March 29, 2015

Why Progressives Should Let Republicans Repeal Obamacare and Close the Borders

obamacareLast week, Senate Republicans were given bad news by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. She doesn’t believe Republicans can bypass cloture and repeal Obamacare with a simple majority by attaching its repeal to a spending bill.

As a libertarian, I’m glad to hear it. No, I do not like Obamacare any more than I like most other government programs, especially those that further enrich multi-billion dollar corporations on my dime. But I’m glad it’s still difficult to get things through the Senate. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

But progressives should feel differently. The should want to see at least two bills pass both houses, one repealing Obamacare and one blocking the president’s immigration policies. Progressives profess a belief in democracy and the Republicans have been democratically elected to both houses. Whether you agree with them or not, there’s no question repealing Obamacare and reversing the president’s immigration agenda were two of their strongest mandates.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

It’s not affordable and Obama doesn’t care

Obama_desk_s640x427TAMPA, January 3, 2014 – Two days ago, Americans rang in the first New Year in its history in which they were required to buy a private company’s product, regardless of their wishes. Predictably, the bloom was already off the rose, even for supporters of this debacle.

The reality that the Affordable Care Act will make insurance premiums go up and eliminate existing health plans whether members liked them or not had already set in. As for those 45 million uninsured we heard so much about four years ago, 44 million of them presumably remain uninsured under the ACA. That the website can’t handle the traffic is likely providing cover for millions of Americans who just aren’t interested in complying.

The lion’s share of blame has been focused on President Obama, but that is really counterproductive. Despite his name being forever attached to “Obamacare,” Obama really had little to do with creating it. He didn’t write the bill. He probably hasn’t even read it.

President Obama’s role in Obamacare was to use the “bully pulpit” of the Oval Office to pitch a tired, old and previously rejected idea that suddenly had new life because of a financial crisis that was largely blamed on the Republican Party, fairly or not.

So where did it come from? The snap answer would be Democrats, who passed the bill without a single Republican vote. That’s good politics for the Republicans, but only because Americans have an extremely short memory.

Even Romneycare in Massachusetts was not the genesis of Obamacare. The individual mandate, subsidies for low income earners and most other attributes of Obamacare were all part of the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993, introduced by Republican U.S. Senator John Conyers and supported by fellow Republicans Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennet and Kit Bond, among others.

Bennet would go on in 2007 to join Democrat Ron Wyden in introducing the Healthy Americans Act, which also featured an individual mandate and “State Help Agencies,” now called “health care exchanges” or “health care marketplaces.”

That Republicans used to introduce this horrible program as an alternative to the even worse single payer proposal by Democrats is no excuse. It is precisely the tyrannical, economically obtuse and grossly unfair program that Republicans have described it as for the past four years – after promoting it for the previous twenty.

It goes to show that given a long enough stay in Washington, D.C., anyone will begin to see govenrment as the only answer to any problem, most of which are created by government in the first place.

More importantly, debacles like Obamacare are rarely the result of presidential elections. Presidents like FDR, LBJ and Obama merely become the face associated with laws that finally pass after resistance has been worn down over decades.

James Madison’s words from the Federalist are instructive:

“But in a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited; both in the extent and the duration of its power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly, which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.”

Despite the many usurpations of power by the executive branch, it is still “the enterprising ambition” of Congress that causes most of the misery government continues to spread. Given enough time, they will impose their boondoggles, no matter how unwise and unpopular they are.

There are over 100 members of the House of Representatives that have sat in those seats since at least the 1990’s. There are almost 30 members of similar longevity in the Senate.

Who knows what they’ll drag out of the dustbin next? It’s time for voters to do a little sweeping of their own. The letters after representatives’ names should make little difference.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Obama violates oath of office with insurance letter

Obama-meets-with-insurance-company-execs_s640x427TAMPA, November 17, 2013 – In a desperate attempt to diffuse criticism of his administration over the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), President Obama has once again broken new constitutional ground.

In a letter dated November 14, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen informed state insurance commissioners that insurance policies rendered illegal by the legislation “will not be considered to be out of compliance with the market reforms specified below under the conditions specified below.”

The president has just violated his oath of office. No investigation is necessary. He’s put it in writing.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Why a free market would work for health care

Doctor_655362410569_AP-676x450 (640x426) (2)TAMPA, October 26, 2013 – Conservatives are confused again, rejoicing in Obamacare’s early operational struggles. One would think that their only objection to the legislation has been that the Democrats wouldn’t run it efficiently. Maybe it was. After all, the Republicans ran a candidate against Obama that had implemented virtually the same program in Massachusetts, promising only to “repeal and replace.”

Replace?

