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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Saturday, January 30, 2010

On Life Support, But Not Dead

Heritage Foundation

January 27, 2010 | By Amanda J. Reinecker

Obamacare not dead yet

Although it's on life-support, Obamacare is not dead, The Heritage Foundation's Brian Darling warns. There are some who still plan to "forge forward and pass [it] by any means necessary."

In the wake of Republican Scott Brown's astounding victory in deep-blue Massachusetts last week, Obamacare proponents have been hard-pressed for ways to pass their unpopular health care reform bill.

And as President Obama prepares his State of the Union address for tonight (the speech starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time—check back to our Facebook page for updates), Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner provides his own assessment of the current state of our union, including health care. He describes the Left's "signature health care reform initiative [as] a colossal missed opportunity."

Shortly after Brown's victory, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) admitted that she doesn't have enough votes to pass the Senate bill by a simple majority. Yet the Left's solution, Politico reports, is "giving a sweeping reform bill one more try," even as some Democrats favor a scaled-back proposal.

Meanwhile, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has proposed legislation that would eliminate the filibuster, which requires 60 Senators to agree to end debate before a vote can occur. Members of both parties have used this procedural hurdle to slow or block Senate action, including most notably the health care legislation.

But these "solutions" don't address the core concerns the American people have with Obamacare.

"The President and Congress are facing a fork in the road," writes Darling. Conservatives should take advantage of this temporary lull to represent the voice of real, bipartisan reform.

Heritage health care expert Nina Owcharenko lays out what these principled reforms would include:

  • Treat All Insurance the Same. The same tax breaks given to employer-provided health coverage should be applied to insurance plans purchased by individuals. Ideally, Congress would implement a system of universal tax credits.
  • Reform Existing Health Care Programs. Spending on current health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid is growing out of control. They are bankrupting our nation at an accelerating pace, and expanding them, as the Left’s health care bills would do, would only exacerbate the financial burden on taxpayers. Without significant reform, the aging of the U.S. population and rapidly rising health care costs will dramatically increase federal entitlement spending in coming years.
  • Use Federalism, Not One-Size-Fits-All. States are the best place to test ideas. And because health care needs vary greatly across the country, reform should not entail a one-size fits all package. “Congress should embrace a federal-state partnership that would preserve diversity in the states,” suggests Owcharenko. “The states' role would be to devise the best ways to achieve common national goals--for example, to establish a mechanism for portability.”

These reforms would help to address the many problems with our existing health care system without expanding the size and scope of the federal government. Plus, they would likely achieve bipartisan support because they honor the President's promises not to increase the deficit or raise taxes on the middle class. Both the current House and Senate bills break these promises.

Conservatives should seize this opportunity to truly reform America's health care system -- and it really does need reform -- in a manner that respects individual liberty and boosts, not breaks, our economy.

> Other Heritage Work of Note

  • “When future historians characterize this era,” writes Heritage President Edwin Feulner on Townhall.com, “they may well mark 2010 as the year the United States became the home of the ‘mostly free.’”

    That’s because, according to the latest Heritage Index of Economic Freedom, for the first time in the history of the Index, that’s what we are – “mostly free.” Especially over the past year or so, government spending and intrusiveness has increased at a record pace, reducing economic freedom. “Policymakers should take other steps to advance freedom,” suggests Feulner, especially at a time of economic decline. High-priced legislation, however, is a step in the wrong direction.
  • “Our federal government, once limited to certain core functions, now dominates virtually every area of American life. Its authority is all but unquestioned, seemingly restricted only by expediency and the occasional budget constraint.”

    The above is an excerpt from an essay Heritage Foundation scholar Matthew Spalding penned for the latest edition of National Review (not yet online). It is a poignant piece based on themes found in Spalding’s recent book, “We Still Hold These Truths.” The article ends with his thoughts on the likelihood of political realignment in the aftermath of progressives’ overreach.
  • “Conservatives are far from being a homogenous lot,” Heritage expert Jennifer Marshall writes in the preface of Heritage’s recent publication, Indivisible: Social and Economic Foundations of American Liberty (link in PDF), a compilation of essays from around the conservative movement explaining the common policy goals of social and fiscal conservatives. Social conservatism depends on economic conservatism, and vice versa, the authors argue, because of the principles on which they are based.

> In Other News

  • Welfare rolls rose in 2009, for the first time in 15 years, and the number of people receiving food stamps and unemployment insurance also spiked.
  • The Obama administration Guantanamo Bay task force has concluded that at least 47 prisoners must be held indefinitely without civilian or military trial. The President’s first executive order, on January 22 of last year, was to close Guantanamo Bay within one year.
  • This past Sunday, Three White House advisers have each provided three different estimates for the number of jobs President Obama's economic stimulus program "created or saved."

Amanda Reinecker is a writer for MyHeritage.org—a website for members and supporters of The Heritage Foundation. Nathaniel Ward, the Editor of MyHeritage.org, contributed to this report.

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