- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Sorry, Russell Kirk

… but conservatism is all about ideology after all. That’s what I gather by reading on National Review the House GOP’s demands [1] in exchange for not shutting down the government. Check this:

  • One Year Debt Limit Increase
    • Not a dollar amount increase, but suspending the debt limit until the end of December 2014.
      • Similar to what we did earlier this year.
    • Want the year long to align with the year delay of Obamacare.
  • One Year Obamacare delay
  • Tax Reform Instructions
    • Similar to a bill we passed last fall, laying out broad from Ryan Budget principles for what tax reform should look like.
    • Gives fast track authority for tax reform legislation
  • Energy and regulatory reforms to promote economic growth
    • Includes pretty much every jobs bill we have passed this year and last Congress
    • All of these policies have important positive economic effects.
    • Energy provisions
      • Keystone Pipeline
      • Coal Ash regulations
      • Offshore drilling
      • Energy production on federal lands
      • EPA Carbon regulations
    • Regulatory reform
      • REINS Act
      • Regulatory process reform
      • Consent decree reform
      • Blocking Net Neutrality
  • Mandatory Spending Reforms
    • Mostly from the sequester replacement bills we passed last year
    • Federal Employee retirement reform
    • Ending the Dodd Frank bailout fund
    • Transitioning CFPB funding to Appropriations
    • Child Tax Credit Reform to prevent fraud
    • Repealing the Social Services Block grant
  • Health Spending Reforms
    • Means testing Medicare
    • Repealing a Medicaid Provider tax gimmick
    • Tort reform
    • Altering Disproportion Share Hospitals
    • Repealing the Public Health trust Fund

Hey, I agree with a lot of this! But they are threatening to shut down the US government unless they get this Santa Claus wish list? Hell, why don’t they just demand that the president offer himself up as Putin’s prison bride while they’re at it? I don’t get this at all. It’s like a cartoon.

So, we are getting in our mailbox these days literature from Republican candidates for Congress in my district’s special election. Given the demographics here, the Republican will probably win. Know what the big issues facing America are, according to these Republicans? Repealing Obamacare, fighting Big Government, and sticking it to The Liberals Who Run Washington.


91 Comments (Open | Close)

91 Comments To "Sorry, Russell Kirk"

#1 Comment By Ann Olivier On September 27, 2013 @ 1:27 am

The Beltway Brats say they’re doing this because of the deficit. But the deficit is already diminishing faster than expected.

What this shows is a fundamental disrespect for the Constitutionally established legislative process. I say recall them all.

#2 Comment By Tran On September 27, 2013 @ 2:15 am

Perhaps the Democrats could counter with demands of their own to not shut down the government. Single-payer health care, stricter gun laws, national gay marriage, uniform national election standards, etc.

Then they can negotiate who gets what part of their demands.

But presenting this outlandish demands for something that must be done anyway is outrageous. The government must be funded, why can one party make demands for simply doing their job?

#3 Comment By Public Defender On September 27, 2013 @ 5:31 am

How many people caught Ted Cruz’s Nazi analogy? It’s as if he thinks Hitler’s crime was “forcing” the Jews of Europe to buy health insurance.

#4 Comment By Northern observer On September 27, 2013 @ 6:59 am

What commenters are failing to appreciate is that this negotiation for the payment of legislation AFTER the bill had been passed by both houses and signed by the President is an innovation and most likely an unconstitutional innovation. Up until Newt did it, it was unheard of, Nixon, carter, Kennedy, etc.. Never had to face this. Why is it legitimate now? Probably because the republicans control the House.
The upshot is that because it is a constitutional innovation president Obama will not negotiate in principle. He did in 2011 but that was before he understood the issue. He gets what is going on now.

#5 Comment By Northern observer On September 27, 2013 @ 7:02 am

In many ways a coup d’état without the bullets.

#6 Comment By MikeS On September 27, 2013 @ 7:16 am

It strikes me that they have decided to basically re-fight the Civil War. It is almost that level of recklessness and assault on the Federal Government.

#7 Comment By Mr. Patrick On September 27, 2013 @ 7:59 am

Elite CommInc:
“Ah yes, the evilenergy lobby. So greedy they actuallybelive they can reduce foreign (ME) oil dependence and give US citizens work”

They’re willing to give American production a try ever since they proved unable to handle the oil province they demanded we conquer for them.

#8 Comment By Judith On September 27, 2013 @ 8:10 am

“I remember when the counterculture was the wild-eyed, impractical, ideological child up against the practical, business-like establishment.”

I’m with ya there Myron. I never knew Goldwater could look so good. Sure wish the only thing we had to fear were a few planned vacations in Florida being derailed by hijackers on their way to Cuba.

#9 Comment By CatholicConvert On September 27, 2013 @ 8:55 am

Let’s see: both parties admit that Obamacare will be a “train wreck” as implemented (as do its union proponents), Obamacare is already demonstrably and significantly impacting employment in the country, if implemented (and even if later repealed) the health insurance of millions will have been irrevocably changed by Obamacare, and Obamacare is massive (deeply inserting the fed gov’t into 1/6 of the economy).