Jon Stewart took the opportunity to join conservatives in criticizing the government’s performance during his interview with Kathleen Sebelius because he knew it wasn’t a principled argument. That the government didn’t have its website ready to handle the volume doesn’t address the principle of Obamacare.

This wrongheaded criticism by conservatives allowed Stewart to join in and appear to viewers as if he were being objective, while at the same time delivering the message that Democrats ultimately want Americans to accept: that “a market-based solution doesn’t work for health care.”

First, it is important to define “free market.” When attempting to do so, both conservatives and liberals tend to focus on competition, private ownership of the means of production and the profit motive. These are actually results of the free market, not defining characteristics.

The free market has only one defining characteristic: that all exchanges of property occur by mutual, voluntary consent. Period.

That the means of production are privately owned is a result of this, as no government acquisition of anything occurs by voluntary consent. Competition, too, occurs because customers are free to choose which products they buy or whether they buy at all. This motivates producers to make their products more attractive in quality, price or both. They are also motivated to operate at a profit, both for their own enrichment and in order to survive. Losing money eventually results in the dissolution of the firm.

Applying the definition, a free market in healthcare means simply that all exchanges of property, including the labor of doctors, occurs by mutual, voluntary consent. There is only one alternative to this: coercion. If all participants are not acting by voluntary consent, then some or all are being forced to make exchanges under the threat of violence if they don’t.

Anyone who doubts this should simply withhold the Medicare portion of his tax payments and see what happens next.

Stewart made a familiar argument that is compelling on its face. The free market doesn’t work for health care because patients in need of treatment are often not in a position to make choices the way they do when buying shoes or automobiles. Patients may be picked up in an ambulance delirious or even unconscious. It is unreasonable to assume those patients can make rational decisions about which hospitals they are taken to, which providers treat them or what treatments are administered to them.

Granted, but here’s the rub. Their situation is worthy of compassion, but it does not give them the right to force others to do their bidding. They have every right to ask for help, but not demand it. Their misfortune may not be their fault, but bad luck does not grant them a legal claim on the property of others. Nor does it give them the right to dictate the terms under which an exchange of property is to take place. That exchange either happens by mutual, voluntary consent or freedom is annihilated.

The same argument applies to those who simply cannot afford to purchase health care. Again, many find themselves in this position through no fault of their own. That doesn’t give them the right to use force on innocent third parties.

American governments were once constituted with the assumption that the government’s role was to ensure a free market. As John Locke said in his famous treatise, “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.”

It is no accident that Thomas Jefferson had a resolution passed in Virginia declaring that Locke’s treatise was the basis for American liberty.

However, the argument against Obamacare is not just a moral but a utilitarian one. There are cause and effect relationships between the manner in which exchanges are made and the affordability of products. When all exchanges are voluntary, supply expands, prices fall, and wealth is distributed widely. That’s why real wages rose so dramatically during the 19th century, contrary to leftist myths.

When exchanges are involuntary, these cause and effect relationships are disrupted. It is no accident that the most heavily regulated and subsidized industries, like education and health care, are the most disproportionately expensive. Heavy regulation artificially limits supply. Forced subsidies artificially expand demand. Both interventions make prices go up. It’s simple economics.

The health care market suffered from both interventions long before Obamacare. Medicare and Medicaid alone make up about a third of all health care spending. Regulation regarding who can dispense care makes medieval guilds look liberal. It’s no mystery why the price of health care is outrageously high.

If the Republican Party is to remain relevant at all, it has to stand for something other than myopic cheap shots over inconsequential issues like the Obamacare website. It has to stand for freedom. If not, it’s time for it to step aside, as its forbears the Whig and Federalist parties did. There just might be a party waiting in the wings that more faithfully represents voters who truly want a more limited government.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

If Congress can defund the 2nd Amendment, it can defund Obamacare

defundobama_s640x427TAMPA, October 28, 2013 – President Obama won a temporary victory in his standoff with House Republicans over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. He signed a continuing resolution to reopen the government without conceding anything on his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. But continuing resolutions are temporary and this issue is far from settled.

Arguments by Democrats and some media that efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional show their lack of understanding of how government actually works. Their claims that because the legislation was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, Congress has a constitutional duty to appropriate funds to execute the law illustrate just how woefully misinformed they are.

Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge and Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained, “Defunding permits to Congress to exercise the discretion it needs in order preserve tax dollars. By requiring yearly budgets and express appropriations, the Constitution expressly permits Congress to decline to pay for any regulatory scheme that it or a prior Congress has established.”

Professor of History and best-selling author Kevin Gutzman, Ph.D, J.D. says that the ability to defund enacted laws goes all of the way back to the Washington administration. Under President George Washington, James Madison proposed defunding part of the Jay Treaty. Moreover, he explains that delegates who ratified the Constitution were specifically told the House would have this power.

