It has been a busy week, month, summer…It seems like the days are just flying by. Here it is Thursday, September 3rd. Labor Day is fast approaching and so is the end of Congress’ summer recess. August’s news was filled with stories of town hall meetings and protests from across the country. September is already providing more of the same. The town hall meetings with our elected representatives have for the most part been emotionally charged. The hot topic appears to be health care “reform” aka: HR3200. Is this really the button that has America so engaged or is it merely just the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back?
For those that are still caught in the false left-right paradigm parroted by the pundits and talking heads in the main stream media and the polished party loyalists, the divides are growing, the battle lines are being drawn, the accusations are flying. Grass roots, AstroTurf, SEIU, Obamacare, Socialism, Marxism, death panels, rationing…Truth be told, it is no longer about Left or Right, it is about right or wrong. No matter how you slice it, peel away the rhetoric, and for many of us there is a much greater issue to confront…that is, the future of our republic. In case you haven’t noticed, the gloves are off, and the second American rEVOlution has begun.
So here we are, another day, another town hall meeting. This past Monday’s was unique. I was one of approximately 30 local business owners, business managers, and members of the Upper Perkiomen Chamber of Commerce, invited to attend a town hall meeting with Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. In these historic times, sometimes it seems as though we are nothing but observers, or unheard bystanders in our own political lives. Not this time. The event was sponsored by the chamber, and hosted at Brown Printing in East Greenville, part of the Pennsylvania’s 15th district represented by the congressman. In attendance was an excellent cross section of people from our community, a chief of Surgery from a local hospital, school administrators, the president of a local commercial roofing and industrial real estate development company, a real estate broker, representatives from Brown Printing, Blommer Chocolate, executives from a family owned industrial and safety supply company, many others, and myself a family man, and business owner. In that group, I know that we had Republicans, Democrats, and a couple of small “l” libertarians.
Relative to the health care debate, my personal experience and perspective is that our business provides the premier health insurance products in the marketplace to our employees. We offer 100% coverage to most of our employees and their dependents. We know first hand the affects of rising costs, and the burden on small business. We have worked hard to reduce our health insurance costs from a projected $280K this year to approximately $200K. I personally believe that government intervention, overreach, and over regulation is the culprit and the leading cause of the spiraling costs of health care. (Not to mention the inflationary, regulatory, and immoral policies of the unconstitutional Federal Reserve. I’ll save that for another rant.)
I was among the last to arrive, and as I was making my way down the hall to the conference room where the event was held, I encountered Congressman Dent. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and to thank him for his recent support of HR1207, Congressman Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve. I also, expressed my concern that I believed our views differed considerably on the subject of health care. My interpretation of Charlie’s Medical Rights and Reform Act is that while it is well intentioned, it provides for the creation of a new government agency, new government programs, calls for “incentives”, and the acceleration of Health Information Technology. Sorry Charlie, I do not want my medical information computerized for ANY government agency or bureaucrat to access. In Charlie’s defense, he also sponsored HR2516 in May. This bill puts forth some measures protecting the doctor patient relationship, and the ability of individuals and employers to make their own health care decisions without fear of government coercion, or the use of federal funds at the hands of federal employees interfering.
It was a relatively uneventful town hall meeting. Being invite only, this was a controlled environment, and we were a subdued group. No shouting, no sign waving, no union thugs. A relaxed atmosphere, and just good, candid discussion. Seated at the head of the conference tables shaped in a large “U”, Congressman Dent addressed the group. He showed us copy of HR3200 and explained his understanding of what he believes is wrong with he bill. The size and scope is enough to give you pause. Everyone who had concerns was given the opportunity to air them and receive feedback from the congressman. We discussed several key issues that dramatically increase our health insurance premium costs: lack of competition across state lines, the need for TORT reform, the rampant fraud in the current socialized medical programs, and state mandates that drive up insurance premiums. Sadly, none of these issues are confronted by the current legislation, and it is highly unlikely any bill that gets passed will address these major factors contributing to the high cost of health care.
Given several opportunities to speak, I shared my concern that there is a misnomer that health care is a right. Reminding everyone that our rights are inherent, and as our founders declared, we are endowed by our creator. As our rights are unalienable, they can not be taken away, nor granted by government. To the contrary, if health care can be given or taken away by government, then it is not a right, but a privilege. Of course, I reminded him of his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. And that it is his primary duty. Everything that congress does should be measured by their oath, and the constitutionality of the action. I also questioned the constitutionality of the current socialist government programs Medicaid and Medicare, “Are they constitutional?” To which Charlie answered, “We have them.” I raised the fact that nowhere in the 18 enumerated powers granted to Congress by the people in the Constitution’s Article I, section 8, are there provisions for “health care”. And added to that, the congress has a duty under the often misused and abused “Commerce clause” to actually step in and enforce the Constitution allowing competition across state lines, dramatically increasing competition, promoting the free market, and lowering costs to the consumer.
By and large, the attendees addressed aspects of this issue that are important, but a little more benign than my argument for upholding the Constitution. Charlie agreed with the group and echoed their concerns across the board, and said he had no intention of voting for HR3200 or any similar piece of legislation. His preferred approach would be to introduce and pass separate, smaller bills addressing the key opportunities for cost reduction in the marketplace. I hope we can do that. However, I believe that we will see a metamorphosis of the current proposal, and through the system of incrementalism, the Fabian Socialists will continue to gnaw at the remnants of our republic. We will continue to experience government intrusions, and incursions on our individual liberty, and the forceful confiscation the most precious of all of our property, the fruits of our labor. Or will we? The question that I have is: do the citizens of the once sovereign commonwealth of Pennsylvania have what it takes to stand up and truly hold their representatives accountable? Can we reclaim our servant government, and restore it to its original intent and design, of the people, by the people, and for the people, from the ground up?
Oh, I almost forgot. Before leaving the venue. I had a follow up conversation with Charlie Dent and gave him Campaign for Liberty flier on the health care issue highlighting several important pieces of legislation HR1495, HR2630, and HR2629. I managed to hand out about a dozen or so to the other attendees. And I had a good conversation with Bob Mensch my representative in the statehouse. Bob is a cosponsor of the 10th amendment resolution introduced by Sam Rohrer, and also against real I.D. He is taking a run at the state Senate seat recently vacated by Rob Wonderling….More on that later.