Rights vs. Policy and the Blame Game on the Failure of Trump-Care

 

finger pointing

 

There are certain friends with whom I keep political discussion to a minimum.  While I think it’s safe to say that none are flaming liberals, most don’t follow politics as closely as I do or take it as seriously.  If you want to have people to hang out with outside the blogosphere, sometimes it’s best not to share every thought when it comes to politics.  But when the election of 2016 took place I happen to be on a cruise with friends, so naturally it was with this group that I shared my first thoughts on the surprise victory of Donald Trump.  To varying degrees, all of us were relieved that Hillary Clinton lost.  In my case ecstatic jubilation would best describe it, and this helped to soften the disappointment of realizing that Donald Trump was now actually our president.  One friend, however, was a bit down in the dumps, and so to cheer him up I said, “Well, at least we’ll get rid of Obamacare,” to which he responded, “Obamacare is good in some ways.”

What?!

I knew my friend wasn’t as conservative as I am but his fondness for Obamacare, albeit lukewarm, took me by surprise.  “Obamacare is socialized medicine,” I said, not bothering to disguise my annoyance very much (he was, after all, putting a damper on my ecstatic jubilation).  Now, I know that Obamacare is not socialized healthcare in the strictest sense, but certain aspects of it equate to socialism and its goal is to put us on that path so….  His response to me was:  “Yes, but there are some good things about socialized medicine.”

“Such as what?” I asked, jubilation fading fast.  He then went on to describe how his elderly parents had to sell off their assets under the rules of Medicare, leaving them essentially destitute and causing him to need to help them financially.  People shouldn’t have to lose everything they own in order to afford healthcare, he said, so if socialized medicine makes it possible for them to get the care they need then that’s okay with him.

At times like these, when conversations arise on subjects that I feel strongly about but neither the time nor place adequately lends itself to that sort of discussion (we were standing on a street corner in Jamaica, waiting for our tour group to assemble), I am frustrated to say the least.  How do I explain, in 30 seconds or less, what’s wrong with socialism?  I suggested to him that the socialization of the so-called healthcare “system” and government interference under the guise of helping us out were only serving to drive up costs to the point where no amount of spreading the costs around to everyone (i.e. socialization) could ever catch up to the problem, and in fact would only exacerbate it.  You cannot have sanity in a market where the consumer has neither the incentive nor the ability to act like a normal consumer (i.e. balance quality, quantity and cost).  Only the free market can do this, I stressed with perhaps a bit more passion than he was prepared for.

All he knows, he told me, is that the free market isn’t working so he thinks a socialized healthcare system is a better way.

“Socialism is theft, pure and simple,” I told him, a bit of anger rising in my voice.

“Then I’m a thief,” he said cheerfully, but a bit uncomfortably.

We left it at that, as he saw us off on our tour before he went sightseeing elsewhere.  I didn’t see him again for several hours, giving me time to wrestle with my thoughts.  I found our discussion to be profoundly disturbing, not just because we disagreed but because I could sense, as is almost always the case when an unplanned discussion on politics pops up with friends or acquaintances, that he couldn’t comprehend my passion/annoyance/anger.  It occurred to me then that it comes down to this:

He sees the Obamacare debate as a matter of policy.  I see it as a matter of rights.

What right does the federal government have micromanaging what should be a free market healthcare system, thereby making it impossible for consumers to keep up with the game?  What right does the federal government have taxing Peter to subsidize Paul, with Peter having no say in how or on whom his hard-earned money is spent?   What gives one party in congress the right to establish a right/entitlement outside of the process prescribed in our Constitution?  That’s how I see this debate.

I bring this up all these months later because, in the wake of the Ryan/Trump repeal-replace-not really fiasco, the finger pointing has gone wild.  A whole lot of self-labeled “conservatives” are angry with the Republicans in the Freedom Caucus for refusing to “get on board” and go along with what is being falsely hailed as “the best plan we could get.”  (See: Liz Peek: Time for the Freedom Caucus to climb aboard the Trump train.  Read a few comments to get a good taste for the craziness).  Republicans who would rather debate about policy rather than about rights, hereinafter referred to as “the new socialists,” thought they could bully the real conservatives into going along with Obamacare-lite.  They were wrong.  I’d like to think that’s because at least some of the Freedom Caucus understands that this is a fight about rights, not about policy details.  I pray that I’m right.

