In my latest reading of To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine, Newt Gingrich critiques Obamacare and ACORN as well as argues (using examples) that big businesses support government regulation because that hinders their smaller competitors. For the last point, I was especially intrigued by Newt's statement that Clarence Darrow (the famed criminal defense attorney and champion of the underdog) was a critic of the National Recovery Administration, which was part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, because Darrow thought that big business essentially wrote the NRA's codes. See here for more information on this.
I want to focus on in this post is health care. Five points that Newt
made especially stood out to me. First, Newt says that Obamacare's tax
on makers of drugs and medical equipment will make matters worse, for
the businesses will simply pass on the cost of the tax to their
consumers, resulting in higher health care costs. Second, Newt notes
that government "often tries to control costs by cutting Medicaid
reimbursements to providers", and he says that "With 20 million
Americans being pushed into Medicaid by the new law, this is an ominous
sign of things to come" (page 95). Third, Newt narrates that Democratic
representatives Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak demanded information on
health insurance companies' business practices, and Newt sums up their
implied message as "get on board with 'reform,' or we'll embarrass and
investigate you until you do" (page 102). Fourth, on page 116, Newt
refers to Washington Examiner lobbying editor Timothy Carney's
observation that "during the 2008 election cycle, the securities, health
insurance, and pharmaceutical industries, and even many of the biggest
oil companies, gave more money to Democrats than Republicans" (Newt's
words on page 116). And fifth, I talked recently about a provision of
Obamacare that denies coverage to the purchase of over-the-counter
medicine without a prescription (if I understand the provision
correctly). Newt appears to discuss this (or a similar) provision on
page 119----the provision that (in his words) "prohibits the use of
funds from Health Savings Accounts for over-the-counter medications."
The effect of this, Newt argues, is to "encourage Americans to buy
expensive prescription drugs made by big drug companies."
Pharmaceuticals profit from Obamacare, Newt argues.
Here are some of my reactions to Newt's arguments:
I was initially reluctant to read this book by Newt, since I had
already read four other books that he wrote. But I am actually liking
this book because it is a well-documented and effective critique of
President Barack Obama's policies. I think that it's important to
remember, however, that there's always another side to the story.
What I am being further sensitized to as I read this book is how we are
often being offered imperfect choices. In terms of health care, the
situation before Obamacare stank, but there are also provisions of
Obamacare that stink, so what can we do? In some cases, the provisions
may be understandable, but they can have bad consequences. For example,
it's understandable that Obamacare has taxes, for money has to be
raised to pay for it. But Newt does well to argue that the taxes can
make matters worse, as companies pass on the cost of the taxes to their
consumers. I hope, though, that Obamacare would help Americans
to get their money back somehow, in the form of cheaper health care.
After all, taxes in Canada are higher than they are in the U.S.
because of Canada's national health insurance system, but there are many
Canadians who like that system because it takes care of their medical
3. Newt's concern that government health
insurance tries to cut costs is a concern of mine, as well. Granted,
this is also the case with private health insurance, but the government
doing it too makes me wonder if we should pursue other ways to bring
down costs (i.e., tort reform) than putting more people into a
government system. At the same time, I have heard Canadians say
that they may have to wait for certain treatments, but they do get
treated----and in many cases they don't have to wait. I know some who are on Medicaid, and they say that Medicaid is a pretty generous system. And
yet, when Medicaid eats up so much of states' budgets, there's
continually a danger that it will be cut. Is it preferable for people to
be at the mercy of this sort of system, or is there a better way:
enable people to somehow get their hands on private health insurance
that is affordable yet sufficient enough to meet their medical needs (if
such insurance even exists or can exist)?
4. Newt's book may sensitize me to the corruption and imperfections in the political system, on all sides. At
the same time, though, there are politicians who stand up to the health
insurance industry, as he notes (albeit with disfavor). Their
strongarm tactics may be problematic, but I have to admire them for
seeking to put to rest the insurance companies' obstructionist efforts
to protect their profits by killing health care reform.
Moreover, Newt says that the insurance companies give more to Democrats,
but perhaps that's because they fear the Democrats more than the
Republicans and thus want the Democrats in their pockets.
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