If this isn’t an issue over which to shut down the government, then it is difficult to think of one that would be.

Defund Obamacare now. #MakeDCListen

#10 Comment By Matt On September 27, 2013 @ 9:21 am

The US won’t default on the debt. In order to do so, it would have to not pay the interest on the debt. Given that this is covered by tax revenues, the government would have to make a conscious choice to default in the absence of borrowing, and I’m not even sure they could do it then; interest payments might be earmarked before discretionary spending.

So it’s all just for bored and useless politicians to make themselves look important. It remains to be seen whether Obama would actually purposely default, assuming he had the power to do so, which he probably doesn’t. Actually it doesn’t matter, because the debt ceiling will be raised just like the last two times.

The debt ceiling showdown is a threat to deny the government borrowing authority to meet its bills, bills that government is already mandated, by law to pay.

The debt ceiling is mandatory as well…what did you think, that it was just a suggestion? Congress has the authority to raise the debt ceiling, which means they have the authority not to. If the government couldn’t borrow to pay the bills, they might have to, unbelievably I know, prioritize spending and just not pay some things. I suggest starting with Planned Parenthood.

#11 Comment By Roger II On September 27, 2013 @ 9:32 am

Siarlys is absolutely right about the minority of the minority. Under the “Hastert Rule,” Boehner won’t let any legislation come to a vote in the House unless a majority of Republicans support it. So a relatively small number of super-conservatives may well put the country into default, even though there is clearly a majority of House members (more “moderate” Republicans and Democrats) who would support an increase in the debt ceiling. And then the Republicans wonder why they will get the blame if the US defaults or the government shuts down.

#12 Comment By Essayist-Lawyer On September 27, 2013 @ 11:40 am

Several things, Matt.

For one thing, you are right, refusal to raise the debt ceiling is mandatory. In other words, it means commanding government to spend money and then forbidding it from using necessary credit to do so. Two laws that contradict each other, IOW.

Second, you are all for prioritizing spending, starting with Planned Parenthood. Hot news flash. If it comes to that, YOU will not be the one prioritizing. Obama will. Draw up your favorite nightmare scenario.

Finally, you and other Republicans say there is no danger of default, government only has to prioritize bond holders. Granted, that will avoid a financial crisis resulting from defaulting on bonds. But government will default on payments to others it owes money. People like federaly employees (hurray!), including military personnel (maybe not so good), prison guards (uh oh) and the border patrol (shudder!). People like federal contractors (including defense contractors), doctors receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments, nursing homes receiving Medicaid to take care of granny, veteran’s benefits, Social Security recipients, etc. Maybe you would be okay with all this. But take my word for it, the general public, including large sections of the Republican base, will not.

#13 Comment By Mr. Patrick On September 27, 2013 @ 11:52 am

Catholic Convert:
“Obamacare is massive (deeply inserting the fed gov’t into 1/6 of the economy”

Right, half of healthcare spending already comes from Government, so spreading the fund and the care around would be deep insertion. Also, because 1/6 of the economy would be directly affected, the important thing is to obliterate the remaining 5/6.

Do any of you people work for a living??

#14 Comment By Gretchen On September 27, 2013 @ 11:55 am

@CatholicConvert: both sides don’t agree that Obamacare “will” be a trainwreck. In fact large parts of Obamacare have been in effect for the last couple of years, and are quite popular. Examples: Young people 25 and under have been able to stay on their parent’s insurance, rather than getting kicked off at 18 or 21 as was usual before. Obamacare. My son, and many others, got refund checks from their health insurers, who used to only pay 65% of premiums for healthcare and kept the rest as profit. Now they have to spend 80%, and last year had to refund the difference. Obamacare. My son recently got a vaccination, and it was covered 100%. He was shocked, since his lousy individual-market insurance never pays for anything. Preventive care is now covered 100%. Obamacare. One of my employees recently had a baby, and wanted time and a private space to pump milk for her baby on breaks. We would have provided it out of the goodness of our hearts, but less caring employers now have to provide it too. Obamacare. All of this has been in place for a couple of years now. Has the world imploded? I know, the death panels haven’t kicked in yet, so who knows how it will all shake out?
The last piece of the puzzle happens next week, when the exchanges open, and we can compare health insurance plans head to head, instead of having to call multiple agents and take their word for what they’re offering. Please tell me how consumers having accurate information and laws requring fair treatment is going to nuke the economy. Remember, large parts of this law have been in place for a couple of years now, and the people it has impacted have been very happy with it. The problem is, a lot of those people don’t know that they’re interacting with Obamacare. They just think the insurance industry has gotten nice. As if.
The frantic opposition to the last piece of the puzzle is because of the realization that once this is in place, it will be popular. The President spoke yesterday about health care, and he predicted that when this is all up and running, and proves to be very popular, it will no longer be called “Obamacare”. Sadly, I think he’s right.

