James Williamson guest blog: Mitt Romney, Hispanics, and the Vice Presidential nominee

Editor’s note:  I am grateful to one of my younger brothers, James Williamson, for contributing another guest op/ed to Buckeye RINO.  In the interest of disclosure, James is a native Ohioan who currently resides with his wife and four children in another swing state: Nevada. Nevada, of course, has a much larger Hispanic population than Ohio does. James has attended several GOP functions while residing in Nevada, including attending the presidential caucuses earlier in the year and serving as a delegate to Nevada’s Clark County Republican Party Convention.  James has a couple of things in common with Mitt Romney.  First of all, James is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormon) like Romney.  That being said, Romney was not James’ first pick for the nomination.  When Rick Perry first announced his candidacy (before it imploded), James was on board for Perry.  By the time the Nevada caucuses were held, the field had been winnowed down to Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul.  James caucused for Paul and went to the county convention as a Paul delegate.  Now that it is clear that Romney is the party nominee, James supports Romney against Obama.  The second thing James has in common with Romney is that he served a Mormon mission in a foreign country.  Romney was a missionary in France.  My brother, James, was a missionary in Ecuador.  James is fluent in Spanish (as is the rest of his family), and circulates among those in Las Vegas’ Spanish-speaking community.  Therefore, though he’s a gringo, I tend to lend some credence to James’ viewpoint on this topic. –DJW

MITT ROMNEY, HISPANICS, AND THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE

There is much talk about the Hispanic or Latino votes this election and whom they will vote for.  Many experts believe that it is a crucial swing group that may decide the presidential election.  I believe that may be true. Having now become the largest minority group, they certainly have sufficient numbers to have a significant political voice.  Perhaps more importantly they are not loyal to either party and will vote for whomever they believe has more to offer them.

The desire to capture the Hispanic voting community has many suggesting that Mitt Romney should pick a Hispanic running mate to improve his chances with that group.  While I think that the Hispanic vote is still in play I don’t think that simply picking a Hispanic running mate will be enough to tip the scales in Romney’s favor.

I’d like to weigh in on both issues:  1) the Hispanic vote and 2) the VP selection.

The Hispanic Vote

While some may believe that Obama has the Hispanic vote locked up I have some first-hand evidence that he does not.  I was recently riding in a vehicle with two Hispanic women that were discussing the election.  While the women both reside in Henderson, Nevada (hardly a bastion of liberalism…) I’m sure that their views are not unique among the voting (and, yes, both are voting citizens) Hispanic community.  Both women had voted for Obama and expressed disappointment in his performance.  Both indicated that they would probably not vote for him again.  Unfortunately both women had some reservations about voting for Romney.  They said that Romney did not inspire them.  Moral to the story:  the Hispanic vote is still in play but Romney better get moving if he wants it.

So how do you get the Hispanic vote if you are Mitt Romney?  If I were running this is what I would do:

1.              Remind the Hispanic community that Obama has only put a temporary measure in place regarding immigration and is only a partial solution.  A permanent solution requires the cooperation of Congress.  Obama is not going to get that cooperation if he is re-elected.  Hispanics that are paying attention know this.  Even if Obama is re-elected, the work permits that the White House plans to issue to immigrants who came as minors will only be good for 10 years.  They will not have full residency status and will have no path to citizenship unless Congress acts.   After 10 years (or less, if someone else is elected, or someone takes the case to the Supreme Court), the “dreamers” will wake up to reality that they do not have permanent legal status.  This is not a solution this is political pandering.  The pandering is only necessary because of argument #2.

2.              Point out that Obama spent his time, energy, and political will urging congress to pass the Affordable Care Act instead of immigration reform.  Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time and political capital on a bill that is not only unpopular, but also unconstitutional (Chief Justice Roberts overlooked the fact that by defining the penalty as a tax, the bill became an appropriations bill . . . that originated in the . . . Senate!  If I’m right, and Obamacare, by way of Roberts’ ruling, is an appropriation, then it needed to be originated by the House! However, I’m completely open to the possibility that Roberts was wrong on ruling that it was a tax, hence the bill is unconstitutional, by a 5-4 decision, in that the Commerce Clause does not uphold it!), the president should have lobbied for comprehensive immigration reform. Yes, it is a difficult issue, and can be divisive, but it is an enumerated power in the Constitution and clearly a responsibility of the federal government, a responsibility that the democratic Congress and White House abdicated during the 2009-2010 session.  That, of course, needs to be followed with assurances that immigration will be addressed during the first year in office.  Bush promised immigration reform, received the Hispanic vote, and then failed to deliver after three attempts.  Obama promised immigration reform, received the Hispanic vote, and then didn’t even try to deliver until it was too late.  Romney has to convince the Hispanic community that he can do better.

3.              Hispanic issues are everyone’s issues.  When I was attending a town hall meeting here in Nevada I managed to get on the Spanish news that night even though I am not Hispanic and Spanish is my second language.  The reason is because the town hall was about e-verify and several of the attendees complained about being stopped by police that asked them for their social security numbers.  I stood up and said that this was not just an issue for Hispanics.  I was stopped by a BLM officer who demanded my social security number and even threatened to broadcast it over his radio if I didn’t provide it willingly. (This is why I really don’t like the BLM.)  These issues affect everyone.  If the police can demand proof of residency or a social security card from a Hispanic they can also demand it from an Asian, African, or Caucasian.  I personally don’t want to carry my passport everywhere I go.

There are many other messages that will get the attention of the Hispanics but I believe these three are the key to opening up the dialogue.

The Vice Presidential Selection

While I don’t think that the VP pick will greatly influence the Hispanic vote I do think it will impact the election if it garners media attention.  Contrary to popular opinion, I think Sarah Palin helped the McCain campaign.  It wasn’t enough, but it brought media attention to a campaign that desperately needed it.  This time the Republican still desperately needs media attention but one other factor is very different:  A Democrat is the incumbent.  In today’s world of anti-incumbent fervor, the challenger has a much better chance of winning than 8 years ago.

The biggest challenge that Romney faces is that people are not excited about him being president.  Many of them will vote for Romney just to vote against Obama.  Romney needs people to vote for him and I think the right VP candidate will help that if it is coupled with a higher-energy campaign.  Romney is sending the right messages, but his delivery is not energizing the voters who are wary after being burnt by Obama.

Voters like Romney’s business aptitude.  We need it right now.  They also like the idea of American exceptionalism and, with that, generally like Romney’s foreign policy.  What they don’t like is Romney’s perceived vanilla flavoring.  He is viewed by many as just another politician who won’t be able to control the beauracracy or slow the entitlement tsunami.

How can the VP help that perception?  Pick a high-energy, relatively unknown conservative that does not live or work in Washington DC, preferably a resident of a swing state.  Someone like Palin with one difference:  Don’t pick a first term governor.

I don’t know exactly who that person is.  I wouldn’t pick any of the other Republican candidates for president.  (Although I might pick Ron Paul as Secretary of the Treasury.)  Mitch Daniels has taken another job.  Marco Rubio is already working in Washington.  Susana Martinez and Scott Walker are still in their first term.  Donald Trump would be viewed as a corporate crony.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is not eligible for the office.

Who does that leave?  Ken Blackwell? Wayne Allen Root?  Joe the Plumber?

