With an astonishing display of fortitude and obstinacy the Obama administration and the Congressional leadership have managed to pass the healthcare reform bill. The passage of this monumental legislation represents the first time such massive legislation has been passed without bipartisan support (both Social Security and Medicare were passed with Republican support). It is yet another chip in the very foundation of the American system and a continued erosion of what once made America great.
The legislation was passed on the back of a deal between Obama and the pro-life Congressional Democrats, led by Bart Stupak (D-MI). Stupak’s gang of ten, who voted for the original House bill, were philosophically opposed to the Senate bill which, in their opinion, provided means for federal funding of abortions. Unfortunately for America, they were bought off by a promise from the President to sign an executive order the status quo, namely disallowing federally funding for abortions.
Obviously Obama’s pitch was convincing enough to persuade Stupak; however, it is unclear how permanent or effective the executive order will be. An executive order, which is lesser in force than legislation, can readily be revoked by any President, current or future, on a whim. While in his press conference, Stupak indicated that Obama promised not to alter the order; it is questionable whether such a commitment will remain once the pro-choice Obama is pressured by his constituents. Why Stupak was convinced that these prohibitions for federal funding of abortion-related procedures will remain unadulterated is mystifying.
But regardless of Stupak’s reasoning, the bill will now be signed into law. The so called reform unfortunately will do little to fix the problems in America’s healthcare system. The Democrats undoubtedly have had the best of intentions in trying to fix a broken system, but their turn to socialist policies undermines the very foundations of the American system. Not only does this gross expansion of government power undercut the individual liberties of every American, but it burdens an already suffering economy.
There is no doubt that the industry needed reform. Neither Republicans nor Democrats denied this. But, as has consistently been shown, in both theory and practice, the paternalistic strategy of controlling the production and distribution of economic activity creates more harm than good. Unfortunately, this healthcare package represents the naïve utopianism that sounds pleasant to the uninformed ear, but in reality is mere sophistry. The health insurance industry will remain a mess with the additional encumbrance of excessive government involvement and added burdens on the American people.
Regrettably for America, the passage of this bill will not signify the end of the healthcare debate. Republicans are already gearing up to revoke the bill either through future legislation or the court system. For instance, the constitutionality of the individual mandate to purchase insurance is questionable. The next few years will be littered with an abundance of lawsuits aimed at repealing all or part of the legislation.
Likewise, Republicans will seize on the argument of government excess in the upcoming November elections. The midterm elections will revolve around the issue of healthcare (and the economy) and will define the direction of America for years to come. Hopefully, the GOP will successfully be able to convey the message that short-run, government-led ‘fixes’, while throwing the average American small and temporary handouts, will ultimately do more harm than good. If they fail, America will continue its anesthetized erosion into a second rate nation.