Shutdown is a Good Start, Now Let’s Fix Health Care

The United States federal government is shut down in many ways. Good. News reports are saying that more than 800,000 “nonessential” federal workers are staying home. Better. We don’t need them. We taxpayers don’t want to support them for one moment more.

In the first two days of the shutdown life went on without interruption all over America which proves how irrelevant most of our federal government is. Now just imagine that our private-sector gasoline stations closed for two days. Or our private banks. There would be chaos.

This hysteria over the shutdown is a sham because our government spending is way out of control. Republican US Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma every year composes a famous “Wastebook” of federal spending. It is instructive to look at the October 2012 edition (since the 2013 edition is not out yet) because it clearly illustrates the problem. Here are some of senator Coburn’s examples:

• Tax loopholes for the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) – professional sports leagues that generate billions of dollars annually in profits ($91 million in taxes)

• Moroccan pottery classes (part of a $27 million grant from U.S. Agency for International Development)

• Efforts to promote caviar consumption and production ($300,000)

• Robotic squirrel named “RoboSquirrel” (part of a $325,000 grant from the National Science Foundation)

• Promotion of specialty shampoo and other beauty products for cats and dogs ($505,000)

• Corporate welfare for the world’s largest snack food producer, PepsiCo Inc. ($1.3 million)

• Government-funded study on how golfers might benefit from using their imagination, envisioning the hole is bigger than it actually is ($350,000)

• “Prom Week,” a video game that allows taxpayers to relive prom night ($516,000)

• Oklahoma’s layover boondoggle, a scarcely used airport in Oklahoma receiving nearly half-a-million in taxpayer dollars only to transfer funds elsewhere in the state ($450,000)

• The 2012 Alabama Watermelon Queen tour paid for in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “to promote the consumption of Alabama’s watermelon through appearances of the Alabama Watermelon Queen at various events and locations” ($25,000)

Friends, these are not isolated examples; these are just a tiny handful of instances of treacherous and routine waste. There are tens of thousands more. They do not even include hundreds of billions in embedded waste like over-the-top welfare handouts, arts grants to totally suspect people, or subsidies for wealthy National Public Radio. They do not cover massive fraud and abuse in state and local governments. And people who get this money vote overwhelmingly Democrat. Because the Democrats give them Other People’s Money. It is a vicious cycle.

Oh, the Liberal Media are having a field day interviewing people who want to visit a national park or the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, which are closed. To which Nikitas3.com responds: Who cares if they are closed?! The future of our nation is at stake! If Obamacare continues our health-care system will be destroyed as Obama is ruining the rest of our economy with his policies.

But notice that CNN and the New York Times and all the rest of the Liberal Media conveniently are not interviewing the hard-working taxpayers who are footing the bill for this spending, or people who have no jobs because policies like Obamacare are killing our economy.

America does not need most of this spending. We should fund only our essential federal functions – our military and national security apparatus; our military veterans; our federal White House, Congress, courts, cabinet departments etc.; and then a very few other basic operations. Then the rest of the government can be cut way back, significantly reformed, eliminated or shifted to the private sector.

For instance the Internal Revenue Service and its $11 billion annual budget can easily be eliminated. We can collect taxes infinitely more efficiently through a National Sales Tax, where federal taxes are paid automatically every time you buy something, like a state sales tax. Or through a national Flat Tax, where you just send in a percentage of your income. Meanwhile the Department of Education can be eliminated along with the Department of Energy (total budget for just those two agencies approaches $100 billion annually).

The Environmental Protection Agency budget should be cut 93.4% because apparently only 6.6% of its staff is considered “essential”. Or so says this from washingtonexaminer.com:

Only federal employees classified as “essential” can work during a government shutdown. At EPA, that means just 6.6 percent of its workforce, according to Reuters.

Of the agency’s 16,205 employees, a mere 1,069 will work through the shutdown. That means that taxpayers employ 15,181 people at the EPA who are “non-essential.” (end of washingtonexaminer.com excerpt)

See how easy it is? Now, as we watch the showdown over Obamacare and the government shutdown some may wonder: Why is the government being shut down? Hasn’t Obamacare passed into law? Shouldn’t it now be funded?

Yes it is law, but Republicans still can block its funding, which is what the courageous Republicans in the House are doing. And they are doing this as a last-ditch effort because it is known that this bill is going to undermine our health-care system and cause costs to spike significantly for people who are paying their own way. This is classic socialism.

