Health Care Reform: Point of No Return?

obama-dictatorAs regular readers are painfully aware, I’ve been opposed to President Obama’s health care reform plan, such as it was, from the beginning.  But, apparently, it’s much worse than I thought.   Economist Thomas Sowell, one of the more thoughtful columnists in the business, sees it as the banana peel on the slippery slope to doomsday.

If the current legislation does not entail the transmission of all our individual medical records to Washington, it will take only an administrative regulation or, at most, an Executive Order of the President, to do that.

With politicians now having not only access to our most confidential records, and having the power of granting or withholding medical care needed to sustain ourselves or our loved ones, how many people will be bold enough to criticize our public servants, who will in fact have become our public masters?

[…]

The ruthless and corrupt way this bill was forced through Congress on a party-line vote, and in defiance of public opinion, provides a road map for how other “historic” changes can be imposed by Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

What will it matter if Obama’s current approval rating is below 50 percent among the current voting public, if he can ram through new legislation to create millions of new voters by granting citizenship to illegal immigrants? That can be enough to make him a two-term President, who can appoint enough Supreme Court justices to rubber-stamp further extensions of his power.

When all these newly minted citizens are rounded up on election night by ethnic organization activists and labor union supporters of the administration, that may be enough to salvage the Democrats’ control of Congress as well.

The last opportunity that current American citizens may have to determine who will control Congress may well be the election in November of this year. Off-year elections don’t usually bring out as many voters as Presidential election years. But the 2010 election may be the last chance to halt the dismantling of America. It can be the point of no return.

I’ve been a fan of Sowell’s going back more than a quarter century, although my current disaggregated information consumption habits mean I’m no longer a regular reader of the column.  But, geez, all this sounds just a wee bit crazy.

I continue to think that the use of reconciliation to get around the fact that Scott Brown was elected was dirty pool.  As recently as last month, a not insignificant number of congressional Democratic leaders thought so, too.   But the fact remains that the Democrats control the White House and both Houses of Congress and got there fair and square, give or take Minnesota.  So it’s not like the passage of this bill was some sort of midnight putsch.

I do have some concerns about granting citizenship to massive numbers of illegal aliens.  Certainly, among other things, it would be politically beneficial to Democrats and could really change the game in the Southwest and elsewhere.  But do I think it’s going to happen by November?  Or even in time for 2012?  It seems a mite far fetched.   Instead, we’re likely to eventually see some sort of amnesty program, along the lines that Ronald Reagan signed in 1986, that puts people on a path to apply for citizenship.

Court packing?  If Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t pull it off, I don’t see how Obama does it.  Hell, I don’t think he’s managed to get his entire subcabinet in place yet.

It does seem that even the normally sane supporters of the out party go into apoplexy on occasion.  There were plenty of conspiracy theories during both George W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s presidency.  And there’s always some variation of the “he did thing X that I don’t like so what’s to stop him from declaring a national emergency and staying in office beyond his term?” scenario.  Strangely, we always seem to return to equilibrium and the system chugs along pretty much as normal.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    I’m more interested in seeing how the various states’ legal challenges go. VA seems to be making its own argument, while 12 other states will be filing jointly.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Hell, I don’t think he’s managed to get his entire subcabinet in place yet.

    Nice of you to gloss over that one. He’s acting like he has six, eight, . . . twenty years to put his government together. Wonder why that is?

  3. I’ve been a fan of Sowell’s going back more than a quarter century, although my current disaggregated information consumption habits mean I’m no longer a regular reader of the column. But, geez, all this sounds just a wee bit crazy.

    Back when (like you) I regularly read specific newspaper columnists, I was a fan of Sowell’s as well. However, I have noted for some years now that he seems more extreme than in the past. I chalk this up to a combo of shifts in my own thinking (as you and I have discussed) but more than anything to the changes in the media landscape in which a lot of writers have simply become more strident and partisan because that is how one maintains readers and attention in the crowded marketplace that has evolved in the last half-decade or so.

  4. Franklin says:

    I also started reading Sowell about 20 years ago. He used to be very, very good at convincing arguments but recently he has gone absolutely off the deep end while offering little in the way of evidence. I take everything he says with a grain of salt now, since every column for the past few years has been the equivalent of the guy on the street corner with “The End Is Near” sign.

    Sorry to attack the source; but like I said, I *used* to respect him. Boy who cried wolf and all that.

