn’t it be better to address costs by proven methods rather than go down a road that has not worked in other countries? Why must we go straight to the government option?

    Waiting times for certain procedures and surgeries are FAR worse in socialized medicine. People come to our country if it is a race against time. Let’s fix what is broken, like costs, rather than break what works.

    The fable of the golden goose keep popping into my head. Instead of wisely using the golden eggs we are getting, there is a rush to kill the goose so everyone will be rich because of all the gold inside. It just doesn’t work that way.

  10. I’m with Steve on this one. I’m comfortable calling myself a Libertarian for an entire host of reasons. But, a fanaticism about low taxes isn’t one of them. Neither do I have the standard hatred of all things government. I’m not an Anarchist.

    Matt, I feel like your worries are understandable, but overstated. Every first world country on the planet, other than us, has some kind of universal coverage. What we are proposing isn’t an experiment. It’s already been proven in many varying ways all over the globe. There is ample empirical data that universal coverage in places like Germany and Japan results in better care than what we have. It also results in lower costs overall to individuals.

    I agree with you that we should open up the market for private health care providers. If that is all we did it would at least dramatically drop prices for many people. The problem is that we’d still be left with the problem of coverage. Having money isn’t the only question for those wanting to be covered.

    The other problem is preexisting conditions. If you have ever had a serious health problem, there are few insurance companies that will be willing to insure you. For so many people, there aren’t any. It’s bad business for the companies to insure chronically ill people. They only lose money from cancer patients. So, they don’t cover them. As a result, thousands of people die an early death every year simply because they can’t find an insurance company to cover their costs.

    They die over money.

    A government plan will cover these people. If nothing else, it needs to exist for them. The only two other options:

    1. Let them die.

    2. Or, we can force private companies to cover people they will only lose money from. That is, we’d have to force a profit-based company, to make unprofitable decisions. I find that to be a real problem.

    I think it’s better to let profit-based companies be all about profit, and let the government deal with those problems that will necessarily lose money. Not everything can be profitable (the Military is a good example, it only sucks money, but we need it).

  11. Haha. Matt, it looks like you and I were writing at the same time.

    I read your link, and you’re right, she is not for the current bill. But, she isn’t for universal coverage at all. In that, she’s making a couple different points, and her article eventually turns into a ramble (including slights against Dawkins, and some babble about Levi-Strauss). But, her point of view is representative I think of many who are opposed to this bill.

    There are really two arguments to be had.

    1. Is the idea of a government run healthcare plan a good one at all?

    2. Is the current bill that came out of the house any good at all?

    If you don’t agree with the first one, then it would be hard to answer yes to the second. On the other hand, if you answer yes to number one, then you may answer yes to number 2 or you may even vehemently answer no to it.

    So far in this comment section, we’ve been arguing about question 1. You, Denton, and Patrick are against it, and the rest of us are for it. I think question 1 is the tough, and philosophical, one. And there is a lot to be said on both sides, since a good chunk of it comes down to how one views the moral responsibility of government.

    Question 2 is not as hard. I’m not very happy with the current bill either. (I’ve got a pdf version on my hard drive and I’ve been trudging through it … no easy task!) I’d like to see a removal of all barriers to trade across state borders, for one thing (I think you mentioned this, Matt). The fact that I can’t buy insurance from a company in New York or South Carolina just because I don’t live in those states is insane.

    I’d like to see the government option live through the Senate, too, but I’m dubious.

    I’d be much happier with a system that mimics some of those in Europe or Japan. What we’re getting isn’t that. The current bill seems haphazard and poorly written. So, there is much for us to agree on in the proximate case.

    I have hope that in the Senate it will get cleaned up. But, I fear that won’t happen either.

    Still, we need something to cover the worst off (again, cancer patients who can’t get insurance, etc). If nothing else, a badly written bill that saves lives is better than no bill–even if it costs more and is “clunky”.

