Obama Violates the First Amendment

September 26, 2009

Famous Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black once stated, “I am for the First Amendment from the first word to the last. I believe it means what it says.”  In part, what it says is that, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”  To prove how serious the authors of the Bill of Rights were about this indispensible freedom, they gave Americans the ability to defend the right by force if necessary in the very next Amendment.  Even given the historic support from the High Court for the First Amendment and the means to defend it given by the Founders, this past week the Obama Administration violated its oath to uphold the Constitution by issuing a decree abridging the First Amendment right to speech.

In a memo to private health insurers from a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the Obama Administration issued a decree ordering them to stop informing Medicare beneficiaries that health reform legislation before Congress could hurt them and curtail their benefits if enacted.  The memo went on to say that the government might take legal action against insurers that are mobilizing opposition to the legislation by sending “misleading and confusing” messages to seniors. 

Say what you will about insurance companies, this is by no means a defense of them.  It is instead a rebuke of an administration that is playing fast and loose with basic rights guaranteed to all Americans, including corporations.  In the United States, corporations are separate legal entities that retain the same rights as individuals.  Humana, the company whose letters to clients prompted the decree from HHS, has as much right to speak out for or against federal legislation as I do.  Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have no power to abridge Humana’s right to free speech.  Obama should know this given that he is a constitutional lawyer.

Secondly, the decree smacks of fascism.  Corporations do not exist in America to serve the interests of the state.  Obama has this collectivist mindset, a lot like the previous administration, “you are for us or against us.”  Any discord with the Administration’s positions and you may find yourself threatened with legal action.  Perhaps the President is confused.  Maybe he has let his takeover and running of GM, Chrysler, and AIG cloud his vision and he now thinks that he can dictate the terms of existence for all American companies.  Unfortunately, few members of his own party have expressed any discomfort with the decree.  In fact, Democratic Senator Max Baucus has urged HHS to crack down on the mailings.  In addition to a government that is not listening to the people, now we have one that is also attempting to stifle the peoples’ dissent.

Of course, attempting to litigate any company that disobeyed the gag order would end in defeat for the Administration.  There is no precedence for restricting speech against government legislation.  Even inaccurate or misleading speech is protected.  But, to top it all off, the information Humana peddled to seniors was actually accurate.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill released last week in the Senate by Baucus would cut payments to Medicare Advantage plans by about $139 billion over 10 years.  Certainly this represents a significant chunk of change and would result in reduced benefits for seniors.  If the Humana information was misleading, at least Obama could look like he was standing against deceit and chicanery.  This would be somewhat admirable.  But because the information is true, he simply looks like a despot.

In 1906, Evelyn Beatrice Hall said, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.”  Taking the presidential oath of office to defend the Constitution is equivalent to Hall’s statement.  But, with the current president, he apparently has no problem not only shirking his duty but violating it.  It’s no wonder his approval rating continues to drop and Americans are taking to the streets in the millions to protest his policies.  After all, Americans are not asking Obama to give his life for free speech just to respect it even when it disagrees with his policies.


Peter Schiff for U.S. Senate

September 21, 2009

For the first time in a long time, Connecticut voters will actually have a real choice when voting for their U.S. Senator.  This past week economist and financial advisor Peter Schiff announced his Republican candidacy for the Connecticut senate seat currently held by Democrat Chris Dodd.   Baring any manipulations from the Republican establishment, Schiff’s entry into the race guarantees that important issues that are often ignored by establishment candidates will be addressed.  Once addressed, Connecticut voters will come to the conclusion that Schiff is the only candidate capable of cleaning up the financial mess produced during Dodd’s 5 terms in the Senate.

“What America has succeeded in creating is not an economy impervious to shocks, but merely one which enables their consequences to be postponed to a later date.” – Peter Schiff  

No politician of either party will admit this.  But Peter Schiff is absolutely right.  What has been built during Dodd’s close to thirty years in the Senate is an economic system that is prone to booms and busts due mostly to the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve.  So, we have a boom in the dot com sector fueled by low interest rates and then the bottom falls out and what does the Fed do but lower rates to one percent to stimulate the economy.  This in turn causes the next boom in housing.  What does the Fed do again?  You got it – lower rates practically to zero.  Once recessions set in the politicians turn to the central bank to pump in more money in to ease the pain.  This approach has worked so far to delay the inevitable but in the end all we will have is a huge national debt and a calamitous financial meltdown the proportions of which have never been seen in modern history.     