In the past Republicans have caved in and gone along with liberal policies under the guise of at least putting their stamp on things that public momentum made impossible to stop.  With Trumpcare garnering the approval of just 17%, what is their excuse now?  Why capitulate, even in part, to the Left’s scheme of involving the federal government in the business of healthcare?  If only 17% of the people are going to be happy, you may as well go for broke and do the right thing.  That’s what a conservative deal maker would say, and – yes – I do mean that as a dig to Donald Trump.

The new socialists are strangely anguished over the great missed opportunity to transition from Obamacare to Obamacare-lite.  I’m sure they would argue over that characterization of their plan, but if it fails to fully repeal Obamacare (as so often promised) and keeps significant elements of Obamacare, which it does, then they have no argument to stand on.  It is Obamacare-lite, and why any self-described conservative would lose sleep trying to salvage it is a mystery to me.  Conservatives, on the other hand, are anguished over a much greater missed opportunity:  the opportunity to restore the boundaries of the federal government with respect to healthcare as well as the essential notion of personal responsibility, without which the Constitution cannot work.  You be the judge of whose mission is more worthy of the dramatic rhetoric we’re hearing.

When I saw my friend at the end of that day, I was a bit worried that our exchange from the morning would be hanging over us still, as so often happens.  He is a very nice guy and good friend, and even if he’s misguided about socialized medicine it would sadden me if our friendship was chilled as a consequence of our exchange, but as it turns out I need not have worried.  We didn’t speak of it again, but I know that if I wanted to discuss it, he’d listen with an open mind.  And I would do the same for him (even though he’s wrong, hee hee hee).  I’m good with that.

~CW

 



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8 replies

  1. Many on the Left see healthcare as a fundamental right. And why not, the Court has elevated such things as contraception, sodomy, and gay marriage as fundamental rights. Well at least they struck down the the right to die (assisted suicide). I am sure that is going to come at some time and since the Court has found ObamaCare constitutional it may actually happen – scary stuff. Hopefully Gorsuch will be a good judge and not turn out like OConnor, Roberts, and Kennedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Many on the Left see healthcare as a fundamental right.”

      My fear is that Republicans are making it a reality. As we know, if something is a right, then the government (i.e. taxpayers) is obligated to provide it. Viola, free healthcare.

      After watching some of the hearings on Gorsuch, I have concerns about him. He may have been saying what he thought Democrats would want to hear to win them over (a lot of good that did him, eh?), but hearing our next Supreme Court justice refer to illegal aliens as “undocumented workers” put a knot in my stomach. A justice that defers to the language of the Left should give all conservatives pause for concern.

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    • Well, healthcare is a fundamental right. So is eating. That doesn’t mean the right to eat includes a mandate that the taxpayers shell out for the eater to enjoy lobster.

      I have a fundamental right to own a car. Does that mean I should expect the government to pay for that Ferrari I’d like to see sitting in my garage?

      “Oh, but without health insurance, people will DIE!!!”, they bleat. Well, last time I checked, the human mortality rate was 100%. EVERYONE dies. No one gets out of here alive.

      We need to kill this idiotic idea that it’s somehow the government’s responsibility to indemnify everyone from the harsh economic realities of life. There’s no free lunch. In this life you get what you can pay for…. or what you can euchre SOMEONE ELSE into paying for you. I’m sick and tired of paying for other peoples’ “stuff” with MY hard-earned money, which leaves me with less to pay for MY OWN “stuff” and that for my family, who are the only other people I’m truly concerned about.