And it is crucial to remember that the only reason that Obamacare passed in the first place is because three Democrats US senators were elected under fraudulent circumstances, giving Democrats their necessary “supermajority” to pass the bill in 2010.

In South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson won his seat in 2002 by only about 500 votes as significant voter fraud was noted on the state’s Indian reservations. In Minnesota in 2008 Democrat Al Franken won the seat from incumbent Republican Norm Coleman after several hundred Democrat ballots “magically” turned up when the race seemed very close. This is a standard Democrat tactic. In Alaska incumbent Republican US senator Ted Stevens was called up on bogus legal charges in Summer 2008 that caused him to lose his re-election to Democrat Mark Begich bid by a razor-thin margin that November, as Stevens proclaimed that it was a political prosecution. Those charges were dropped after the election for being egregiously unreliable. If any one of these three races had been legitimate, Obamacare would not have passed.

Meanwhile House Republicans have sent to the Senate bills to fund critical parts of the government, but the Democrat-run Senate has rejected them because it wants the whole package with Obamacare included.

Of course the Republicans are accused of blocking health care for poor people which is the opposite of the truth. Nikitas3.com has written many times about alternative means of providing health care just as there are better, cheaper and more efficient ways to collect taxes. Some of these health-care options are now getting attention but only in the conservative media. These private-sector alternatives would lower health costs dramatically for everyone, making health care more widely available for all.

This is like the situation with the computer industry which today offers us $500 laptops which would have cost $1 million back in 1973. This has happened precisely because the government has stayed out of the computer business while the free market has incentivized the creation of more powerful, smaller and cheaper computers made by private companies.

Now Republicans have proposed the American Health Care Reform Act. It will definitely work because it goes in the opposite direction of Obamacare. Here is one summary:

The centuries-old oath taken by health care professionals reads, “Do no harm.”  It is time for Washington lawmakers to take a similar approach when working to fix the problems that exist in our broken health care system.  Simply repealing the President's health care law is not enough—it must be replaced.

Conservatives recognize that patient-centered reforms rooted in free markets are the best way to lower costs and solve problems in our health care system.  That is why the Republican Study Committee (RSC) is proud to bring forward a pragmatic, practical, and portable free-market alternative to the current health care system.  Simply put, our bill is a better way forward. Specifically, H.R. 3121, the RSC's American Health Care Reform Act:

  • Fully repeals President Obama's health care law, eliminating billions in taxes and thousands of pages of unworkable regulations and mandates that are driving up health care costs. 
  • Spurs competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together and get the same buying power as large corporations.
  • Reforms medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way that limits trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages while maintaining strong protections for patients.
  • Provides tax reform that allows families and individuals to deduct health care costs, just like companies, leveling the playing field and providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance.
  • Expands access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for health care expenses.
  • Safeguards individuals with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against purchasing health insurance by bolstering state-based high risk pools and extending HIPAA guaranteed availability protections.
  • Protects the unborn by ensuring no federal funding of abortions. (end of AHCRA excerpt)

Consider just one of these proposals – to reform medical malpractice laws. One study by a major medical journal showed that 76% of doctors have performed redundant “defensive” medical procedures just to protect themselves in the event that they get sued by trial lawyers. These extra procedures push up the cost of health care dramatically.

These trial lawyers are 100% liberal Democrats; they have gotten rich for decades by suing doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms; the Democrats defend them and get their campaign contributions; they are one of the prime reasons that health-care costs have spiked so dramatically; and the states with the most vibrant health-care systems like Texas are those that intentionally have legislated to restrain these lawyers.

This Obamacare law is unfair, discriminatory and it is ruining the best health-care system in the world. Good for the Republicans for fighting it. Fight on!

What we should have done, and still can do, is to move in the opposite direction, away from federalized health care and even away from health insurance itself, toward the free market. Because health insurance and federal payments have a fatal flaw built in – they are third-party payments such that most people do not even care how much they are charged because they don’t pay the bill directly. They rarely even read the bill and this fact alone has allowed costs to spiral out of control.

If consumers paid their own health-care bills out of their own pockets (but with insurance available for catastrophic events) costs would fall dramatically because consumers would scrutinize every cost and challenge questionable charges. It is simple free-market common sense.

Nikitas3.com posted this special editorial in December 2012 about how liberals themselves sabotaged our existing health care system over decades in order to clear the way for federalized Obamacare. It is worth reading.

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