Health reform should promote choice, not coerce consumers

In Capitol Review, Notes by Mark Hillman

If you’re unhappy with health care, you’re obviously not alone.  For most people, the problem isn’t availability.  The problem is cost – cost of treatment, cost of prescriptions, cost of insurance, or cost of paying for the uninsured.

For more than 60 years, government has tinkered with the way we pay for health care.  Unfortunately, when government "solutions" fail, lawmakers rarely admit their mistakes and go back to square one.  Instead, they layer more dubious solutions on top of those that failed until the problem becomes so intractable that far more people suffer from the solution than from the original problem.

Last year, the state legislature created the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on Health Care Reform and charged it with divining a proposal to expand coverage, reduce the number of uninsured and decrease costs.  (After that, curing cancer should be a snap.)

A final recommendation is due this November, but the BRC now appears headed toward a nightmare "solution" consisting of higher taxes, lower wages and fewer choices. Read More

Must reads: IMMIGRATION

In Notes by Mark Hillman

Immigration bill not ready for prime time
Charles Krauthammer
This is amnesty — and I would be all in favor of it if I believed in the border enforcement mechanisms in this bill. If these are indeed the last illegal immigrants to come in, let us generously and humanely take them out of the shadows. But if we don’t close the border, that generous and humane gesture will be an announcement to the world that the smart way to come to America is illegally.

The amensty fraud
Thomas Sowell
All attention is focused on what to do to accommodate those who committed this crime. It is a question that would be recognized as an insult to our intelligence on any other issue.

‘Ordinary Coloradans’ can’t afford this kind of help

In Capitol Review, Notes by Mark Hillman

The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist looks beyond. – Henry Hazlitt.

When Democrats at the State Capitol trumpeted their successes on behalf of "ordinary Coloradans" recently, I couldn’t help but reflect on this key point from Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson.

The way top Democrats tell it, we ordinary Coloradans stand to benefit from a flotilla of renewable energy bills, measures to "help small-business combat soaring health insurance costs," legislation to punish "slipshod construction," and more.

These and so many other bills that passed the legislature this year illustrate what happens when politicians get so close to a perceived problem that they don’t see how their "solutions" will obviously harm the rest of us. Read More

Must Reads for May

In Must Reads, Notes by Mark Hillman

Was Osama Right?
Bernard Lewis, Wall Street Journal
Islamists always believed the U.S. was weak. Recent political trends won’t change their view.

Lack of money does not cause schools’ problems
Robert Hardaway, Rocky Mountain News
Expenditures on public schools in the U.S. exceed those of any other country on earth. Since 1970, teacher salaries have exploded 18 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, while teacher-faculty ratios have declined by one-fourth.

The Do-One-Thing Congress
Investors Business Daily
Other than deserting our troops and complaining about President Bush, what have Democrats accomplished?  Well, they’ve passed 26 laws — 12 of them renaming federal buildings.

So, you really want to pull out of Iraq?
Max Boot, Wall Street Journal
There is a serious and widening disconnect between the timetables that commanders are using to guide their actions in Iraq and those being demanded by politicians in Washington.

Dems doubletalk on Iraq
Victor Davis Hanson
When both congressional Democrats and Republicans cast their votes to go along with President Bush, they even crafted 23 formal causes for war. So far only the writ concerning the fear of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction has in hindsight proven false.

World Bank an outdated relic
George F. Will
It is difficult to demonstrate that World Bank loans have produced growth, let alone as much growth as private capital would have produced. Furthermore, when the bank provides debt relief, it creates what economists call moral hazard, an incentive for perverse behavior.

Light bulb lunacy
Steven Milloy, Junk Science

How much money does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent lightbulb?  About $4.28 for the bulb and labor — unless you break the bulb.   Then you could be looking at a cost of about $2,004.28.

WHAT’S NEWS COLORADO
The latest local news and views from all across Colorado.

Must reads April 24-May 1

In Blog, Must Reads, Notes by Mark Hillman

Even if Entering Iraq was a Mistake, Leaving would be Worse
Dennis Prager
The people we are fighting, including Osama bin Laden and all the variations on al Qaeda, know that the battle for Iraq is the battle for their future — that if they win in Iraq, they win all over the Middle East and beyond; that if they lose there, America and the West win.

Why Boycott Israel
Richard Cohen, Washington Post
In Iran, the government overturned the convictions of six men who killed a young couple because they were walking together in public. In China, local authorities seized about 60 women and forcibly aborted their pregnancies. In Russia, the Putin government expanded its control of the media. Given such a vast palette of injustice and depredations, the British National Union of Journalists made a truly original move: It singled out Israel to boycott.

Harry Reid embarrasses Democrats
David Broder, Washington Post
Here’s a Washington political riddle: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats — a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance.  If you answered " Harry Reid," give yourself an A.

One Choice in Iraq
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Washington Post
Last week a series of coordinated suicide bombings killed more than 170 people — innocent men, women and children indiscriminately murdered on their way home from work and school.  If such an atrocity had been perpetrated in the United States, our response would surely have been anger at the fanatics responsible and resolve not to surrender to their barbarism.

What’s News Colorado
Latest news and views from across Colorado.

Roads shortchanged in state budget

In Capitol Review, Notes by Mark Hillman

In the 18 months since voters passed Referendum C, Colorado’s resurgent economy has boosted the state’s budget windfall by 50 percent, from the $3.7 billion estimated just prior to Election Day 2005 to the most recent estimate of $5.4 billion.

Yet one thing that Ref C’s supporters and detractors seemed to agree upon is the silver lining that current law directs most of that additional revenue to transportation.  After all, state transportation spending fell from $1.39 billion in 2001 to $822 million in 2005, due to economic woes and the expiration of a highway bond program that voters approved in 1999.

Another not-so-obvious factor — political pandering — made the transportation predicament worse during the recession and now seems to be eating away at transportation even as those coffers could be refilled.  For legislators, the political reality is that roads and bridges don’t vote, but senior citizens do – and so do college students and their parents, as well as recipients of Medicaid. Read More

Must reads April 17-23

In Must Reads, Notes by Mark Hillman

A disarmed campus
By John Tabin, The American Spectator
Perhaps some school administrators still think that declaring a "gun-free zone" makes a campus safer; that was what legislators thought when they started passing gun bans at high schools.

Racism in the press: Imus, Duke & Jackie Robinson
By Ben Shapiro
It is a stretch to call the Rutgers players heroes; it is an insult to call the Duke players quasi-villains. And yet, that is what the press continues to do, despite the players’ complete exoneration.

‘Gun-free’ zone left VTU students defenseless
By Jacob Sullum
As Monday’s horrifying mass murder at Virginia Tech vividly demonstrated, there is a difference between feeling safe and being safe.

They’re gambling with your money

In Capitol Review, Notes by Mark Hillman

Legislators and lobbyists too often take chances with other people’s money.  That’s because the real world impact of legislation is often vastly different from the bravado that punctuates debate at the State Capitol.

Not long after I was elected, I began to hear a relentless drumbeat of complaints from business-owners about the skyrocketing costs of health insurance.  Years of tedious research helped me wrap my mind around the complicated web of federal and state health insurance regulations that make controlling costs so frustratingly difficult.

When I cautiously moved forward in 2003 with legislation that gave consumers more choices and forced insurance companies to compete based on relevant risk factors, like the health status and claims experience, I was careful not to make rash promises. Read More