Who would you pick?

Ohio House Republican press release: Proposal to restructure public mental health

Editor’s note: This appears to be just a proposal, at present, as I do not yet see a bill listed on the General Assembly website. State rep David Burke represents the 83rd Ohio House district, which includes Logan County, Union County, and most of Marion County.  This press release was issued 1/21/2011. After reading through the press release, you are welcome to read my further editorial comments (below the fold).

REP. BURKE: OHIO’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM FACES A CRISIS

Will introduce bill to identify cost-savings, structural improvements

COLUMBUS—In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Ohio’s mental health services, State Representative Dave Burke (R-Marysville) intends to propose legislation that calls for a review of Ohio’s behavioral health system. The goal of this legislation will be to identify potential reforms and cost-containment opportunities within the system, which will not only improve state health services but also rein in costs.

“The current system is crumbling and fragmented,” said Burke, who serves as chairman of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee of the Finance and Appropriations Committee. “There is no transparency with regard to costs, and oftentimes there is no coordination of services. With numerous tragic events that have happened over the last few years that have involved behavioral health system issues, it is important that Ohio make a comprehensive review of the system.”

More than 340,000 Ohioans received community mental health treatment during fiscal year 2009. Starting in 2014, the Ohio Medicaid program expects that more than 550,000 new enrollees will be added to the system, about one-third of whom will require mental health treatment. However, the current system leaves significant gaps in coverage for individuals who need behavioral services, which in fiscal year 2009 left more than 22,000 mental health patients without Medicaid coverage.

According to Burke, a lack of coordination between departments often leads to inflated costs or flawed patient care, which not only strains the state budget but also puts vulnerable Ohioans at risk. Many mentally ill Ohioans end up institutionalized in prisons and nursing homes, when in reality, a number of these individuals require more intensive behavioral treatment.

“It is extremely important that we don’t let Ohioans who depend on state services fall through the cracks or be subjected to inadequate treatment,” said Burke. “We will soon have an opportunity to improve Ohio’s mental health system while at the same time reduce inefficiency. This is a standard of excellence that we owe to those who elected us to lead this state.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Mme. Speaker Pelosi, I wonder if you would clarify something. . . ?

Beginning in the summer of last year, our Representatives in Congress began convening town hall meetings to extol the virtues of proposed health care system changes.  The reception wasn’t so good.

Also making news were groups of detractors widely known as the Tea Party.

I’m trying to remember, way back then, how you characterized the negative feedback that garnered media coverage . . .

Correct me if I’m wrong, but, didn’t you say it was mere astroturf?

I think you did.  I think you said it was nothing but astroturf.

I wonder if you would care to elaborate further on that observation in light of the most recent election results.  Do you still think it’s astroturf?

Guest blog: Behind enemy lines

Editor’s note:  This blog article was authored by James Williamson, one of the younger brothers of yours truly.  James grew up in Ohio, but he currently resides in Nevada, so he has a bird’s eye view of perhaps the most talked about U.S. Senate race in the nation.  It’s such a high profile Senate race that President Obama was in Las Vegas on Friday night (10/22/2010), so James went to the Harry Reid rally, even though he doesn’t support Reid, just to see the President (who he doesn’t support, either).   The title of this article is referencing his attendance at that rally.  Like much of the rest of the electorate, James is highly energized about issues of national politics, so much so, that these days he wants to blog (more often than I do) to get a few things off his chest.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

Reidrally(1)10/22/2010

Reidrally(2)10/22/2010

It’s not every day the President of the United States comes into town.  In fact, it’s such an unusual event that even I succumbed to curiosity.  OK, so my wife was the one that wanted to go . . . but since I had never been able to say that I had seen a sitting President (or any President for that matter) in person, I went along.  I will confess that at first I wanted to shout “vote for Sharron Angle,” but I restrained myself and I’m glad I did . .  not worth taking the chance of being pummeled  . . .

On this occasion, the President was in town to rally support for the endangered Senate majority leader.  (I may add that this was my first time seeing a Senator in person, as well.)  Interestingly enough, I found that if you didn’t get caught up in the shouts and chanting it was really difficult to tell who exactly he was talking about.

President Obama said he wanted to break away from old style politics:  A Washington without partisan bickering, politics where the candidate with the most money and cynicism doesn’t always win.  He called for the parties to work together in a bipartisan way for the good of the people.  Who were you talking to Mr. President?  Look in the mirror when you make such statements.

Another interesting statement was that neither he nor Harry Reid was born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  Then he lauded Reid for being a common man saying that he had humble beginnings and remembers what it is like to have to work for a living and struggle to make ends meet.  Who are you trying to fool?  I never went to a private school while growing up (OK, I technically went to a private college, but BYU tuition was less than Ohio State for me), nor was I privileged enough to have an Ivy League education.  As for Reid, yes, he may remember what it is like to be a common man, but that’s just it:  he has to remember.  I’ll bet he has to think about it a long time to remember, though, because that is now ancient history . . .

Obama also decried campaign smear ads by Republicans and fear mongering ads by groups that aren’t even affiliated with the candidate, groups with funny names that have donors that can’t be identified.  Funny, when my brother (none other than the Buckeye RINO) was here helping me move in, he saw such an ad campaigning against Sharron Angle . . . It was in Spanish, but he noted that the endorsement by Reid was missing (“I’m Harry Reid, and I approved this message”).  I have since heard that ad and many others attacking Sharon Angle that don’t have Harry Reid’s endorsement at the end.  Most of them use very negative pathos suggesting that Angle is not only radical but dangerous based on sound bites from some of the things that she has said that don’t sound very good on the surface but aren’t really all that scary.  (Remember that Angle is a novice.  Reid has had lots of practice speaking in public about sensitive issues, Angle has not.)  I live here in Las Vegas, NV now and I can say that I have heard more of this type of attack ads directed at Angle than I have directed at Reid…  Who are you talking to Mr. President?

When the rhetoric turned to bragging about accomplishments, Obama and Reid both touted their health care reform.  Obama claimed that health care reform is making health care more affordable for consumers.  Oh really?  Then why am I faced with a 100% increase in the health insurance premium portion that I pay, plus why is the company I work for paying an additional 25% for 2011? To be fair, the dollar amounts are roughly equal, because the company I work for pays a much larger portion of the premium than I do, but combining them both represents roughly a 30% increase.   So how is a 30% increase more affordable?  Have we changed the rules of mathematics?  If so, could you explain to me the new rules so I can understand them too?

Obama said that we should move forward and not backwards, that we needed new thinking.  So when Reid bragged that the high speed rail line to California and the I-15 corridor work would bring thousands of jobs to the area in response to the economic downturn, was that a fresh idea?  Is that new thought?  Wait a minute, I seem to remember another time when we had a major economic fallout and the government started a mega-project in southern Nevada . . . Oh, yes!  The great depression and the Hoover Dam . . .  Original thinking there, Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid.  Glad you are here to come up with all these new ideas.  So what happens if it doesn’t improve the unemployment in Nevada?  Will you then say “It would have been worse if we hadn’t”, or will you blame the Republicans for ruining it?