  5. Franklin says:

    I see Mr. Taylor has observed the same phenomenon (didn’t see his post before I wrote mine). Guess I’m not quite as crazy as I thought.

  6. Steve B says:

    It’s probably not so much a question of Obama staging some junta, but rather, developing a slash and burn approach to jam through as much of his agenda before his four years are up.

    The ends justify the means, after all.

  7. john personna says:

    It’s funny that the fears and fantasies go in such a different direction than reality. Obama’s first year have proven the power of corporate America, not of socialist aparatchiks.

    We got the bailouts that Wall Street would allow, we got the health care that would pass insurance company review.

    Remember your “Bush’s 3rd term” meme? The common factor wasn’t a Bush philosophy, shared by the new President. It was that each faced powerful entrenched interests.

    (I understand Chelsea Clinton is engaged to a Goldman Sachs guy … moving up in the world.)

  8. john personna says:

    It’s probably not so much a question of Obama staging some junta, but rather, developing a slash and burn approach to jam through as much of his agenda before his four years are up.

    The ends justify the means, after all.

    You may recall that GWB was elected on a 50:50 split, gave one speech about governing for all the people, and then shifted (with his Republican congress) to push through the most con-centrist agenda seen in decades.

    The shoe may be on the other foot … but in terms of actual legislation passed, we are no where near the old GWB days, in terms of restructuring American government.

    Look how meek financial reforms are looking right now. This not a socialist overhaul. This is an affirmation of .. as I say, Goldman Sachs.

  9. Eric Florack says:

    You may recall that GWB was elected on a 50:50 split, gave one speech about governing for all the people, and then shifted (with his Republican congress) to push through the most con-centrist agenda seen in decades.

    Actually, no, I don’t.
    For all the futile attempts to label Bush as the new Hitler, what I and most Americans remember is that the man was and remains a centrist… liberal to the point where in majority the policy differences between himself and Bill Clinton… the man who ran on triangulating the political center, were nigh on impossible to mark.

  10. john personna says:

    What, you think by saying “Hilter” you can drag the discussion off to the gutter?

    Check out the graph about half-way down this page.

    GWB is positioned as the furthest Authoratarian-Right of any of the recent world leaders.

    We know it’s true. Think how dismissive people like you are of Nixon’s Republicanism. Health Care from the Republicans? In fantasy-land it is impossible. In reality, it happened.

  11. Eric Florack says:

    What, you think by saying “Hilter” you can drag the discussion off to the gutter?

    Apparently those holding the “Bush as Hitler” posters did. (chuckle)

    Think how dismissive people like you are of Nixon’s Republicanism

    LOL… You’re kidding, right?
    Nixon was among the most liberal of his day. Which explains for example, the wage and price controls he tried to insert.

  12. PD Shaw says:

    Very scientific chart, odograph. Did they include Bush’s prescription drug benefit, No Child Left Behind, and McCain-Feingold, or did Bush forget to fill out the questioneer, so Cheney did it?

  13. Eric Florack says:

    PD: They need a boogie man, ya see

  14. Herb says:

    Apparently those holding the “Bush as Hitler” posters did.

    What does that have to do with….anything?

    I know, I know. You’re so offended by “Bush is Hitler” signs of the past that you went out and made your own “Obama is Hitler” sign because, well, payback is a bitch. Such is life on the schoolyard.

  15. Eric Florack says:

    I did?
    I was wrong about you. You do ahve a very active imagination after all.

  16. grampagravy says:

    I am laughing…go here to read Reagan’s dire predictions for Medicare.
    Somehow or other creating a system for helping the disadvantaged or unlucky stay alive is always a boogey man to those who would rather live in a “one against all” world.

  17. john personna says:

    Do you guys have any data? Do you have any study showing the GWB administration was not the most right in the last, say, 50 years?

    I understand that squawking in response to data, and squawking without data is the norm for you, but really give it a try. Dig something up.

    (Or try some more petty name digs, I don’t care.)

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Hell, I don’t think he’s managed to get his entire subcabinet in place yet.

    I’m sure that Republican filibusters and holds have absolutely nothing to do with that…

    They need a boogie man, ya see

    As do you, and people like you, considering what you have told us about the president…

  19. Eric Florack says:

    Amusing, AIP, except I’ll bet this will silence you:

    Tell me what I’ve said about Obama that wasn’t true. Be sure to use fact to back your claim.