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      • Brian,

        It’s not true to say that “Healthcare is a fundamental right” if the caveat of being able and willing to pay is required in order to make it true, so I find that kind of retort to be unhelpful in a debate in which the underlying assumptions are really what’s at issue. You say, “Healthcare is a fundamental right.” The op ed writers at The Huffington Post also say, “Healthcare is a fundamental right,” but you know that you’re talking about an earned right, while they’re talking about a birth right. The distinction is critical.

        >>” We need to kill this idiotic idea that it’s somehow the government’s responsibility to indemnify everyone from the harsh economic realities of life.”

        Well said, and I agree 100%, but with the “idiotic idea” so deeply entrenched now it might be easier just to colonize a new planet.

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      • You’re missing the point, which I thought I made pretty clear. Anybody who can pay for anything that’s legal to own has a “fundamental right” to do so. That’s the very essence of property rights, and the right to own property is about as fundamental as it gets. A health insurance policy is property.

        And JUST AS I SAID IN MY COMMENT, just because a right is fundamental doesn’t mean anyone should expect taxpayers to pay for it for other people, illustrated by my examples of lobster and Ferraris.

        Hell’s bells, I have a fundamental right to own guns. It says so right in the Second Amendment. But that doesn’t mean the government’s going to give some to me if I don’t want to spend my own money on them.

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      • I understood your point, and I thought I was pretty clear as well.

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  2. I’ve often asked myself – ‘why do political topics come up at the most inopportune time?’ Maybe it’s part of a bigger plan to keep us off our soapboxes, who knows?

    I too saw Liz Peek’s piece this morning and found it difficult to continue reading it when she said this –

    “The Freedom Caucus and others opposing the ACA must accept that the push for this bill is bigger than their principles and it is bigger than health care.”

    Really?? Some bill is more important than their principles?? Does she not realize how very few we have in government that even have principles?? She had another piece this morning that was equally bad, which I considered posting and picking to pieces, but thought better of devoting any more of my time on her.

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/03/24/freedom-caucus-drives-dagger-into-heart-young-trump-presidency.html

    Strolling through Facebook and other sites today, I’ve seen all kinds of reactions to this healthcare bill shutdown, and mostly they’ve held Trump blameless. Some blame the caucus, some blame goes to Paul Ryan and some to the Democrats, but it’s never Trump’s fault. It seems like in their minds, the good things he’s done so far have turned him into a conservative and now those RINOS won’t cooperate with him. They’re not seeing the liberal side of him that wants to give away free stuff, nor are they seeing that he’s lacking in principle and sticking to his promise to repeal.

    Good story, CW, as always.

    Like

    • Thanks, Kathy.

      This was the first time I’d ever even heard of Liz Peeks, since I usually don’t venture to the lower half of the Fox News page. She’s a piece of work, isn’t she? No wonder the Republican Party is in such a world of hurt. And the commenters – sheesh. Trump does an about-face and joins forces with the hated Establishment (aka Paul Ryan) and suddenly the Freedom Caucus are the bad guys. That was predictable. I’ve been checking our old site to see what they have to say about Trump pushing for Obamacare-lite and threatening to go after conservatives but they’re strangely silent on this topic. Go figure.

      It’s difficult to say that Trump didn’t live up to his promise because if you had listened to him carefully during the election he promised to repeal Obamacare but he also promised that he was going to “take care of everybody.” Which promise was he keeping with Obamacare-lite? I guess it doesn’t matter to his supporters. Trump is like a sports team that his supporters remain loyal to no matter what.

      I watched a few minutes of the WSJ Editorial Report today and those guys at the WSJ are mad as hornets at the Freedom Caucus. The host, Paul Gigot, was practically spitting. He said something like, “They [congressional Republicans] voted to repeal Obamacare how many times when Obama was in office but now that they have a Republican president they won’t do it? Crazy!” (I’m paraphrasing). I would like to have been there to respond as follows: “If they voted for a straight repeal all those times when Obama was in office, why give us Obamacare-lite instead of a straight repeal when Trump is in office? Could it be that Trump signaled he wouldn’t sign a straight repeal? In any event, they all look like a bunch of posers now. Dummies.

      Liked by 1 person

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