The defining issue of our time

By Henry Lamb

Everyone agrees that the nation needs health-care reform. If this is true, why can’t one side or the other actually win the battle for congressional votes and reform the health-care system?

The progressives in Congress, mostly Democrats, want a system in which the government provides health care to everyone. Some go so far as to claim that health care is a basic human right. This side of the debate believes that it is immoral for people who need health care not to get it, and that government is the only entity with the money to provide it.

The conservatives in Congress, mostly Republicans, realize that before government can provide health care for anyone, the money to pay for it must first be taken from the people who earn it. This raises a question: If the money to pay for health care must first be taken from the people, why not let the people keep their money and pay for their own health care?

The answer is this: Some people earn enough money to pay for their own health care, and some don’t. Therefore, government must take enough money from those who earn it to pay for the health care needed by those who cannot pay for their own care.

The progressives in Congress, mostly Democrats, consider this to be a perfectly legitimate function of a socialist government: Take from those who have, and redistribute to those who have not.

The conservatives in Congress, mostly Republicans, consider this to be theft, a penalty upon the successful, and absolutely abhorrent to the Constitution and to the notion of equal justice under the law.

Where the Constitution first authorizes taxation (Article 1, Section 8) it requires that taxes “… shall be uniform throughout the United States.” This establishes the principle of equal taxation. Not until 1913 does the 16th Amendment authorize taxes on income. The Amendment does not require uniform application, and the progressives in Congress were quick to abandon the principle of equal taxation under the law, in favor of the socialist principle of taking from those who have and redistributing to those who have not.

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Conservatives in Congress have been fighting to re-establish the principle of equal taxation ever since, but there are far more voters who are recipients of government largesse than there are voters who pay for it. Even so, the progressives have not yet completely won.

Every time the progressives mount a major campaign to finally take over the health-care system completely, the flaws in their fantasy emerge – not the least of which is the fact that any government-run system must not only ration health care, but also create a massive bureaucracy to administer the system.

When people really begin to envision a single-payer system that has to decide on virtually every medical decision, and then either reject or approve and pay for every health-care service provided in the entire country, only the most rabid progressive can keep down their last meal. Most Americans recoil at the notion of more government intrusion into the most personal aspects of private life.

This kind of reality check is what doomed Hillarycare when the progressives last controlled Washington. This example of the consequences of too many progressives in Washington sent many of them packing in the first election after the rejection of Hillarycare. The progressives wondered why they could not win.

The conservatives, eager to reform health care, suggested tort reform as a way to reduce the rapidly rising cost of health care by limiting the exorbitant fees ambulance-chasing attorneys were extracting.

The trial lawyers’ lobby quickly filled the campaign coffers of the progressives, mostly Democrats, and urged them to reject the conservatives’ remedy.

The conservatives, eager to reduce the costs of health care, suggested Health Savings Accounts and tax deductions for health insurance payments and medical expenses. No way! The progressive mantra throbbed through the media like jungle drums announcing imminent disaster: “Tax breaks for the wealthy; tax breaks for the wealthy.” The conservatives wondered why they could not win.

Now comes Obamacare. Obamacare is an ill-defined fantasy that promises to provide health care to 47 million people who do not now have it, without adding one dime to the deficit, without forcing anyone to change a thing about their own health care, and without increasing taxes for anyone who makes $250,000 or less per year. This is the health-care fantasy Obama is pushing.

The closest thing to Obamacare reality is a 1,000-page bill now awaiting action in the House of Representatives. Even though few, if any, congressmen have read the bill, all have been called upon to answer questions about it, and about Obama’s health-care fantasy.

Conservatives, as well as a few Democrats, are frightened by the Obama fantasy and point to various sections of the bill as ominous precursors of far too much government control, and to the Congressional Budget Office analysis that projects massive deficits.

Progressives, as well as many Democrats, claim the conservative critics are “un-American” and “Astroturf” pawns of the greedy insurance profiteers.

Why can’t we win? The conservatives are not willing to roll over and let the progressives transform America into a socialist nation without a fight. At the same time, the progressives are convinced that if they can distribute enough government largesse to enough voters, eventually, the takers will overwhelm the payers – and the progressives will finally win.

ObamaCare is the fulcrum upon which rests the future of the nation.