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A question to establishment Republicans: Do you want American healthcare to turn into the Kansas City, MO, public school district?

$15,000 universal KCMO education looks great, only if compared to $30,000 in DC

“The roller coaster is done in this district.”Steve Green, Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools Superintendent, quoted in an article in the left-wing McClatchy-owned Kansas City Star, where the headline reads, “Area districts cheer progress of Kansas City schools.”  A KC Star editorial on October 1, 2013, pressured the Missouri legislature to “fix the law allowing students to transfer out of troubled districts and into surrounding ones.”  KCPS is unaccredited by the State of Missouri, though KCPS’ Web site makes no obvious mention of this fact on the page titled, “Accreditation” — but it does say, “Currently KCPS has met 19.5 percent of the standards needed for accreditation; our schools are nearing the 50 percent of standards met that are needed for provisional accreditation.”  George Will dedicated a column in 2011 to the then-Superintendent John Covington, who was hired in 2009.  In 2011, Covington took a $1.5 million/year job in Detroit; a month later, the Kansas City school district lost its state accreditation.  George Will wrote, “Today, African-Americans are 28 percent of the city’s population and 63 percent of public school students.”  Superintendent Green makes $250,000 per year.  The median household income for black residents is about $30,000 per year.

Leaders — religious, business, educational, black, you name it — leaders know what will fix the failure that is the Kansas City, MO, public school system: freedom.  But they won’t give it to the (largely poor, largely black) residents, because it means giving up power, and giving up immediate access to large amounts of tax money.  Failure is not an option for a government monopoly.

ObamaCare is worth the fight.

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First, I want to talk about short-term politics.  Then, I’d like to talk about long-term policy and long-term politics.

For those of you concerned about the short-term political fallout for Republicans who are attempting to do what they can to eventually reverse ObamaCare, I have one question for you to consider, for the long-term: do you want your healthcare to be like the Kansas City, MO, public schools?

What is the downfall of trying — and I don’t even think Republicans in Congress are trying all that hard — but what is the downfall of trying?  Particularly when compared to the economic, cultural, and political consequences of a dumbed-down, expensive healthcare system just like American public schools, which even in suburbia produce a Ford Focus result at the price of an entry-level Mercedes, and in urban areas produce a Ford Pinto result at the price of a top-of-the-line Range Rover?

What is the downside of trying — when there is no substantial evidence that the Republican brand will be damaged significantly more than WE have already damaged it… after living up to our “corporate” criticisms; after having the skills of a grade school student at communicating why we are no worse than Democrats on those corporate criticisms; after years of opposing school choice and property rights and low taxes and open government (or much of anything “Republican”) at the state and local levels of the party structure; after scaring away libertarians by spending like Democrats, spying like Russians, going to war without asking enough questions, but voting on a national marriage amendment in the mid-2000s that Republicans knew would fail in order to fake interest toward the social conservative base; and after infuriating 2/3 of our own voters who are dedicated to repealing ObamaCare, by lying — they’re not even good lies, anymore (Charlie Crist’s biggest fan John Cornyn looks silly) — since 2010 about the genuine interest among Republican congressmen and women about repealing ObamaCare.

What, when in 1996, Newt Gingrich’s approvals went from 25% before the shutdown to 31% after?  When Clinton’s approvals went from 52%, to 42%, and back to 52%?  When a weak moderate Bob Dole (who in 2010 donated to… Charlie Crist) kept an incumbent Bill Clinton under 50% with a strong economy?  When the Democratic base turned out at higher levels in a presidential year (compared to 2014), and with a relatively popular Clinton on the ticket, and Republicans merely lost a couple House seats, meanwhile gaining two Senate seats?  THAT is what we are afraid of?

When Republicans only win, when Americans clearly see our party as the “radically fiscal conservative” party that the old guard media tries to make us into?  When today ObamaCare is a polarizing issue that is not just opposed, but passionately opposed, by the American people?  When unlike 1996, the current rhetorical bomb-throwing president cannot talk without a teleprompter and does not even pretend to work with Republicans?  When the Internet exists and newspapers are dying?  When Democrats have jeopardized their strength with many of their current voters by acting like the previous Republicans on war, spying, and corporate handouts?  When even the left-wing media is reporting about the disasters that are resulting from ObamaCare?  We are afraid of losing a debate in THIS environment, and to the extent that it damages our party further (is there a large segment of voters out there, looking for “Talks like a 2013 conservative, votes like a 1955 Democrat”… or “We’re the party that grows government waste slower than Democrats!”?)