  20. Mercer says:

    I admire Sowell’s early work when he criticized affirmative action. These days he writes mainly mindless right wing columns that are anything but thoughtful.

    People on Medicare-which is a large percentage of tea party protesters-already have medical records with the government.

    He says in his column about the healthcare law that:

    “this massive legislation was rammed through Congress, without any of the committee hearings or extended debates”

    Has he been in a coma the last year? What legislation has been through more hearings or debates?

    It will be take a miracle harder for Obama to get an immigration bill through Congress this year.

    Business will not support any immigration bill that does not include large numbers guest workers. They would really like a bill like Bush proposed in 2004 that had unlimited guest workers so they can have a labor force they can treat like crap who have no chance of becoming citizens like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have.

    The unions are opposed to immigrant workers who can not become citizens and join unions. When the GOP was in charge of Congress the unions could be ignored. With the Dems in charge the unions wishes can not be ignored. It would be extremely difficult to get a bill that satisfies both the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO on this issue.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    Tell me what I’ve said about Obama that wasn’t true. Be sure to use fact to back your claim.

    Not a problem, dear…you’ve claimed he’s a socialist…would you care to retract that absurdly untrue claim?

  22. Eric Florack says:

    Ummm No, I will not because what I said is true.

    Obama stated in his book that he “deliberately surrounded myself with the most radical Marxist and socialist people I could find.”

    He’s done the same in his administration.

    Now, why did he do that, do you suppose? Because he wanted a good argument? Or because those are his beliefs?

  23. An Interested Party says:

    Ummm No, I will not because what I said is true.

    Only to you and people like you…as was mentioned earlier, bogeymen and such…

    Obama stated in his book that he “deliberately surrounded myself with the most radical Marxist and socialist people I could find.”

    Citation, please…oh, and apart from Van Jones, who are all these alleged Marxists and socialists in the Obama Administration?

  24. eric florack says:

    What, you mean you’ve not read Obama’s autobiography?

  25. anirprof says:

    I’m intrigued by James’ claim that the process used to get HCR through is illegitimate.

    Keep in mind, all that has happened in the last couple of days is that the House passed the very same bill that the Senate passed by a 60-vote supermajority, and the President signed it. That’s bog-standard, right out of “I’m Just A Bill” for those who remember Schoolhouse Rock. Tell me what’s wrong with _that_ process?

    Reconcilliation is being used for a limited set of amendments to the original Senate bill. You could argue those fixes are illegitimate, but overall they are a small piece of the package and this certainly won’t be the first time reconcilliation has been used for substantive legislation. Let’s not forget that the current Senate parliamentarian got his job when the GOP fired the old one 10 years ago because *they* wanted to push some stuff through via reconcilliation and the prior parliamentarian said what they wanted to do violated the Byrd rule. There’s nothing uprecedented here.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    There’s nothing uprecedented here.

    Not even Republican/conservative outrage at those dastardly Democrats? 🙂

  27. Michael says:

    For all the futile attempts to label Bush as the new Hitler, what I and most Americans remember is that the man was and remains a centrist… liberal to the point where in majority the policy differences between himself and Bill Clinton… the man who ran on triangulating the political center, were nigh on impossible to mark.

    It depends on the policy. Fiscally, yes, Bush was more centrist. Socially he drifted between centrist and conservative, depending on whether the topic involved homosexuality or abortion in some way. In Foreign Policy he was nothing but conservative, and in the aftermath of the 9/11 he was hyper-conservative on all matters of defense (foreign and domestic).

    Being left-leaning myself, I certainly wouldn’t call him a centrist. But on most policy issues, he wasn’t too terribly far off on the right.

    Now, why did he do that, do you suppose? Because he wanted a good argument? Or because those are his beliefs?

    Given the number of liberals that frequent the comments section of OTB on a regular basis, it’s very hard for you to make an argument that voluntary association implies agreement.

  28. Michael says:

    I’m intrigued by James’ claim that the process used to get HCR through is illegitimate.

    Actually he claimed just the opposite. Just because he thought it was “dirty pool”, doesn’t mean he thought it was illegitimate. He called them unsportsmanlike, not cheaters.

  29. Eric Florack says:

    Citation, please…oh, and apart from Van Jones, who are all these alleged Marxists and socialists in the Obama Administration?

    From various sources….

