The deadly threat of Obamacare, and the intellectually lazy conservatives who do not see it

(See a reader’s comment, below, on how Catholics who were planning not to vote in the presidential election have been so alarmed by Obamacare’s mandate on Catholic institutions to pay for birth control that they are now thinking of voting for the Republican nominee.)

Thoughout the debate on health care reform in 2009 and early 2010, I and knowledgeable commenters at this site warned that the purpose and inevitable effect of Obamacare was nothing less than the destruction of the private health care industry in this country, leading to the complete government takeover of health care. One of the Democrats’ particular targets that we discussed was the medical device industry. Now read Michelle Malkin’s column on Obamacare’s punitive tax on medical devices and the disastrous effect it is already having on medical device manufacturers.

After you’ve read it, consider the thoughtless conservatives who say that Obamacare is no different from the general problem of statism in this country, that it doesn’t represent any particular threat of government power beyond what we’ve had for the last 80 years, and therefore there is no particular need for President Obama to be defeated this year and replaced by a Republican who will sign the repeal of Obamacare. Such conservatives have their old notions that they keep mechanically repeating. They do not look at, do not see, what is new and outside their familiar concepts. They simply subsume Obamacare under the rubric of “big government.” And since Republicans have failed sufficiently to oppose “big government,” there is no pressing reason for a Republican to be elected this year.

Similarly, these conservatives believe that Mitt Romney, who has said he will repeal Obamacare, is the equivalent of John McCain, who was an outspoken enemy of conservatism. They say they will not vote for Romney, because he is as bad as Obama. Yet, ironically, many of these same conservatives did not say the same in 2008 about McCain; to the contrary, they voted for him. Only now, in 2012, when the survival of American liberty depends on a Republican victory over Obama, do they become refuseniks. They mechanically repeat a correct or at least reasonable conservative position of a past year (“the Republican is as bad as the Democrat”), not seeing how inappropriate and disastrous that position is for this year.

Here is Malkin’s column:

Taxing medical progress to death
by Michelle Malkin
Two years ago this month, as public debate over Obamacare raged, former President Bill Clinton rushed to the hospital because of a heart condition. He immediately underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries. It was a timely reminder about the dangers of stifling private-sector medical innovation. No one listened.

Stents don’t grow on trees. They were not created, developed, marketed or sold by government bureaucrats and lawmakers. One of the nation’s top stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific, warned at the time that Obamacare’s punitive medical device tax would lead to worker losses and research cuts. The 2.3 percent excise tax, the company said, “would be very damaging to Boston Scientific, and the medical device industry as a whole. In a nutshell, it would raise costs and lead to significant job losses. It does not address the quality of care but the political scorecard of savings.”

Two years later, Bill Clinton’s doing just peachy. But many medical device manufacturers are suffering, and many more are preparing for the worst as the White House gears up to collect on an estimated $20 billion from the lifesaving industry. In typical Obama-transparent fashion, the Internal Revenue Service quietly released a complex thicket of medical device tax implementation rules in a Friday document dump earlier this month. Barring congressional intervention, the medical device tax will go into full effect in 2013.

Cook Medical, which manufactures products for everything from endovascular therapy, critical care medicine and general surgery, to diagnostic and interventional procedures, to bioengineered tissue replacement and regeneration, gastroenterology and endoscopy procedures, urology, and obstetrics and gynecology, has called for the levy’s repeal. Cook Group chairman Stephen Ferguson noted the tax burden amounted to a whopping 55 percent of its profits.

“For a company like ours, which pays 35 percent of our net earnings in federal corporate taxes and another 4 to 5 percent in state and local corporate taxes, the excise tax translates to another payment that will consume 15 percent more of our earnings,” he estimated. “This creates tremendous pressure for us to move manufacturing to Europe and other parts of the world.” According to the trade publication Mass Device, the company has already canceled plans to build a new factory in the U.S. because of the Obamacare tax burden.

Stryker, a maker of artificial hips and knees based in Kalamazoo, Mich., announced in November that it would slash 5 percent of its global workforce (an estimated 1,000 workers) this coming year to reduce costs related to Obamacare’s taxes and mandates.

Covidien, a N.Y.-based surgical supplies manufacturer, recently announced layoffs of 200 American workers and plans to move some of its plant work to Mexico and Costa Rica, in part because of the coming tax hit.

Mass.-based Zoll Medical Corp., which makes defibrillators and employs some 1,800 workers in the U.S. and around the world, says the medical device tax will cost the company between $5 million and $10 million a year. Its profit in 2009 was $9.5 million. “Running our company at close to break even would not be a sustainable position for us,” CEO Richard Packer said in a public statement, “so we will be forced to look at alternatives.”

Those “alternatives” include cutting payroll, cutting R and D and passing on the costs to patients, of course. Industry estimates put the tax-induced job losses at 43,000. So far, the number-crunchers at 1600 Pennsylvania are mum on the number of potential jobs—and lives—destroyed by the medical innovation death tax.