It is issues like this that are ignored by the establishment candidates in our political contests.  Another issue that Schiff is focused on that the Washington establishment is ignoring is the current reserve crisis at the Federal Housing Administration.  Reserves at the agency have fallen to $30 billion while the total amount of mortgage debt insured by the agency has risen to over $1 trillion.  Schiff asks correctly, “Didn’t we learn anything?” from the most recent crisis.  How will the agency insure so much debt with so little reserves?  Again, as long as the printing presses are rolling at the Fed, official Washington will sweep this bad news under the rug.  But, Schiff has rightly pointed out that the day of reckoning will come when the dollar has lost so much of its value that foreigners will no longer buy our debt and our standard of living will be in the dumper.

America needs leaders with the integrity and intelligence of Peter Schiff.  He was one of the very few people in America who predicted the current financial crisis as long ago as the early 2000s.  Mocked and ridiculed by political pundits for his comments that the U.S. economy was being built on false notions of wealth his position has since been vindicated by falling asset prices in the housing and stock markets.  Currently, his patriotism has come under attack for his belief that the current recession/depression is necessary to liquidate the bad economic decisions that were made during the government induced boom of the last decade.  He is the only candidate for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut that is telling the truth regardless of the consequences and standing against the establishment position that winning elections is more important than doing what’s right for the country.

When he is elected to the Senate, Schiff will fight for fiscal responsibility, sound money, and restoring the federal government to its constitutional limits.  As the candidate who is tied to no special interests including the Republican establishment, Schiff is uniquely qualified to propose and fight for policies that benefit all Americans not just the large corporate bosses and big bankers.  For the first time in a long time, Connecticut voters have an opportunity to bring real change to America.

Dennis Kucinich: Poster Child for Non-Existent Constitutional Rights

September 12, 2009

Last week I blogged on how non-existent Constitutional rights granted by Congress and presidents alike were responsible for the bankruptcy of America.  Thus, over the years, some of us have been given the right to a job, a certain wage, free food, retirement income, financial bailout for irresponsible behavior, and so on and so forth.  In 1971, when Nixon took America completely off the Gold Standard, he opened the gate for massive federal spending and tantalized and encouraged our shameless leaders to grant the above mentioned non-existent Constitutional rights and many more. 

This week I received an email from Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio entitled  “A New Movement: Health Care as a Civil Right” .  Sure enough, another member of Congress was at it again.  Seems the congressman along with Representative John Conyers of Michigan and 85 co-sponsors in the House have proposed legislation that would make health care for all a civil right.  Get this; it would be of the single payer variety like they have in Europe.  You know the systems where the citizens boast that their healthcare is free even though they pay exorbitant amounts of taxes to the government and in many situations must wait for care or are denied care altogether.  Kucinich boasts that his plan would eliminate premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.  So I suppose our care would be free as well.  And he also claims that, “All health care assets in America would become not-for-profit.”

As anyone with any common sense knows there is no such thing as something for nothing.  This is precisely why we are in the mess we are in today.  Kucinich is promising something huge that he can’t deliver.  At the very least, someone will have to pay the basic costs of healthcare.  Certainly, doctors, nurses, scientists that develop drugs, and the janitors that clean the hospitals and labs are not going to work for free.  As a matter of fact, smart people in America will either not enter the medical profession or if they already have will go someplace else to make a decent living given the time and expense it has cost them to become doctors.  But, I am sure that when this happens the good congressman would then propose legislation whereby the federal government pays for all medical educations.  You can see where this is bound to go. 

Obviously, if healthcare were to become “free” under any plan that resembled Kucinich’s the taxpayer would foot the bill for the huge expenses that would result.  I know this is a logical fallacy of sorts.  You see the biggest problem with the current system is that individuals do not actually pay for enough of their own healthcare.  On average about only 15 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare comes from individual’s pockets.  The other 85 percent of costs is covered by insurance companies, government and other private sources.  If I am only paying for 15 percent of any commodity then I care little what that commodity costs.  The incentive to comparison shop like you would to buy a car or groceries is non-existent in healthcare.  Someone else is paying for most of the cost.  Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth applies.  Obviously, our healthcare system has more wrong with it than that.  But the point here is that Kucinich’s plan would lower personal costs of healthcare from the current 15 percent to zero.  Logically, then, we would see even larger increases in healthcare costs due to the total disconnect between service and payment responsibility.  Put another way, if something is free, then consumers will use more of it and costs will rise astronomically.  You can’t fool this golden rule of economics.

