The only good thing about passage of health care legislation is that it will allow the nation to move on to more unifying issues like immigration.
President Obama signs the Senate bill at a White House ceremony today at 11:15 a.m., Politico reports. He will then relocate to the Department of Interior for more expansive comments on the legislation. Insurance companies are anxiously waiting to see if he will restore their citizenship.
Once the bill is signed into law, the Senate will be able to debate H.R.4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, with an actual law being reconciliated. The Senate convenes at 2:15 p.m.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, “Employers brace for health reform changes“:
Companies and their lobbyists said a host of new rules and regulations are likely to increase taxes and health insurance premiums while hampering job growth for manufacturers, retailers and other large businesses.
“This legislation will make it more difficult to offer benefits not just for retirees but also current workers as companies have to weigh these costs,” said Dena Battle, the National Association of Manufacturers’ tax policy director.
It’s not just employers who will have a terrible time bearing these additional costs. The United States, its citizens, taxpayers and the federal government better get ready for rising costs that crowd out other national priorities. As Michael Gerson writes in today’s Washington Post, “Obama shows a president can be both strong and wrong“:
If this health-care reform had passed in, say, 1994, it might have been just another burden borne by a growing economy, and later refined as the predictable, unintended consequences of the law became evident — an economic drag but not a disaster.
Yet if the American government is headed toward a general entitlement crisis, Obama’s health reform will be seen as historically irresponsible. He is adding a massive entitlement on top of a structure of entitlements that is already precarious. The costs of this new commitment are projected to grow at about 8 percent a year — faster than the economy or tax revenue. And this entitlement is substantially funded by the easiest cuts in current entitlements — money that cannot be used to honor existing, unfunded entitlement promises.
Citizens, right, not subjects? The American Legislative Exchange Council drafted model legislation that has proved popular around the country, the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. From a March 22 news release, “Texas Is 39th State to Defend Health Care Choice“:
Washington, D.C.—The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation’s largest individual membership association of state legislators, today congratulates Texas Representative Bryan Hughes for announcing his intention to file legislation to protect Texans from a federal requirement to purchase health insurance. Texas now becomes the 39th state where legislators have introduced, or will introduce, legislation modeled after ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.
“The bill that passed last night is a radical departure from the role of government our founders put in the Constitution,” said Hughes. “There is no question that it will lead to increased taxes, fewer health care options, and more government control of our most basic personal decisions. For these reasons and so many others, I will file legislation protecting Texans from the federal bill as soon as we are back in session.”
Attorneys general are also active. From Greta van Susteran’s show, a transcript of her interviews with AG Ken Kuccinelli of Virginia and AG Henry McMaster of South Carolina, “Legal Challenges Await Health Care Bill.”
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