Thursday, February 2, 2012

Coulter: On second thought, hooray for Romneycare!

Wow, proudly skanky Ann Coulter must be really flexible because she has bent over backwards and twisted herself into a pretzel to defend "Romneycare."

She's a good, loyal comfort woman for the GOP, sensing that her party's inevitable nominee needs all the support he can get with an embarrassing personal issue, even if it does cause her massive cognitive dissonance.

See my comments embedded below...

By Ann Coulter
February 1, 2012 | NewsBusters

If only the Democrats had decided to socialize the food industry or housing, Romneycare would probably still be viewed as a massive triumph for conservative free-market principles -- as it was at the time.

It's not as if we had a beautifully functioning free market in health care until Gov. Mitt Romney came along and wrecked it by requiring that Massachusetts residents purchase their own health insurance. In 2007, when Romneycare became law, the federal government alone was already picking up the tab for 45.4 percent of all health care expenditures in the country.

Until Obamacare, mandatory private health insurance was considered the free-market alternative to the Democrats' piecemeal socialization of the entire medical industry.

In November 2004, for example, libertarian Ronald Bailey praised mandated private health insurance in Reason magazine, saying that it "could preserve and extend the advantages of a free market with a minimal amount of coercion."

A leading conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, helped design Romneycare, and its health care analyst, Bob Moffit, flew to Boston for the bill signing.

Romneycare was also supported by Regina Herzlinger, Harvard Business School professor and health policy analyst for the conservative Manhattan Institute. Herzlinger praised Romneycare for making consumers, not business or government, the primary purchasers of health care.

The bill passed by 154-2 in the Massachusetts House and unanimously, 37-0, in the Massachusetts Senate -- including the vote of Sen. Scott Brown, who won Teddy Kennedy's seat in the U.S. Senate in January 2010 by pledging to be the "41st vote against Obamacare."

But because both Obamacare and Romneycare concern the same general topic area -- health care -- and can be nicknamed (politician's name plus "care"), Romney's health care bill is suddenly perceived as virtually the same thing as the widely detested Obamacare. (How about "Romneycare-gate"?)

[ Yeah, that's the only similarity, it's just a name thing! Never mind that it was Republicans who coined the idiotic name "Hillarycare," and then thought it was so successfully damning that they went on to coin "Obamacare" to associate the two, and then "Romneycare" to tie to Obamacare. Republicans' "Name + -care" thing was always meant to be pejorative and evocative of Clinton's healthcare reform "debacle" in the 90s. - J ]

As The New York Times put it, "Mr. Romney's bellicose opposition to 'Obamacare' is an almost comical contradiction to his support for the same idea in Massachusetts when he was governor there." This is like saying state school-choice plans are "the same idea" as the Department of Education.

One difference between the health care bills is that Romneycare is constitutional and Obamacare is not. True, Obamacare's unconstitutional provisions are the least of its horrors, but the Constitution still matters to some Americans. (Oh, to be there when someone at the Times discovers this document called "the Constitution"!)

As Rick Santorum has pointed out, states can enact all sorts of laws -- including laws banning contraception -- without violating the Constitution.

That document places strict limits on what Congress can do, not what the states can do. Romney, incidentally, has always said his plan would be a bad idea nationally.

[ Why in the world would a plan that allows for universal healthcare coverage in Massachusetts be a bad idea nationally? What makes Massachusetts so damn special? Romney can't just be allowed to sidestep it; the media have to put him on the spot or they're not doing their job. Obama's campaign surely will. This excuse is a lame cop-out by Romney... and now by Coulter. - J ]

The only reason the "individual mandate" has become a malediction is because the legal argument against Obamacare is that Congress has no constitutional authority to force citizens to buy a particular product.

The legal briefs opposing Obamacare argue that someone sitting at home, minding his own business, is not engaged in "commerce ... among the several states," and, therefore, Congress has no authority under the Commerce Clause to force people to buy insurance.

No one is claiming that the Constitution gives each person an unalienable right not to buy insurance.

States have been forcing people to do things from the beginning of the republic: drilling for the militia, taking blood tests before marriage, paying for public schools, registering property titles and waiting in line for six hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to drive.

There's no obvious constitutional difference between a state forcing militia-age male s to equip themselves with guns and a state forcing adults in today's world to equip themselves with health insurance.

The hyperventilating over government-mandated health insurance confuses a legal argument with a policy objection.

[ Whoa there, Nelly! Coulter might have just discovered that she has no "policy objections" to government forcing us to buy private health insurance, but millions of her fellow Republicans -- and quite a few Democrats, by the way, including Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton -- think that the individual mandate, no matter what level of government it's coming from, is an assault on their personal liberty and "free markets," or just a totally unnecessary giveaway to private insurance companies since we could have a cheaper single-payer system like every other advanced country with better outcomes. Coulter can try to sweep this issue under the rug, and maybe most GOP zombies will let her get away with it, but I won't. And certainly the hard-core libertards and Ron Paul-ites won't let her get away with that argument. - J ]

If Obamacare were a one-page bill that did nothing but mandate that every American buy health insurance, it would still be unconstitutional, but it wouldn't be the godawful train wreck that it is. It wouldn't even be the godawful train wreck that high-speed rail is.

