Monday, April 30, 2012
When erstwhile administration ally Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg describes the president's signature initiative as needing either "a wrecking operation … or a salvage job" by the Court, and Justice Antonin Scalia ventures that merely having to read the health reform law would violate the Constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishment," Obamacare seems poised to perish.
While commentator Jonah Goldberg rightly argues for a conservative, originalist respect by the Court for the Constitution and Congress, the landmark case should also pave the way for a more conservative, measured approach by Congress.
Congress should refocus on carefully and systematically enacting pragmatic and popular solutions. Ramp up competition and tamp down costs by allowing consumers to purchase insurance beyond state borders, as with car insurance. Provide fiscally sustainable safety nets for the poor and high-risk pools for patients caught in financially crippling health crises. Focus on cutting rampant fraud and waste in Medicare while providing reasonable reimbursement rates to enable physicians to treat Medicare patients.
A systematic, pragmatic approach to health care reform and patient access also means stanching the hemorrhage of physicians from medicine, by enacting reasonable malpractice reform and protecting the conscience rights of physicians who follow the life-affirming principles of the Hippocratic oath.
The Jacobinic health care revolution based on radical ideology and rammed through Congress with backroom deals, deceptive accounting schemes and kickbacks has failed. Now Congress should democratically enact popular, prudent and pragmatic health care reform.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Deploying the logic that led to the demise of the health-care reform schemes of his former Clinton clients, political adviser Mark Penn suggests if the Supreme Court cans Obamacare, the president could spin the decision as political, incentivize states to adopt the individual mandate the Court considered unconstitutional and use the defeat to "actually move him closer to reelection."
Like the president, Mr. Penn ignores the plain fact that Americans hate government mandates.
Most Americans reject the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance because it violates our fundamental notions of individual choice and free enterprise. Many Americans likewise disapprove the Obamacare mandate to force even religious objectors to subsidize controversial contraceptives--a coercion incongruously defended under the guise of increasing access to a ubiquitous product that the president says 99 percent of women already use.
Since the administration and its ideological allies apparently have no contingency plan for replacing Obamacare, Congress finally should come together to craft a pragmatic and measured approach to health care reform that doesn't involve taking over the world.
Assuming the Court declares Obamacare unconstitutional, cooler heads in Congress can focus on those reforms most likely to garner enough bipartisan agreement for passage. Start by ramping up tracking and enforcement programs to cut Medicare fraud and waste. Provide compassionate, fiscally sustainable safety nets for the most needy, such as indigent patients and those caught in health care crises not covered by insurance. Tamp down costs by increasing competition and allowing patients to purchase insurance plans beyond state borders, as with car insurance. Stanch the hemorrhage of doctors from medicine by reasonably reforming malpractice lawsuits, slashing paperwork and bureaucratic meddling, and clarifying First Amendment conscience protections for health care professionals.
The jacobinic health care revolution has failed. It is time now to reform health care democratically with careful, considerate compromise on the pragmatic principles that most Americans support.
Beyond politics, the world outside the Church sometimes seems incapable of appreciating faith, grace and a life changed by Christ--probably because the admission of this reality would challenge assumptions of a godless existence in which man is master.
Michael Gerson writes a fitting tribute, excerpted below, to a changed man who exchanged hubris for humility:
Charles W. Colson — who spent seven months in prison for Watergate-era offenses and became one of the most influential social reformers of the 20th century — was the most thoroughly converted person I’ve ever known.Read full commentary
Following Chuck’s recent death, the news media — with short attention spans but long memories — have focused on the Watergate portion of his career. They preserve the image of a public figure at the moment when the public glare was harshest — a picture taken when the flash bulbs popped in 1974.
...Chuck’s swift journey from the White House to a penitentiary ended a life of accomplishment — only to begin a life of significance. The two are not always the same. The destruction of Chuck’s career freed up his skills for a calling he would not have chosen, providing fulfillment beyond his ambitions. I often heard him quote Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and mean it: “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life.”
...It is a strange feeling to lose a mentor — a sensation of being old and small and exposed outside his shade. Chuck’s irrational confidence in my 21-year-old self felt a little like grace itself. The scale of his life — a broad arc from politics to prison to humanitarian achievement — is also the scale of his absence. But no one was better prepared for death. No one more confident in the resurrection — having experienced it once already. So my grief at Chuck’s passing comes tempered — because he was Lazarus, and he lives.
Friday, April 20, 2012
"It's a choice between a wrecking operation…or a salvage job" (see USA Today, "Despite thrust and parry, law not dead yet"). When Democrat-appointed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg evaluates a Democrat president's signature initiative like that, you know the health care law is hopelessly flawed.
Assuming the Court rejects the partisan ideological overreach as unconstitutional, it will be time for Congress to come together on mutually acceptable principles and begin to carefully craft pragmatic, measured reforms rather than wholesale ideological government takeovers of medicine. Cooler heads can prevail and pass reasonable reform by providing compassionate, fiscally sound safety net provisions for the poor and those caught in health crises; by increasing competition, allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines; by rooting out budget-busting corruption and Medicare fraud; and by reforming malpractice, cutting paperwork and providing conscience protections to stem the hemorrhage of physicians from medicine.
In a bipartisan, measured approach, no one will get everything they want. And that will be a good thing.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
In an ostensibly conciliatory commentary about the need to transcend "partisan divisiveness" and "incivility," Tom Krattenmaker tars conservative Christians engaged in the public square as "evangelical kingmakers," "mean-spirited, truth demolishing," "partisan hacks" who are "fixated on politics." (By significant contrast, an abortion lobbyist is a "fighter for women's reproductive rights.")
Mr. Krattenmaker rightly advocates that even in the barroom-brawl world of politics, Christians should remain Christ-like: charitable, humble, temperate, truthful, forgiving. Yet the Prince of Peace also intriguingly proclaimed that He "did not come to bring peace, but a sword."
Political and faith leaders throughout history such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have fought for social justice and mercy by wielding a sharp-edged separation of good and evil, a clear exposition of truth versus deception. The policy stances our nation takes on issues like abortion, human trafficking, assisted suicide and war accommodate no middle ground or prevarication; such policies lead to either life or death, freedom or slavery for millions of individuals.
Civility in dialogue, yes. Compromise on principle, no.