#15 Comment By Gretchen On September 27, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

Oh, and large parts of Obamacare, including the exchanges, which seem to the the proximal cause of this freakout, have dedicated funding. That funding will not be affected, at all, by a government default. What will be affected will be things like paying the troops and Social Security.

#16 Comment By Matt On September 27, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

If it comes to that, YOU will not be the one prioritizing. Obama will.

Would it be Obama? I thought it would be Treasury bureaucrats. Which, granted, might amount to the same thing. But my only point there was that there is all kinds of nonessential spending that could be cut were we ever to say “no more debt”

But take my word for it, the general public, including large sections of the Republican base, will not.

No argument there, but the idea that running up against the debt ceiling implies a default, which can only happen if the government no longer paid the interest on the debt, is something that is repeated way too often. If all departments taking a 3% haircut is the end result, then that’s what the Democrats should say to argue against not raising the ceiling. I get that default sounds scarier, but can’t they be honest about anything?

And FWIW, were I dictator I would either remove the debt ceiling entirely or change it to a non-binding warning condition.

#17 Comment By stef On September 27, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

@Matt: “I suggest starting with Planned Parenthood.”

So I am sure you would like to pay 5X more in federal funding for all the Medicaid babies that would result.

#18 Comment By Tyro On September 27, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

I think the political argument/strategy being made here is that if the American people are so against this sort of thing, then they can just elect a Republican president, next time.

Americans are against a dysfunctional washington, washington dysfunction exists because the president will not implement a republican agenda. Therefore, the American people should elect a president that will implement that agenda. QED.

Yes, defaulting on the debt will result in some economic and constitutional pain and suffering, but it’s the public’s own fault. They must have known what they were getting themselves into by re electing the Muslim Kenyan usurper. They’ll know better for next time, when they can elect a “uniter, not a divider.”

#19 Comment By Blairburton On September 27, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

@Gretchen: I know, the death panels haven’t kicked in yet, so who knows how it will all shake out?

No, the death panels have been around for years, but they are run by insurance companies and hospital bean counters, not the eeevil gov’ment. I know; I was summoned before one in 2001 when my mother lay dying.

#20 Comment By theOtherWill On September 27, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

fact large parts of Obamacare have been in effect for the last couple of years,

Indeed. Romneycare was enacted in Massachusetts in 2006, and it’s been very successful.

Here’s the real reason Democrats will fight so hard for Obamacare. Liberals really wanted a Socialized Medicine-National Health Service ala England, or Single Payer Healthcare ala Canada. Romney and the Heritage Foundation said “We’ve got a better idea, based on the free market and conservative principles: keep for-profit healthcare, mandate coverage to fix the free-rider problem, and let market forces control cost.” It wasn’t liberals first (or even second) choice, but it did get to universal coverage, so they went along in the spirit of compromise and bipartisanship.

In return, the GOP responded with cries of “Death Panels”, “Nazism”, “Socialized Medicine (as if!)” and defaulting on the National debt. So burned once, the Democrats attitude is a big F U.

#21 Comment By Franklin Evans On September 27, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Please tell me how consumers having accurate information and laws requring fair treatment is going to nuke the economy.

Gretchen, as a former insurance professional (administration and regulatory compliance) and current financial professional (systems and software) I can tell you quite seriously (despite my usual cynical tone) that the answer to your query is very simple: The target at risk is not the “economy” but the profit margins of corporations in and around the health care delivery industry.

The just can’t sell it that way to hoi polloi. They have to misdirect, redirect and occasionally create outright lies. They fit hand-to-glove with the politicians on this, and no one put it better than Aaron Sorkin:

“He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.”

The American President, by Aaron Sorkin

“… and maintain exorbitant profits for yourselves and your investors…” would be the only thing I’d need to add in this thread’s context.

Personal disclosure: I am of the emphatic belief that all for-profit approaches to health care delivery are immoral bordering on (and sometimes overlapping) criminal.

#22 Comment By Essayist-Lawyer On September 27, 2013 @ 1:36 pm


A 3% haircut could be tolerated. We are facing a 32% haircut, i.e., everyone’s check comes up 32% short except the bondholders. I think that would cause a major freakout.

#23 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 27, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

I see Sister Elizabeth has offered herself as the perfect straw man (or woman). She exemplifies the thinking Rod has rightly characterized as crazy — although in her objectives, she and Rod probably agree for the most part. The means still matter, as much as the ends, and some laws should only be adopted if people are by and large willing to abide by them. Remember Prohibition? Cary Nation wasn’t wrong about demon rum, but she didn’t carry public opinion on the subject.

#24 Comment By Gretchen On September 27, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

@Blairburton: exactly. The folks who are saying they don’t want government coming between us and our doctors, won’t admit that the insurance companies already come between us and our doctors, and it’s not a benevolent interaction. I’m very sorry you had to experience that with your mother. If only we could have a medical system whose main goal is what’s best for patients, rather than what will cost least or profit most.

