Rand’s Quest For a Transparent Health Care Bill

Photo from Rand Paul’s Facebook page

Guest piece by Philip Haddad

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) had launched on a mission to find a draft of the House GOP’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“I have been told that the House Obamacare bill is under lock and key, in a secure location, and not available for me or the public to view,” he tweeted, and then he went into action.

Paul went to a Capitol meeting room with staff and a photocopier to surprise members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that were rumored to be discussing the ACA.

“In my state, in Kentucky, it’s illegal to do this,” he said, beckoning to a door where he was told there was no bill. “This is being presented as if it were a national secret, as if this were a plot to invade another country.”

Paul held a press conference on the spot and told a dozen or so reporters that “We’re here today because I’d like to read the Obamacare bill. If you’d recall, when Obamacare was passed in 2009 and 2010, Nancy Pelosi said you’ll know what’s in it after you pass it. The Republican Party shouldn’t act in the same way.”

Later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Paul said reports claim, “It keeps the Cadillac tax but renames it. It starts a new entitlement program with refundable tax credits, and it also keeps the individual mandate.”

Paul is concerned that a cloak and dagger routine is being employed to hide parts of the bill that would run counter to many wanting to see the ACA repealed, and he fears this maneuvering may be a ploy to force Senate Republicans into a “take it or leave it” mindset when the legislation gets to them.

Whatever someone’s position is on this issue Paul should be applauded for bringing focus to an important issue, namely healthcare and the backroom deals that too often accompany legislation.

Paul produced a reaction not only from the media, but also from establishment politicians with Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan saying, “…I like Rand, but I think he’s looking for a publicity stunt here”, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger called Paul “the master of theatrics“, and former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi posted a twitter picture with two dogs with the caption “Just helping out @RandPaul. #ReleaseTheHounds #WheresTheBill,”. However, Paul wasn’t alone in his concern as some Democrat members of the House were also going to different rooms on a quest to find the bill and the Washington Post quoted Rep. Thomas Massie as saying “We asked for the score and all that. We were told we’ll have that by the time it gets to the floor. We need to have that now! You can’t have a discussion about this proposal independent from costs. It’s ridiculous. That’s kind of like, just ‘vote for it to see what’s in it.’”

Paul has introduced his own ACA replacement bill allowing people to:

  1. Choose inexpensive insurance free of government mandates;
  2. Buy insurance across state lines;
  3. Save unlimited amounts in a health savings account (HSA) and expanding options for using said funds; and
  4. Join together in voluntary associations to gain the leverage of being part of a large insurance pool.

It remains to be seen if Paul’s bill will pass but Senators Cruz and Lee are joining with him voicing similar concerns, backing by the House Freedom Caucus, and his tech savvy team continue to capitalize on all of the media attention by creating a Twitter account @randpaulcopier posting pictures of a photo copier with a sign “SHOW ME THE Bill” in front of numerous landmarks in front of the Capital.

It’s tough to disagree with his main message: “This should be an open and transparent process…This should be done openly in the public…”.
Paul continues to be the most interesting person in the Senate and we all are better for him being there!

UPDATE: The GOP’s Obamacare Repeal Bill has finally been released and Paul’s concerns have been vindicated!

American Health Care Act: https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/

 

Philip lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, son, & two cats: Swirl and Rand Paul. He has worked on political campaigns ranging from his city council run to the presidential level. He is the co-editor of the book “Ron Paul Speak”.

A Political Fourth

For many Americans, the Fourth of July is a day filled with cookouts and family gatherings capped off by a night filled with a colorful fireworks display.  However, given that the date serves as the commemoration for the birth of the nation, it is also steeped in politics.

On Wednesday afternoon, the city of Harrisonburg, Virginia held its annual parade to celebrate the day.  The weather was quite hot and sunny, a marked difference from last year when a virtual monsoon threatened to cancel the affair.

The parade boasted the usual assortment of floats and vehicles: musicians, fire and rescue teams, antique cars, and, of course, political groups.  This year, there were four different sets of folks who entered: the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Tea Party, and Abe Shearer for City Council.

Overall, the candidate who could claim the largest number of visible supporters in the parade had to be Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  There was a veritable sea of matching blue Goodlatte shirts among the Republicans.  Other Republican candidates were promoted as well including: Mitt Romney, George Allen, Mark Obenshain, and the various City Council hopefuls.

The Democratic Party had an impressive showing as well.  They waved signs in favor of Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, Andy Schmookler, and two City Council candidates. I spoke with Deb Fitzgerald, one of the Democratic candidates running, to ask if the Democratic Party only fielded two folks for the three seats up in November.  I discovered that although Kai Degner is running for re-election, he apparently had no signs printed to be used in the parade.