    John Holdren, science czar, advocates for population control using the most extreme measures, such as mandating the number of children Americans can have. He is also a proponent of ‘de-developing’ the United States, sending its agricultural practices and technology back to the 19th century. Holdren has also suggested that infants and chronically ill elderly do not fit his definition of ‘human,’ and therefore can be expendable.

    Cass Sunstein, regulatory czar and Harvard law professor, believes that animals should have the right to legal representation. If you try to get rid of rats in your home, a ‘concerned citizen’ could bring a lawsuit, with the rat as the plaintiff, to sue you for endangering a species. He also believes that if bloggers post something that turns out to be false, they should be prosecuted. In short, Sunstein is a Leftwing moonbat with Fascist leanings. Remember, Obama said to judge him by the people around him.

    Ezekiel Emanuel, healthcare czar, believes in using cost-benefit and comparative-benefit analysis to allocate healthcare resources. This means the fewer years you have left to live, the less cost-effective it is to treat you. Thus, most of those resources should be diverted from the elderly to younger people. This is the ‘rationing’ portion of ObamaCare that many of us have warned about. And this will be done even without the so-called ‘public option,’ which is not really what the debate about government control of healthcare is about in the first place. Even without the public option, the provision for rationing is inherent in the provisions of the bill, thanks to advisers such as Emanuel.

    Van Jones, green jobs czar, is perhaps the most extremist of the extreme in the entire lot. As a self-avowed, self-identified Communist, Jones abhors liberty, the Constitution, the American way of life, and seeks to change it from top to bottom. Here is more on Van Jones.

    Mark Loyd, FCC ‘diversity czar,’ supports Communist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and believes that what Chavez did to squelch free speech in the media and seize the means of communication is a good model for the United States. His plan is to silence conservative talk radio by forcing ownership to change hands to minorities and by implementing a fee structure for licensing that will put most private broadcasters out of business. At that point, Loyd would make PBS, or NPR on the radio, the most powerful forces in broadcasting–controlled by the government, of course.

    A few more names…

    Robert McChesney, a friend of Mark Lloyd and Van Jones.

    McChesney is involved with the bunch looking to silence any non-Marxist voices using things like the Orwellian “Fairness Doctrine” and anything remotely similar. He is the former editor of Monthly Review, a publication which McChesney says is one of the most important Marxist publications in the world. The publication even calls itself “An independent socialist magazine.”

    According to Beck, McChesney is a Chavez-lover who got so torqued that a few slivers of truth about Chavez got out, he said the TV station that disparaged the Glorious Leader of Venezuela should be tried for treason.

    He also said

    any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist political economy.

    Hmmm. I think it’s safe to glean from this statement that he doesn’t like capitalism very much.

    Also McChesney said

    There is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles.

    McChesney is also the president and co-founder of Free Press. This group worked with Obama during his campaign to help Obama develop his “tech policies”…like the ones McChesney thinks need more anti-capitalist regulation and “cleaning up.”

    Free Press has been working with the FCC on coming up with new policies to silence conservatives and capitalists for internet regulations.

    Jeremiah Wright

    OPen faced Marxists, both. And of course Obama sat in the pews of Wright’s chuch and never knew what a flaming racist this guy is, right? And of course quotes from Wright like:

    “You dispel all the negative images we have been programmed to conjure up with just the mention of that word socialism or Marxism.”

    We’re not supposed to take that serously or thing tha the man who calls Wright his mentor, would ever actually be supporting marxism himself, right?

    Then we have Anita Dunn who is a a close personal friend and communications director for Obama, who told a group of high school students that one of her favorite philosophers was Mao. Well, there you go.

    Thus endeth the lesson.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    Some “lesson”, drawn from a variety of dubious right-wing sources…forgive me if I don’t take you or your sources seriously…thus endeth the yawn…

  31. Eric Florack says:

    Have any of these been disproven, AIP?
    Or are you simply scrambling for cover?

  32. Eric Florack says:

    Given the number of liberals that frequent the comments section of OTB on a regular basis, it’s very hard for you to make an argument that voluntary association implies agreement.

    But commentators here, are not in positions of power in James’ administration. A major difference

  33. An Interested Party says:

    Have any of these been disproven, AIP?

    The onus is on these people to prove the allegations they are making, not for anyone else to disprove these allegations…

  34. Eric Florack says:

    Funny how it didn’t seem to work that way for Bush, huh?