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November 27, 2009

My Family Will Be Hurt By The Democrat Health Care Scheme

I've never made a secret of the fact that my wife suffers from serious chronic degenerative health issues. It is a part of our everyday life.

Some folks have argued that folks like me ought to embrace ObamaCare (or one of its siblings) as a great boon to folks like us. I don't agree with that, because it will take from us choices that we currently have due to the fact that I work for, and pay for, our health insurance.

And I also contribute to a tax deferred flexible spending account in order to pay for my wife's medication (as well as my own) -- a predictable medical expense each month. But if the latest Democrat heath care scam goes through, I'm going to lose the ability to fully pay for those medications using that flexible spending account. You see, the current Democrat plans cap my contributions at an amount lower than what we currently pay for those medications each month.

Families with special-needs children and people with chronic illnesses stand to lose hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in tax benefits under proposed health care reform legislation, critics say, warning that a plan to cap the amount of money people can put into special "flexible spending" health accounts will have "cruel" and "unintended consequences."

The Senate and House health care bills both include a revenue-raising provision that would cap at $2,500 the amount of money workers can put into flexible spending accounts. The accounts, used by millions, allow workers to store pre-tax dollars to cover out-of-pocket health care expenses during the year.

Might I get some of that money back later at tax time? Maybe -- but only after being forced to give an involuntary interest-free loan to the federal government. In other words, we are looking at a revenue grab to pay for health care -- one being made at the expense of disabled and chronically ill Americans.

I won't be alone at my school, though.

My colleague with the severely disabled son will feel the bite of ObamaCare as she loses the ability to defer those taxes in order to pay for her son's needed equipment and therapy from her flex account. Ditto my colleague with the daughter with down Syndrome. Several colleagues have serious chronic health issues for which they use flex accounts -- and they will lose much of that ability to financially plan for their medical care.

Yeah -- ObamaCare is really going to help the Americans who most need the medical system. Tell me another one.





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Don't be so deceived by these gimmicks like FSAs and HSAs. Very, very few people realize thousands in tax breaks from these schemes, and they are not the people who most need the tax break. The little you really save in taxes in a year would probably not pay for one month's insurance premium. And they are exceedingly cumbersome, requiring much complicated, confusing paperwork. They are essentially a gift to the financial management types.

The solution to our health care crisis in the USA is to move to a single-payer Medicare-for-All system. Please look at www.pnhp.org for details on it. The Senate now needs to endorse Sanders' bill, S 703.

|| Posted by foxy, November 28, 2009 05:43 AM ||

Actually, the solution to my problem is a 50% cut in the federal budget, a similar cut in the tax rate, and no socialized medicine. What i don't need is a system like is being proposed now where the government will take more and leave me with less (and a vague promise of an eventual refund after I file my tax return) to pay the same recurring medical bills that I am managing just fine using my unrestricted FSA.

And I hate to tell you foxy, but this high school teacher can manage his FSA just fine. Maybe it is because, as a conservative, I'm just smarter than a socialist like you.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, November 28, 2009 09:51 AM ||

Rhymes With Right is spot on and Foxy doesn't have a clue. While my family is fortunate to not have anyone chronically ill we still spend around $1,000/yr from our FSA which equates to saving about $300 in taxes. The solution isn't more government, it's less.

|| Posted by Frank, November 29, 2009 05:51 AM ||

Yep, as long as you can take care of your own, who cares about the 46 million that have NO resources. It's a dog eat dog world out there and screw you if you lost your job, or you are one of the unlucky ones that have bad health. Hey, as long as I can pay my own way, SCREW YOU!!!
I love that attitude. I'm sure that Rhymes With Right is also a god fearing christian!!

|| Posted by Beryl, November 30, 2009 06:30 AM ||

Not what I said at all -- but since you seem to have a quasi-religious belief that it is Obama's way or no way at all, I find it rather hypocritical of you to attack what you suppose to be my religious beliefs.

If one looks at the alleged 46 million uninsured, one third of them are already eligible for currently existing federal programs but have not made the effort to sign up. One third are illegal aliens who should not be eligible for any program in this country and who should be deported. That leaves us with 15-17 million who are not currently covered (many of them young workers not covered by personal choice) -- and there have been proposals made by the GOP to cover them without the federal government socializing 1/6 of the US economy, without massively increasing the federal budget and debt, and without raising the costs for all Americans.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, November 30, 2009 08:35 PM ||

"[O]ne third of them are already eligible for currently existing federal programs but have not made the effort to sign up."

And I'm sure you'd be thrilled if all 15 million of those who are eligible signed up tomorrow. Tell me another one.

I've got an idea, let's have everyone who isn't covered sign up with private insurers, you know those companies that have been raping and pillaging the American people for the past 50 years. In the words of Robert Duvall, I love the smell of "free market" healthcare in the morning.

I just think it's a rather odd view to take that if you can manage your medical bills "just fine" then so should everyone else.

Is "Obamacare" the answer? No. But neither is sacrificing the general welfare of the people of this country for the sake of insurance companies' bottom lines.

|| Posted by wllsu, December 1, 2009 04:01 PM ||

Given the choice between signing them up for the programs that exist and having the entire American public dragooned into ObamaCare, I'll take the 15 million additional folks in the current programs, thank you very much.

And since the original understanding of "general welfare" would not include the government taking over su much of the economy, don't even try to make that argument.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, December 1, 2009 05:11 PM ||

And I'll be quite blunt with you -- I put my personal welfare and that of my wife first.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, December 1, 2009 05:14 PM ||

Notably, "so much of the economy," and more importantly so much of normal people's income, was not consumed by for-profit health care providers and insurance companies at the time of the drafting of the Constitution.

