- Ted Cruz (before running for Senate) wrote the Health Care Compact.
- Houston billionaire developer Leo Linbeck, III (builds medical facilities) funds it.
- Linbeck bought Tea Party Patriots support by underwriting their summit in Phoenix on February 25-27, 2011
Health Care Compact - 21st Century Rube Goldberg Machine
You've probably heard of a Rube Goldberg Machine. (Isn't Wikipedia wonderful?) It's something very complicated that does a simple task. Goldberg exemplifies the extremes to which the American mind can go in the pursuit of complexity.
One might consider much of the legislation that comes out of Congress and State legislatures written by Goldberg's proteges. Take the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for example. It's extremely complex, adds thousands to the armies of government workers, and creates bizarre labyrinths of bureaucracy to, ostensibly, have a doctor administer a pill to a patient.
While Obamacare is widely criticized for interfering with people's living their own lives free from government interference, the Health Care Compact (HCC) simply says that it would rather have the States do the interfering, which they already do, rather than the Feds. The rationale is that the States are closer to the People.
Now, if a politician came up with this scheme (which one did), then I'd have to say, not a big deal. Politicians come up with schemes all the time. Most of their schemes have to do with how to spend other people's money or how to get elected (which is kind of the same thing).
And HCC fits that one to a tee.
HCC relies on a relatively unassuming clause in the Constitution, appropriately referred to as the State Compact Clause. The applicable part of that clause, which is in Article I, Section 10 (third paragraph), says:
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, ... enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State ...
When I lived in Brooklyn, I had to deal with a State Compact called the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It charged me money to leave or enter the boroughs and New Jersey by bridge or tunnel. You may know the Port Authority as the State Compact that has taken almost ten years to rebuild at the site of the World Trade Center.
I had the benefit of a State Compact, however, when I moved from a southern State to California and traded in one State driver's license for that of another.
Pretty non-controversial stuff, these State Compacts, except the tolls, maybe.
HCC is based on the premise that the States can conspire, collude, you pick a verb, to take any area of Federal law and opt out, so to speak, by agreement.
It's never been done before, so why not try it? Well, perhaps because it violates the Constitution or just because it's a 'red herring' and a total waste of time, money, and energy. Oh, but I forgot, that's what politicians do -- waste time, money, and energy.
I've posed questions to the backers of this scheme, but the silence has not exactly been encouraging. (As with many of my articles, they are inspired by an e-mail message I receive. I received just such a message on January 31st from a prominent leader of Tea Party Patriots.)
What Is A Compact?
COMPACT, contracts. In its more general sense, it signifies an agreement. In its strict sense, it imports a contract between parties, which creates obligations and rights capable of being enforced, and contemplated as such between the parties, in their distinct and independent characters. Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856 Edition
The first compact that you probably learned about in United States history was the Mayflower Compact. It was a special kind of agreement that laid out the rules that Pilgrims mutually agreed to before they disembarked the Mayflower near Plymouth Massachusetts.
So, what exactly does HCC obligate a State to do? And what exactly can another State party to HCC enforce? The answers are nothing and nothing.
So is HCC even a compact at all?
Where in the Constitution is Congress granted the authority to delegate any of its powers, enumerated or otherwise, to the several States? (I don't believe the Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate health care or legislate health care programs, but HCC presumes otherwise.)
For argument's sake, let's suppose that Congress does have the power to regulate health care programs. Can Congress just say to the States, it doesn't want to deal with something, like "establish Post Offices," so you (the States) go deal with it?
The Constitution grants powers to the Congress and, conversely, removes those powers from the States. With the power comes a duty. The Congress has a duty "to provide and maintain a Navy."
Can Congress, by its consent, permit the several States to assume its power and duty. If that were the case, couldn't the entire Federal government be eliminated in favor of various State Compacts?
Function of State Compacts
If you look at the existing interstate compacts, they all create governmental agencies that span at least two States. In all those cases, there is a legitimate reason for the interstate compact. In the overwhelming majority of the compacts the reason for the compact is geographic. In the remaining compacts, the reason is mutual assistance or freedom of travel.
HCC proposes that the States create an advisory board (with emphasis on advisory), the sole purpose of which is to subvert Federal health care statutes and regulations. And make no mistake about it, HCC goes after all health care regulation, including Medicare and Medicaid, excepting only health care for United States armed services.
If you are to believe the HCC promotional material, each State joins HCC to remove itself from Federal authority in the area of health care. Then each State can make any laws it wishes to regulate health care within its State. There need be no uniformity in the regulation, nor need there be any consent by other States party to the compact.
So, the purpose of HCC is purely to subvert the apparent, although perhaps illegitimate, authority of the Congress over the regulation of health care.
In every other State Compact, the compact is the law that each State party mutually agrees to and is bound by when it joins the compact. The compacts grant some leave to individual legislatures as to how each State implements the compact, but the legislatures can't just change anything they wish. In HCC, there is no law.
Follow the Money
In describing HCC, the proponents say this:
Additionally, because it would be unfair for citizens of Member States to continue paying federal taxes for health care without any reciprocal benefit, the Compact will allow the Member States to continue receiving approximately the level of federal funding they are currently receiving.
I don't believe any of the existing compacts have any major Federally funded components.
Wouldn't State legislatures like to get their hands on almost a trillion dollars of your money to spend as they see fit?
Using the attachment to HCC, I've put together a little spreadsheet to focus on the money at stake here. That's what HCC seems to be really all about, putting three-quarters of a trillion dollars of your money into the hands of State legislatures.
