True North: Rediscovering Our Compass

If the Culture War is a conflict of ideologies, anyone who rejects ideology is engaging in this battle totally unarmed.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) rose from its grave on Thursday, shambling through the House of Representatives on a party line vote. It now awaits for action from the Senate, where the Republicans have a much slimmer majority for anything like it to be passed. While the Republican Party continues to claim it is a “repeal and replace” of ObamaCare, it is nothing of the sort. There’s a word for the American Health Care Act: “reform“, and “reform” is neither a “repeal” nor a “replace“.

Just six short years ago, American conservatives fought and failed (by betrayal) to end ObamaCare through constitutional challenges. In the intervening years, Republicans in the House and Senate made numerous largely empty attempts to repeal or at least defund ObamaCare. All of those attempts came up short. Now, in control of both the House and Senate, and, finally, the White House, the GOP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory and gives us what is clearly a reform, while looking us right in the eye and saying “repeal… and replace“.

A fair part of the Republican voters are in line supporting the AHCA, though support for it remains weak overall, even within the GOP itself. Amazingly, many of these people supporting the AHCA will enthusiastically attack socialism on social media, unloading on anyone they perceive as “un-American“. And yet they are still supporting a bill that empowers the government to interfere in the private contracts of individuals (the very definition of collectivist socialism).

How did we come to this?

A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.

We live in an age of polarization, where what someone believes to be true has more to do with their political identity as their actual experience. For example, take two totally different individuals: Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow. Both are simultaneously perceived as extremely credible and totally dishonest depending solely on which side of the political aisle the listener sits. Even when either presents an incontrovertible fact, skepticism is the first (and often only) response from politically hostile listeners.

On top of this rampant “echo chamber” factionalism, we have become accustomed to the ceaseless drumbeat of the 24-hour news cycle. Many Americans, listening only to their approved media source, have come to believe that their political identity derives from their political policy positions. You have people who believe being on the “Left” simply means they must support ObamaCare, expansive tax policy, and welfare programs. You have people who believe being on the “Right” simply means they must support the AHCA, lower taxes, and cutting spending. And you have people who believe they are in the “Center“, because they believe in some combination of these things.

To many, being “Left“, “Right“, or “Center” has everything to do with political positions, and thus their political positions somehow inform their place on the ideological pole. Piece by piece, point by point, Americans cobble their political opinions together, based on little more than their feelings, their existing prejudices, and who they get their information from and think this is “ideology“, or, worse, they reject ideology altogether as bad. They could not be more mistaken, on either count.

“For I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do—
this I keep on doing.”
-Paul the Apostle, Romans 7:19-

Our political positions do not inform our ideology; our ideology informs our political positions. Without ideology, we can only contradict the objectives of our political aims, by infringing on moral precepts in one hand that we claim to be vehemently protecting with the another. It’s how these people who viciously attack the evils of socialism in one breath will in turn viciously defend government policy that interferes in wages, work regulations, retirement insurance, and health insurance with their very next breath.

Ideology is a clear, coherent, vision by which we can know what is good and what is not. For this reason, why you believe what you do is often more important than what you believe. If the Culture War is a conflict of ideologies, anyone who rejects ideology is engaging in this battle totally unarmed. So the only real question is which ideology will you arm yourself with today?

Liberty is For The Win!


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Health Care Reform: The Mouse Trap

The Republican Party has, at long last, revealed the final iteration of their grand health care reform plan to “Repeal and Replace” the failing Affordable Care Act.

The Republican Party has, at long last, revealed the final iteration of their grand health care reform plan to “Repeal and Replace” the failing Affordable Care Act. Listening to the Republicans trying to sell this reform plan, you can tell they’re playing a game of political cat and mouse, scurrying between hungry cats on the left that want Washington to do something to address the cost and accessibility of health insurance coverage and angry cats on the right that wanted to get Washington out of the health care business.

So, what will the Republican American Health Care Act plan actually do?

  • It eliminates the taxes and fines of the Affordable Care Act. Good.
  • It eliminates the ACA individual and employer mandates. Good.
  • It retains the pre-existing condition requirements for insurers. Bad.
  • Allows adults to stay on their parents coverage until age 26. Bad.
  • Creates a $100 billion political slush fund. Catastrophically bad.
  • Allots federal Medicaid funding on per capita basis. Better, but not good.
  • Changing tax law to broaden Health Savings Accounts. Better, still theft.
  • Create a tax credit that subsidizes insurance purchases. Bad.

So let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly of the GOP plan. The GOP plan will eliminate the tyrannical taxes and fines put in place by the Affordable Care Act. It will also supposedly eliminate the tax penalties for not buying health insurance for those that either do not want health insurance or simply cannot afford it. From a Liberty standpoint, this is a win for conservatives. Unfortunately, this is the last good news for conservatives in the plan.

The Republican plan will still prohibit insurers “discriminating” against individuals with preexisting health conditions and coverage for adult children up to age 26 on their parent’s plans. By eliminating the individual and employer mandates, as well as their punitive fines and taxes, there will be less revenue from healthy insureds needed by health insurance companies to counter balance the higher costs of insureds with preexisting conditions. Unless the federal government is going to pick up the tab for these higher costs, however, this necessarily means drastically higher monthly premiums.

One of the most questionable aspects of the GOP plan is the $100 billion fund that will be allotted to “design programs that meet the unique needs of their patient populations and help low-income Americans afford health care“. That sounds exactly like a federal slush fund or subsidy program that politicians will miraculously discover is inadequate to cover all of the costs and will become a political football in a few months, requiring constant cash dumps from Congress every year. There’s nothing for conservatives to be excited about here.

While “modernizing” Medicaid sounds great on its surface, and creating a per capita allotment will arguably be better for the federal budget overall, from a Liberty standpoint, the federal government will still be writing checks for a large and costly entitlement that Americans simply cannot afford. And while Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are also a great way of dealing with health care costs for middle income families, low income families will have zero use for it, because they have no savings to begin with. Further, the implementation of HSAs requires the continuation of government theft through personal income taxation.

Finally, the tax credit formula that the GOP is depending on to help offset the cost of insurance are meaningless. Low income Americans don’t pay $2,000 of taxes a year anyway. Only the middle class will have any use for such tax credits, and the vast majority of them will already have insurance coverage through their employer. This will largely only benefit small business owners, which was the target of the GOP plan, but only tangentially. It also means, however, lower business tax revenue for the government, which means larger deficits.

The final verdict for the GOP plan? Despite moving to repeal the most onerous parts of ObamaCare, the individual mandate and the tax fines associated with that mandate, the GOP plan fails utterly on the promise to “repeal” the ACA. What we are getting instead is an Affordable Care Act Lite, clinging to the popular elements of the ACA which caused the steep premium increases that consumers hated in the first place. Conservatives will hate it, because it doesn’t get Washington out of health care. The Left will hate it, because it got rid of their taxes, which was all they really cared about in the first place.

The Liberty answer to the health care problem remains the same but also remains politically unpopular. True political and economic freedom requires government inaction. The federal government should be kept out of the business of health insurance. Period.

Clearly, on this issue, we’ve a long way to go.

#RepealWashington

Liberty is For The Win!


We just checked, and it turns out that fighting for Liberty isn’t free, because it requires time and energy to research, prepare, and propagate this message for you. Please drop just a dollar a month into the proverbial tip jar and become a Patriot Patron. Of course, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share. Keep this fight for Liberty going! – @LibertyIsFTW