You can read Colin's latest post here.
I believe that this discussion has gone as far as it can. Colin's idea of "progress" seems to be me conceding to his argument. However, I believe that I have made a far stronger case than he has, so I ought to be attacking him for not agreeing with me rather than vise versa. I'm not sure what Colin's goal was, but finding one complete approach to the issue that we can both agree on was never a possibility. It is clear that we have incompatible views of the proper role of government, so his proposals will always be overreaching in my view, and mine will always be inadequate in his.
We did find many things we agree on: subsidizing insurance for people who genuinely can't afford it, reducing waste and fraud, avoiding unnecessary malpractice and defensive medicine costs, the importance of competition, that insurance companies should be able to deny new coverage for reasonable grounds, regulating insurance companies to assure that they operate in a fair and transparent way, making sure that people can move from one insurance provider to another, and eliminating bad regulations such as the law preventing intra-state insurance purchase.
We disagree on mandating the purchase of insurance, the public option, and mandates on employers to provide insurance. That's a shorter list, but those are central elements in the proposed bills, and they are deal-killers as far as I'm concerned. If someone proposes a bill with the elements most people can agree with, and leave out these other things, I will support it with enthusiasm, regardless of who proposes it, just as I supported Bill Clinton in those cases where he did things right: NAFTA, Welfare reform, etc. But I will continue to oppose bills with a public option or mandates to purchase insurance, an idea Barack Obama opposed throughout the campaign, just as I opposed bad policies when George Bush promoted them, including Medicare Part D, immigration reform, invading Iraq, the economic stimulus package, the appointment of Harriet Meyer, TARP and bailouts of failed businesses, and most importantly his dismal failure to control spending.
You accuse me of exaggerations and quoting talking points, but then mischaracterize what I said. Regarding exaggerations, you keep holding onto the 46 million number even though Obama himself is now saying 30 million. And regarding talking points, for the third or forth time you repeat the line "Every developed nation in the world offers universal health care except the US." That talking point reminds me of preschooler playground logic: teacher, everyone else is doing it!
Here's a news flash: people do go to jail for not paying their taxes. There are currently tens of thousands of people in jail for that reason. My comment was not related to the Ensign note, as that note was released after I posted my comment. Our tax law is not optional, and it is backed up by force of law. If you don't believe me, refuse to pay your taxes and see what happens. Of course not everyone who doesn't pay their taxes goes to jail. If you are a left-wing tax cheat you might end up with a powerful position in the Obama administration, maybe even running the IRS.
I did not say that the reform is equivalent to Marxism. In fact, your tendency to misrepresent what I say has happened so often that I think it must be intentional. In the discussion of auto insurance, I spent five paragraphs demonstrating that states mandating auto insurance is different than a Federal mandate to buy health insurance, but you accused me of saying that the auto mandate was tyrannical, when that conclusion could only be reached if the two were the same. In this case, pointing out that Obamacare is not "modest", I said that if it was modest, it greatly raises the bar to qualify for ostentatious. Modest and ostentatious are antonyms, so relating Obamacare to modest and Marxism to ostentatious do not equate the two. It would be like you claiming that Donald Trump's $125 million Maison de l'Amitie is modest because there are a couple of oil sheiks who live in more expensive houses. If Trump's house is modest, what is left to be considered ostentatious? The Taj Mahal? Pointing out that there are worse ideas doesn't make Obamacare reasonable any more than pointing out someone who advocated nuking the entire middle east justifies invading Iraq.
Then you suggest that I am supporting mandatory purchase of insurance. I did not advocate "forcing people to get insurance when young and keeping it". That's the core difference between your view of government and mine. When I say that someone should do something, I mean that they should choose it freely, but you think it should be imposed by force by a Federal mandate. You support a nanny state imposing its vast wisdom upon the helpless, ignorant proles for their own good. I believe that if we have a minimal level of regulation to ensure fairness and transparency, so that people can choose to buy insurance knowing that they won't be dropped unfairly later on if they get sick and they can move from provider to provider and keep coverage if they move from one state to another, then they have the opportunity to obtain lasting coverage. If they don't do it, that is their decision and they will have to live with it. There is nothing heartless in that, as I didn't impose any decision on them.
