Back during the original Gulf War (1990s version), Margaret Thatcher famously told President George H.W. Bush, “Don’t go wobbly on us now, George.” It was her veddy, veddy English way of telling him to stiffen his spine and follow through.
When I suggested Republicans run on a slogan of “Repeal, Replace, Reform” I believed that it would be a winner for Republicans. Mitch McConnell agreed, and so did Karl Rove. There seemed to be a large push for a campaign run with health care reform as the centerpiece. I still believe this, but it’s starting to look like the Republicans are going a little, well, wobbly.
Fox News is reporting that “top Republicans” are starting to backtrack a little bit. The fear is that while repealing the bill is popular in the conservative base, it may not play well in a general election. The Republicans seem to be buying into the Democratic narrative that the more people learn about the bill, the more they’ll like it.
TIME FOR MOTHER’S MILK For a year after giving birth, nursing mothers must be allowed breaks on the job to express breast milk as often as necessary, and a private place to do so that’s not a bathroom (emphasis mine). Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt.
A TAX ON TANNING Tanning salons say they will be burned by a new 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning that starts in July. But the American Academy of Dermatology applauded the move. According to the academy, indoor tanning before age 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, by 75 percent.
COMING SOON TO W-2 FORMS: HEALTH BENEFITS DETAILS In the name of transparency, employers will be required next year to spell out the value of health benefits on W-2 forms. “It’s about making consumers aware of what’s getting paid on their behalf toward health insurance, part of an effort to make everyone aware of how much we’re spending on health care services,” said Jennifer Tolbert, an associate director at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
LESS FLEX IN FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS Starting in January, you will no longer be able to tap your account to cover aspirin, vitamins and other over-the-counter medications, unless they are prescribed by a doctor. Come 2013, the total amount you can contribute annually will be limited to $2,500.
STRENGTHENING THE ‘S’ IN H.S.A. Times are tough. But if you’re thinking of raiding your health savings account to cover your mortgage payment or your child’s college tuition, think again. The health reform law increased the tax on H.S.A. withdrawals for nonmedical expenses to 20 percent from 10 percent for people under age 65. The provision takes effect in 2011. For the uninitiated, health savings accounts are tax-advantaged accounts linked to high-deductible health plans. About eight million people have signed up since the accounts were introduced in 2004.
ABSTINENCE MAKES A COMEBACK Abstinence-only education programs to prevent teenage pregnancy took a hit when President Obama took office and eliminated $115 million in funding, moving the money into more comprehensive programs that cover contraception and sexually transmitted diseases as well. Congress allowed another $50 million in abstinence-only funding to expire in June. The health reform law restores $50 million a year for abstinence-only programs for each of the next five years. But there’s a catch: states must match any federal funding they receive. “That may be significant,” said Heather Boonstra, senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute. Last year, even before the previous $50 million expired, she said, “many states had already stopped participating.”
NURSING A BOND BETWEEN MOTHER AND CHILD Pregnant teenagers who receive home visits by nurses once or twice a month before delivery and for a few years afterward learn parenting and coping skills that can cut child abuse and neglect nearly in half, according to research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The $1.5 billion that home-visiting programs will receive over five years is by far the biggest financial commitment made to those evidence-based programs, said David Kass, president of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nonprofit anticrime organization.
Taxes, penalties, regulations and, as a kicker, we’re spending taxpayer dollars to teach teenagers that it’s bad to beat your kids. Think about that last item for one more second: a home visit from a nurse once or twice a month will cut child abuse in half. Do they really believe this? Do they really, honestly believe that all we need to do to cut child abuse by 50% is teach teenage parents “coping skills?” That telling a 16-year-old mother who spent her formative years being beaten by her mother’s boyfriend that she should just count to ten when she starts feeling angry will have a massive impact on child abuse? Good grief.
And yet, this is perfectly indicative of the larger problem of the health care reform bill. Here is the Nanny State in all of its hideous glory, reaching down to take care of you by hook or by crook. You will learn to be happy with health care reform by being taxed, by being penalized, and by being instructed. Memo to “top Republicans”: this isn’t popular, it won’t become popular. The only worry is that it will become addictive. Democrats like to claim that Social Security and Medicare are popular, but they would probably find out that heroin was popular if they asked junkies. These programs are not generally popular except to those people who become addicted to them. Big government is the true opiate of the people.
But Republicans are right that they need more than a promise to repeal health care reform. They need to run on a promise to repeal the Nanny State that this bill represents. They need to offer a simple replacement for health care reform and they need to accent other issues. Health care reform repeal should be right near the top of issues, but the Republicans should be running this year and in 2012 on a platform of smaller government, less regulation, and lower taxes…a platform that will accent the job-creating nature of these proposals. Health care reform is a huge issue, but with a 10% unemployment rate, people are more worried about paying their bills tomorrow than a government reform plan that doesn’t take full effect until 2014.
The Republicans need to run on the idea that the Federal Government has absolutely no business telling private industry that they need to create a special room for lactating mothers. They need to run on the concept that Washington D.C. shouldn’t be telling restaurants what information to put on menus. They need to run on a platform that stresses that it’s not the job of Congress to tell you the preferred way to get a tan. Health care reform is not a disease. It’s simply the most visible symptom of a far more malignant virus that promises to choke the life out of the economy and the nation: Big Government. It is Big Government that needs to be repealed, and health care reform is only part of that picture.
UPDATE: Turns out Ace of Spades was on the same page as me…right down to the headline. And Michelle Malkin is asking a rather pointed question about this. And the always worthwhile Iowahawk also chimes in.
It’s true that the GOP cannot completely dedicate itself to the repeal of one piece of legislation for the next three years. Instead, they should dedicate themselves to slaying the blasphemous, rotting leviathan that gave birth to ObamaCare, and whose tentacles are visibly squeezing the life out of the American economy. Big Government is a parasite that is more than willing to kill its host.