Conservative Health Care Reform
Obama made a push for universal health coverage the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He promised each American affordable and accessible health care — but conveniently left out exactly how he would achieve those goals. Over the past few weeks and months, many senators have been positioning themselves by either drafting legislation or promoting ideas in the public as a means to jumpstart the health care debate.
In the early weeks of the 111th Congress, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) distributed a white paper on his ideas for reform — a paper that laid down a marker or a starting point for Democrats to reform health care. Sen. Ted Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has been working behind closed doors on his own version of nationalized health care. Conservatives are looking to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Senate Committee that will help write the bill, to ensure this bill doesn’t creep in the direction of a European-style, government-run system.
Conservatives are optimistic as they look to certain key members to lead health policy discussions. Sen. Enzi, who has been a leader in the Senate on health care reform, is seen by his colleagues as reasonable and one who is willing to work with Democrats on ways to remove government obstacles to an efficient system. Two ideas have support from both the left and the right — to reform the tax treatment of health insurance and to find innovative ways to curtail the rising costs of health care. Most importantly, Enzi can put his foot down and say no if a health care reform plan moves toward a big-government solution.
Maybe Now They’ll Reform The Tax Code
Last week was a rough week for President Barack Obama and his nominees. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services and Nancy Killefer withdrew her nomination to be the White House chief performance officer — both over nonpayment of taxes.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner almost didn’t make it because he didn’t pay $40,000 in taxes while an employee of the International Monetary Fund. If the Washington insiders Obama chose to be in his cabinet can’t figure out how to fill out their taxes, how should the average American feel? Conservatives want today’s overly-complex tax code scrapped so we can move to a simple and easy tax system.
Last week on ABC World News, Obama commented on the Senate’s so-called stimulus bill: “Most of the programs that have been criticized as part of this package amount to less than 1% [or $9 billion] of the overall package.” It is objectionable the president would tolerate $9 billion in wasteful spending earmarks, but not surprising considering one of his pet projects, broadband funding, would receive funding in this bill.
Want pork? This bill has it. The D.C. metropolitan area would get $2.5 billion in government building construction projects. Local governments around the country would receive $2.3 billion to engage in housing speculation with your tax dollars. Amtrak, that perpetual money-loser, would get $2.85 billion to continue inefficient service and to expand its High-Speed Rail Corridor Program. Don’t forget the welfare program for global-warming scientists — a mere $500 million.
Then there’s the absurd provision for a $200 million earmark to localities to build parking lots with plugs to recharge plug-in hybrid cars? There is also $150 million for honeybee insurance — yes, honeybees. And the National Park Service will receive $180 million to repair national park roads, despite already having a $200 million slush fund to do it.
The infamous $320 million Bridge to Nowhere would make up a mere 0.036% of the current “stimulus” package moving through the Senate. Boy, how times have changed.
An Attack on Religion
The Senate stimulus bill contains a provision that any college that receives money to upgrade a building cannot use that building for “sectarian instruction,” “religious worship” or “department of divinity.” This means, of course, any student center that receives new energy efficient windows won’t be able to accommodate student-led bible studies or other religious activities. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) rightly calls this provision “an attack on people of faith in America” and predicts it “will empower the ACLU with ambiguous laws.” Thanks to DeMint for fighting this attack on religion.