Wouldn't the California legislature be frothing at its collective mouth to join HCC to get its paws on $72 billion each year? That's more than the budget for the entire State. And the best part is that it doesn't have to raise taxes to get the money.
How about $57 billion for New York? And $17 billion for Massachusetts? Doesn't just looking at those numbers make you start drooling? Well, it would if you're in the legislature of a bankrupt State.
I happen to live in California.
But there isn't much to worry about, except wasting your time promoting this scheme in State capitals around the country. Because Congress isn't going to consent.
The Consent of Congress
Even the proponents and the advisors don't believe that HCC will actually happen. I'm not going to repeat what's already been covered elsewhere, all you need to do is read the other articles out there.
- Interstate Competition and Choice in Health Insurance: The American Way 2010-03-10
- Interstate Compacts for Health Insurance is Yet Another Sound Idea 2010-03-19
- Nullifying Obamacare 2011-01-03
- The Tea Party's Next Move 2011-02-10
The reason the HCC will never actually come into existence is very simple. Congress will never consent to relinquish its power to spend nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars every year.
So, the whole scheme is really a farce.
In fairness, the proponents, when they came up with the scheme, didn't have the benefit of the recent judicial decisions that have brought the constitutionality of Obamacare into question.
Yet, the proponents are continuing to promote HCC. And to most Americans who are angry enough and gullible enough to believe the spin rather than the facts, the scheme does have its appeal.
Unfortunately, the only people who are likely to benefit from HCC are the politicians who take it on as a cause. It's a great issue (either for or against) to have on your side. And it's also a safe issue because while there may be a few states that actually pass HCC, it has absolutely no chance of gaining the consent of Congress.
Even if HCC passes two legislatures, the minimum to bring a compact to Congress for its consent, it won't become law. The proponents are looking for a majority of States, perhaps 28, to pass HCC before bringing it to Congress for its consent. That also puts the specter of having Congress withhold its consent so far into the realm of crystal ball gazing, that it just becomes what it was always intended to be -- a tool to rally the troops and divert the People's attention and resources from working on efforts that will actually bear fruit.
I know, I know. The proponents want to frame the debate to bring political victory in 2012. But at what cost?
Tea Party Patriots (TPP)
What are you guys and gals thinking?
Here's what Tea Party Patriots assert is its mission.
The impetus for the Tea Party movement is excessive government spending and taxation. Our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.
I submit that HCC is contrary to all three of the core values espoused by TPP.
Exactly how is funneling money (mostly borrowed) from the Federal government to State legislatures fiscally responsible? I thought that the Tea Party movement was about smaller government, not just shifting money from one grab bag to another.
Can anyone argue that State legislatures who have driven themselves to the precipice of bankruptcy are more fiscally responsible than Congress?
So instead of an attempt to reign in the spending at its profligate source, TPP would rather cut off its singular head and turn it into a 50-headed hydra.
Constitutionally Limited Government
I know that Congress wasn't granted the power to regulate healthcare. But as Russ Feingold, former Senator from Wisconsin, said about its constitutionality in an interview about Obamacare before it was passed, he felt Obamacare was likely to get past the Supreme Court, as if that were the test for the constitutionality of an act of Congress.
I have to admit that I haven't read all the State constitutions cover to cover. The People who wrote those constitutions, I can guarantee you, weren't thinking about health care when they wrote those documents. The original constitutions granted the States no power to regulate health care or medical practice for that matter.
Those constitutions did not subvert the common law, however. If doctors caused people injury, the People have always had common law actions to recover their damages. The same is true for businesses that fail to live up to their contracts (health insurance policies). And back in those days, the People were not going to be suing the charities, religious organizations, and local doctors associations that ran most of the hospitals just because those groups made an error, however tragic the results, in judgment.
There was no need to regulate health care because the free market would weed out the bad guys and put them out of business.
If a State does have explicit constitutional authority to regulate health care, it's only because of some modern constitutional amendment. In those cases, the People deserve what they have.
In every other case, the only reason the States regulate health care is because the People have not objected to the collectivist view of its legislature that the government knows what's best for you and, instead of protecting the rights of the individual, violates those rights in the name of the euphemistic common good.
So, State regulation of health care goods and services brings health care back to a free market?
There is a good argument that State governments are co-equal villains with the Federal government in the plot to satisfy corporate greed in the health care industry. (Notice how what used to be a calling to help people is now an industry.) It is, after all, State government regulation of "the health insurance industry" (an oxymoron if there ever was one), a modern invention of government, that has created the mess we're in now. It's the States who limit competition. It's the States that mandate what coverages have to be included in health insurance policies. It's the States that permit the frivolous lawsuits against medical professionals. It's the States that tell the businesses what I's have to be dotted and what T's have to be crossed. So where's the free market?
My wish is that Tea Party Patriots withdraw its support for and promotion of this scheme. There's still time to do it before TPP digs itself in deeper with the instigators of HCC.
Politicians will have a field day with this. It gets the masses, on both sides of the political spectrum, riled up. It attracts volunteers, either for or against. And it attracts money, again, both for and against.
Once I got into this, there was just too much to put into a single article. This article is already quite long, so I'm ending it here. My intent is to write at least one more article in the series about the people behind HCC.
Richard Michael is a common law advocate. He conducts teleconferences and presentations covering subjects related to sovereignty, common law, constitutions, case law, and government institutions, particularly with relation to grand juries, lawyers, judges, and voting. Richard also runs Grassroots PhoneBank, a voter contact system, to help candidates win elections without breaking the bank. Patriot groups or individuals or candidates may contact Richard at (909)274-0813.