I do not see — I have not read — the confident political argument against what the House conservatives, or Ted Cruz, etc., are trying to do.  Most probably don’t have a game plan, and may be winging it, hour by hour.  It doesn’t matter:  the worst case I see is that we lose a political fight, but appear bold and confident and (to the surprise of many voters) conservative on fiscal issues.  Months and months later — eons in the media narratives — an election will occur, and ObamaCare will still be unpopular, more failures will be announced, and President Obama (even if still relatively popular) will not be on the ballot and will not draw low-information voters to the polls.

And red state Democratic Senators at this very moment are making what surely is a bad political decision, to jump all the way in (again) on ObamaCare.

Short-term, I think it’s much more likely to help Republicans than it is to hurt us, if we make reasoned, passionate arguments against ObamaCare.  We should limit the name-calling, but we should not be fearful of talking about the issue of healthcare freedom.  We should make note of the media’s over-the-top behavior about Ted Cruz:  they are scared of politicians like Ted Cruz because he can talk forcefully, and because people are listening.

Long-term, I only see downsides to not fighting against ObamaCare today.  It will ruin the quality of healthcare, take all kinds of money out of our pockets (and the economy) only to produce worse healthcare, and it will create all kinds of financial incentives for people to make a living out of lying about the quality of the healthcare they are requiring Americans to get (otherwise clear-thinking voters will take the bait, work against the interests of the citizenry, all the while voting for Democrats).

For Democratic congressmen and women, ObamaCare was never about affordable healthcare. It was designed to quicken the downfall of the private insurance market, so that government can run your healthcare in the same way that they run the KCMO public schools — when you do not know anything else from past experience, and when you currently have no other choice of service, you assume the service you have is better than it is (add on to that, the fact that your own tax money is used to constantly promote it to you). The only reasons Medicare is popular:  1) 65-year-olds KNOW what private insurance is like before they have Medicare (Medicare is forced by the invisible hand of the marketplace to remain competitive); and 2) doctors are paid enough so that 87% of doctors took Medicare in 2012 (down from 90% in 2010).

Why are Medicare doctors paid decently (I’m not sure “paid well” is accurate) — again, it’s only because doctors KNOW what it’s like to get paid at a competitive rate of the private market (whether by individuals out-of-pocket or by private insurance companies).

What will happen to doctors, is the same thing that’s happened to the K-12 teaching industry.  Teachers allow themselves to be lied to by their unions, and teachers don’t know the joys of teaching outside of one setting that is used over and over across the country. They don’t know what it’s like to get paid more, if they perform better; or to teach children whose parents are involved because they CHOSE to have those students there; or to work in a variety of settings that are allowed through innovation and trial-and-error; or to teach alongside co-workers who were hired AFTER the previous teacher was fired for under-performance; or to learn teaching skills from meaningful places and people and life events, rather than the government-approved/mandated license-mill. The result:  many of the best teachers never go into teaching.  This will — it already has — inevitably happened with doctors, where doctors are telling their children not to go into the medical profession.

To those who are annoyed by this political fight for whatever reason — is this not worth the fight to you, to prevent your next surgeon to have the competency equivalent of the middle school gym coach who should have retired years ago, but who is paid more than the 45 year old history teacher who is widely viewed as the best teacher in the building?

Take a look at how doctors react much more unfavorably to Medicaid (the low income subsidy), and you will see that government (read: politicians) treat those doctors less favorably, and pay differently. Do you think this is a coincidence, that we never hear politicians talk about their concern about the number of doctors who accept Medicaid?… that lower income voters are less frequent voters than over-65 voters in general; have less money with which to donate to political causes; are overall less of a political threat to an incumbent politician; or that lower-income voters are more reliable Democratic voters (man, do Democratic politicians treat their voters badly)? I genuinely do understand your concern about “profit motives of private companies” – but which would you prefer, 1) a capitalistic system with many choices, so that if one choice fails you, that you can choose another (and where the first choice must run the risk of losing you as a customer), or 2) a monopolistic system that gives you no choice, and that is run by elected officials who often only possess the skill of rhetoric, elected officials whom you already believe lie to you on a regular basis, elected officials whose inherent primary purpose is to obtain 51% of the vote in the next election even if it means damaging the lives of 49% of the vote?