In fact, the Obama administration’s response so far has been a flippant shrug. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose only manufacturing claims to fame are faulty tax returns and near-double-digit unemployment figures, brushed off concerns this week about the medical device tax. Obamacare’s expanded access to health care, he argues blithely, will create more consumers for their products. “On balance, it is a good package for people in the health care business,” he told Bloomberg News.

Fewer jobs. Fewer entrepreneurs. Fewer medical advances. Only with a gallon of self-delusion does the Obamacare medical tax medicine amount to anything other than economic and medical malpractice.

Obama 2012: Winning the future … by killing it.

[end of Malkin column]

- end of initial entry -

Kathlene M. writes:

A month ago I admit that I was what you characterize as a “refusenik.” But the entire HHS mandate has many traditional/conservative Catholics, including me, rethinking what to do. There’s one conservative Catholic writer and blogger named Mark Shea whom I greatly admire. Here is what he wrote recently which mirrors much of what I’m thinking. His follow-up reply “National Review vs. Caelum et Terra re: Me” is here. (Shea was accused of being a liberal for his positions.) He writes:

So a conservative Catholic who opposes abortion, euthanasia, and gay “marriage,” hates Communism, regards Obama as a tyrant, voted for Reagan and Bush twice, supports just war, supports capitalism (within just limits), says that all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims is revealed by God, stands for monogamy and rejects artificial contraception, and thinks Benedict XVI is the bees knees? Yes, I am a “liberal” because I oppose torture and pre-emptive war and think it obscene that the strong prey on the weak in this country with increasing impunity, while middle class incomes flatline and vast amounts of wealth accumulate in fewer and fewer hands. That makes me a socialist, doncha know.

Let me add that it’s quite a long time between now and the election. The Supreme Court could completely invalidate Obamacare before then, which will change the entire election dynamic. Also, Obama the Tyrant King may overplay his hand even more before the election. So there are so many variables that will change how I and many others will decide to vote come November 2012.

More from Mark Shea’s blog:

A reader asks about whether Obama’s war on the Church is a reason to vote GOP this fall

… I’m ruminating the same question. The Administration’s acts of naked warfare on civil liberty briefly made me wonder if it might be prudent to vote GOP, but when I contemplated the fact that the GOP was, in fact, the engine that drove the passage of the NDAA, I thought, “Nah. They are as enthused about transforming American into a police state as Obama.” A GOP Prez will not do one thing to undo Obama’s “gains” in eradicating civil rights or checks on a tyrannical executive. So since both parties were still gung ho for their preferred grave intrinsic evils, I saw no particular reason to support either.

Now, however, the Administration’s gratuitous and malice-filled war on religious liberty and the Catholic Church introduces a new wrinkle to the equation. We now have what I think is a real difference between the parties. The GOP is largely indifferent to the Church when the Church disagrees with it on matters like torture and just war. It makes use of the Church when it is convenient (yakking about abortion and family values while doing very little). But it has never taken a position of naked and open hostility with a view to crushing it.

For this reason, I am considering voting GOP this fall as the prudent action, because an America ruled by a corrupt party indifferent to the Church is better than an America ruled by a corrupt party that is actively seeking to crush the Church. I haven’t made up my mind … But the launch of Obama’s war on the Church seems to me to be a potential game-changer here. He is, after all, also a bellicose warmonger eager to expand our wars of Empire, but he has also taken his war for an American hedonist crony capitalist police state empire, not merely to the Islamosphere, but to the doors of every Catholic Church in America. Give him four years to make war on the Church without hindrance and we may be very surprised at how little is left of the American Church by 2016. He means business and it is foolish to underestimate that.

So yeah: I am thinking about voting for whatever hairball the GOP [throws] up, if only to keep Obama from enacting his full agenda of malice against what is, after all, the real central story here: the Church which is the saving sacrament of my people.

Kathlene continues:

Many of us knew when Obamacare was passed that it posed a threat to our country, but no one knew exactly how bad it would be until the HHS mandate controversy arose. This is why it’s puzzling to me that Obama and the Democrats would show their tyrannical hand so early because this could tip the election against them. “Fence-sitters” and “refuseniks” will now be more likely to vote to stop the tyrannical edicts of President Obama and the Left than sit this election out.

February 20

James P. writes:

Few conservatives would deny that this election is of critical importance. Nevertheless, serious questions remain whether Romney is a candidate for whom conservatives should vote if he is the nominee. If Obamacare is the critical threat to American liberty, then it is appropriate for conservatives to doubt that Romney, the man who created Romneycare, will be able to fight Obama effectively on this issue. It is also legitimate to doubt that Romney will try to dismantle Obamacare if elected. Keep in mind that his advisor, Norm Coleman, said that Romney would not be able to repeal Obamacare.

Put another way, if the Establishment candidate is unwilling to commit himself to a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners fight to repeal Obamacare during the election, what are the chances he’ll conduct such a fight after the election? On the other hand, it is better to have a Republican President with a lukewarm commitment to repeal than a Democratic President with zero commitment to repeal?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 19, 2012 03:14 PM | Send

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