Well if you want some really new ideas Mr. President, some radical ones, I have a few.  How about agreeing to allow use of our national parks by the native Americans as part of restoring trust after years of abuse and land grabs?  How about returning power to the states by eliminating federal agencies and programs that are better handled on a local level, like education and welfare?  If you are so anti-imperial, how about starting right here at home?  In order to compete in the world economy, why not negotiate with the rest of the Americas to adopt the US dollar the way the European Union has? (This has already worked well in Ecuador.)  Why not take it one step further and open the door to allow the states of Mexico to join our Union?  Maybe then we could keep illegal immigration at bay once conditions inside the country improve and they are no longer drawn northward.  (Of course you would have to cut off federal entitlement programs for that to work.)  Maybe then we could get the gang wars under control if we could send in our military instead of theirs.  Maybe then we could keep our retirees, that flee southward trying to keep themselves financially afloat, so that they retire inside the boundaries of the expanded US?  That’s radical thinking.  This is something no politician is even talking about, a new idea.  Re-creating the New Deal under a different name is not a new idea.

After another year, and after we are ready for the next campaign, we’ll check in, Mr. President, and see if you are having any luck with that original thought.  If you haven’t by then, we can help you out . . .

[UPDATE] Wanna Tea Party during Obama’s visit to Lorain County on Friday?

If you’ve missed some opportunities to attend Tea Parties on Capitol Hill in DC because it was so far away, then perhaps you’d like to be at a Tea Party closer to home.

If you’ve missed some opportunities to show your true genius in designing your own homemade protest signs and banners, January 22, 2010 (this Friday) might be a fortuitous occasion.  Who knows?  Perhaps someone in the Presidential motorcade might even spot your sign.

Lorain County Community College is on the outskirts of Elyria, and it’s a venue where President Obama will make an appearance on Friday, though I’m not sure of the exact time of the President’s appearance.

For the Tea Party, however, you’re welcome to stay the whole day.  You can pack food, if you like, but there are also plenty of fast food joints and other restaurants just down the road, to the north of the campus.  I have no idea what the weather forecast is, but be prepared for the outdoor conditions.

Mike Hellyar of the Lorain North Shore Patriots is designated as the organizer of the rally.  The plan for Tea Party attendees is to park at Elyria’s Hilltop Park Cobblestone.  It’s a little bit of a walk to the LCCC campus from there.  If by chance there’s no available parking at the park or at the campus, there is a shopping center called Cobblestone on the same road (State Route 301–also known as Abbe Road) as the campus.  State Route 301 is a heavily traveled thoroughfare, so as you walk along the way, plenty of motorists will have an opportunity to see your signs at virtually any time during daylight hours (just be careful not to get run over if you have to cross any intersections).

Driving-wise, LCCC is not that far from an interchange with I-90.  If traveling from Cleveland or other points east, you’d make a left off of the exit ramp onto State Route 254, and then make a right on State Route 301.  If traveling from Sandusky or other points west, you’d make a right off the exit ramp onto State Route 254 and then make a right on State Route 301.

You’ll see the Cobblestone shopping plaza on your right hand side fairly soon after turning on to SR 301 (Abbe Road).  The LCCC campus will be further south, along the left hand side of the road.  The sign at the entrance of campus is clearly visible.

I’ve always accessed Hilltop Park from Gulf Road (roughly parallel to Abbe, but further west), but it’s not the only access point, but the park stretches over to Abbe Road and up to Burns Road.  There is an intersection with Burns Road just south, beyond the LCCC campus, along Abbe Road.  Hilltop Park lies a little further south, just beyond that Abbe-Burns intersection, on the right hand side.

HilltopPark

If you feel your clever banner didn’t get enough exposure to viewers during the Tea Party, you might consider sending me a photograph of it, snapped on the LCCC grounds, and I’ll consider posting it here on Buckeye RINO.

Let the President know what you REALLY think about the bailouts, cap and trade, and Obamacare.

[UPDATE 1/20/2010] Two more links to help you get there and know what’s going on:

Cleveland Tea Party Patriots

Lorain NorthShore Patriots

The Obamacare vote among Ohio’s representatives in Congress

Late Saturday night, 11/7/2009, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed an Obamacare bill, 220-215.

As you may recall, this past summer, when Obamacare opponents said that the proposed legislation hadn’t ruled out federal subsidies for abortions, Obamacare supporters said that such a charge was as fictitious as death panels and coverage for illegal immigrants.  “Stop telling lies!” was the mantra of the Obamacare supporters.  Obamacare opponents, of course, were not telling lies, and federal subsidies of abortion weren’t stricken from the Obamacare bill until Saturday, just an hour before the final Obamacare bill vote, when an amendment to the bill, the Stupak amendment, was passed.

Not until the final hour had abortions been ruled out of the bill.

Could Congress have saved themselves some headaches by ruling out abortions much earlier in the process?  I think so.  Speaker Pelosi, however, has been playing a game of brinksmanship, to squeak uber-leftist legislation through.  Moderate Democrats have been left in a bind.

Many moderate Democrats arrived in Congress on the heels of Republican scandals.  Other moderate Democrats won seats because Republican officeholders voted like liberal Democrats on key issues.  Moderate Democrats pledged that they would represent voters’ interests more faithfully than their Republican opponents, and that they’d be scandal-free.  Voters in many conservative-leaning districts took a big risk by electing Democrats instead of Republicans.

While the moderate Democrats may have remained true to the pledge that they would not embroil themselves in scandal, their voting records under Pelosi’s leadership have been quite liberal, as Pelosi hasn’t sought middle ground on any issue whatsoever.  Conservative-leaning districts are quickly learning that the Democrats they elected aren’t really championing voters’ interests.

Let’s recap how the Ohio delegation voted on the Stupak amendment and on the House’s finalized version of the Obamacare bill:

  • Republicans Boehner, Turner, Latta, LaTourette, Tiberi, Jordan, Schmidt, and Austria all voted for the Stupak amendment (to rule out federal subsidization of abortion) and against the final Obamacare bill.
  • Democrat Boccieri voted for the Stupak amendment and against the final Obamacare bill.
  • Democrat Kucinich voted against the Stupak amendment and against the final Obamacare bill.
  • Democrats Space, Wilson, Kaptur, Ryan, and Driehaus voted for the Stupak amendment and for the final Obamacare bill.
  • Democrats Sutton, Kilroy, and Fudge voted against the Stupak amendment and for the final Obamacare bill.

Question:  Whose re-election bids were helped and whose were hurt by their votes on Saturday?

Republicans are helping themselves with these Saturday votes, and some need all the help they can get.  For Austria, he’s a freshman, so he needs votes like these to establish himself.  Boehner, Tiberi, and Schmidt all voted for the initial Wall Street bailout last fall, so they’ve got some catching up to do, as their votes started our nation down the socialist path.  LaTourette, who, in past years, has always faced very liberal campaign opponents, and who’d also been labeled as a RINO by many inside the GOP, has really benefited by Pelosi’s uber-left agenda.  With no middle ground being sought in the Pelosi house, LaTourette has had no middle ground to steer towards, and, having to steer either left or right, LaTourette has steered right, thus bolstering his conservative credentials and winning greater favor from the base.  Though his district lies in Northeast Ohio, and though local Democrats may postulate that LaTourette has moved too far to the right to be relevant in his district, I think LaTourette has strengthened his hold on the district, as Pelosi has steered Congress much further to the left than voters in LaTourette’s district can stomach.  LaTourette’s liberal campaign opponents didn’t gain enough traction against him in the past, and now that the true colors of liberals are openly displayed, I don’t think they’ll gain enough traction against him in 2010.