Don't get me wrong, I put my family's welfare first too, but then again I'm not an elected member of Congress or the President of the United States. Their job is not to do what is best for each of their individual families but rather to do what is best for the people of this country as a whole.

|| Posted by wllsu, December 2, 2009 10:25 AM ||

No, wllsu, it is NOT their job "to do what is best for the people of this country as a whole."

It is their job "to do what is best for the people of this country as a whole" consistent with the framework of limited government enshrined in the Constitution. There is nothing in that document that would allow for ObamaCare or anything like it under the original intent and understanding of the Framers and those who ratified the document. Therefore, ObamaCare sis beyond Congress power.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, December 2, 2009 02:03 PM ||

I don't mean this to be rude but it is apparent that you are not an attorney but you should really ask an attorney about the "Commerce Clause" of the Constitution and the way it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court before you say something, in fact almost anything, is "beyond Congress' power."

And before you tell me that you don't care what the Supreme Court says, you can read the Constitution for yourself, regardless of what you or I or anyone else thinks, the Constitution says what the Supreme Court says it does, see Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) ("It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.").

And the Supreme Court has interpreted the Commerce Clause of the Constitution in breathtakingly broad terms. For the latest example see Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005).

|| Posted by wllsu, December 2, 2009 02:31 PM ||

I'm not a lawyer, but a Master's degree in political science with a focus on the Courts and the Constitution will serve in a pinch to supply a greater than passing familiarity with our nation's founding documents.

And while the Commerce Clause has often been interpreted in an over-broad fashion by the courts, that does not lessen the reality that those who wrote and ratified that document in the 1780s would disagree with such decisions. Indeed, the broad reading of that clause is such as to render original understanding that Article I Section 8 limits Congress a nullity, which should tell anyone who seeks fidelity to the Constitution that said broad reading is itself in conflict with the document itself.

And yes, I am familiar with Marbury (having taught it to my college class last week) -- but even then, I'd argue that when the courts cease to adhere to the constitution and instead "make it up as they go along", those decisions have no moral legitimacy, regardless of their precedent value -- and I will continue to cite the text of the Constitution as superior to the dicta of judges.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, December 2, 2009 08:20 PM ||

You probably don't want to get in a pissing match with me on practical constitutional scholarship experience, you won't win.

In any event, your statement that "Indeed, the broad reading of that clause is such as to render original understanding that Article I Section 8 limits Congress a nullity, which should tell anyone who seeks fidelity to the Constitution that said broad reading is itself in conflict with the document itself" is circular logic if I've ever heard it. But in attempt to refute you I would just note that Article I both limits and enumerates.

You also might want to look up the definition of dicta, apparently it's not what you think it is. Here's a hint, it's the opposite of ratio decidendi.

Let me get this straight though, as long a Supreme Court decision is not "morally legitimate," however you personally define that, that decision is not legally legitimate. It's the law of the land, live with it. The Constitution is nothing but a nice set of principles and aspirations without the interpretation and application of the document by the branch of government in which such power solely is reposited.

If you don't like the way the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, elect a different President and Senator and change the Court.

My broader point in all this is that you shouldn't kid yourself for one second that regardless of whatever Congressional enactment is made on "Obamacare" or some other form of national health care reform, no legitimate legal scholar would argue with a straight face that such enactment would not pass muster under the Supreme Court's interpretation of Congress' exercise of power pursuant to the Commerce Clause.

|| Posted by wllsu, December 2, 2009 09:45 PM ||

Not interested in such a contest -- just trying to point out that you are not the only one with a background in and serious study in the field of constitutional law and the American system of government.

But let me make a few points in response to yours:

1) Article I does both grant and deny powers to Congress. However the grants of power are intended to be relatively narrow.

2) When a reading of what was intended to be a narrow grant of power is so broad as to practically wipe out the limits found elsewhere, that reading is incorrect on its face.

3) I'm well aware of the difference between dicta and ratio decidendi -- but when a decision is completely untethered from the original intent of the Constitution, it is truly nothing more than words.

4) You put words in my mouth on the issue of moral vs legal legitimacy. I'll be the first to concede that a decision may have all the elements of legal legitimacy while being morally bogus -- consider Plessy v. Ferguson if you want an example of such a decision, or the Dred Scott decision. Or do you consider such legally legitimate decisions to be morally legitimate because of their legal legitimacy?

5) While you give a nice little sermonette in defense of judicial supremacy ("The Constitution is nothing but a nice set of principles and aspirations without the interpretation and application of the document by the branch of government in which such power solely is reposited."), please realize that we have a host of material from the writings of the framers and the speeches of those who ratified the Constitution that should provide guidance to any judge making such an interpretation and application. Indeed, I'd argue that most judges should consider operating on the principle of "WWMD?" -- What would Madison do?

6) Yeah, we can elect different Senators and presidents -- or we could consider the example provided by our forefathers a decade before they wrote the Constitution given the apparent failure of that method.

7) As for questions on the constitutional authority for health care legislation, consider this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204518504574416623109362480.html
And even the Congressional Research Service has noted that the idea of individual health insurance mandates is a novel one under the Constitution, and has raised questions as to its constitutionality, just as it did back when the Clinton's proposed their health care scheme fifteen years ago. But if you start with the fundamentally dishonest assumption that one's legitimacy as a legal scholar is predicated upon support for the constitutionality of such legislation, I suppose that it is possible to argue (as you do) that "no legitimate legal scholar" would argue against the constitutionality of such legislation.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, December 3, 2009 10:26 AM ||

I'll be the first to offer a truce and say we can just agree to disagree. However I will agree with you on one thing, your point number 6. A little revolution every now and then is good for the soul.

|| Posted by wllsu, December 3, 2009 03:36 PM ||
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