#25 Comment By Mr. Patrick On September 27, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

“I get that default sounds scarier, but can’t they be honest about anything?”

Against people who are demanding the approval of Keystone XL and removal of carbon emission restrictions because, “the deficit”?

#26 Comment By Essayist-Lawyer On September 27, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

I will add the point that Jack Lew keeps making. Why assume that defaulting on our obligations to bondholders is all that matters. Yes, granted, only bondholders can precipitate a financial crisis, and for that reason they will no doubt get top priority. But imposing a 32% haircut on, say, veteran’s benefits or Social Security checks is also a default on our legal and moral obligations, or at least a partial default. Bondholders have the most economic muscle, but that doesn’t mean that defaulting on other obligations is not a default.

#27 Comment By Aegis On September 27, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

“I will add the point that Jack Lew keeps making. Why assume that defaulting on our obligations to bondholders is all that matters. Yes, granted, only bondholders can precipitate a financial crisis, and for that reason they will no doubt get top priority. But imposing a 32% haircut on, say, veteran’s benefits or Social Security checks is also a default on our legal and moral obligations, or at least a partial default. Bondholders have the most economic muscle, but that doesn’t mean that defaulting on other obligations is not a default.”

To add to Essayist-Lawyer’s point, put yourself in the shoes of a creditor, Matt.

What happens to your risk of default calculation when you see that your debtor is welching on debts–other than their debt to you–left and right? I submit that it has to increase your concern that the debtor might default on his debts to you, leading you to ask for a higher rate of interest. After all, even if your debtor says that you are his number one concern and all other creditors be damned, your debtor has just manifested a propensity to default when funds get tight.

Now, the US isn’t quite like any other debtor, but I do not think I would be wrong to suggest that we can get most of the detrimental effects of a sovereign debt default (debt auctions going wanting for bidders, increased interest rates, runs on institutions holding large parts of their portfolios in US Treasuries) without ever formally defaulting on a US bond issue.

#28 Comment By Josh McGee On September 27, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

My interest is not so much in the specific platform listed at the moment, but in the notion that Republicans shouldn’t fight tooth and nail for whatever it is they happen to believe in just because they only have 1/2 of 1 branch of government; that Republicans are somehow terrible people for using the bit of leverage (power of the purse) that they do have in order to fight for their interests or the interests of their constituents.

Why can it not be said on a website called THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE that Obama / Harry Reid would be just as responsible for shutting down the government?

Pat Buchanan said it quite well this week in a column not posted here ( [2]):

“Ted Cruz may have, as Richard Nixon used to say, “broken his pick” in the Republican caucus. Yet, on Obamacare, his analysis is right, his instincts are right, his disposition to fight is right.

These are more important matters than the news that he is out of the running for the Mr. Congeniality award on Capitol Hill.

If Obamacare is funded, the subsidies starting in January will constitute a morphine drip from which America’s health-care system will not recover. If not stopped now, Obamacare is forever.”


“As Terry notes, Congress has absolute power over the public purse. Article I of the Constitution says, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”

The law authorizing President Obama to spend more money for Obamacare expires Sept. 30. If the House refuses to vote for any bill that contains new Obamacare funding, Obamacare is dead.

Thus the Republican House controls the fate of Obamacare.

But if we don’t fund Obamacare, comes the Republican wail, Harry Reid will let the government shut down, the American people will blame us, and all of our pundits say we can’t win this fight.

For sure you cannot win if you do not fight.

But if a Democratic Senate refuses to pass the House-passed continuing resolution funding the government, because Obamacare is not in the bill, who is shutting down the government?

If Obama vetoes any continuing resolution funding the government that does not contain Obamacare, who is shutting down the government then?”


As he says, you cannot win if you do not fight.

Only using a perverse form of ‘calculus’ is shutting down the government for a few days more idiotic than running up $17 trillion in debt (not counting unfunded liabilities) and begging for more.

This site may share in the tradition of a Russell Kirk, but it is a long way from having the fight of Pat Buchanan. And if a piece of legislation like Obamacare, implemented at the federal level, is not worth fighting like cats and dogs over (win, lose, or draw) then readers of this site should basically understand there is no domestic policy of socialism implemented at the federal level that TAC would boldly protest.

I am in complete agreement that politics – including policy formulation – downstream from culture, and traditionalists like myself can do much more good focusing our energies in that arena. But now and again, political fights do matter; now and again, political fights do have meaning. There are liberals on this sight that would bitch and moan about D.C. seeing a 20-25% increase in median income this century while the rest of the country saw a decrease of 6-7%…..only to tell us to pipe down, and grant D.C. even more power over 1/6th of the economy. They can’t see any connection. Sometimes it is wise to fight, even if you see no way of winning. Every once in a while, if you fight, you might land a stone in the middle of the giant’s forehead. But that can only happen if you do indeed fight.

#29 Comment By JonF On September 27, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

Re: “As Terry notes, Congress has absolute power over the public purse. Article I of the Constitution says, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”

The appropriations have already been made.