Regarding my statement that "This bill is an authoritarian power grab bigger than any in American history" you are right. That was an exaggeration. The severity of the impact on those impacted by the cases you cite was much worse, outweighing the much larger scope of the current proposal, which will impact far more people, do much greater economic damage, and last for a longer time. I'm not much comforted that Obamacare is not the worst, but merely near the top of the shameful list of America's biggest authoritarian power grabs.
I used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack as examples of other cases where government intervened in the market and caused a lot of damage. There was no bubble when those agencies were started, either. They were controlled by politicians like Chris Dodd, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, and Barney Frank. While there is plenty of blame to spread around in the case of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, Fannie and Freddie were two of the biggest players in bringing it about. The central factor is not for-profit versus non-profit, but government controlled versus free market, private sector control. Private medical insurance operates at a 3% profit margin, meaning that if they were to break even, the price would drop by 3%. It was government pressure which led to the lowering of lending standards and changing the rules of aggregating risk which drove the bubble and undermined the market.
I was disappointed and angered to see that you returned to your empty rhetoric about my supposed lack of compassion. This is the cliché liberals flee to when they can't make an argument based on fact or reason, generally right before they start calling the conservative a "bigot". While we have engaged vigorously on ideas, I have tried to avoid personal attacks of this sort. I apologize for my comments lashing back in reaction to this. It was hasty and not thoughtfully considered. Although we disagree on several points, I hope we can keep things friendly and civil. My compassion is not measured by my support of more government programs, but by my personal involvement in other people's lives and my generosity to those around me, which is my business and not yours, so I'm not going to brag about it here. Plenty of people have spent a lot of energy running down America, capitalism, and our medical system, exploiting both real and imaginary victims for political gain, and I am not going to join that chorus either. I am not driven by a desire to "score political points" or deal political defeats to anyone. I could just as easily say that you are driven by self interest, seeking another source of power to wield over the masses, demagoging the issue in every election as Democrats already do with Social Security and Medicare to entrench your party in power. All that I do is based on a vision of America shared by those who left their homes to found this nation, by those who fought to establish liberty and protect it, and by those who still seek liberty today. Those time-proven principles espoused by the founding fathers and outlined in the Constitution made our nation great, and they are not to be trifled with, dismissed, compromised, or smeared as being fringe extremist militia ideas in an attempt to marginalize the speaker. I am none of those things, and your attempt to paint me as such shows your inability to compete on substance in the arena of ideas. The free market is the most compassionate system in the world, far superior to collectivist systems which impose equal poverty, as we have seen in China, North Korea, the USSR, and Cuba. America has surpassed countries which try to mix the two systems, as they do in Europe, because the cost of excessive government is a constant drag on economic growth and wealth creation, which is the key to improving the standard of living for everyone. My goal is for the good of America, which benefits me in the process, but not at the expense of anyone but rather by allowing everyone to benefit.
You, on the other hand, propose real and massive expenses and intrusions into people's lives with ephemeral promises of future benefits and savings. You have only the words read from a teleprompter assuring that this time it will be different from every other government failure. This time our promise of statist utopia will actually be realized. Every other big government entitlement has been a boondoggle, dragged down by waste, fraud, and corruption, but this time we'll get it right. This time we will be fiscally responsible, unlike our mad spending binge earlier this year, and we won't add one dime to the deficit. This time "hope" and "change" from our messiah will lead us to the promised land where no one dies because they can't afford medical care and no one goes broke because they get sick.
It seems that public opinion is moving my way, not yours, as 56% of the public oppose Obamacare and only 41% support it, according to a poll released today.
If Obamacare passes and does not add to the deficit, I invite you to say "I told you so." Until then, I've said what I need to say. I welcome your comments on any posts you see here.