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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Dealing With the Claim of a ‘Right’ to Health Care (And Housing)



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Jim, a Hillary Spot reader in uniform, makes a more basic point about the recent commonplace rhetoric that health care is a “right.”

The basic problem I have with socialized medicine is a philosophical one.  In effect, universal health care makes health care a right.  In fact, John Kerry called it a right in 2004 (and went unchallenged as usual).  A simple question for the supporters of this: At what point did health care become a right?  Our basic inalienable rights (free speech, owning guns, etc.) do not impose on others.  You can exercise these rights without imposition.  Once we concede the premise that health care (or education, a nice place to live, transportation, etc.) are rights, we are headed down a path where anything can be declared a right if enough people want it. Or are we already there?  Want a right? Put it to a vote.

You guys are arguing about implementation and money-schemes when it’s the idea that needs to be discredited.  Forced servitude and extortion are a few words that come to mind.

Here’s the bad news, Jim. Looking at those comments responding to Hillary Clinton’s question on Yahoo, it appears we’re already more than halfway there. A big chunk of the American people don’t care what it takes to get them “free” health care; they believe they’re entitled, and that somebody else ought to pay for it.

I’ve been hesitant to blog about one of my recent rant-inspiring topics — real estate — but we can see the outlines of this mentality in this area, as well. (The thirty second version of my rant: There’s a bubble, and it’s popping. Housing prices went way up in recent years, partially due to a speculative market, partially due to “flippers”, partially because real estate looked safe because of the dot-com crash, and partially because lenders made loans to people that they shouldn’t have. Many buyers bought a lot more house than they could afford, using all manner of potentially dangerous agreements – interest-only mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages, little or no down payments (the typical down payment of a first-time home buyer in 2006 was 2 percent!) etc. Now the supply of housing is increasing dramatically, as demand shrinks. (Those who face foreclosure will not be getting approved for new mortgages for new purchases anytime soon.) You know what that does to prices; but many speculative real estate investors went into the game convinced that prices could only go up.)

Anyway – so significant number of Americans are going to find themselves in financial dire straits because they bought an overvalued house as the market was going up, they can’t keep up with their monthly mortgage payments, and now cannot resell it for enough to even break even.

So what is Washington doing?

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., says he is working on legislation to prevent an “unprecedented” wave of subprime foreclosures and to give homeowners a grace period so they can get back on their feet. “This is a homeownership crisis of unprecedented proportions,” Sen. Dodd told a group of mayors. He is planning to hold hearings soon, possibly in two weeks. The committee chairman indicated that the legislation might include a rescue fund. “That is a possibility, but it would have to be paid back,” he told reporters. Sen. Dodd also told reporters that he wants to move quickly on GSE legislation to strengthen regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and pass a bill in the next two months. He said the Senate government-sponsored enterprise bill will be a “little different” from the House bill. And he declined to take a position on raising the GSE loan limits. “I have to be careful about jumping into that,” Sen. Dodd said after speaking to the mayors. “I want to talk with my colleagues first.”

A rescue fund, “but it would have to be paid back.” Dodd is seriously considering having the federal government loan money to people whose primary problem is that they can’t pay back the loan (mortgage) they already took out. (Fluuuuush! That’s the sound of our tax dollars going into this rescue fund.)

Take care of me, Big Government! Save me from the consequences of my own decisions and actions!

Sad to say, I can see this being a big issue on the campaign trail in the coming two years. We’ll be hearing a great deal about these poor home buyers who took out loans with rediculously risky terms, and who had NO IDEA that the house they were buying could drop in value.

Conservatives have a much harder task in persuading the public of the value of our ideas; there is always someone out there willing to promise a policy that will no longer hold individuals responsible for their actions.


Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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