“Although virtually all historians miss this point, I note in James Madison and the Making of America that Madison had said during the Virginia Ratification Convention that the House would have this function in the treaty process, because it had this function in implementation of every law: it could refuse to fund it,” said Gutzman.

In fact, Congress defunds enacted laws all the time. Congress has defunded § 925(c) Exceptions: Relief from disabilities every year since 1992, for example. This is a law passed by Congress and signed by the president, just like the Affordable Care Act. The law provides a mechanism for convicted felons who have served their sentences to override the prohibition against convicted felons possessing firearms.

The Exceptions law helps mitigate the federal government’s war on the 2nd Amendment. Current federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony “in any court” to possess firearms (18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The only felonies excepted are offenses pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, restraints of trade, or other similar offenses relating to the regulation of business practices.” (18 U.S.C. § 921(a) (20)(A).

The courts interpret that exception very narrowly. In Dreher v. U.S., 115 F.3d 330 (5th Cir. 1997), The U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit found that a conviction for wire or mail fraud does not fall under the exception. Dreher was found guilty of billing clients for services not rendered. He is ineligible to own a firearm. The exception by no means encompasses all non-violent or even all white collar felonies.

In other words, even Martha Stewart is prohibited for life from owning a gun, due to Congress’ defunding of § 925(c). While it is debatable whether lying to a federal agent when not under oath should be a crime at all, no reasonable person would conclude that it should carry a life sentence. Yet this is effectively the case. It applies to people convicted of “crimes” as innocuous as unlocking their cell phones to accept more than one carrier, downloading copyrighted music, or even, in some states, adultery.

Regardless of one’s political positions on the Affordable Care Act or gun ownership, Congress’ is exercising the same power in defunding the health care law as they do when defunding the reinstatement process for firearm possession. The latter has passed Congress every year for over two decades without public outcry from either Republicans or Democrats, despite § 925(c) having been enacted by Congress and signed by the president.

There is a good argument to be made that persons convicted of non-violent felonies should automatically regain the legal right to possess firearms the minute they are released from custody. As soon as a prisoner is released, he is subjected to all of the dangers from violent criminals that justify anyone’s right to bear arms.

Congress’ defunding of § 925(c) makes that danger permanent, while defunding the Affordable Care Act actually safeguards Americans from a government fine that many still consider unjust, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Liberals are suddenly exasperated that Congress would assert its power over the purse, but the knife cuts both ways. If Congress can defund the 2nd Amendment, it can defund the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Nullification and Secession? Juries can nullify Obamacare and the Drug War with much less drama

TAMPA, December 2, 2012 – For libertarians, the reemergence of ideas like secession and state nullification couldn’t be more welcome. Both are attempts to resist the exercise of arbitrary power, which is power never delegated to the party attempting to exercise it. They should remain the last resort for free people to resist tyranny.

The problem with both remedies is that they provoke confrontation with the federal government. That doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate tools, but they play into the government’s hands. The government loves war and domination. State nullification and secession give the government the opportunity to employ both.

Using the state government to resist unconstitutional federal laws pits one government against another. Ultimately, it can lead to an armed confrontation between state and federal agents, each attempting to enforce their respective laws. For peaceful freedom lovers, it’s an away game.

Secession brings with it even higher stakes. Although secession is not rebellion, as the seceding state is not attempting to overthrow the existing government, the federal government will say it is. History has taught us that enough people will believe it that the government can justify a war. Like nullification, it’s also an away game.

Jury nullification gives us the home court advantage. There is no enemy that the government can fight its war against. There is no opportunity for violence because none of the government’s edicts are technically violated. Its own rules call for “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”

Fine. The trial was held. The defendant was acquitted. Go pound sand.

History supports this argument. When South Carolina’s state government nullified the Tariff of Abominations in the 1830’s, Democratic President Andrew Jackson threatened to invade the state. When the southern states peacefully seceded in the 1860’s, Republican President Abraham Lincoln did invade.

The results have been different for jury nullification. If you’re drinking a beer or enjoying a glass of wine while reading this article, you’re safe from government goons breaking down your door to a large extent because of widespread jury nullification of Prohibition during the 1920’s.

Read the rest of the article…

Romney-Obama debate as competitive as professional wrestling

TAMPA, October 4, 2012 — The early consensus after last night’s debate between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is that it was a win for Romney. That depends upon how you define “win.”

Certainly, Romney came off as more confident in his answers, while the president seemed distracted at times. However, if this was a battle of ideas, then the outcome was about as uncertain as professional wrestling. Anyone who was listening could tell that this wasn’t a real fight. Big government was the predetermined winner the minute that Romney was nominated.