Leave it to Dennis Kucinich to march to the beat of a different drum.  Some speculate that if the vote had been 217 to 217 on the Obamacare bill, with Kucinich being the last person to cast a vote, that he would’ve capitulated, and voted for the measure.  He was given wiggle-room this time.  I’m not sure whether his constituents will be amused or annoyed by his capriciousness, but he’s dodged every bullet so far.

Though there are some liberal Democrats around Ohio that are incensed by Boccieri’s vote, I think the vote helps him.  The lefty voices claim that Boccieri can’t win over conservatives because they’ll still fault him for cap-and-trade and various sundry bailout votes, which is true, yet I think this vote, because it’s so highly publicized, will help Boccieri among independent, middle-of-the-road voters.

For Kaptur and Ryan, they haven’t sufficiently alienated their constituencies by these votes.  Their support of the Stupak amendment spares them from Catholic backlash while their support of the Obamacare bill leaves them in good standing with the unions.  Though Driehaus voted the same way, I don’t think it helps.  The high tide of Democrat turnout that carried Driehaus into office on Obama’s coattails won’t recur in the 2010 election, and I think his seat reverts back to Republican control.  Space and Wilson like to talk as if they are middle-of-the-road, but with no middle ground in the Pelosi House, they’ve chosen to steer to the left on every vote.  Somehow, eastern Ohio doesn’t keep close tabs on their Congressional representatives until scandal erupts, like it did with Bob Ney, Jim Traficant, and Wayne Hays.  If they were keeping close tabs, Space and Wilson would be dead meat in 2010.

Lastly, there are the Emily’s List delegation members.  In Fudge’s district, she’s a shoo-in.  I can’t imagine her re-election being screwed up by any Congressional vote. Whether she votes uber-liberal or ultra-conservative for the rest of her term, just the fact that she’ll have a “D” by her name in November 2010 will ensure her election.  Sutton has shown that she cares more about the views of liberal lobbyists around the Beltway than she does about the views of voters in her district.  Though her district leans slightly left, it’s not an uber-liberal district, so I think Sutton is hurting herself and increasing the risk that she could be successfully outflanked on the right.  Finally, there’s Kilroy.  Come November 2010, she’s toast.

One final note about the gamesmanship of Beltway lobbyists, I highly recommend this BizzyBlog post that explains how Obamacare might have been defeated if not for National Right-to-Life blocking the route.  Pathetic.

Hoping somebody’s listening

Nov52009DC

This was forwarded to me by way of some Ohioans who trekked to Washington DC yesterday to express their disapproval of how the U.S. House of Representatives is shaping their health care bill.

The AARP, in defiance of the wishes of a great number of its members, has endorsed the House version of the bill, which not only doesn’t have bipartisan support, it doesn’t even have the support of all the Democrats.

Michelle Malkin always has riveting blog entries about this topic.  4 of her blog entries posted during this past week can be found here, here, here, and here.  I recommend reading through them.

The imminent rebellion: States vs the Federal government

Note:  This is a guest blog entry submitted by James Williamson, one of my younger brothers, who is an Ohio native currently residing in Utah.

Not long ago while listening to KSL radio in Salt Lake City I heard that the state legislature was proposing an unusual move if the US congress passes the “Obamacare” bill:  nullification.  While this concept is not new it has been a while since we have seen it surface in this country from legitimate sources.  The state legislature here discussed passing a measure that would nullify the federal law and put in its place a state law.  I am not sure of the legal arguments for such a move but it seems our legislature here in Utah is not alone.

This quote is lifted directly from Wikipedia after searching for secession movements in the United States:

“On April 1, 2009, the Georgia State Senate passed a resolution 43-1 which affirmed the right of States to nullify Federal laws. The resolution also included the assertion that if Congress took certain steps, including restricting firearms or ammunition, the United States government would cease to exist ”  http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/fulltext/sr632.htm is listed as the reference and contains the full text of the resolution.

Why the Georgia state legislature felt the need to pass this resolution is becoming increasingly apparent.  A few of our legislative and executive branch leaders have apparently lost touch with reality. Voter rage was already on the rise with the passage of the TARP bailout in the fall of 2008.  Unfortunately it was not sufficient to create a significant change in the landscape of the congress.  The White House changed hands but it did not take long to find a new source of public outrage sponsered by the White House in the health care reform debate.  Rather than respond to the voters a few of our “fearless leaders” have decided to bully and intimidate congressmen and senators that do not share the view of our new “politiboro”.  This has been tried many times in the past in other countries with varying degrees of success but it is a rare occurence here and is one of the things that keeps our country free and makes it so great.

This political freedom of expression in terms of votes is now in real danger as there is a large disconnect between the will of the voters and the will of the elected.  Thus the drive to get things done quickly, hoping that things will improve before the next election and the voter rage will have time to cool.  In this I believe the hope of the current oligarchy will fail.
Consider the next statement by the governor of Texas (lifted from the same Wikipedia page):

“In April 2009, Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, raised the issue of secession during a speech at a Tea Party protest: “Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that…My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.”[39] After Perry’s comments received considerable attention and news coverage, Rasmussen Reports polled Texans and found that 31% of them believed that Texas has the right to secede from the United States, although only 18% would support secession.”  Reference: “In Texas, 31% Say State Has Right to Secede From U.S., But 75% Opt To Stay“. Rasmussen Reports. 2009-04-17. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/states_general/texas/in_texas_31_say_state_has_right_to_secede_from_u_s_but_75_opt_to_stay. Retrieved 2009-04-19.

Secession movements have always existed in this country to some extent, but when the governor of the third most populous state (and right now perhaps the most solvent) starts talking secession someone in Washington ought to think twice about what they are doing.  This statement was made in April.  It is now August and the disconnect between the ambitions of the White House, Speaker, and Pro-tempore and the public will only seem to be growing daily.

Not long ago a Russian former KJB financial analyst (his name escapes me) predicted that the US would break up over the growing discontent of the financial inequity among the states.  Specifically that the states that have the greatest revenue gap (send more in taxes than they receive from the federal government) would stop sending tax revenue to Washington and that would cause a collapse of the system.  Ohio is the poster-child for this problem.  While unemployment escalates and economic activity stagnates Ohio continues to shoulder much more than its fair share of the financial burden imposed by the federal government exacerbating the difficulty of lasting economic recovery, while California is on the receiving end.  Why the preferential treatment for California?  Could it be the number of congressional votes?  Could it be the large population of “undocumented” immigrants that bloat census district populations but have very little political voice and are easily bought with things such as immigration reform promises and free healthcare for mothers who deliver “anchor babies”?  These inequalities cannot persist forever and if our government doesn’t wake up and smell the coffee soon they will wake up to the smell of burnt toast…

I don’t know who first coined the phrase “ObamaNation” but they forgot two words:  “of Desolation”..

$876,831

Take a guess what that number means.  Need a hint?  The source of that number comes from the Contra Costa Times, of Contra Costa, California.

Have you figured it out yet?