Running as an independent for City Council, Abe Shearer also made his presence known.  Even though some might be tempted to disregard independents, recent elections have shown that they offer beat the two party candidates for this particular office.  The outcome for this race will hinge heavily upon the battle between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at the top of the ticket and the strength of the campaigns of each of the council candidates.

During the trip down Main Street, I walked alongside the Tea Party float handing out copies of the Constitution.  In general, the crowd was very receptive and so I ran out of materials a good distance from the end of the route.

Given that the Fourth is now five days passed, you might find it odd that it has taken me so long to write about it here.  Well, I’m afraid that I didn’t feel much like writing on the evening of the event.  On the drive back to the parking lot, I decided to catch a ride on the Tea Party float.  As we turned onto a side street, the mast holding the tea party sign struck a low-hanging branch and came loose.  Unfortunately, I happened to be in the path of the heavy wooden board as it fell to the ground.  Although it was only a glancing blow, the plank did graze the side of my head and collided with my shoulder.  At the time, I was worried about the severity of the injury, and, as a result of the pain, did very little for the rest of that evening.  However, I’m pleased to say that several days later, only a yellowish bruise and a bit of residual soreness seem to be the only lingering effects.

I suppose that one could see a bit of irony in the idea of a person who opposes the idea of government-run health insurance and also does not presently have health insurance due to the tremendous cost involved, becoming injured himself and possibly in need of assistance.  Nevertheless, if a person does find him or herself in such a state of need, should one demand that the government redress this problem?  Although freely given charity is laudable, the idea of a person compelling his or her neighbors to care for his or her needs through either force or coercion seems to completely reject the basic political tenets of liberty and freedom under which this country was supposedly founded.

Anyway, to sum up, except for the surprise accident at the end, I would say that the parade was a rousing success for all of the parties who choose to participate.  Speaking specifically of the tea party, I hope that I’ll see a few new faces at our meeting later this month.

Virginia vs. Obamacare

Of course you’ve heard the news by now.  House of Representatives narrowly pass Obamacare.  “Pro-life” Democrats abandon principles for the sake of party.  Americans will soon be forced to buy health insurance, etc.  Needless to say, I not pleased by this vast increase in federal government power.  Unfortunately, with each passing administration we surrender more and more of our rights and liberty to the government.  When will it all end?  How much more power do they need?  Will we suddenly wake up one day, stripped of all our liberty and personal responsibility, and wonder how we got in such a mess?  How much more unconstitutional abuse can we endure?

Although this latest affront known as Obamacare worries me greatly, it makes me very glad that I live here in the state of Virginia.  You see, unlike some parts of the country, our legislators in Richmond don’t simply throw up their hands and surrender to the overreaching authority of Washington.  This year, Senators Steve Martin, Fred Quayle, and Jill Vogel, as well as Delegate Bob Marshall have all introduced similar or identical bills in the General Assembly, which exempt Virginians from Obamacare.  As a result of their efforts, Virginians are protected from this federal mandate.  It is a modern day example of nullification; the theory that states can ignore or overturn any federal law that they believe violates the constitution.  In addition, our Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli is preparing to sue the feds over this issue.  Even though other states are planning similar actions, Virginia is taking the lead for federalism and the 10th Amendment.  I do feel sorry for those citizens who live in states whose legislators are either too liberal or too cowardly to take a stand against this “reform”.

Here is a clip from March 17, 2010 on Fox News.

Ultimately, it is very likely that this issue will reach the Supreme Court.  Will the court find Obamacare constitutional?  And if so, will nullification efforts like Virginia’s be upheld?

I encourage you to head over to Crystal Clear Conservative who has a couple of good clips from Attorney General Cuccinelli on the matter, as well as Bearing Drift who have an important interview with Representative Wittman and AG Cuccinelli.

Decision Day In Massachusetts

Today is a pivotal day in American politics as voters across Massachusetts head to the polls to elect a new Senator.  They will be filling the seat occupied for 46 years by Ted Kennedy.  Given the New England commonwealth’s reputation as one of the most liberal states (for example, they were the first to allow same-sex marriage), one would typically expect the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, to coast to an easy victory.  After all, a Republican has not held a Senate seat there since 1978.  Instead, she is in a statistical tie or even projected to lose.  The latest survey from InsiderAdvantage conducted on Sunday shows the Republican, Scott Brown, with a 9-point edge.  In addition to the two major party candidates, Joseph Kennedy (who has no relation to the famous Kennedy family) is running as an independent.

This race is important for several reasons.  First, like the Virginia and New Jersey Gubernatorial races before it, some people will claim that this election is another referendum on President Obama and the Democratically controlled Congress.  Far more critical, however, is the resulting makeup of the United States Senate.  With the current temporary Democratic appointee, the Democratic majority presently enjoys a filibuster proof 60-seat majority.  Should this seat change hands, Republicans can stall or kill all sorts of legislation including the controversial national health care bill.  Therefore, liberals and conservatives are taking special note of this election.  Funds and activists across the nation have been pouring into the state as each side scrambles to gain an advantage.   Even Barack Obama has made a number of campaign stops across Massachusetts in recent days, urging voters to support Coakley.