Yes, Romney made a few references to “competition” and “private markets,” as did Obama. But neither of them is interested in giving free markets a try. In that sense, Obama was at least a little more honest, except when he made the ironic statement that “the genius of America is the free enterprise system.”

The first segment concerned the economy and “creating jobs,” something the government has no role in whatsoever in a free market. The only valid government policy to create jobs from a free market perspective is one that stops the government from doing what it’s already doing. Neither man proposed this.

For many decades, the federal government has employed the same ruse in an attempt to centrally plan the economy while at the same time claim it is fostering free enterprise.

Step One: Tax the living daylights out of everybody and everything.

Step Two: Give “targeted tax cuts” to firms in sectors the central planners think should grow.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Obama Romney debate could be a staring contest

TAMPA, July 16, 2012 – Since this is a presidential election year, everyone is focused on the White House. As usual, this election is being hyped as some sort of crossroads in American history: The American electorate will either choose to make an irreversible turn down the road to socialism or conservatives will save the country by electing a Republican president who will restore the American principles of free enterprise and individual responsibility.

It all makes a pretty good story until one attempts to back it up with tangible evidence: Why is Barack Obama a “socialist?” Why is Mitt Romney different?

The first answer you’d get on Obama from most conservatives is Obamacare. That was virtually the single issue for most Tea Party rallies in 2010. Yet Republicans are going to nominate the former governor who pioneered the same program in Massachusetts. If Obamacare makes the president a socialist, then why doesn’t Romneycare make his opponent one also?

Romney answered that question throughout the Republican nomination debates by taking a states rights position. He had signed a healthcare program into law in Massachusetts that was good for that state, but president Obama had been wrong to impose it upon the whole country.

Why the program is socialist when the federal government imposes it nationally but not when the state government imposes it on its millions of citizens is unclear.

However, that point is moot given other facts that came to light following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare. It turns out that despite repeatedly stating that Obama was wrong to impose the healthcare program on the  whole nation, Romney actually told Obama to do exactly that just three years ago.

Oops.

Continue at Washington Times Communities…

Occupy Wall Street talking gibberish about healthcare

TAMPA, July 5 2012 – Thank heaven for the great Steve Zahn, who in his hilarious turn as Lenny in the Beatlesque That Thing You Do, coined a phrase that applies to nearly every political sentiment expressed here in the land of the free.

“You’re talking gibberish.”

Lenny’s prescient warning against calling the band “The One-ders” was ignored, resulting in the band’s name being universally mispronounced, until it was changed to “The Wonders” by the band’s eventual manager.

The lesson? When gibberish is accepted as reason, bad things happen. The stakes are much higher for healthcare.

There are limitless reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare. Unfortunately, those opposed are also talking gibberish. Conservatives are trying to spin the decision as a blow for limited government because it was rendered by a conservative judge. That’s bad enough. Occupy Wall Street’s argument against the decision is even worse.

At least the left’s opposition to the law, where it exists, has remained consistent. True believers in government-provided healthcare object to the Affordable Care Act because it makes use of private insurers. Occupy Wall Street is 100% correct on one thing. “The law will deliver 20+ million new customers and $447 billion in taxpayer subsidies directly to the private health insurance companies.”

Libertarians couldn’t agree more. The Act is nothing more than a half trillion dollar theft for the health insurance industry. That it benefits big business does not make it a “free market” solution. It’s just more welfare, of the corporate variety, that libertarians oppose like any other forcible redistribution of wealth.

The gibberish comes in when Occupy argues for its solution. Proposing “Medicare for All,” a single-payer healthcare system 100% operated by the government, Occupy makes this statement.

“We believe that healthcare is a human right, not a commodity or a luxury for those who can afford it.”

Gibberish. Why? Let’s think for a moment about what this statement really means. To do that, we’re going to have to define the words used in the statement. The first one is “healthcare.”

Continue at Washington Times Communities…

What’s so important about replacing Obama with Romney?

TAMPA, April 25, 2012 – Now that the Republican Party and the media have decided, in quite Orwellian fashion, that Mitt Romney has won the nomination (even though he hasn’t); the party has ramped up its campaign to unite behind the Republican candidate. Regardless of those “minor differences” supporters of other candidates may have had, nothing is more important than defeating Barack Obama in November. There is only one question that no one is asking.

Why?

The first answer provided by many Republicans is “Obama is a socialist.”

I don’t read minds, so I can’t speculate as to what President Obama thinks. He may silently recite Saul Alinsky while he signs executive orders. He may be wearing Karl Marx Underoos when he reads from his teleprompter. I don’t know (and don’t want to know). We can only judge him on what he’s done. So far, he hasn’t done anything substantively more socialist than George W. Bush.

Continue at Communities@Washington Times…