Re: The law authorizing President Obama to spend more money for Obamacare expires Sept. 30. If the House refuses to vote for any bill that contains new Obamacare funding, Obamacare is dead.

You are very wrong about this– deceived by lying demagogues. The moneys for the ACA are already allocated and the program will go forward on Oct 1 no matter what antics the House GOP pulls. They are three years too late.

And really: this is the Great Cause of the Republican Party? Fighting tooth and nail, threatening to crash the whole planet’s economy, to deny the working poor affordable healthcare.
Marie Antoinette would be embarrassed to party with them.

#30 Comment By AnotherBeliever On September 27, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

Josh, I respect your drive and ambition, but most of the funding for Obamacare is not discretionary, but rather falls under the same category as Social Security, which is funded by multiple year appropriations. Come Tuesday morning, the health care exchanges go live, whether or not non-essential government shuts down. You don’t win anything this way. Especially once the American people figure out that the military is working for free. Even in Afghanistan. The shutdown won’t last long, I’d wager.

The debt ceiling is Congress signing off on current spending in the budget which Congress has already authored and signed into law. It seems redundant but there it is. If you would like to see less debt, then you need to pass a budget decreasing spending and/or raising taxes. You don’t quit paying what you’re already obligated for.

#31 Comment By Tyro On September 27, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

My interest is not so much in the specific platform listed at the moment, but in the notion that Republicans shouldn’t fight tooth and nail for whatever it is they happen to believe in just because they only have 1/2 of 1 branch of government; that Republicans are somehow terrible people for using the bit of leverage (power of the purse) that they do have in order to fight for their interests or the interests of their constituents.

Refusing to raise the debt limit unless your demands are met is like threatening to kill your mother unless your sibling agrees to pizza rather than chinese food for dinner. Sure, who doesn’t like pizza, and your mother doesn’t deserve to die for Chinese food, but pick your battles more wisely.

#32 Comment By The Wet One On September 27, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

Personally, and I’m about to be blasphemous here so cover your ears, I blame the Founders.

That’s right.

Those guys failed to account for this situation and screwed up when they wrote the U.S. Constitution. Blew it bad.

But then, they too were only human. So it goes.

#33 Comment By Gretchen On September 28, 2013 @ 12:17 am

Josh McGee: the health care act was approved by both houses of Congress, signed by the President, and approved by the Supreme Court. We just had an election with a presidential and congressional candidates promising to repeal it, and they lost. That’s how you get laws changed – you run candidates who will change them. If they lose, you don’t get to change them. Refusing to carry out the law of the land because your side lost is completely unprecedented. This isn’t a normal budget fight. This is a coup. Paul Ryan admitted that they are doing this because they lost the election, and given that fact, this is the only way to get their agenda enacted. Whenever new powers are enacted, you always have to imagine what will happen when the other side gets those powers. Imagine that President Romney and a Republican Congress decided to invade Iran, and then in the next election Democrats won the House. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker again, and she refuses to pass a budget with any funds for the war effort. Oh, and she wants a public-option national health service, and and expanded EPA, and limits on carbon pollution, and nationwide gun control, or she won’t pass any budget. That would be exactly analagous to what the Republicans are doing now – demanding that they get their goals passed by fiat since they couldn’t get them passed by fair elections and legislation. It would be outrageous if Nancy Pelosi did it, and it’s outrageous and dangerous now.

#34 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 28, 2013 @ 9:45 am

Josh McGee, who I used to agree with sometimes, and probably will again, appears to advocate the style of democracy that characterized the Cossack settlements before they agreed to come under the jurisdiction of the Tsar of all the Russias.

If there is a dispute, ring all the bells and everyone come running and take a vote and then those who don’t like the vote start a fight and then have a regular brawl and those left standing take the final vote. Next week, do it all over again, maybe with the other side winning the brawl this time.

There is nothing CONSERVATIVE about that style of government. At least Josh has cut loose from any mendacious caterwauling about a “mandate” from “the people” to do the exact opposite of what the last election pointed toward. He’s just candidly saying, this is a brawl, all’s fair in love and war, go out and kick them in the groin, gouge their eyes, do whatever it takes to get your way.

The mere fact that Ryan admits ‘This is what we have to do to get our way, because we lost the election’ is enough to undermine credibility and integrity from what the Republican leadership is doing.

I infer that Josh McGee has reasonably good health insurance. I don’t. I haven’t had any since 2009, and I had only had it then for about three years. There is a lot I would like to tweak about what my options under the Affordable Care Act are going to be. I could do without a lot of features I won’t use in exchange for lower premiums, whether that comes out of what I pay or whatever may be subsidized. But bottom line, its better that I be covered, and pay what I can, than not be covered at all.

If I am uninsured, not contributing at all, and had a catastrophic incident, I would try the tack my dentist’s secretary advocates: “As long as you pay even $25 a month on your bill, they can’t garnish your wages or seize your property.”