It’s what one person earned last year.  But these weren’t the earnings of a celebrity, nor were they the earnings of a lottery jackpot winner, nor were they even the earnings of some evil capitalist.

This person works for the government.  Not the federal government, mind you.  Not even a state government.  This person works for local government, but at a regional level rather than a municipal level.

According to the story in the Contra Costa Times, this person is the chief executive officer of the Washington Township health district of Alameda County, California.  The news organization is working on compiling a database revealing salaries of all public employees in the San Francisco Bay area, and they’ve provided two links for those who wish to peruse the database: here and here.

I have two thoughts that spring to mind.

First thought:

Umm . . . are we talking about  . . . the PUBLIC HEALTH sector?  You, know, the health sector that’s NOT capitalistic, that’s supposedly compassionate yet efficient and not overly expensive?

And after you look through more of that database for that one small segment of the country called the Bay Area, and you eyeball some other salaries of public health officials, could it make you question whether Obamacare will bring any improvement?  Oh, and, how about that PUBLIC OPTION?  Hmmm?  Will that add up to savings?

Second thought:

Regionalism.  Yuck.

Talking heads in the Cleveland area have been talking about regionalism.  There are already some regional bureaucracies in place in Northeast Ohio.  (NOACA comes to mind . . . yuck!)

Here’s the rub:  What kind of input do voters have on regional bureaucracies?

Would this CEO of a regional public health district in California be raking in $876,831 (her base salary, alone, is $633,393) if the voters had a say in the matter?

Don’t regional bureaucracies lend themselves to patronage appointments that are untouchable by voters?  What accountability mechanisms would voters have at their disposal?

From what the Contra Costa Times reports, it was like pulling teeth just to get these salaries disclosed to the public.  The fight went all the way to California’s Supreme Court in 2007 just to clarify that these salaries are matters of public record.  Beyond salaries, what other information might be lingering in the shadows of regional bureaucracies?

And when thinking about what reforms you’d like to see in Cuyahoga County government, be wary of proposals that place emphasis on appointed rather than elected officials as key to the reforms, because appointed officials are a step removed from voters.  Appointments don’t make government less political, nor do they make government less prone to scandal.  I still think the best remedy for Cuyahoga and other Ohio counties would be simply to change the election years for commissioners to odd numbered years.

Sutton creating myths about reform?

Is Betty Sutton, Ohio’s 13th Congressional District Representative (D-Akron), using teleconference calls to fabricate tall tales about what’s in the Obamacare bill that would otherwise be called into question if she were holding a town hall in an arena or stadium?

That she only addressed 9 questioners in one hour is, in itself, a slap in the public’s face.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Hampshire undeserving of first primary

From Obama’s town hall in New Hampshire, it appears the voters have become too brain-dead to conjure up the tough questions that need to be asked.  Why do they get to weigh in first on presidential candidates?  Is it because New Hampshire’s residents are the most carefully groomed to serve as presidential lap dogs?

Either that, or the crowd in attendance was very carefully handpicked.

Obamacare hysteria

Yes, there’s definitely hysteria being expressed by Obamacare opponents.  Obamacare supporters are claiming that Obamacare opponents have mischaracterized what the reform plan is, and with misleading rhetoric, have whipped mobs up into a frenzy.  Among the most noteworthy examples that Obamacare supporters like to point to are Sarah Palin’s recent remarks suggesting that Obamacare will eventually lead to a government bureaucracy that Palin called a “death panel,” that would make final determinations over which health care treatments will be prescribed for you, and which will be summarily denied.

If you think my purpose in writing this blog entry is to urge my fellow Obamacare opponents to adopt a more calm, impassionate, emotionally-detached, and less provocative tone in this debate, while restricting the scope of the health care dialogue to exactly what’s contained in the Congressional bill’s 1017 pages, you’d be . . . WRONG!

Instead, this blog entry is intended to offer a few highlights about why it’s perfectly OK to get hysterical in our opposition to Obamacare.  In recent years, we, the people, have been paying closer attention to how our federal government operates, and here are some of the lessons we’ve learned that inform our approach to Obamacare:

