Tag Archives: Federal Programs

State governance vs national governance

state governanceAs we approach  both a national election and the Fourth of July, I am thinking about the competing visions of national identity offered by both the Democratic and Republican parties. So far, both the presumptive candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have openly attacked one another, have presented opposite views on national defense, the Affordable Care Act, educational reform, and how to bring jobs from overseas back to the nation. The American voter has been courted with changes to the tax code, free college tuition, and promises to make the nation great again without any real definition of what that would mean. But among all the political discussion and debate, and untouched by either candidate is an issue that predates the Constitution of the United States: will we be a nation under state governance or will all political power be exercised by the national government?

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The increasingly complex (and failing) health care law


October 1st, 2013 has come and gone and with it, implementation of the next stage of the Affordable Care Act.  As we approach the January 1st implementation and the 2014 mid-term elections campaign, even some members of the Democratic Party are beginning to ask questions about the implementation and even the feasibility of one of the largest changes in domestic policy since the creation of Social Security back during the 1930s.  Even Forbes Online featured an editorial by Steven Haywood called “Obamacare Will Be Repealed Well In Advance Of The 2014 Elections” claiming that the failed rollout of the Affordable Care Act has become so toxic to Democratic Party members of Congress that something will have to be done – including a vote to repeal and even override an anticipated veto from President Obama to maintain their control of the Senate.  It makes the casual observer of American politics to wonder exactly what has failed to cause the crowing jewel of a Democratic Party dominated national government – the White House, the Senate, and House of Representatives – to become a toxic liability rather than a party asset.

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 I am sure that as political scientists, political theorists, and policy historians begin to dissect the legislation there will literally be thousands of articles and publications highlighting the numerous faults within the bill.  It is through the lens of time that we will be able to fully understand why the regulation of nearly twenty percent of the national economy was destined to fail before it ever became fully implemented.  There are many reasons that I believe why the Affordable Care Act – ObamaCare – has not been the program that most of the president’s supporters thought it was and why his critics knew it was going to become. The first reason why the Affordable Care Act has failed is because of its complexity.  The law, sold and explained to the American public as a way to lower healthcare costs and regulate the healthcare industry actually went far beyond its explained purpose.

Not only did it regulate the insurance industry, it created new taxes on medical equipment, it forces health insurance companies to add new benefits at no cost to the insured, it created a new level of federal government bureaucracy, it places new powers and responsibilities in the hands of the Internal Revenue Service, it gives the Department of Health and Human Services broad powers to administer it, and it places new regulations on the states, and for insurance/financial purposes, it redefines adulthood.  And if that is not enough, it also exempts Congress, the Presidency, and other members of the national government from participation in this national health care program. It was a massive undertaking and even at its impressive 2,800 pages, it still would require additional regulations that are to be written by the Department of Health and Human Services; according to various websites, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there are already 17,843 pages of additional regulation that allows for the implementation of the law.

The law, already complex, has been made more complex by regulation and the actions of the Obama administration itself.  The Obama administration has decided to grant waivers to labor unions, large corporations, and political allies, creating a situation where it appears that special favors have been granted to financial supporters and political allies of the administration. Instead of being a uniform law that is to be applied equally to all Americans, the law has created division. As reported by Fox News by Maxim Lot in his article, “ObamaCare price hikes hit ‘red states’ hardest“, the Affordable Care Act is  now being used as a political weapon against states where conservatives still retain power.  As this legislative drama has unfolded, life-long Democratic Party supporters at the local level are beginning to question if the law will ever live up to even the most modest of expectations.

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A bad law, its growing unpopularity, and its possibilities


In less than a week, a handful of provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, will begin to impact the national economy.  All over the nation, the reports have already begun to indicate that this law has not lowered medical insurance costs but has actually increased them for much of the nation.  A recent article from the Washington Examiner, “Tennessee: ObamaCare will Triple Men’s Premiums, Doubles Women’s” stated that premiums were expected to increase dramatically under the new ObamaCare guidelines.  According to the article, men are expected to face a 197% increase in the cost of a basic compliant policy; women could expect to see a 92% increase for the same coverage.  In a separate article featured on Breitbart, “ObamaCare Triples Kentucky Family’s Insurance Overnight,” a Kentucky couple with two young sons had their portion of the family’s employer offered health care plan rise to $965 a month from its much lower $333 per month.

Each day, Americans are horrified to read of the many hidden provisions in ObamaCare, such as one that sets criteria for regular in-home follow ups to individuals and families as defined by statute, direct access to banking accounts of Americans, and end of life counseling for those over 65 or suffering from terminal illnesses or injury.  And these are just the provisions we know about; the Affordable Care Act contains 2,407 pages that was passed into law with another 7,642 pages of additional rules and regulations that have already been written by the Department of Human and Health Services.  Bloggers and pundits have stated that one of the many provisions in the Affordable Care Act that required six pages of legislation required an additional 429 pages of additional regulations defining exactly how and when the legislation will apply.  This means that there are potentially thousands of other restrictions, invasions into privacy, and governmental oversight into the lives of the American citizenry.

There are several reasons why the Affordable Care Act is bad law. Beginning with the most obvious first, this law financially strains the American citizenry at a time when it can least be afforded.  Over the last year, we have seen numerous companies change their employment model from offering full time positions shifting to an all part time workforce under thirty hours a week.  For many working class families, this now means that it will take two or more part time positions per adult family member to recover what has been lost since the enactment of these provisions.  Additionally, annual inflation since 2008 has been around 1.20% or greater, depending on whose estimates and reports you use.  Inflation, plus high fuel prices, high food prices, and increases in local and state level taxes are having a profound impact by reducing the amount of disposable income families and individuals have to spend.  Instead of lowering healthcare costs and creating more disposable income for the average family, the Affordable Care Act increases the premiums for families and will reduce the amount of disposable income. It is estimated that the Affordable Care Act is going to add an additional $7,450 in healthcare costs for the average family of four per year once the entire law is enforced.  This places a financial burden on working and middle class families and upon our consumer driven national economy.

Another reason this is bad law is it can serve to restrain individual freedoms. The purpose of any insurance policy is to reduce financial risk to the individual. While financial risk comes in many forms, the Affordable Care Act’s sole purpose is to reduce the financial risk of individuals and families through a series of laws that will reduce the cost of medical care (or that is the pretense for which the law was passed).  Since under ObamaCare, the risk is to be transferred to state and national exchanges, the government becomes the bearer of risk. Within the insurance industry, financial risk and liability is managed through increased premiums paid by the consumer, or through the offering of incentives that encourages the consumer to modify high or risky behaviors.  With this understanding, it is easy to understand the potential invasion into individual liberty and freedoms that the government deems too risky or too costly to cover under the state or national health care exchanges.  There is the potential for the government to regulate diet, exercise, recreational activities, number of children, and any other decision that before have been considered as issues of self determination.

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