With turnout projected to be at least fifty percent, today’s vote should be particularly exciting in the Bay State.  All eyes are on Massachusetts as activists of all stripes eagerly await news of this critical special election.

Bad Medicine

With each passing day, America slips further and further into the grip of socialism.  I expect that both the House of Representatives and Senate will soon reach an agreement on the latest attack on our liberty, national health care.  Although I’d like to think that Senator Webb and Warner would uphold their vows to our Constitution and vote against the bill, in the end, it is highly likely that both will toe the Democratic Party line.  Sigh.  I suppose that at some point our government must have been pretty decent.  Then again, the Supreme Court finding a supposed right to privacy that allows you to kill your own children through abortion but doesn’t protect you from the intrusion of the government through the excesses of the Patriot Act makes just about as much sense in today’s society.  It’s amazing what you can get away with when you interpret the phrase “general welfare” as liberally as possible while ignoring the 10th Amendment.

I have a confession to make.  Like millions of Americans, I don’t have health insurance.  Why don’t I, you may ask?  The answer is simple.  I cannot afford it.  Although I have had health insurance in the past and will likely do so again in the future, my budget doesn’t allow it at the present.  Well then, should I look to the government for assistance?  Should I insist that the government take money out of your pocket and give it to me so that I too can enjoy the benefits of health insurance?  Is that scheme unfortunately becoming the new “American way”?  While we are on the subject, I have to wonder why we need health insurance for routine doctor visits.  My understanding is that originally health insurance was used for major things like surgery, hospital stays, and the like.  Using insurance for any health related issue under the sun makes about as much sense as requiring auto insurance for oil changes.  As a result, this increased reliance on insurance has greatly spiked the health care costs in this country.  Take it from me; to now seek medical assistance without it is tantamount to financial suicide.  And when this legislation passes, if you choose to go without insurance, then the federal government can fine you?  I’m starting to wonder, which side won the Cold War, liberty or statism?  To borrow a phrase from Yakov Smirnoff, in Soviet Russia, insurance chooses you!

Now we can scream foul at the top of our lungs, but will our elected representatives hear our cry?  Sure, some statesmen like Delegate Bob Marshall, Senator Mark Obenshain, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are actively fighting for your rights, but the vast majority of politicians simply don’t care.  After all, Washington insiders know what’s best for you and are more than happy to dictate policy.  You agree, yes?  Remember, Napoleon Obama is always right.  Anyone who supports federalized insurance must be voted out of office and I encourage you to read Senator Obenshain’s recent article on the subject found in the Washington Times.  Not only does socialism promote bad medicine through expanded bureaucracy and inflated costs, it also spawns bad governance.

The Courage to Speak Out

On Monday, while leafing through the Daily News Record, I came across an advertisement that caught my eye.  It was a public notice about the RMH Regional Cancer Center.  What drew my attention was not the ad itself, but rather the person pictured.  Shortly thereafter, I contacted the hospital and asked for a copy of the ad to post on this blog.  In response, they sent me a link to this video:

Now I have found that generally folks don’t like to talk about issues like prostate cancer in public, especially when it concerns their own battles.  For some reason far too often it becomes a taboo like politics or religion, something to be discussed privately with close friends or family…if mentioned at all.  People don’t want to admit their own weaknesses, even though their very survival may hinge on seeking medical help before the illness becomes too advanced.  Failure to do so is merely misplaced pride, the results of which can be deadly.  Therefore, I applaud Henry’s decision not only to reach out to medical professionals, but to openly do so.  Perhaps it will encourage others in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham community to follow his example and get screened before it is too late.  I’m also glad to know that we have such a dedicated and knowledgeable staff of doctors and medical professionals available so close, at the RMH Cancer Center.

But what made this ad jump out to me and how does this ad relate to this blog’s theme of Virginia politics?  The answer is Henry.  Although I don’t know him as Henry, but by his last name, he was a guiding influence to me in my early years of political involvement.  He inspired and educated not only me, but countless others and I’m sure that many of them instantly recognized his picture as I did.  Hopefully hearing the story of someone familiar will tear away this perceived social stigma.  Thank you, Henry, and thank you RMH.

Defeat Obama Care!

As SWAC Girl reminds us, please call Senators Webb and Warner and let them know you want them to vote no on the upcoming health care bill vote.  I’ve already done most of the work for you:

Senator Jim Webb

202-224-4024

Senator Mark Warner

877-676-2759

All you have to do is tell them to vote no and then give the staff your name and zip code.  Very easy.  I just got off the phone with them both a few moments ago.

I don’t know if it will change anything, but it is worth the two minutes or so to give it a try!