Q: WHEN it comes to a government overhaul of health care, what is the difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney?
A: Obama was against an individual insurance mandate before he was for it. Romney was for the mandate before he was against it.
Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The real difference is that Obama acknowledges reversing his position, while Romney seems to be trying to have it both ways.
As a presidential candidate in 2008, then-Senator Obama blasted Hillary Clinton’s health care plan because, as one of his ads put it, “It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it, and you pay a penalty if you don’t.’’
But within six months of becoming president, Obama had embraced a mandate. Asked in an interview with CBS whether “each individual American should be required to have health insurance,’’ Obama owned up to his 180-degree shift:
“I have come to that conclusion,’’ Obama said. “During the campaign I was opposed to this idea [but] I am now in favor of some sort of individual mandate as long as there’s a hardship exemption.’’
Compelling nearly everyone to obtain health insurance (or pay a stiff penalty for failing to do so) is the heart of ObamaCare, the linchpin without which the whole scheme falls apart. That’s why US District Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling last week that the individual mandate is unconstitutional — and that allowing the federal government to force citizens to buy a private product would “invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers’’ — was so significant. The White House immediately fired back — “We disagree with the ruling,’’ the president’s spokesman said. In a Washington Post column the next day, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius extolled ObamaCare’s “individual responsibility provision,’’ and insisted that it would be upheld on appeal.
Sunday, December 19th, 2010
Wasn’t earth (referred to as “the planet” by greenies) supposed to be warming?
It hasn’t for at least ten years and might even be cooling. The Brits certainly have reason to believe that.
Swathes of Britain skidded to a halt today as the big freeze returned – grounding flights, closing rail links and leaving traffic at a standstill.
And tonight the nation was braced for another 10in of snow and yet more sub-zero temperatures – with no let-up in the bitterly cold weather for at least a month, forecasters have warned.
The Arctic conditions are set to last through the Christmas and New Year bank holidays and beyond and as temperatures plummeted to -10c (14f) the Met Office said this December was ‘almost certain’ to become the coldest since records began in 1910.
The recent quick fade of the Deficit Commission was the latest reminder that America no longer seems to have the stomach for big challenges. There was a time – was it just a generation ago? – when Americans were legendary for doing vast, seemingly superhuman, projects: the Interstate Highway System, the Apollo Missions, Hoover Dam, the Manhattan Project, the Normandy invasion, the Empire State Building, Social Security.
What happened? Today we look at these achievements, much as Dark Age peasants looked on the mighty works of the Roman Era, feeling like some golden age has passed when giants walked the Earth. Even when we can still see the aged survivors of that era sunning themselves outside the local convalescent home – or sitting down with us for family holiday dinner – it’s hard not believe that there was once something larger-than-life about them that they failed to pass on to us. The ‘Greatest Generation’, and those before them back to the birth of this country, seemed to be able to do big things, and think big thoughts, in a way that is now beyond both our abilities and our desires.
We no longer build the world’s tallest buildings – other countries do. We no longer reaching towards the moon – other countries are. And when we do attempt something big – universal health care, alternative energy, improved educational standards, mass transportation – the initiative inevitably snarls up in bad planning, corruption, political pay-offs, lack of leadership, impracticality and just sheer incompetence. The comparatively tiny Lincoln Administration managed to win the Civil War, open up the Great Plains through the Homestead Act, and kick off construction of the transcontinental railroad. . .all in four years.
Why are things so different now? Why can’t we seem to do big things well anymore? We think there are a number of reasons, some consoling, others worrisome:
Big isn’t big anymore: Big has, in many cases, become Small: nanotechnology, microelectronics, human genome project, distributed networks, ‘smart’ objects – and there is a lot more reward these days in developing a smaller, more power-efficient microprocessor than in pouring a million yards of cement for new dam. So, perhaps much of our sense of failure in achievement is, in fact, merely a failure of perspective.
Collective individualism: Today’s technology, which allows us to connect and communicate directly with each other, makes us less inclined to centralizing themes and collective action. Our networked world gives equal voice to every person, while marginalizing intermediaries, including political parties . . .making it much harder to win policy consensus for really big problems. Worse, in a paradox of our times, the more connected we get the more divided we become. The most vocal, outraged group wins.
The Way of the Wiki: The most important organizational innovation of the last quarter century, and our new defining social metaphor, is ‘the cloud’. The Cloud is bigger than Big, but it is also amorphous and composed of millions of tiny, discrete elements. It is good in bursts, but weak in follow-through. In the wisdom of the cloud, there is an expert for everything. Hammers are always in search of nail – and so, armed with these new decentralized, horizontal, ‘Army of Davids’ we tend to attack problems (and sometimes create them) that respond to a ‘wiki’ strategy.
Been there, done that: Watching Malaysia, Hong Kong and Dubai compete to build the world’s tallest building can be both thrilling and depressing – i.e., cool constructions, but why isn’t the U.S. in this race? One answer is: we’ve already run that race, and won, several times, so why not move on to other challenges? Edifice construction seems to be a phase in the development of successful modern nations; ditto national transportation and communications infrastructures. We passed through that phase fifty years ago – and all that’s left now are occasional upgrades. On the other hand, you can’t help noticing that this type of epic construction is also synonymous with national ambition and confidence, two things that seem sorely missing in modern American life.
Analog is messy: You may not have noticed, but over the last half-century almost every successful U.S. industry has found away to climb aboard Moore’s Law of semiconductors and take advantage of its exponential growth curve. This has inevitably rewarded pure digital plays, such as the Internet, while only conferring partial advantages on physical – analog – industries, such as medicine, automobiles and construction. Big projects tend to be very physical activities . . .and our economy now directs smart players elsewhere to more immediate rewards.
Everybody’s a winner: The recruiting ad for the Pony Express said: “Orphans Preferred.” The ugly fact is that the building of America cost a lot of lives by putting men (and sometimes women) in dangerous, high-risk situations. We don’t seem to have the intestinal fortitude for that kind of sacrifice anymore – and even if we did, our robust system of torts laws would make it too expensive to pursue anyway. You probably can’t conquer outer space with a society that doesn’t keep score in youth soccer games, hands out participation trophies, and sues for every cut and bruise. After all, the virtual bullets in a Halo gunfight don’t hurt…
This was a letter to the editor of the LA Daily News about the constitutionality of the health care mandate:
Mandate provides accountability
What is unconstitutional is allowing this judge, Henry E. Hudson, to rule on the health insurance mandate when he owns stock in a firm that is against health care reform. This judge has to be judged. To conform to righteousness this judge has to recuse himself from the case.
Begin with an ad hominem attack on the judge’s character.
Now, to get to the question at hand: Why do we mandate car insurance in order to drive a car?
You don’t have to drive, and the insurance you’re required to purchase protects people you may harm, not you. Collision and theft insurance is not mandatory.
I don’t think to mandate a person have health insurance is a bad thing. It will keep them healthy, wealthy and wise.
Forcing someone to spend money will not make them wealthy. Wise?
You listen to your doctor when he or she mandates your health regimen. You pay your taxes when the IRS mandates the income tax law and you surely obey when your staff sergeant mandates his or her commands. Mandates are there for your safety and well being.
- LOIS EISENBERG
My gosh. Such people walk among us and, most likely, vote.