If true, that’s an attractive option. But it is quite a parasitic as living on welfare because its easier than working. Hospitals cost money. It all has to be paid for somehow. The Affordable Care Act is basically the conservative Republican alternative to the Hillary Clinton plan of 1993. The Paul Ryan Incredible Shrinking Voucher boils down to, “Nah, you can just crawl into a corner and die.”

I would like the ACA to recognize the distinctions Franklin Evans makes, between insurance and pre-paid health care. I hope I can find an affordable option to put my own money into a Health Savings Account, while paying a modest premium on catastrophic coverage, which is unlikely to happen, but will cost a whole lot if it does. Society will come out better, even if my premium is subsidized, than if I have none and contribute nothing, since hospitals have to take me in an emergency and try to collect later.

#35 Comment By Franklin Evans On September 28, 2013 @ 10:31 am

Wet One: That’s an intriguing notion. I’ll take it under advisement. 😀

However, with the vast majority of federal, elected officeholders in clear violation of their oaths of office, I don’t feel the need to look any further into the past.

#36 Comment By Josh McGee On September 28, 2013 @ 11:29 am

“Fighting tooth and nail, threatening to crash the whole planet’s economy, to deny the working poor affordable healthcare.”

Yes, because what D.C. exemplifies is unending love for the working poor. Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, etc., practically resemble Jeeeesusssss in their love of the working poor. Observing their lives is to know what it means to hate money and love the poor. Naked ambition and an unquenchable thirst for power and control never comes to mind. When I see a town whose median income rose about 25% across the same period everyone else saw their median income decline by 6-7%, I think, “Man, they must love the working poor.” I’m pretty sure that when our President is hanging out with Jay-Z or sitting in the green rooms before he slow jamz on variety shows, the only thing on his mind and that of his interlocutors is what else they can do to help the working poor. What does it mean to be a D.C. progressive, if not love for the working poor?


Siarlys, your post seems to imply that the only way to address healthcare in this country was at the federal level. Siarlys Jenkins needs health insurance (which I don’t doubt and which I do have sympathy for), so let’s have a few hundred people implement national healthcare, turnover its management to a largely unaccountable and impenetrable bureaucracy in a nation of 300 MILLION people. Good call. I wish someone would have devised some other layer where we might address this…..hmmm, like, oh, maybe at the state level? Nah…..let’s just make the states appendages of the federal government and grant a few people even more power over our lives. After all, what is good for Siarlys is good for at least (I mean, at minimum) 300 million other people, right?


Libruls see no connection between the ways of D.C. and the impact to the middle class and the working poor so long as their Progressive heroes are babbling about socialist utopian programs. They go on about the NSA and the security state and the power/control they are gaining over us, but can only see sunshine and lollipops when 1000 page socialism bills come along adding thousands to the payroll of the IRS. (And when someone hears ‘IRS’, who doesn’t think ‘love for the working poor’? When most people think about the IRS a thought bubble appears above their head filled with pink hearts containing the words ‘lots of luv’.)

I get it…..TAC and (seemingly) the majority of its readers are well reconciled to various forms of socialism. It is embarrassing to them when anyone in D.C. raises a stink about this sort of thing. One of the reasons I come here is because it is a top-notch flavor of that. But yes, I am one of the rubes that utterly despises socialism implemented at the federal level, because there is no escape from it, no alternatives. Yes, I am happy to see a few elected officials fight such things tooth and nail, even if victory seems impossible.

[NFR: Well, TAC doesn’t have an editorial policy on Obamacare, at least not to my knowledge. For me, the Obamacare battle is a matter of prudence. That fight is over, and the Antis lost. It seems crazy to me that the Antis would hold the whole government hostage to their unwillingness to reconcile themselves to a law that passed Congress, was signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court. This is not a fight that the Right is going to win, and it stands to blow a lot of political capital on it. As I’ve said in this space, the Republicans running in the special election to fill my Congressman’s seat are talking like repealing Obamacare is the No. 1 priority in America. Not jobs, not education, but Obamacare. I do not get it. — RD]

#37 Comment By JonF On September 28, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

Josh McGee, if I did not know better I would suspect you of being a leftwinger indulging in tongue-in-cheek satire of the Right, right down to silly misspellings (“librul”).
As it is I almost wonder if you (and the House GOP, and the GOP base) hale from some alternate reality, far, far away. Your post is so unmoored from quotidian reality as to be fantastical in a way that makes the Lord Of The Rings look like sober history.
Like Siarlys I would have done the ACA a bit differently. But no one has yet made me Lord High Dictator of this country (be very glad of that, by the way) so I will take what I can get and half a loaf is better than none.
Solemn warning, no snark: This sort of absolutist thinking and behavior is profoundly dangerous and should it continue to grow in magnitude it will wreck this country and overflow like a tsunami on the rest of the world. Dial it down, scale it back, accept your losses and move on. God is still in his heavens and hope remains in all things.

#38 Comment By Franklin Evans On September 28, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

Josh, I would like to extend to you a different sort of critique of your posts, and ask you to take it sincerely: It looks to me that you’ve bought into completely the notion that your political opponents start out as your personal enemies, getting only worse from there.