  1. The final bill won’t be 1017 pages. We know this from watching what happened to other high-profile bills, such as the bailouts, and cap-and-trade.  All kinds of amendments are attached, and additional pages get inserted, constantly changing the content of the bill, so it’s silly to insist that we limit the health care reform dialogue to reflect only what’s written on 1017 pages.
  2. Members of Congress don’t even author legislation anymore. Let’s not pretend that a member of Congress, or even multiple members of Congress crafted the wording of this or any bill.  Congress receives pre-fabricated pieces of legislation, and then nit-picks over it.  Who pre-fabricates the legislation?  Special interest groups, White House staffers, Congressional staffers, etc.  Even if there was a Thomas Jefferson among the ranks of members of Congress who was capable of drafting language as powerful and well-thought-out as the Declaration of Independence, I guarantee that none of them personally cranked out these 1017 pages during the time that has elapsed since the start of the Obama administration.  And because the words contained in this legislation are the handiwork of scores of anonymous grunts, and did not originate with the members of Congress themselves, we don’t trust members of Congress to be able to speak authoritatively about it, particularly not the nuances of the semantics.
  3. Changes to legislation are made in the middle of the night and the wee hours of the morning, just hours before the final floor vote on the bill. It’s impossible to predict in advance what these last-minute changes will entail, and there’s no window of opportunity to scrutinize the changes.  The fact that an additional 300 pages can be inserted into legislation between the time that floor debate has wrapped up and the time that the votes are cast further illustrates that members of Congress are not original authors of legislation, and that legislation arrives pre-packaged from other sources, and that portions of legislation are strategically withheld from public view until after the bill’s passage.
  4. We don’t even assume that our Congressional representatives have read the legislation that they vote on. Again, when legislation runs into the hundreds and thousands of pages, not only is it safe to assume that members of Congress were too busy to write the legislation themselves, we also have to wonder if they even read the legislation themselves.  We end up having to specifically ask our Congressional reps whether they’ve personally read through specific bills or not.  How many times have we faulted a member of Congress for a law’s unintended consequences, and the member of Congress, in turn, responds that they hadn’t the faintest idea that it was included in the legislation they passed?  If they aren’t reading the legislation, they definitely didn’t write it.
  5. There’s no way to hold the nameless, faceless, anonymous grunts accountable for slimy pre-packaged legislation that they feed Congress. We can try to hold members of Congress accountable, but members of Congress have shown that they can be quite slippery when we, the people, try to nab them.  Members of Congress are adept at playing the blame game and passing the buck to Rush Limbaugh, or some other imaginary demon, and letting themselves off the hook.  Meanwhile, the chief culprits who remain faceless, nameless, and anonymous, keep churning out the sausage that makes us all sick to our stomachs.  They face no reprisals.  We, the people, take it on the chin.
  6. Too many members of Congress are lawyers. They insert ambiguities into the law that are intended to reap a windfall for their own profession.  Disagreements over the meaning and intent of a law are decided in a courtroom.  Cha-ching.  Therefore, as applied to Obamacare, much of the meaning of the legislation won’t be truly known until long after the law has been enacted, as lawsuits wind their way through courthouses throughout the land.
  7. Obama seeks to appoint activist federal attorneys and judges. Following on the heels of the previous point, since the full meaning of the law won’t be known until the conclusion of court litigation, the outcome depends partly on who the personnel are inside the courtroom.  If Obama appointed those who were strict constructionists in interpreting the Constitution, we might have some gauge as to what the outcomes would be, as they would more closely conform to our understanding of the Constitution.  Activist attorneys and judges, however, may seek to impose something very far afield from what a reading of  the Constitution might indicate, adding uncertainty to the outcome.
  8. Even if Congress had an up-or-down vote on the 1017 pages, Bill Clinton has taught us that even the meaning of the word “is” can be interpreted in multiple ways. Thus, the debate even limited to the contents of the 1017 pages must envision all the ways in which meanings of words can be stretched.  So if it seems Obamacare opponents have an overactive imagination, there’s good reason for it.
  9. Even when meanings of words are agreed upon, it still doesn’t ensure the federal government will conform to expectations. Another lesson from the Bill Clinton era:  Perjury may be an impeachable offense, but it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal behavior that warrants removal from office.  Personally, I think it did warrant removal from office, but that’s not how the Senate voted.  The upshot is, key people in our federal government can lie, and the only penalty they will suffer is embarrassment.  The government can also cheat.  Note that Senator Dodd will not be penalized for his VIP mortgage deal from Countrywide, and that Tim Geithner was treated with much more leniency by the IRS than a non-VIP would receive.  The biggest players in Washington are cheaters, and we, the people, have little confidence in Washington’s integrity.
  10. The Beltway insulates the federal government from the people. Those inside Washington’s Beltway don’t live like the rest of us.  The more time they spend inside that cocoon, the less their motives match our own.
  11. Lobbyists have more access to the federal government than citizens do. The reason we have a captive marketplace for health insurance instead of a free marketplace has everything to do with the access that lobbyists have and the detachment from citizens that government officials feel.  And why do lobbyists have more access than we do?  Because they bundle campaign donations far more effectively than we do, and because they are physically present inside the Beltway while we inhabit the hinterlands.  Money talks, and the lobbyists have it, so they do the talking.  Campaigns treasuries have to fill their coffers somehow.  Citizens don’t get health care reformed in the way that we want it to be reformed because no lobbyists will cough up campaign donations for implementing the reforms that we, the people, would favor.
  12. Even as lengthy as legislation is, much of the rule-making is left to bureaucrats within the executive branch. So even if we identify the culprits who pre-packaged the legislative sausage for us and held them accountable, we have to take the additional step to identify the nameless, faceless, anonymous bureaucrats within the agencies of the Obama administration in order to address the federal administrative code that would follow on the heels of the passage of legislation.  Once those persons are identified, they still can’t be held accountable.  They are out of reach, and only a formidable outcry in the court of public opinion can get them booted from power.  On the other hand, public outcry seems to have little effect with this White House, as Tim Geithner getting the Treasury Secretary job illustrates.
  13. Problematic legislation is almost never repealed.  Instead, additional legislation is piled upon it, ostensibly to mitigate the problems, but invariably compounding the problems, until a crisis is declared, clearing the way for sweeping changes that result in yet another power grab by federal authorities. You’d think with advances in literacy, science, and technology, our society would be far better equipped to devolve power back to the people than when the Constitution was first drafted.  Counterintuitively, power has been increasingly consolidated in Washington over the past two-plus centuries.  Fixing problems is often the ruse used for Washington’s power grabs, even if the problems were caused by Washington in the first place.  In fact, we, the people, have to wonder whether enactment of flawed legislation is deliberate sabotage intended to trigger the “justification” for a bigger government role.

So, we, the people, have great difficulty communicating with Washington over top of the competing voices of lobbyists.  The members of Congress are passengers on a runaway train of legislation that they didn’t craft, perhaps didn’t even read, and probably don’t understand.  We have no clue what the final version of the legislation will be.  After the legislation leaves Congress, we don’t know what the resulting rules will be that are concocted and enforced by Obama’s bureaucrats.  After that, we don’t know what the lawyers will take issue with, and what the courts will decree in response.  Even once everything is hammered out, we can’t be assured that the federal government will keep up their end of the bargain as they’ve demonstrated a capacity to lie and cheat while dodging real accountability.

As far as I’m concerned, any interpretation of Obamacare is fair game, as it’s too fluid, too nebulous, not concrete enough to possess a set definition.  Sarah Palin is perfectly within reason to refer to Obama’s proposed health care regime as a “death panel.”  Obamacare supporters cannot credibly claim that something is or is not applicable to the health care reform debate, as nothing can be ruled out at this point.

I recommend that Obamacare opponents sound off on any and every possible concern they may have about health care granted by government decree.  If we don’t stake out our positions, if we don’t draw the line on what is and is not acceptable, if we do not make our voices heard, we are bound to discover that this legislation will take on a shape that we abhor.  We absolutely must raise a ruckus.  The magnitude of our mass hysteria must overpower the evil designs of Washington powermongers who would trample the authority of the people.

We edge ever closer to the crossroads that mark a defining turn of events in the future of our nation.  Liberty, itself, hangs in the balance.  We, the people, must rise to the challenge.

Uproar over health care: some Democrat myths need to be busted

I generally blog about what I want to blog about.  I generally prefer to blog about Ohio issues instead of national ones.  Lately, I’ve been on fire over gambling, both Strickland’s flip-flop, and the pending casino ballot issue.

However, my friends and family members have been pestering me day after day to blog about health care reform.  My friends and family are not nearly as political as I am, so it’s unusual for me to see them so fired up and passionate about something political.  My youngest sister (I’ve got 4 sisters and 5 brothers) is the only one out of all these people who hasn’t fully formed an opinion on the topic of health care.  Everyone else who’s emailed me is adamantly opposed to the direction that Obama and the Democrats are taking us in.  About two weeks ago, I emailed them all back and said that I’d already blogged about my own stance on health care last year, along with a string of blog entries expressing my agony that our nation is marching down the path of socialism.  My health care stance basically stipulates that we need to switch from a captive marketplace to a free marketplace where consumers make the choices among private sector competitors, similar to the auto insurance marketplace.  I encouraged them all to contact their Congressional representatives to let them know how they felt about the direction of health care reform, but I told them I was weary of the topic, myself, and didn’t plan to blog much more about it.

Yesterday at Michelle Malkin’s blog, I happened to see an eye-popping video of an AARP meeting in Dallas, so I included a brief blurb about it on my blog.  Voila.  I wrote my obligatory health care post.  ‘Nuff said.

I moved on to other tasks around the house, with a load off my mind.

Later, I came back to my computer to see what was going on in Ohio’s blogosphere, hoping to see who else might be writing something about the gambling issues in Ohio when I saw a post from Dayton OS that got me totally riled up.  It wasn’t about gambling.  It was about health care.  The Democrats are telling each other lies about the opposition to Obamacare.

How thick-skulled the Democrats are.  No matter how much they’re  bludgeoned with the truth about how we really feel about Obamacare, the truth doesn’t get through their thick skulls.

So here I am, seething with anger over Democrat lies, blogging about health care reform.

What lies are the Democrats telling each other?  That opposition to Obamacare is nothing but an astroturf campaign wholly concocted by the health insurance lobby, and there is no genuine grassroots opposition to Obamacare.