Of course, Kucinich and his ilk know very little about economics.  It seems he knows even less about the Constitution.  He quotes the Constitution as his rationale for healthcare as a civil right.   According to him, “The Preamble to the United States Constitution and Article One, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution both describe an originating purpose of our United States: to promote the general welfare.”  The “general welfare” clause is an old argument that has been used by the rights granters for a long time.  Of course they take the clause out of context.  They quote it as if it stands alone.  In fact, immediately following the clause in Article 1 Section 8 sixteen enumerated powers of Congress are listed.  What is the purpose of this enumeration of powers if Congress’s powers are unlimited under the “general welfare” clause?  Additionally, general welfare means all of us are affected equally.  No government expenditure affects all of us equally except for those spent on the enumerated powers listed in Article 1 Section 8.  Thus, there is no Constitutional authority for Congress to legislate, regulate, or grant any rights that are not enumerated in Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution.  This includes so-called “free” universal healthcare.

No one knows for sure how the current healthcare reform debate will turn out.  It should be squashed altogether on constitutional grounds.  The proponents of federal socialized medicine do have recourse.  Under Article V of the Constitution they can pursue amending the document to allow them to take up the matter.  Naturally, they won’t do this because it would be a lot of work.  Instead, they just misquote the Constitution and propose healthcare legislation that will allow them to grant a new right and spend us further into bankruptcy.

Non-Existent Rights Have Bankrupted America

September 4, 2009

Back in May, President Obama rightly said that our current deficit spending as a nation is “unsustainable”.  He stated that high interest rates would be the result for borrowers if we continued to borrow money from other countries to finance our debts.  In the President’s own words, “We can’t keep on just borrowing from China.  We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.  It will have a dampening effect on our economy.”  I agree wholeheartedly with Obama on this one and as many of you know this is an extremely rare occurrence, so enjoy it.  But, before the Obama backers get too gleeful I disagree strongly with the President’s public stand that rising healthcare costs are the major reason for the huge deficits we face now and into the future.  To be sure, healthcare costs are high and expected to rise in years to come, but the President is using these healthcare costs scare tactics to get his socialized medical plan through Congress. 

The real cause of our enormous debt is the mindset that has been cultivated in the heads of many Americans by the statements and the actions of iconic political hacks like Ted Kennedy.  For many decades now, Kennedy and many others of the same ilk have been espousing the concept that every American is entitled to an array of special rights.  All we need to do is petition the government and demonize the opposition to get what is “rightfully ours.”  Thus a whole industry of special interest groups has developed, encouraged by the rhetoric and advocacy of the aforementioned political hack and his colleagues in Washington,  clamoring for favored federal treatment (bank and auto company bailouts), non-existent rights to cheap medical care, free food, subsidized rent and college educations, corporate welfare, farm subsidies, retirement income, disability benefits, and unemployment insurance.  Throw the military industrial complex in there as well, as the politicians in Washington have delivered on what seems like one endless war after another.  The list of goodies goes on and on.  At the end of the day, we have been left with an $11.5 trillion debt and annual deficits of over $1.5 trillion.  To show for it, our infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are impoverished, our citizenry is unhealthy, we are bogged down in two wars, and over the years millions of good jobs have left our country to relocate to places where business climates were more favorable.

The U.S. Constitution does not give the government the ability to bestow any of the above rights on us.  All congressional powers are enumerated in Article 1 Section 8.  Any powers to grant rights Congress has assumed out of thin air are a usurpation of rights retained by the people according to the Amendment 10 and a violation of the oath to uphold the Constitution that each member of Congress takes.  The Founders rejected giving Washington the ability to micromanage our lives precisely because they knew it would come to what we are experiencing today – a bankrupt treasury. 

Hold onto your wallets because the bestowing of imaginary rights is about to get even worse.  The President’s healthcare reform proposal would give imaginary rights to healthcare not only to every American but to individuals living in our country illegally.  An estimated 15 percent of the 47 million uninsured people in the U.S. are illegal aliens.  That’s right, about 7 million people that are not citizens and are breaking our law will be covered medically if Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill have their way.

President Obama made sound economic sense in May when he addressed the issue of the budget deficit.  It is unfortunate that his actions are disconnected from his rhetoric.  It was disheartening to hear the White House recently announce a revision of its deficit projections from $7 trillion to $9 trillion for the next decade.  This is an indication that the Administration has no plans to end the federal gravy train also known as imaginary rights anytime soon.  Obama’s reappointment of Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve is also a confirmation of this.  Bernanke has done a great job of helping the politicians avoid tough budgetary decisions by firing up his printing press to cover the huge shortfall.  At the end of the day, curing our budget woes will require a change of mindset on the part of Americans.  Forget about relying on our elected leaders to help us in that endeavor.