The members of Congress, both houses, are not fulfilling their oaths in good faith; both sides of the aisle, no caveats. I see it as a case of live by the sword, die by the sword, and I want to know when swords were required accessories in political debates.

As for the ACA — calling it Obamacare is another symptom of the hostility hate that pervades our legislature — I take the position that the immoral stance here is making health care a for-profit industry. Whether it requires a federal program or not I leave to your personal observation of the exceptionally poor ethics demonstrated by American businesses. Caveat emptor should not result in fatal proof of its veracity.

#39 Comment By Josh McGee On September 28, 2013 @ 3:32 pm


I haven’t bought into any notion about political opponents being personal enemies – a major thrust of my argument is just the opposite, how impersonal all of it is. A distant bureaucracy managed by unknown people telling every single person in the country just what they can and can’t do in some of the more sensitive/private/important areas of their life, despite knowing absolutely nothing about them, is as far from being personal as one can get. (Or are those thousands of pages of regulations blank, in fact not serving as contols on everyone’s behavior? Or maybe they are deeply personal love letters tailored to each citizen of the nation, hand-signed by Obama, Reid, and Pelosi?)

Yes, I do get quite a belly laugh any time I hear people acting like the suits in D.C. (in either party) have any concern for the working poor. They are like JonF admits of himself: taking what they can get. And yes, I will use sarcasm to make that point; it is a wonderful tool at times. I would argue that the power players in D.C. care about as much about the working poor as the suits on Wall-Street. The suits on Wall-Street like the money; the suits in D.C. like the power/control. And the two of them get along well enough most of the time. Franklin, the lack of integrity you see in business, and which I agree is there, is also in D.C., walking the halls of every bureaucracy. The people inside government are drawn from the same pool as those inside the private sector. Their character and imagination has been shaped within the same culture. You can see it in the businesses, in the media, in the NSA, but I argue it is also in the IRS, and the HHS, and everywhere else you care to look. I don’t wish to give more power to any of these people; I desire to take some away from them all. I am sorry if you can’t see that thousands of pages of regulation as being just as dysfunctional and immoral as the complaints you have about business. I’m sory, but I am not the one being inconsistent here, only seeing one side of the full picture.

So, yes, I believe it is wise to fight even past the point of hope before turning even more power over to these people that you yourself admit are corrupt, refusing to deal in good faith. And even after they have the power, I refuse to believe that it can’t be taken away at some future point.

It is incredibly ironic to me that a mag like TAC, which cherishes place, just recently had a cover that said, “Localism: America’s Last Hope?”, and emphasizes the importants of limits, has no editorial position on a piece of legislation that is wildly and immediately impacting the lives of all 300+ MILLION people across every single locale in the country, will raise very similar data collection / privacy concerns present within the security state (and the affected bureaucracies will likely have fewer protocols to protect the data than the NSA), and entirely ignores the limits to our financial resources.

Speaking of financial resources, no bill passed by a layer of government $17 trillion in debt and growing (not even counting unfunded liabilities) should have the word ‘Affordable’ in its title. I do not consider Obamacare an epithet, nor do I use it for that purpose – that is just its usage in where I live, even among those who seem to like it. I’ll make a deal with you though: I’ll stop calling it Obamacare when you stop calling it ‘Affordable’.

Anyway, back to my point, I have charged that TAC, though saying they support localism, is in fact pretty comfortably reconciled to national socialism, and no one here, including Rod, has really said anything that would challenge that. Well, maybe there is a reason why Localism: Our Last Hope is little more than a pipe dream at the moment. Maybe, just maybe, part of fighting for localism also consists of fighting against programs of national socialism, at times alongside people you otherwise have little respect for.

The political left does not reconcile itself after its losses. They do not reconcile themselves to the unique and bizarre gun culture of America. They do not/did not reconcile themselves to the historic sexual/marriage norms of America. Well, I’m adding one more area to that list: I do not intend to reconcile myself to the various programs of national socialism we have in our country. Hope & Change, indeed.

[NFR: To be clear, TAC doesn’t have an official editorial position on anything. We have a sensibility. — RD]

#40 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On September 29, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

Well, Josh, if you had started out by saying, the Affordable Care Act is the kind of abomination only a cabal of Wall Street suits and DC suits could have made of a perfectly good notion, we might be sitting down right now hammering out a program to substantially amend the law in a manner that 80 percent of the American people would applaud. (Whether it could get through congress is another matter).

But, with your explicit praise for the DC suits in congress who want to gut the law as it is about to go into full operation (who are quite as much minions of Wall Street as the DC suits who wrote the bill), you have made yourself complicit in an effort to kick the whole subject into oblivion. I am, for now, crediting you with sufficient intelligence and compassion not to have bought into Paul Ryan’s incredible shrinking voucher.