A conclusion that Democrats draw from their own lies is that there’s no need for Congressional representatives to pay any attention to any feedback from constituents on Obamacare.  They’ve convinced themselves that the grassroots all want Obamacare, no matter how much noise we make.

I can’t think of a greater dereliction of a Congress member’s duty than to turn a deaf ear to the people.  If opposition to Obamacare is nothing but astroturf, then overwhelm it.  Have all 535 members of Congress hold town hall meetings in their hometowns all over the country at the exact same times on the exact same days so that there’s no way that the health care lobbyists can be in all places at once.  If opposition turns up everywhere at once, then you’d better be listening, because that’s grassroots, not astroturf.  But if members of Congress, instead, are derelict in their duty by turning a deaf ear to the people, and letting us have no voice, I swear I’ll trek to Capitol Hill this fall and make some noise. I might even bring a pitchfork with me.

I am not in league with health care lobbyists.  If anyone cares to read my blog entry on health care reform, I expressed displeasure with the health care lobby and with pay-to-play legislators who got us to the point where we are now, with a very uneven playing field in a very uncompetitive health care marketplace.  I’m not against health insurers earning a profit in a free marketplace, but we don’t have a free marketplace.  We have a captive marketplace.  To get to a free marketplace, we have to repeal scores of laws that legislators enacted in exchange for campaign contributions from the health care lobby.  The real reason we can’t have the health care reform that Americans want is that members of Congress are too concerned about campaign fundraising and holding on to power.  Legislators won’t get PAC donations for repealing sweetheart deals so that we can free the marketplace.

It’s an insult to me to suggest that I, as an opponent of Obamacare, have been bought by the health care lobby for the sole purpose of an astroturf campaign.  I first started talking about marketplace reforms of health care when I first ran for state rep in 2002.  My health care plan blog entry from last year was very nearly a cut-and-paste of the same health care plan I touted in a campaign email newsletter that I circulated during my 2nd state rep run back in 2004.  I staked out my position on the issue long before Obama ran for President, let alone before Obamacare was placed before us.  No health care lobby has been orchestrating my opposition to Obamacare.  It’s Congress and the state legislatures that have been influenced decade after decade by the health care lobby that we’ve arrived at the mess we’re in.  It’s the height of hypocrisy for legislators to suggest that Obamacare’s opponents have all been bought by lobbyists.

“Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation.”

What a crock!  We’d like a conversation to begin, and we’d like it to be open and frank, and we’d like to be a part of it.

If Democrat members of Congress embrace these lies, and turn a deaf ear to us, despite their Constitutional duty to represent us, there won’t be a conversation.  If that happens, things could get really ugly.

AARP not working for the seniors

Mega hat-tip to Michelle Malkin for this astonishing post (complete with video clip) about an AARP town hall in Dallas that didn’t go according to plan.  The AARP staffer had an agenda different from grassroots seniors.  The AARP agenda?  Obamacare.  The staffer was asked by a senior, “Do you work for us?  Or do we work for you?”  The staffer pulled the plug on the microphone, said the meeting was over, and left, but the seniors continued with their forum after the AARP staff walked out the door.

DJW has a health care plan

Hillary Clinton has a health care plan. Barack Obama has a health care plan. John McCain will be visiting Cuyahoga County tomorrow to tout his health care plan. AND DJW, THE BUCKEYE RINO, HAS A HEALTH CARE PLAN! Can we vote Daniel Jack Williamson as a write-in for U.S. President?

Actually, this was my take on health care when I was running for state rep back in 2004, so reprising this demonstrates my commitment to recycling.

The basic premise of the DJW health care plan is that the health care insurers do not operate within a competitive marketplace. They enjoy captive markets, so consumers get screwed. Campaign contributions from PAC’s helped get legislation passed over the past generations to shield health care insurers from fierce competition. So, the DJW health care plan calls for drastic marketplace reforms.

Let’s first assess some of the common problems we, the consumers, face.

The rising costs of providing health benefits has private employers asking employees to contribute more. Government budgets are also being thrown out of whack because health care coverage for public sector employees has also become more expensive. The state’s Medicaid costs are increasing dramatically, too.

However, HMO’s seem to be doing quite well. They have lavish headquarters offices and pay for lots of advertising. Who are they advertising to? Our HMO choices are limited by our employers. It seems they have a lot of extra cash to dispose of. Why can’t they reduce our premiums with all that cash they have?

They keep their expenses to a minimum, which you can tell by trying to get in contact with a real person when you call, but you have to weave your way through complicated phone menus first. If you’ve seen the help wanted ads, these HMO’s don’t pay their customer service representatives very much money. They have a whole bunch of rules you must follow in order to guarantee that they will pay your medical bills. If you must appeal because they denied a claim, you will have to jump through lots of hoops and cut a lot of red tape. Physicians often get reimbursed much later than service is rendered. I can’t count the times that the physicians have tried to bill me directly because they didn’t see the money coming through the pipeline from the HMO, forcing me to call the HMO, weave through phone menus, and wait on hold a long time before I can talk with someone to find out what happened (or didn’t) on their end. This long wait for payment, along with very stingy reimbursement rates has caused a lot of physicians to drop out of many HMO networks. I have talked to many who have said that they are having trouble finding doctors in their HMO network anymore.

The behavior of the HMO’s reminds me of SBC and its predecessor, Ameritech. This phone utility has had fines levied against it by PUCO for poor service, most notably late repairs and especially late installations. One time I bought a new house in the Columbus area and I had to wait for over a month for installation by Ameritech. Calling them constantly from pay phones to try to reach them was annoying, and I wasn’t getting anywhere with them when I did manage to get a real person on the line. At the time I was moving in, I had started working for Ameritech selling cable television subscriptions for them because they had just received permission to compete with Time Warner. My boss was so annoyed that she could not reach me at my home phone. I told her it was the fault of the company we both worked for! Luckily, after training, we were provided with cell phones so that she had a way to contact me. We were not well paid. I eventually left Ameritech. Ameritech had a huge advertising budget pushing local phone service. Why? Why, when there was no other local phone company to compete with them, did they spend so much on advertising? Ameritech had a huge regional headquarters in Columbus, comprising two neighboring skyscrapers joined by skywalk over the alley that ran in between them. Much of the office space was vacant. When you consider that much of the customer service representative work was done at another regional headquarters in Indianapolis, or out of the corporate headquarters in Naperville, Illinois, it seemed likely that the landscape of the Midwest was dotted with these white elephant Ameritech facilities. Our installation service in cable TV was just about as bad as telephone installation. I didn’t get paid my commissions until the new customers were installed, and I lost a lot of commissions because Ameritech was having to cancel and reschedule installations to the point that the potential customers no longer wanted to hook up with us. When the company vice president over cable operations paid us a visit, and I spoke up to complain, I soon realized that the company wasn’t going to add any more installers to their staff. On the phone side, their lousy service was one of the factors that started the trend toward abandoning land lines in favor of cellular phones. Then there was the bill. They would automatically add new features to your phone service so they could jack up your local bill. Sometimes you could save by having some features removed, but sometimes they didn’t give you that option.

