March 22, 2010
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2010--The head of The Heritage Foundation last night labeled the House-approved health bill a modern-day "Intolerable Act" and called for its repeal.
Edwin J. Feulner, president of the Washington, DC-based think tank, said the bill represented "a giant step toward creation of a European-style welfare state." Instead of empowering individuals, he noted, the trillion-dollar, 2,700 page bill empowers an "unelected bureaucracy [to}... determine the content of health benefits packages, including medical treatment and procedures, and how much will be paid for those services."
Feulner called the government-centered approach "alien to our national character" and predicted that opposition to the widely unpopular measure will only grow.
"The American people are never permanently thwarted," Feulner observed. This legislation "can and will be repealed," he added.
With more than 600,000 active donors, The Heritage Foundation is by far the nation's most widely supported think tank. Established in 1973, it develops conservative, market-based policy recommendations to solve today's most pressing national challenges.
[Note: Full text of Dr. Feulner's statement follows.]
Late last night, in a narrow and partisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most significant piece of social legislation in over seven decades. It did so in the face of overwhelming and principled opposition from the American people. Large majorities of Americans oppose this legislation because it offends the historic American dedication to the principle of self-government. They understand that this new law will accelerate Washington's intrusion into our most personal and private decisions.
This is why opposition to this bill will only grow. Supporters of this bill argue that popular hostility will recede upon its passage. But, rather than cementing our descent into a European-style welfare state, last night's passage of Obamacare is best seen as a historic turning point, a true catalyst for real change.
I write to reassure our supporters, the conservative movement, and the American people at large that The Heritage Foundation will do all within its power to keep this issue alive in the public square and make the intellectual case for the repeal of this act. We will bring all our resources to bear on behalf of those who believe America is and will always remain the Land of the Free.
This, rest assured, can be done. The American people are never permanently thwarted. President Obama's health care legislation can and will be repealed.
Those who supported this bill are our fellow Americans, and we do not question their good will or patriotism. In public policy, however, good intentions alone do not suffice. And let there be no mistake, our philosophical differences with supporters of this bill are profound. The reason government-run health care has been the holy grail of the left for decades is that liberals realize as much as we do that it is a giant step toward the creation of a European-style welfare state. This is an evolution Americans have always resisted because it is alien to our national character.
If there is one good thing about the past year--one in which we have witnessed unprecedented horse-trading, press stunts, midnight votes and political manipulation in both houses of the U.S. Congress--it is that the American people have come away educated as never before about the differences between these two visions for America. Americans are strongly opposed to this bill not because they have been hoodwinked but because they understand this bill both in its particulars and at an instinctive, gut level.
They understand this health care bill forces individuals and employers to buy insurance policies designed by government bureaucrats. This intrusion is intended to follow us from cradle to grave.
Instead of empowering families and individuals to make their own choices, Obamacare empowers the bureaucracy to make those decisions for them. It is this unelected bureaucracy, unanswerable to the electorate, that will determine the content of health benefits packages, including medical treatment and procedures, and how much will be paid for those services. Yesterday's legislation brings us one step closer to fully government-run medicine, with expanded government power over the financing and delivery of medical services that is sure to ration care in the name of cost control.
You will hear the left say this new entitlement will be popular with the American people. Do not believe them for a second. Yes, 32 million people will gain the theoretical right to health insurance. But over half of that coverage comes from placing at least 16 million more Americans into Medicaid, an unpopular and overextended welfare program that already rations care.
Americans will not stand for it. The American love for liberty prevailed in our founding, and will prevail once again.
In December of 1773, to protest unjust taxation, a group of American colonists dumped tea in Boston Harbor. The punishment for that first Tea Party was a series of intrusive laws passed by Parliament that were so oppressive that they could only be described as the "Intolerable Acts."
Obamacare is today's Intolerable Act. And just as the colonists banded together to enact change after those acts were passed, so should America respond to Obamacare. This law must be repealed.
Much of the fight against this bill will be led by the individual states, a process we encourage. All told, 33 states have already taken steps to challenge various aspects of Obamacare, including its unprecedented mandate that every American purchase health insurance or face a steep penalty for noncompliance. Four additional states will have this question on the ballot in November.
On Capitol Hill, the initial battle over Obamacare will occur when Congress considers whether to fund the tens of thousands of new federal bureaucrats necessary to implement the new law. In the tradition of the Hyde amendment, which prevented federal funding for abortions through annual limitations appended to appropriations bills, conservatives should look to the appropriations process as our first line of defense. Straightforward funding limitations would prevent any Administration official or any bureaucrat from implementing the law.
Our health care system requires reform, and we have long advocated measures to improve our system. We can and should strengthen the ability of American families to choose the coverage they want, rather than giving that power to Congress and its agency bureaucrats. We can also spur competition and choice to bring efficiency and lower costs to the health system, in place of the bill's deadening regulation and damaging price controls. And, above all, we should foster state innovation rather than Washington-based central planning.
But such reforms can only be considered once this tragedy of arrogance has been fully and completely repealed.
Fortunately, there are no permanent victories or defeats in Washington. For millions of Americans and for Heritage, Round One of this fight is over. Today, The Heritage Foundation is answering the bell for Round Two. Join our fight; become a part of our mission. Help us educate our lawmakers, as well as those who aspire to become tomorrow's lawmakers. Together we can make the persuasive case for repeal of this Intolerable Act and thereby return us to our American destiny.
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., President, The Heritage Foundation