For the well meaning liberal voter, ObamaCare is a classic example of a lack of understanding of human nature – for some, it’s ignorance, and for others it’s a willful religious belief in an inherent goodness of mankind. Regardless, these voters will lock their doors at night, will keep a close eye on their children in public settings, and will carry weapons to protect them or their loved ones, but they naively believe — well-meaning, I’ll grant that — that if you offer “guaranteed insurance,” that people will buy it now, rather than wait until they are sick. If humans are naturally good, you would not need the threat of a penalty to get us to purchase insurance; and 25% of Americans would not STILL refuse to buy insurance for “the good of America” and to keep prices down.

A new Gallup poll has found that 25 percent of today’s uninsured plan to stay that way.

The poll, released on September 30, noted that two in three of those surveyed said they “planned” to get insurance rather than pay the small fine at the end of the year. The poll further found that under half intend to take advantage of the state or federal insurance exchanges when they are finally up and running.

Note that I “plan” on getting down to my ideal weight of 200 pounds.

No, a large percentage Americans (I’m not referring to physical size) won’t buy the insurance, simply because humans are self-interested, as much as we try not to be. If you give an inch, we will take a mile, and they will not get “insurance” when the alternative is to pay a small penalty, and then later get “insurance” when they get sick and when they cannot be denied, by law.

For you taxpayers, do you want the average (at best) service that public schools provide, at a premium cost (in Kansas, $13,000 per student, more than many if not most private schools) – do you want this in your medical services? Just as the Kansas City, MO, Chamber of Commerce, is a raging fan of the universally-mocked KCMO public school system, do you want self-proclaimed, crony “business leaders” who get no-bid legal contracts and construction contracts, and who appoint bailed-out bankers to run their groups — do you want to be talked down to and instructed that you are getting “excellent” care, that you have no valid evidence to back up criticisms, that you do not have a medical degree (so therefore what do you know), meanwhile you know in your gut that you are getting inadequate care, even though have never visited any system other than the government-run system because you and 80% of your fellow Americans do not make the after-tax income necessary to go to “private” doctors who have refused to accept the ObamaCare payment structure?

To patients: Do you want the people who will attempt to define “quality” in medical care, to be the same people who, at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, claim to represent the collective interests of businesses both small and large, in their endorsement of professional Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe for Virginia Governor? (And a question to small businesses in Fairfax who pay to be members: do you really think the board of directors cares what you think?)

Finally, for you partisan, insulated Republicans – maybe you live in DC and don’t realize what the economy is like in the real world, maybe you’re privately educated and only know “the best in life,” maybe you’re not interested in knowing about all of the wonderful reasons why our less-socialized American health care is preferred world-wide, maybe you’re not concerned about the risks of single-payer systems, maybe you haven’t “Bing-ed” (“Banged?”) “NHS death rate,” maybe you reassure yourself that (unlike conservatives) you are properly concerned about “winning elections” — to you, I ask: do you want the medical community to turn into the political arm that NEA, when the medical industry is 1/6 of the national economy, when the NEA can merely kick you out of school, but the medical industry can see to it that you are charged an arm and a leg, and they can kill you in the process?

Do you want to live in a world — whether medically, economically, culturally, or politically — where your one “choice” of health care compares to the $15,000/student KCMO public schools, which look good only in comparison to the $30,000/student DC public schools?

If you want a better America than that, please get out of the way of conservatives in Congress.  Better — cheer them on and join them.

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Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Tumblr, mrcTV.org, YouTube, and The Kansas Progress.

Hodge is a board member of the Johnson County Mental Health Governing Board and a political contributor to “The Conscience of Kansas” radio program on KRMR 105.7 FM, hosted by Paul Ibbetson.  Hodge is president of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas, served as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, an at-large trustee at Johnson County Community College, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party, a Republican precinct committeeman in Johnson County, and was founder of the modern Overland Park Republican Party. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Kansas’ largest pro-life group, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.


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