Federally Mandated Health Care Ahead?
Are we getting closer to socialized medicine? Some in the
Senate are pushing for a bill to replace our current flawed health
system with one that involves a complete federal takeover of our
health care system, complete with mandates and federally approved,
This Hillary Care-light approach, sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden
(D-Ore.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah) is called the "Healthy
Americans Act." We're already dangerously close to socialized
medicine; some estimates predict that health care spending is
approaching a 50/50 split between the public and private sectors.
Yet the Wyden-Bennett approach would lead to even more government
control of individual health care decision-making.
Federal mandates and new taxes for people who refuse to buy
insurance sound like a combination only a liberal would embrace.
Yet some right-leaning Republicans have jumped aboard because the
bill addresses some tax inequities in our health care system.
Today, employer-based coverage provides unlimited tax relief for
employees, but not for those who purchase coverage on their own.
The Wyden-Bennett plan creates a new individual-based system and
offers some tax relief for plans purchased by all individuals.
Great, but this doesn't change the fact that this plan replaces a
flawed system with one that could do even more harm to our health
Worse, one of the mandates in the bill expressly directs health
care issuers to make "abortion services" available, with very
limited exceptions. Conservatives need to offer a robust, ahem,
second opinion of this flawed approach.
Restoration of Constitutional Government
Many in Congress have forgotten the words of Thomas Jefferson --
that "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general
welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." Rep. John Shadegg
(R-Ariz.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) haven't forgotten, judging
by their "Enumerated Powers Act." Under it, all bills introduced
would have to contain "a concise and definite statement" citing the
specific provision in the constitution as authority for a bill. If
there is no specific authority for a new "Bridge to Nowhere," for
an earmark to improve the shelf life of vegetables, or to federally
fund Planned Parenthood, then a member of the House or Senate can
raise a point of order against the legislation.
Conservatives would enjoy some debates on the proper scope and
role of the federal government. If a piece of legislation would
impinge on the Tenth Amendment protection of states or "the people"
to govern in areas "not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution," then the bill would be subject to the new
Shadegg-Coburn point of order. Also, if a bill didn't fit into an
enumerated power in Article I, Section 8, it would be subject to
the point of order. Conservatives should watch to see which members
of Congress support this effort to restore constitutional
Many Americans would jump at the chance to make $169,300 a year.
Yet even with this generous salary, eight lawmakers have missed at
least one out of every four votes on the Senate floor since 2007.
Not surprisingly, presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, John
McCain and Barack Obama are the worst offenders.
While Clinton has missed 30% of the votes since 2007, the
equivalent of a blue-collar worker missing 74 days of work, she is
well ahead of her campaigning colleagues. Bitter middle-class
America would surely be dismayed that Obama has missed 40% of the
votes, 100 blue-collar days. McCain has the distinction of missing
more votes than any current senator, missing 58% since 2007.
Despite several well-publicized visits to Washington to
participate in high-profile votes, all three have missed votes this
year that matter to conservatives. Clinton, McCain and Obama failed
to vote on a crucial defense bill that authorized important
programs to fight the Global War on Terror and a $30 billion
mortgage bailout giveaway to banks, while Clinton and Obama also
missed numerous votes on FISA renewal. McCain had the lone
distinction of missing two votes on border security during the
budget debate. Americans deserve to know where those auditioning
for the role of president stand on these crucial issues.
Most mandates are bad, but some are good. Conservatives should
mandate that Congress limit itself to the specific enumerated
powers given to it by our Constitution and show up for votes. If
not, many in Congress may be mandated to find a new job this coming
Brian Darling is
director of US Senate relations and congressional analyst at The
Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).
First appeared in Human Events