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Belmont Club

What you can and can’t have

March 23rd, 2010 - 2:58 pm

Gerald Ford once observed that “a government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.” Not everyone would agree with Ford but what about a weaker form of the statement? “Any government able to redistribute your money is able to tell you what do with it.” Now that the State is in healthcare it is talking about what you can and can’t ask your doctor to do. In detail. Should health care provide money for Viagra? Barbara Boxer makes the argument that if it does then it should also provide money for abortions.

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Alright. Viagra is good and maybe abortions are good from Senator Boxer’s vantage. Now what about sex offenders. They’re people too? Shouldn’t Obamacare provide Viagra for sex offenders. After all people who’ve “paid their debt to society” shouldn’t continue to be punished by using health care as a weapon. Believe it or not the issue is being debated in the Senate, because unless sex offenders are specifically excluded, they’ll get Viagra too.

Senator Tom Coburn, MD introduced the following amendment. Politico says that the Coburn amendment is part of a Republican strategy to “use Senate procedure to derail the reconciliation bill”

(1) IN GENERAL.—Health programs administered by the Federal Government and American Health Benefit Exchanges (as described in section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) shall not provide coverage or reimbursement for— (A) prescription drugs to treat erectile dysfunction for individuals convicted of child molestation, rape, or other forms of sexual assault;  or (B) drugs prescribed with the intent of inducing an abortion for reasons other than as described in paragraph (2).

(2) EXCEPTIONS.—The limitation under paragraph (1)(B) shall not apply to an abortion— (A) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a  physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself; or (B) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of forcible rape or incest.

But one man’s obstructionism is another man’s defense of liberty. Whatever the merits of Viagra for sex offenders and however you want to regard Senators Boxer or Coburn, it is clear that the culture wars have come right into your doctor’s office and living room. “Any government able to redistribute your money is able to tell you what do with it.” How does that proposition sound now?

Gerald Warner of the Daily Telegraph says that with the passage of Obamacare question of allowable individual behavior will descend into the very fabric of individual lives. The “leftward ratchet” is no longer something that happens in the papers or out on Capitol Hill. It is something you will have deal with daily. Twenty four by seven; year and year out you’ll be asked to give government just a little bit more power; just a tad more authority over your life. It’s a process that will happen even while you’re sleeping. So you better not mumble your assent just to hit the snooze button because the thing about the Leftward ratchet is that once you say “yes”, it’s forever. Mumble in your sleep and you’ll find the world will have changed just a little more since last night. Hanner writes:

The Obama healthcare coup d’état is naked Bonapartism and, as such, must be overturned. There will now be many siren voices telling American patriots and conservatives: “It’s over,” “You win some, you lose some” and “Time to move on.” That is the one thing they must not do. It is a phenomenon of leftist politics that, in true Leninist style, radicals never give up.

For example, when Hugo Chavez lost a referendum in Venezuela on extending his term in office, he held another 14 months later and won. When any member state of the European Union gives a “wrong” answer in a referendum it is forced to vote again until it surrenders to the demands of the ruling élite in Brussels. However, when a radical measure is passed by the left, the rules are the reverse. The leftward ratchet must never be broken. Conservatives have been trained in a mentality of quasi-Muslim fatalism: to change back to the status quo would be “retrograde”. Offering continuing resistance to the leftist juggernaut is termed “partisan”. Was there ever a more extravagantly partisan politician on the face of the earth than Barack Obama?

Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post agrees that it is indeed “time to move on”. On to final victory.  He believes Obamacare was a tremendous victory in the culture wars and virtually rubs his hands in glee at the prospect of telling people what to do with the rest of their lives.

I don’t want to suggest this bill is all progressive victories. It isn’t. It isn’t single-payer and there’s no public option, and though I think the excise tax is a progressive tax, I grant that reasonable people disagree on this matter. But the fact of it is that this bill represents an enormous leftward shift for American social policy. It is not, in my view, a sufficient leftward shift, but it is unmatched by anything that has passed into law in recent decades. Progressives have lost some very hard battles but are on the cusp of winning an incredibly important war. For all its imperfections, health-care reform itself is deeply, deeply progressive. And if you don’t believe me, just ask the conservatives who have made opposing it their top priority.

There’s another word for progressive in its present day meaning. And that word is fascist.


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