The problem with utilities? If they don’t enjoy an outright monopoly, they have very few competitors. The problem with HMO’s? Same thing. They treat you that way and make millions because they can get away with it. We are a captive market. If your employer offers more than one plan, they keep you captive by only having enrollment periods once per year. If you switch jobs to get better health benefits, you will usually encounter a waiting period before you qualify for coverage, and even then there are exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

The solution? Marketplace reforms that allow for more fluid movement of customers from one HMO to another. It should be like shopping for auto insurance: Find the service you want at the best price. They will have to work harder to attract and keep customers. The actuaries will have to factor in smaller profit margins when determining rates in order to compete with rivals. HMO’s would have to be more timely in reimbursing physicians because pleasing physicians will allow the HMO’s to enjoy a larger provider network, which would be a key selling point in enrolling patients. Government would not have to bombard HMO’s with mandates on what conditions must be covered because HMO’s would want to have a more full array of plans to aid them in enticing more people to enroll. Best of all, when patients call their HMO’s, they will likely reach a real person instead of a menu, there won’t be so much red tape to get claims paid, and it will become more rare to have to file an appeal due to a medical procedure being denied coverage, because HMO’s will want to establish reputations for providing great customer service.

The considerations that we must take into account in order to make shopping for health insurance like shopping for car insurance are primarily: 1) adverse selection, where the people most likely to enroll in an insurance plan are those who are most likely to need medical treatment right away; 2) the law of large numbers that helps mitigate against adverse selection by averaging in healthier populations with those not as healthy; 3) a mechanism that makes enrollment in all health-insuring corporations available to all workers regardless of employer; 4) a mechanism that allows consumers to transfer from one insurer to another as easily as transferring money from one bank account to another, or at least as easily as selling shares of a stock on Wall Street to buy shares of another stock on Wall Street; and 5) the administrative costs to insurers that accompany customer turnover.

Just as car insurers charge higher premiums for high-risk drivers, adverse selection can be dealt with in much the same way, that is, those with certain health claim histories would have to shop around among higher-risk policies. However, the more successful an insurer can become at attracting a large market share, the more the law of large numbers will help keep the premiums low. The law of large numbers is what makes group coverage premiums so much more attractive than individual coverage premiums. Each insurer would treat all enrollees in the same plan as a large group instead of a bunch of individuals. If all employers set aside the health benefit dollars into a special account (instead of contracting with an insurer of the employer’s choice) that can only pay out to insurers (and thus remain tax-free dollars), the premium can be automatically debited from the account on a pro-rated daily basis, allowing for the change to a different insurer on any day the employee desires. The employee can also deposit funds from out-of-pocket into this special account in order to make up the difference for insurance costs beyond what the employer provides. These deposits would also be tax-free. If an employee’s health coverage costs less than the benefit dollars in the account, the account could earn tax-free interest as a hedge against inflation and could be stockpiled for future years when the employee is more likely to need higher-risk insurance that costs more due to an increase in age and other risk factors. If an employee’s chosen coverage costs more than the benefit dollars that the employer provides, that will determine the amount of the employee contribution to the health plan. To avoid churn and cover administrative costs, set transaction fees will be debited from the special account by the discontinued policy insurer and the new policy insurer, much like a stock brokerage fee (but more affordable). If there is not enough in the account to cover the transaction fees and the first day’s premium under the new policy, the employee would not be able to change coverage at that time. If the payment of the health insurance premium goes unpaid for 30 days or lags behind schedule for 90 days without ever being brought up to current in the 90-day period, coverage would lapse, and the employee risks being subject to exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and a physical examination that could result in being placed into a higher-risk category before being permitted to enroll in a health plan again. Benefit dollars flowing into the special account after the lapse in coverage could continue to be debited by the discontinued policy insurer until the premium for the time up to the date of the lapsed coverage is paid in full along with the discontinuation transaction fee. If the employee has not yet enrolled in a new plan, but the discontinued policy insurer is paid in full, then benefit dollars flowing into the special account will accumulate until enrollment with a new insurer starts the debiting process again. Because of modern technology that allows for very cheap electronic transfers, it is not anticipated that daily depositing by employers or daily debiting by insurers will be the cause of prohibitive administrative costs, but if employees and employers agree to quarterly or monthly or weekly deposits, that would be an option that could be set up when the special account is created for that employee. Likewise, if insurers want to add incentives to consumers to enroll in a plan that debits weekly, monthly, or quarterly, that would be permitted. Pro-rated adjustments would have to be made, however, if there is a change in employer or insurer. Those with two jobs could have benefit dollars deposited in the same special account. Families could have benefit dollars from all earners deposited in the same special account. Some members of a family may be enrolled in a different plan than others in the family, and more than one insurer would be able to debit the special account. If there is no survivorship provisions, however, the special account would not constitute an inheritable estate, since benefit dollars are tax-free and are only withdrawn by insurers. Those who are self-employed or financially independent can create special accounts as well, to make tax-free deposits for health coverage at group plan rates rather than individual plan rates.

Insurers will still be able to take advantage of re-insurance for stop-loss coverage to keep costs down, as they always have before.

I am leary of government-sponsored, single-payer, universal health care proposals. What would be the mechanism for holding down costs? We would likely need a flood of new taxes to pay for it. Universal coverage would be a nice goal to achieve, and I am open to public debate on how we can best achieve it, but I do not believe the solutions lie within the public sector.

Medicaid is a government sponsored, single-payer health program. There is no mechanism that holds down those costs. Nursing home operators appear to be well connected to their state legislators and are able to negotiate ever increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing home costs. Many Medicaid recipients in nursing homes do not even require nursing home care. Nursing homes are expensive because of the costs of medical attention and nursing care. However, many are healthy enough not to need nursing care, but because of advancing age, are too feeble to bathe or dress themselves. All they really need is a personal care attendant to fill this role, not a nurse. This kind of help is available with in-home assisted care and assisted living facilities. These are cheaper than nursing homes. However, Medicaid is not designed to help with in-home care or assisted living. Medicaid is for medical and nurse services for the indigent. The state-sponsored PASSPORT program to assist with in-home care is a small program that is constantly operating at full capacity. There are few slots to accomodate more persons at the present time. So, since many cannot participate in PASSPORT because they have already reached capacity, a huge number of seniors are liquidating their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid, which is only paid to nursing homes. So, into the nursing home they go at high expense to the taxpayer whether the patient is in need of nursing care or not. The private sector, however, offers long-term care insurance that does provide benefits for in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care, depending on the physical condition of the insured. If many many more people had long-term care insurance, they could possibly enjoy life a little more by living outside of a nursing home while holding on to their estate with all its assets. Perhaps if the state spurred the insurance industry to promote long-term care insurance through public service announcements, we could prompt more Ohioans to obtain this coverage and help save the state oodles and oodles of money. Plus, with a competitive marketplace to help hold down health costs, the state may be in a stronger position when negotiating costs for Medicaid.

Health care reform measures that my platform calls for would also need action from Congress to implement, because we would need to change the medical expense insurance marketplace on the national level. However, states are often the incubating laboratories of national programs, as we saw with welfare reform. Ohio can probably get the green light to pilot a few of these proposals so that Congress can assess the feasibility of implementing the whole plan. Just because this is a huge undertaking doesn’t mean we shouldn’t press forward. I think Clinton, Obama, McCain, and especially DJW, all realize that the time has arrived when we need to totally revamp our health care system.