  12. I’ve read about some of these “better care” studies, and their veracity depends on the quality or relevance of the data. There are also studies that find our health care to be King of the Mountain. Question: If you become seriously ill, what country’s health care system do you want to be in? People come to the U.S. more often than they rush to Germany or Japan. We have fantastic life expectancies, the best survival rates from cancer, and babies that wouldn’t survive in other countries get a shot in our system. As noted by about everyone, no system is perfect. However, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Our health care is the best (or near so), but needs tweaking to lower costs and get everyone better access to that high quality.

    Two comments on the lower costs. First, sometimes you get what you pay for. Second, if the government is price fixing then the costs are misleading. The money to cover the difference has to come from somewhere (taxes), so it’s just a shell game. (What does Germany, Canada, and Japan spend on national defense? Or on medical innovations? The United States is the world’s sugar daddy in those areas. It is much easier financially for other first world countries to set up socialized health care when we subsidize them in many other areas.)

    I agree that pre-existing conditions are an issue…one that has me stumped, I must admit. Bad drivers can find car insurance, but cancer patients are almost shunned. Perhaps if we get costs down (preferably by free market principles) it would be more affordable for insurance companies to take on those policies. If costs were lower, more people would get into a plan before something catastrophic happens. Maybe in those situations the answer is government, but that should be the last rock we look under, not the first.

    If it makes no financial sense for a private company to take on a sure money-loser… why does it make financial sense to saddle the government with EVERY money-loser? This is my point I keep coming back to with all these posts: the morality of caring for our fellow man must be reconciled with the fact that if we break the system then we all lose, rich and poor alike.

    Good conversation.

  13. 1. Government has not proven it can run anything well at all, particularly on a budget. The stimulus bill. The Post Office. The IRS. Cash for Clunkers. Medicare. Social Security. In the real world, government couldn’t get a job flipping burgers based on that resume.

    On paper, it would make sense as a society to take advantage of our federal system. The track record, however, is a freak show.

    2. This particular bill is a disaster… and it still does not cover everyone! If Congress showed some craftsmanship and fiscal sanity in a health care bill, perhaps they could convince me that #1 was a possibility.

  14. This sounds like the words of people who will not be paying for it. How much of your wage goes to Unlce Sam? Its easy to say lets do it. But who pays for it. And as to this “one is as important as the many”. Sure, if that “one” doesnt sink the boat for everyone. Some people have to feel before they react. Some dont want to take care of themselves. I should have to? Are we going to force them to want to care for themselves? Are you going to take up that lifes mission? You hammer Jewish and Christian people over the head for talking God in politics but you use God to guilt them into compliance. People arent that stupid. They know when they are being used. We are always screaming about the church being involved in the state. But the state is asking everyone to contribute to a “church-like” cause. Health care for all. What is the motivation for this. Where is its inspiration. Sounds just like the motivations the Church might have. Just we delete that little essential message. When you leave the bubble of the campus you really see all the talk is just fantasy. Pay for something before you promise it. That will wake you up. Real hard talking about how you’d like things to be. Stop billing Mommy and Daddy. Pay for something yourself, for once.

  15. First time in American History the Federal Government is forcing Americans to buy something.

    Please, point out to me where in the Constitution it allows for this?

    We are becoming a nation of Pauls. It’s sad. Very sad. It’s now, ok, according to Mr. Carson, to take, by force of imprisonment, hard earned money from me and give it to someone else. Real, true charity is not forced. Jesus NEVER taught what Govco is doing.

  16. Roland, to answer your question, the constitution does not allow for this.

    There are other ways to help create low cost insurance/health care plans which are not unconstitutional and which are simply not being discussed. The sad thing is BOTH parties are arguing for some form of “government” instituted health care, so at the end of the day both sides are simply arguing flip sides of the same coin.

    Why is it the free market can provide things like cell phones and DVD players which almost all citizens can afford, yet no one mentions the “free market” as being able to provide health insurance for all? We keep hearing that the “free market” has failed, but when it comes to health care, the market is hardly free. Again, the government, which has often created most of the problems through it’s regulations, sells us on the idea of giving it more money and more power to fix the very problems it created in the first place.

