Daily Archives: April 23, 2010

Constitutionality of Federal Requirement to Buy Private Insurance

A Facebook friend, Tangelia Sinclair-Moore, posted, on her Facebook page, this rephrasing of an idea from a Baltimore Sun letter to the editor :

WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE? The Medicare Part D enacted by the Bush administration REQUIRES all individuals who enroll for Medicare benefits to buy prescription insurance from private, for-profit insurance companies. Individuals who do not purchase a Part D insurance plan and who do not have other prescription insurance MUST pay a one-time PENALTY as well as increased monthly premiums once they do enroll in Part D.

I read the full letter after I wrote my comments below.  The author of that letter does an even better job of making the point than I did.

I am surprised that this fact had not occurred to me when I was reading about how all these Governors and State Attorney’s General are going to take the Health Care Reform bill to the Supreme Court because they believe it is unconstitutional for the federal government to require citizens to buy private health insurance.

I wonder if they have thought of the ramifications for George Bush’s legacy if they win their argument.

Clinton’s Contrition

Follow this link to the opinion piece by David Sirota.

Discussing his administration’s trade policy, Clinton admitted that it “has not worked” to alleviate poverty, as promised.

At first I thought that Sirota was going a little overboard in his criticism of Clinton’s policies.  On a second reading, I see that when he gets to specifics, it is not a blanket condemnation. He does highlight specific aspects of those policies that were wrong.

This goes to exactly my criticism of how Hillary Clinton conducted her campaign for the President. Her blanket admission of the failures of some of Bill Clinton’s policies didn’t seem to me to show an understanding of exactly what went wrong and what was still right about what he did.

I think the testimony of Bill Clinton and Bill Gates before Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about Global Health contains some of the contrition that David Sirota discusses in his article.

At about 35:46 into the testimony, Bill Clinton starts discussing the mistakes he made while President in agricultural policy as it affects poor countries.  Katie Couric did a report on CBS Nightly News that described how our continued failure to learn from Clinton’s mistakes is harming Haiti as we try to help them.

And another thing.  I always wondered how we could be in Iraq after winning the war, be faced with the problem of massive unemployment among the Iraqis, and yet pay $100,000 to Blackwater employees to do the work the Iraqis could do.  We could have employed Iraqis, kept them out of the clutches of the insurgents, and saved money.

What is it that prevents us from doing the obvious and most effective thing that also accomplishes multiple goals?

As Bill Clinton describes, we could solve the problems in Haiti by buying food from the local farmers and distributing it to the hungry. This would let us avoid the choice of removing our aid and forcing people into starvation so we don’t do further damage to Haiti’s long term interests.  Instead we ship in food from outside the country and put the local farmers out of work.  The easy solution is cheaper and accomplishes multiple goals.  Yet we do the more complicated job of shipping in food from around the world at greater expense and end up defeating our own purpose.  How perverse.