Supreme Court, group portrait 2010 Supreme Court, group portrait 2010

Obamacare: twisted morals

Yesterday (9 June 2015), our alien “President,” Barack H. Obama, spoke to the Catholic Health Association. He spoke on the subject of his signature law, Obamacare, alias the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Sarah Wheaton of Politico.com attended and reported on it. Incredibly (well, maybe Ms. Wheaton found it credible), Obama laid a moral case for the Supreme Court not to gut his law. But Ms. Wheaton did not get the full story. If she had, she might have known Obama has neither his facts nor his moral sense straight.

Obamacare fact and fiction

Barack Obama brought his own facts, and numbers, to his speech. The rules of debate let one have his own opinion but not his own facts. (That also applies to the Sarah Wheatons and the Alan Colmeses of our society.) He spoke of Chickens Little warning of a loss of freedom. He suggested costs were declining, and more people had insurance than before. Then he said Obamacare made part of the “moral fabric” of America. “This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another,” Ms. Wheaton quoted him as saying.

Supreme Court has the fate of Obamacare in its hands.
The United States Supreme Court, with several March for Life participants in the foreground. Photo: CNAV files

First, one of the few States having their own exchange, Vermont, saw the exchange collapse. Second, most actuaries and other experts expect premiums to rise ten percent or more next year. Third, Obamacare destroys doctor-patient relationships and discourages people even from seeking to enter the medical profession. When your correspondent applied to medical school in the academic year 1979-80, only one in three applicants might find a place in medical school. Today that number stands at about two in five, or slightly higher. More to the point, doctors are now retiring from medical practice. Obamacare, at best, substituted one kind of bureaucrat (an insurance adjuster) for another (a government functionary). At worst Obamacare gave them orders on whom they may or may not treat, and how!

State and federal exchanges

Ms. Wheaton touched on only half the story behind Obama’s speech, and the case (King v. Burwell) pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Obamacare has a poison pill in it. No resident of any State that does not set up its own exchange may receive a subsidy or tax credit of any kind from the federal government. Obama ordered his allies in Congress to set it up that way. He sought to punish any State whose government didn’t “play ball” with him.

Lo and behold, most State governments did not “play ball.” So Obama ordered the Internal Revenue Service to allow the subsidies anyway. (Yes, we have a “President” who tells the taxing authority what to do.) Hence the lawsuit: the law says one buying insurance on an exchange established by his State may qualify for a subsidy. The plaintiffs want the federal government to follow the law!

Obama thought this little part of Obamacare would help lay siege to State governments who sought to hold down their own expenses and uphold their rights. But oral arguments in King v. Burwell did not go well for Obamacare. So Obama fears he will be hoist by his own petard! And with good reason.

Where does morality lie?

Most stunningly, Obama now tries to lend moral weight to his law. He cites a large crew of politicians who knew no more about morality than he does. He asserts any modern person has “a right” to health care. Whether any doctor wants to give that care or not, whether anyone else wants to pay for it or not, he still says: everyone has “a right” to this service.

Rights don’t work that way. Rights come from God. They describe things no one may take away from you. What are they? Read the Ten Commandments, or at least those that bear on this problem:

  1. No murder.
  2. No adultery, and more broadly, no cheating.
  3. No theft.
  4. No lying to or about one another.
  5. No coveting of that which belongs to someone else.

Thomas Jefferson recast the “inalienable rights” of human beings as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Constitution rephrases that as “life, liberty and property.”

None of these documents say a word about a good or service to which any human being has a natural right. What right has one stranded at sea even to the food he eats?

Sadly, since Theodore Roosevelt became President, American politics has given itself more to kleptomania, covetousness, and now perjury, adultery (and even less natural twists on human relations), and in some contexts (like abortion on demand), murder. Obamacare teaches people to covet the services others have earned. It steals from some for the unearned, unpaid benefit of others. Like the devil bargaining with Faust, it forces insurance carriers to ignore adultery and fornication (of all kinds), though these present health hazards any honest doctor knows about. And above all, Obamacare passed after a campaign of lies.

Barack Obama lays a moral case for Obamacare? He does not know what he’s talking about.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

constitutional law, healthcare reform, history, judiciary, politicians, president


Terry A. Hurlbut

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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