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Jan 23, 2014

Northern California Tea Party Patriots

When I looked out at the sea of long faces at our election night gathering in 2012, I tried to find some ray of light.  I told the group that through all the gloom, there were two reasons for optimism.

First, I said that the American people were about to get a four year, graduate-level course in Obamacare and Obamanomics and at the end of that course, they were going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.

And second, I pointed out that the groups who had been Obama’s strongest supporters were precisely the same groups that had been hurt the most by his policies.  I said that is a political dis-connect that cannot last much longer.

It took the roll-out of Obamacare to accomplish that – but there is now every indication that the nation is having an epiphany as they come face to face with the reality of this administration and its policies.

Gallup reported today that fully two-thirds of the American public says the federal government is “Too big and too powerful.”

Think about that – 2/3 of the American public.

We’ve watched a dramatic shift away from Obama by young voters and Hispanic voters.  But getting two thirds of the American people to agree on anything is very rare – especially these days.

That means, very simply, that two-thirds of Americans are now closet tea partiers.  Wow.

But should be really be surprised. 

Look at Obamacare.  Eightyfive percent of the American people were satisfied with their heath insurance and their doctors, and they were told if you liked your health plan and liked your doctor you could keep them.

So 85 percent of the American people tuned out of the debate.  They thought they were unaffected by the government seizing control of 1/6 of the economy. 

They’ve now discovered it was all a lie.

Six million Americans have lost the insurance they were promised they could keep.  Two million have gotten policies under Obamacare.  And it turns out 2/3 of those two million were kicked off of their current plans and forced into the Obamacare market – in many cases paying double and triple what they had been before Obamacare.

A Southern California Democratic campaign consultant sent out a memo to his clients just after the roll-out began.  He made three points:

ONE: Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster and it’s only going to get worse from here.

TWO: We Democrats OWN Obamacare lock, stock and barrel, and there is no way around that.

And THREE: We’re screwed! (Or words to that effect.)

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

, this is just the beginning.  In coming days, millions of employer-provided plans face cancellation, multiplying this disaster many fold.

The administration recently held a contest for videos to promote Obamacare.  Its grand prize winner featured this message: “Don’t worry about the price tag.”

“Don’t worry about the price tag?”

Isn’t that helpful and compassionate advice to the millions of Americans who are struggling through the fifth year of Obamanomics and who are now also facing the reality of seeing their premiums double or triple?  Just “don’t worry about the price tag,” skip the house payment and cough up the extra cash. 

Many millions of Americans who had health coverage on New Year’s Eve will not have it on New Year’s Day because of Obamacare. 

What awaits those who actually can sign up?           

According to the government’s own numbers, about half of the exchange applicants have been forced into Medicaid.  That includes many on limited incomes who’ve maintained bare-bones policies because they’re desperately trying to stay OUT of Medicaid.  Some have found that merely by looking at prices they’ve ended up trapped in this dreaded welfare program.

A major study documents that Medicaid patients have the same health outcomes than those without any insurance.  If you doubt that, see how long it will take you to see a Medicaid doctor – if you can find one at all – for a bad cold.

(I did that by the way.  I had my office call down the list of General Practitioners in the local phone book.  Out of 40 doctors, only four would take medical patients, and the soonest you can get an appointment was two weeks.  I then had them call down a list of veterinarians.  Every veterinarian would see your dog and the longest you had to wait was tomorrow morning).

If you are part of the one in three exchange applicants who escape this fate, the next problem will be to find a doctor – any doctor.    The President of the California Medical Association reports that 70 percent of California doctors will not accept Obamacare patients. 

That means the remaining 30 percent will be overwhelmed, resulting in life-threatening waiting lines.  As patients desperately seek doctors in emergency rooms, actual emergencies will go waiting.  Top-flight, specialized doctors and facilities will become completely inaccessible as they opt out of the system.  The Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Sloan Kettering are just a few of the facilities that have already withdrawn from the Obamacare networks.

Those patients who actually can get an appointment may then discover that there is no record of their policy because the government hasn’t been able to connect patients with their new insurers.   

Patients will next face the cold reality of sky-high deductibles and co-payments that many will be unable to pay.  Many hospitals that serve large populations of the poor can only do so through supplemental payments, but Obamacare is phasing those out.  Some hospitals will be forced to close their doors.

Those Obamacare patients fortunate enough to stay well in this brave new world can expect a highly elevated risk of identity theft in what the founder of MacAfee Security Software calls a “hacker’s … dream.”  And there’s no need to wait for hackers, in some cases, the government has already accidentally released patients’ private financial and medical information.  

Since so many people – particularly the young – are choosing not to pay inflated prices to subsidize others, we can expect another major round of rate increases next fall on those remaining in the system to make up for the shortfalls

THAT is what this year will bring to our country.  Many of us in the House warned of this coming train-wreck and tried at least to delay it.  For this, we were called arsonists, terrorists, jihadists and demagogues.  But now those warnings have proven entirely accurate. 