It would not be a 2,000-page, trillion-dollar federal program micromanaging every aspect of health care in America with enormous, unresponsive federal bureaucracies manned by no-show public-sector union members enforcing a mountain of regulations that will bankrupt the country and destroy medical care, as liberals scratch their heads and wonder why Obamacare is costing 20 times more than they expected and doctors are leaving the profession in droves for more lucrative c areers, such as video store clerk.

Nothing good has ever come of a 2,000-page bill.

There's not much governors can do about the collectivist mess Congress has made of health care in this country. They are mere functionaries in the federal government's health care Leviathan.

A governor can't repeal or expand the federal tax break given to companies that pay their employees' health insurance premiums -- a tax break denied the self-employed and self-insured.

A governor can't order the IRS to start recognizing tax deductions for individual health savings accounts.

A governor can't repeal the 1946 federal law essentially requiring hospitals to provide free medical services to all comers, thus dumping a free-rider problem on the states.

It was precisely this free-rider problem that Romneycare was designed to address in the only way a governor can. In addition to mandating that everyone purchase health insurance, Romneycare used the $1.2 billion that the state was already spending on medical care for the uninsured to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance for those who couldn't afford it.

What went wrong with Romneycare wasn't a problem in the bill, but a problem in Massachusetts: Democrats.

First, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature set the threshold for receiving a subsidy so that it included people making just below the median income in the United States, a policy known as "redistribution of income." For more on this policy, see "Marx, Karl."

[ Today, the median U.S. household income is about $50,000; let's assume zero income tax, but after 3.1% employee payroll tax that's $48,450. The average U.S. household is about 2.5 people. The average cost for family coverage through an employer is about $4,100, plus out-of-pocket costs. To buy family health insurance directly (not including dental or maternity) for a family of three costs $200-300 per month with a $5,000 deductible and up to 30% coinsurance plus co-pays, (although some plan deductibles reach $11,000 for monthly rates as low as $150), so let's say the average family must pay at least $7,500 per year for independent health insurance. Indeed, the average American pays $7,900 per year, but the very old and sick skew that figure, so let's stick with $7,500 per household. Next, let's say the average rent/housing/utilities/public services/property tax expense is $15,000 per year, a low-modest figure. Average-median U.S. household spending on food & dining is about $6,400 per year; but to be modest let's use the average SNAP/food stamp figure of $133 per household member per month, or about $335 per month for food = $4,020 per year. Let's say the average household spends at least $2,500 per year on gasoline and car maintenance -- again, a modest estimate. Let's say $1,500 per year for clothing. And $2,000 a year for car payments + mandatory insurance, a very low estimate.

So far, we've covered only the basics -- food, shelter, clothing and transportation (necessary to work and earn money for the basics) -- and we've already spent $32,520 on a household budget that's modest compared to other estimates. That leaves only $17,480 for emergency expenses, including emergency health expenses not covered by health insurance, maybe buying a new or second car, not to mention things like education, gifts for family, furniture + appliances, Internet + phone service, the occasional night out or alcoholic beverage, some kind of family vacation, and of course saving for college and retirement. Now, this budget is certainly doable, and lots of families make do on even less, but the point is that subsidizing the average family's health care costs is not goddamn "Marxism." If it is, then so are the child tax credit, education tax credits, and home mortgage interest deduction. - J ]

Then, liberals destroyed the group-rate, "no frills" private insurance plans allowed under Romneycare (i.e. the only kind of health insurance a normal person would want to buy, but which is banned in most states) by adding dozens of state mandates, including requiring insurers to cover chiropractors and in vitro fertilization -- a policy known as "pandering to lobbyists."

[ See above what "no frills" private medical insurance costs. It ain't cheap. - J ]

For more on "pandering" and "lobbyists," see "Gingrich, Newt." (Yes, that's an actual person's name.)

Romney's critics, such as Rick Santorum, charge that the governor should have known that Democrats would wreck whatever reforms he attempted.

They have, but no more than they would have wrecked health care in Massachusetts without Romneycare. Democrats could use a sunny day as an excuse to destroy the free market, redistribute income and pander to lobbyists. Does that mean Republicans should never try to reform anything and start denouncing sunny days?

Santorum has boasted of his role in passing welfare reform in the 1990s. You know what the Democrats' 2009 stimulus bill dismantled? That's right: the welfare reform that passed in the 1990s.

The problem isn't health insurance mandates. The problem isn't Romneycare. The problem isn't welfare reform. The problem is Democrats.

[ This actually represents progress, ladies and gentlemen. The Right and Left establishments are now in agreement that universal health coverage and an individual mandate are not necessarily bad things. - J ]

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