  17. When is secession going to be proposed again in this country? Why force people together who so clearly dont want to be in the same room. There is clearly a divide and no wise professor or Amen shouting preacher is going to bridge any of this. Did anyone hear about the black professor, Lionel McIntyre, who shoved and then smashed in the face a fellow white female professor Camille Davis? He hasnt been fired. He was arguing about “white” privilege. I guess when you dont win, just hit a woman. Then you win. This is so reflective of so much black on white violence. You cant blame poverty for the actions of the black guy. When will people be allowed to self segregate.

  18. The problem with the government running health care, and quite frankly running anything, is its inefficiency. As Matt pointed out, the government has not been productive in running anything. Medicare, Medicaid, the Post Office–all going bankrupt. What makes us think that it would be a good idea to have the government control 15% of our economy? Under the current health care reform bill (yes, I too have it in pdf on my computer and am begrudgingly reading through the 1900 page monstrosity) federal health care can and will stifle the progress of other health care providers and effectually monopolize the system. Without competition in the marketplace, what is the incentive for providing better care? As the Enlightenment economist Adam Smith wrote in his Wealth of Nations, “Monopoly…is a great enemy to good management.”

  19. Mr. Carson,

    I think we all agree that it is good to help people who do not have access to health care. However, there are other ways of achieving this besides having a government option. We could have TORT reform, tax-free medical savings accounts, and elimination of state boundaries for purchasing health care (which would create WAY more competition than the government could ever offer) to name a few. Also, many doctors are in favor of providing a lower fixed rate to patients for regular visits just so they don’t have to go though the insurance companies. The fact remains that we are $12 trillion in debt, and this bill will add to that number. In you think about it, the federal government really cannot do anything right. I don’t know why anyone would want to trust them with running health care. It is just another way for the government to intrude on our lives as Americans. The only reason the CBO predicts that the health care bill will be deficit neutral over 10 years (and we know that we really can’t trust the governments predictions on cost after Medicare, Social Security, and Cash for Clunkers) is because the new taxes take effect right away and the government option does not go into effect until 2013 (conveniently after the 2012 election cycle). That will be 10 years of extra taxes for 7 years of health care. These are taxes that will just make the cost of owning private insurance go up dramatically:

    Tax 1: 2% if you DON’T have health care (whatever happened to freedom of choice?)

    Tax 2: 8% if you don’t provide heath care to your employees (will result in job losses)

    Tax 3: 1-5.4% on Americans making $350,000+ (most employers- will result in job losses) I guess we should just keep lowering incentive to work hard and punishing success huh? The top 5% of the country already pay over 50% of the taxes.

    So, not only can we not afford it, but it also doesn’t work. Just look at Canada and the U.K. Survival rates for diseases and cancer are significantly lower in those places. It does not say anywhere in the constitution that health coverage is an unalienable right of every American, and nor should it. And if majority in a representative government doesn’t rule then what will? Does that mean that you should let the guy who wants to go to war with Russia, China, and Iran all at once decide what we should do? Or is it (conveniently) the radical leftist who wants to turn our country socialist and destroy our successful, capitalist, free market society decide? And the notion of “rugged individualism” (not to be confused with selfishness) is what made this country what it is today, and should remain in every Americans mindset until the day they die.

    P.S. Liberal is a negative adjective. In essence, they advocate for big government, enormous spending, anti-capitalist ideas, and “spreading the wealth.” And if you are against big business, then you are also against the places in which many Americans are employed. Unfortunately, liberal union groups such as SEIU have driven the cost of employing an American to such high rates, that it has become cheaper to manufacture in China an ship goods all the way back to the U.S. And many things that are made in the U.S. are not as good as foreign imports (e.g. Chrysler, GM, Ford vs. Toyota, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Audi, Lamborghini, Hyundai).

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