Ryan is a demagogic liar quite as dangerous as Adolf Hitler — who I must remind everyone was quite popular during a substantial period of his rise to power, and seemed quite sensible to many people, especially given the Weimar government’s genuine incompetence. Ryan also lacks any of Huey P. Long’s redeeming points. Maybe y’all can’t see this from a distance, but up close and personal, Ryan and Scott Walker even LOOK like cold-eyed aliens walking around in borrowed human flesh as they plot the destruction of humanity. Bottom line, they do NOT plan to offer a more rational and workable plan that will provide better care and more choices at lower cost. They plan to gut the whole idea, period.

When I speak of my own situation, I mention it because there are some 40 million Americans in similar situations, and some millions of others whose employers were already trying to get out of providing health insurance, or who would find when they had to change jobs that as new hires they wouldn’t have any. If I were the only beneficiary, it would of course be incredibly selfish of me to hold the whole country hostage for MY health insurance.

But, as so many people who are confident of their own coverage are shedding crocodile tears about how the law is going to destroy the entire middle class (an abstract hypothetical mass two step removed from those crying havoc), I thought it appropriate to mention that a good number of us out here in flyover country are anxiously waiting to sort out how much we need to pay, what options we have, and to know that at least if a few of us have unexpected heart attacks, we don’t find ourselves owing 576,328.97 if we are so unlucky as to survive the experience. I don’t own a home yet — do you know what a bill like that would do to my chances of ever getting my meager savings to the point of being an acceptable down payment?

We already have “a largely unaccountable and impenetrable bureaucracy” running our health care. It is called the insurance industry and the medical-industrial complex. I dealt with four branches of this multi-headed hydra during the three years I did have insurance. I have correspondence a few inches thick, and they still owe me, or one branch owes another in lieu of collecting it from me, $143. Incidentally, my insurance provider turned out to be absolutely immune to intervention from the Dept. of Labor, OR my state’s Insurance Commissioner.

The greatest laugh on the American people is that as a result of those “Harry and Louise” ads in 1993, we now have EXACTLY what Harry and Louise warned us against, courtesy of the PRIVATE SECTOR.

And no, state governments are neither capable nor competent to deal with it. States are already reduced to prostrating themselves at the feet of the Lords of Capital asking how many millions of taxpayer dollars may we add to your profit margin to induce you to keep a handful of minimum wage jobs within our boundaries. State governments are even more venal and corrupt than federal agencies. You know what Mark Twain said about life liberty and property while the legislature is in session. That’s the Achilles heel of “localism,” much as the esthetics appeal to me, and avidly as I defend that some matters ARE retained by the states — marriage laws, for instance.

The reason health insurance is a fit subject for federal regulation is that it has become very much a field of interstate commerce.

Now, like Franklin, perhaps like you, I would like to see health insurance and pre-paid medical care separated out. Then, I would like to see employers covered by the act if they have 50 or more FTE’s, not 50 or more full time employees. (One hundred half time employees would still do it), and pay a pro-rated share of premiums through the exchanges if they don’t cover employees themselves.

My experience with being insured cured me of trying to deal with co-pays and deductibles. Just give me a low premium for catastrophic INSURANCE, throw in a few basic preventives if the insurer thinks that will lower their net costs in payouts, and let me pay the rest. If an employer can be induced to contribute to my Health Savings Account, so much the better.

There should be a way to wean the whole system off of being tied to employers at all, but there we run up against the fact that tens of millions of people wanted to keep what they had, so an abstractly unfortunate compromise was necessary. I’m an on-staff temp hired by the project, supplemented by one free-lance and two seasonal temp jobs, so it doesn’t matter to me, but it did to the people who had coverage through their employer. And I don’t blame them a bit.

So, can we move away from the misleading political slogans and try to deal with the realities of financing health care, obtaining reasonable contributions from all who ought to pay in, including my seldom humble self, and streamlining the process so human beings can understand it? That’s NOT what Ted Cross is filibustering to accomplish. Its just not.

#41 Comment By Ed On October 3, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

You can find digital images of Kirk’s newspaper columns from the 1960s and 1970s at Google News. He was no great fan of bureaucracy or national health services. Clearly, that doesn’t exhaust Russell Kirk’s store of political opinions, and he was as capable of being inconsistent as any of us, but I don’t think one can assume that Kirk would automatically be against or aghast or horrified by today’s House Republicans.

There is also the “separation of powers” side of the question. If you believe, as Kirk apparently did, that the legislature had seen its powers usurped or eroded by executive encroachment wouldn’t you find it possible to put in a good word for Congressional attempts at redressing the balance, whether the Speaker was Carl Albert or Tip O’Neill or Jim Wright or Newt Gingrich or John Boehner?

While I wouldn’t have favored the current course of action if I’d been a Republican Congressman, there is some insight in a recent New Yorker writer’s comment:

A “Burkean conservative” is the kind liberals pretend to want, just as conservatives like to say, in seeming praise of an opponent, “He’s a true Jeffersonian liberal.” Both mean, really, that the other guy is so pessimistic about government action that, in power, he won’t actually do anything.