Tag: health care law

Want to Repeal ObamaCare? Stay On Message

Yesterday, I reluctantly dinged House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) for veering off-message after bravely introducing and winning House passage of badly needed Medicare reforms.  Each said ill-advised things to the media that undermined the long-term goal of Medicare reform.  I even emailed some colleagues, “Why can’t they stay on-message, as they have with ObamaCare?”

As if on cue, it appears that House Ways & Means Committee chairman David Camp (R-MI) may have outdone both Cantor and Ryan.  Huffington Post reports that Camp used the word “dead” to describe the effort to repeal ObamaCare.

I know, I know, he probably only meant that repeal is dead in this Congress.  Yes, yes, he was backed into it by a reporter.  Yeah, he will probably push for repeal in the next Congress, just as he did in this Congress.  Is Huffington Post seizing on the word dead and painting an inaccurate picture of just how much Camp really, really wants to get rid of this intolerable law?  No doubt all of this is true.  None of it matters one bit.

Camp is the chairman of a powerful congressional committee.  He should know that’s exactly what reporters are trying to do.  And he should know how to stick to the script.  Rather than use his comments to signal once again how committed he is to ensuring that ObamaCare never takes full effect in 2014, he gave us a news cycle — hopefully no more than one — where the words ObamaCare, repeal, and dead appear in the same sentence.

Wash. Post, CBS, NBC Should Disclose Receipt of ObamaCare Subsidies

It’s not an easy period for major media organizations, what with all this creative destruction revamping that sector of the economy.  So the Washington Post Co. couldn’t help but be pleased when it received a $570,000 bailout from ObamaCare’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.  That program allows the Obama administration to run up the national debt another $5 billion by doling out cash to corporations that provide retiree health benefits.   The CBS Corporation received more than $720,000.  General Electric, a part owner of NBC Universal, Inc., cleared nearly $37 million.

Since The Washington Post, CBS News, NBC News, and MSNBC have now received subsidies (the latter two indirectly) from this very controversial law, their reporters should disclose that fact to their audiences when reporting on ObamaCare.  A disclaimer like this should suffice: “The Washington Post Corporation has received subsidies under the health care law.”  That would be consistent with how NBC discloses its relationship with General Electric:

Oh, and kudos to the marketing whiz who decided to call all these ObamaCare spending programs “slush funds.”

Tax-consumers Use Our Money to Lobby for More of Our Money

I have two items published today about how governments and other tax-consumers use taxpayer dollars to lobby the government to get more taxpayer dollars. Politico Arena asks, “Will the public warm up to the health care law?” My reply:

I’m amused – at best – that the vast United States government is using my tax dollars to try to persuade voters that the signature legislative accomplishment of the president’s term is actually a good idea. Search Google for the term “Obamacare,” and the first paid link is for healthcare.gov, a government propaganda site for the Affordable Care Act. They’re also using Medicare.gov that way. And roping in poor old Andy Griffith for a TV ad that Factcheck.org says uses “weasel words” to “mislead” seniors.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the administration had a “lot of reeducation to do.” If administration officials were confident that their health care scheme was a good idea, they wouldn’t need to spend tax dollars – in a year when the deficit exceeds $1.5 trillion – to try to sell it to the citizens. And this raises a real question for democratic governance: Are the people supposed to tell policymakers what policies they want, or should policymakers use the people’s money to tell them what they should want?

Meanwhile, at the Britannica Blog I cite other examples of tax-funded lobbying:

Between broadcasts of “Downton Abbey” and “Frontline,” PBS viewers are implored to call their congressman and keep the money flowing. Public radio websites blare “Protect KCRW, Write your representative, write your senator.” Announcements on the radio carry the same message….

My colleague Richard Rahn complains, “Taxpayer dollars are also used to fund international organizations, which, in turn, lobby the U.S. Congress for not only more money for themselves, but also for higher taxes on the American people.”…

The Hill newspaper reported in 2009, “Auto companies and eight of the country’s biggest banks that received tens of billions of dollars in federal bailout money spent more than $20 million on lobbying Washington lawmakers in the first half of this year.” Later in the year the Huffington Post found, “Twenty-five top recipients of government bailout funds spent more than $71 million on lobbying in the year since they were rescued.”

And I ask:

Lobbying is constitutionally protected. The First Amendment guarantees not just freedom of speech and of the press but also “the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” But does that mean the government itself has a right to petition itself for a piece of the pie?

ObamaCare, Round 2

Today POLITICO Arena asks:

House Republicans are expected to approve a bill on Wednesday that would repeal the Obama health care law. But they are not yet offering a specific replacement for “Obamacare”. Will they pay a price politically for not immediately presenting an alternative? Or is the 2010 law sufficiently unpopular that repeal itself will be enough heading into the 2012 elections?

My response:

Does anyone really expect the scores of new House Republicans, who’ve just now arrived in Washington, to already have a plan to replace ObamaCare? Let’s be serious. The first step for new members is to keep their campaign promise by voting to repeal this unpopular scheme – if for none other than symbolic reasons. The next is to hold hearings and then to start defunding various of its provisions. And in the course of that, a better approach will emerge, one hopes. Remember, Republicans were shut out of the process that created ObamaCare.

Yet at the Arena this morning we see the usual Democratic responses. Timothy Jost writes, for example: ”Health care is rapidly becoming unfordable [sic]; to the government, to employers, to ordinary Americans.” So government, for which health care is becoming unaffordable, is going to solve that problem?! How? By printing money? By imposing price and service controls? That’ll be popular – with doctors and patients alike!

The basic problem is too much government in the health care arena. It’s anything today but a market. Those approaches that have reintroduce market forces – like health savings accounts – have worked quite well. We have them at Cato. We like them. But they won’t be allowed under ObamaCare. Why? Because the Democrats know what’s best for us. What’s best, they believe, is for us to be dependent on government for our health care. No thanks.

The Deficit Commission: A Good Try That Falls Short

My colleagues, Dan Mitchell, Jagadeesh Gokhale, Michael Cannon and Chris Edwards have already provided their thoughts on the chairman’s mark released yesterday by the bipartisan deficit reduction commission.  A few additional thoughts:

The commission provides a good-faith look at the magnitude of the problem we face, and the magnitude of cuts necessary to bring spending down to even 21 percent of GDP (and it really should be far lower).  In doing so they show just how unserious Republicans are in proposing a paltry $100 billion in spending cuts.  And the commission makes it clear, unlike Republicans, that both entitlements and defense spending must be on the table.

The commission also starts the debate in a useful direction by implicitly acknowledging that their need to be some limits to government spending—that government cannot consume an ever-increasing proportion of GDP.  (Without a change in policy, the federal government will consume 43 percent of GDP by 2050.)

But ultimately the report falls short because it fails to address the proper role of government.  In fact, it tacitly accepts the idea that government should be doing everything it is doing now.  It even acquiesces to the new health care law.  As a result, it fails to reduce the size of government sufficiently to avoid tax hikes, let alone permit tax cuts in the future.

Moreover, because the commission leaves the basic structure and role of government intact, it raises questions about the future viability of its proposed mix of spending cuts and tax increases.  History demonstrates that it is far too likely that tax hikes will be permanent, while spending cuts will last as long as the next year-end emergency appropriations bill.

As the commission moves toward a final report on December 1, members would be advised not to focus just on the details of these proposals, but to have a serious and deliberative discussion of what the federal government should and should not be doing.