We’ve been slowly losing the debate over the proper role and size and scope and power of government little by little since Ronald Reagan left the national debate a generation ago.

But Americans are now learning – to their deep regret – what has come of abandoning those uniquely American principles of individual liberty, constitutionally limited government and personal responsibility that built the most prosperous, powerful and happy society in the history of human civilization. 

The good news I can offer is that this has been a long-overdue political awakening for many of our fellow Americans who had scoffed at all the warnings you and I had issued over these past four years. 

When we warned that you wouldn’t be able to keep your health plan or your doctor we were called extremists.

When we warned that this would INCREASE the cost of your health care, we were called demagogues.

When we warned this would hurt the economy we were called ignorant.

All of those warning have now come to pass and in no uncertain terms.

This has not only done massive damage to our health care system, it has also done massive damage to our Constitution and the freedom it protects.

In implementing this takeover of one sixth of the American economy, the President has repeatedly asserted the authority to ignore the parts of the law he finds inconvenient or embarrassing and to pick and choose who must obey that law and who doesn’t. 

He has granted some 1,600 exemptions for politically well-connected interests, mainly labor unions.

He has excused big businesses from the requirement that they provide health care to their employees, while imposing the requirement that employees must provide themselves with health care – often at grossly inflated prices.

He has excused members of Congress and their staffs from paying the full cost of Obamacare policies – and that ought to be a warning right there – if members of Congress can’t afford Obamacare, how can ordinary Americans afford it?

This is a constitutional abomination.  We live in a nation of laws and not of men.  The principle constitutional responsibility is to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

If there is a bad law, we change that law, we don’t ignore it. 

This doctrine is absolutely toxic to a free society – that the laws will be applied or not applied at the whim of one man.

And that’s the real question of which Obamacare is just a part.  The overarching question of our generation is whether the American Constitution will survive?

All the laws passed under that Constitution have elaborate enforcement mechanisms backed by armed force – but the Constitution itself has no such enforcement guarantees.  It was designed to be internally self-enforcing, with the powers of government clearly divided among three separate and equal branches of government. 

But this self-enforcement mechanism can only work when the powers are evenly divided, when those who exercise those powers are devoted to that Constitution, and when the people insist on it.

This is the great question for which our generation is deeply answerable.  Are we allowing the Constitution to disintegrate before our eyes?

The Constitution makes very clear that only Congress may make laws, and that the principle responsibility of the executive is to take care that those laws be faithfully executed.  Yet the executive has increasingly asserted sweeping powers to unilaterally nullify laws that it dislikes, to pick and choose who must obey the law and who need not, and even to impose entirely new laws that Congress has explicitly refused to enact.

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said that its single most important feature was giving the legislative and not the executive branch the decision of war and peace.  Yet the executive now asserts the authority to attack other nations without Congressional authorization.

The Bill of Rights protects every American from retribution for expressing their political beliefs; it protects a free press from intimidation; it protects the free and open expression of religious beliefs; it protects the means of individuals to protect themselves and their freedom; it protects every individual from having their records searched or their property seized without due process of law.  And yet, these fundamental rights have been made a mockery by the agents of this administration from the IRS to the Justice Department to the NSA. 

The rot began long before this administration – but under this administration it has become a crisis.

All this is happening, we are told, for the common good.  Ours wouldn’t be the first civilization to succumb to the siren song of a benevolent and all-powerful government.  But every society that has fallen for this lie has awakened one morning to discover that the benevolence is gone and the all-powerful government is still there.

Much of the structure of the American Constitution that has preserved our liberty for 225 years, that has contained the unwarranted expansion of governmental power and that has preserved the natural and individual rights of every citizen, has been allowed to decay. 

The form is still there – the institutions continue to function – but they no longer serve their principle role to protect the rule of law and the liberty of the people. 

In the U.S. Capitol, we are surrounded by the symbols of the Roman Republic.  They should be a warning to us.  The Roman Senate continued to exist 400 years after the fall of the Republic – but its nature and purpose had been emptied.   

Looking back on the wreckage, the great Roman historian Edward Gibbon observed that “the principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is dominated by the executive.” 

That is precisely what is happening. 

The institutions of our American Republic continue to operate, but the structures within it are rapidly degrading.  In this condition, our Constitution is becoming like a rotting porch: we can still discern its form and purpose, but the structure that gave it strength and support is hollowing out through years of abuse and neglect until one day it will simply collapse.

People look to the Congress to assess the harm already done and to begin reversing that damage before it is too late.  But I must warn that in its current, divided condition, Congress cannot do so alone.   Ultimately, it will require the active assistance of the rightful owners of the Constitution, the American people. 

How ironic it would be if the liberties of this nation, heroically defended by sacrifices of nine generations of Americans on far off battlefields, might someday be carelessly thrown away here at home.

Let that not be the said of our generation.  Let it be said instead that just when our Constitution seemed most in peril, this generation rose up, insisted on absolute fidelity to the Constitution by those it elected, and then went on to revive, restore, and preserve that Constitution for the many generations of Americans who followed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tom McClintock
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