Do no harm?

by
December 16th, 2009

The one health care lesson the Congress should have learned in crafting their “reform” bill is the most fundamental tenet of medicine: do no harm.Unfortunately, the Congress is now playing the role of Dr. Kervorkian.

So destructive are its politically-motivated machinations that it is in the process of setting back American medicine — and the economy — a generation. It may never be fully resuscitated.

And now that Joe Lieberman has lost his minute of sanity — opposing the public option and the expansion of Medicare — it seems certain that this colossus of social engineering will get passed in the Senate. It will ultimately reach Obama’s desk and will be signed in a lavish “historic” signing ceremony, where it will be hailed as a monumental accomplishment in “bending the health care cost curve” or some such nonsensical lie.

Believe me: the only thing this bill bends is the truth.

Here are some facts to chew on:

— The true cost of this bill is $2.5 Trillion — not the $900 billion the CBO will say it is. How does it get away with being three times more expensive than they say it will be? Because the ten year CBO “score” is based on gimmickry: it accounts for ten years of taxes to pay for it, but only provides SIX years of services. The true cost of the next ten years will be in the trillions of dollars as the program becomes “pay as you go” in year 11.

— The foundation of this plan is to compel — under the penalty of prison — people to buy insurance. The 10% of the uninsured in this country who have decided not to spend their money on insurance — either because they are young and healthy or have decided to take the risk — will now not have that option. But don’t worry — in the spirit of income redistribution, “other people” will pay for much of it in the form of subsidies. Still, the reality is that the Congress is infusing government into the private lives of people in a way that they never had before. The Nanny state on steroids.

— The taxes on this will be enormous — and will hit everyone regardless of age or economic status. Remember that pledge Obama made to not raise taxes on anyone making “less than $250,000 per year”? Fuggedaboutit! Everyone’s going to pay on this one — from new taxes to higher insurance premiums. And that’s for starters. When this starts to break the bank, taxes on everything will rise, and you can bet that there are plans for a Value Added Tax and other stealth taxes in the works. Your pocketbook just became a lot thinner!

— This bill includes command and control facilities run by the Federal Government that will control the private insurance industry, putting new and pernicious controls on coverage and underwriting. At the end of this road, government will be controlling every aspect of the coverage provided, and will be in charge of determining insurance premium rates and coverage levels — and will, when things get tight, become a “rationing board”. It may not be “Death Panels” — but it will be pretty darn close.

— The new burden on states to expand Medicaid will create even bigger problems in already-strained state budgets — amounting to a massive new unfunded mandate. States like California that are already $20 billion in the red will have to come up with another $3 billion or so to cover the new state portion of Medicaid expansion. This will result in — you guessed it — new taxes to cover the short-fall.

— There is nothing in this bill that will restrain medical malpractice liability or the massive cost that the health care tort bar places on medicine. The trial lawyers have gotten the pass that they have bought and paid for. The Democrats in Congress are in their pockets, and thus an important element of truly containing health care costs has been left out of this “historic” reform bill.

— This bill does nothing to fix the current government health care entitlement, Medicare, which is a giant ponzi scheme that will be insolvent within 1o years.

— The net effect of this health care bill, the trillion dollar stimulus packages and the vast unfunded entitlements in the current fiscal 2010-2011 budget are a disaster in the making. As the Wall Street Journal points out today in its lead editorial, the Democrats are now pushing for a $2 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling, so they can not be burdened by any vestige of fiscal restraint:

It’s a sign of how deep the fiscal pathologies run in this Congress that $2 trillion will buy the federal government only one year before it has to seek another debt hike—conveniently timed to come after the midterm elections. Since Democrats began running Congress again in 2007, the federal debt limit has climbed by 39%. The new hike will lift the borrowing cap by another 15%.

Our concern is that the Administration and Congress view this debt as a way to force a permanently higher tax base for decades to come. The liberal grand strategy is to use their accidentally large majorities this year to pass new entitlements that start small but will explode in future years. U.S. creditors will then demand higher taxes—taking income taxes back to their pre-Reagan rates and adding a value-added tax too. This would expand federal spending as a share of GDP to as much as 30% from the pre-crisis 20%.

And of course this is the grand design — to resurrect the pre-Reagan 70% marginal tax rates that will maximally punish wealth creation and success. Remember, this Congress is hostile to profit and capitalism, and would prefer to see a social democratic system ala Sweden, with 90% taxes and massive government programs to support every element of social interaction.

At the end of the day, all of this is being done on a purely partisan, party-line basis. There won’t be one Republican voting for any of this. The 55 million people who voted for John McCain have been effectively told “screw you” by a president who campaigned as a “uniter” and as a “post-partisan” leader. What a joke. This is the most partisan president and most divided Congress in history. That this kind of vast social change can be foisted on the public — 60% who now oppose it — without a single bipartisan vote is an offense to republican democracy. When Medicare was passed it did so on a largely bipartisan basis — 24 Republicans voted in favor in 1965. Today we have an even larger rework of the American economy and society and it will be a complete partisan putsch.

And that is typical of the left, which always thinks it knows best. The notion that conservatives might have some good ideas on health care has been scoffed at. Instead, you have a massive experiment in socialism being foisted on the American people by 60 left wing ideologues.

We are being sold down the river in a 2,000 page, $2.5 trillion boondoggle that no one understands — but that we will be paying for in generations to come.

The author can be reached at kgdavenport@aol.com

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