I finished Rick Perry’s Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington. In this post, I’ll highlight my favorite passages from my latest reading, as well as provide my own comments:
1. Page 171: “I see a nation where the people and their own doctors get to decide how to care for their families. I see individuals who own their own health insurance policies and that those policies are not controlled by employers, can account for preexisting conditions, and have affordable prices driven down by robust competition. I see states that have allowed for greater competition across their borders for insurance companies. I see doctors who are not afraid to go into the health field because trial lawyers are no longer allowed to hold them hostage to runaway, abusive lawsuits…There will be a health care safety net that is not built on the promise of what government can provide for the people, but on what individuals can accomplish together over our lifetime through work, savings, charity—-and by spreading risk out through insurance policies.”
I especially appreciate Perry’s sensitivity in this passage to the issue of preexisting conditions. I also like his acknowledgement that having health insurance policies that are “controlled by employers” is problematic, for that sort of set-up enables employers to hold their employees hostage, plus there are sad stories out there about people who are fired for being sick, right when they need the job for its insurance coverage.
Would the policies that Perry promotes make matters better or worse, though? I think that tort reform may increase the supply of doctors, which will help to bring down the price of health care. I’m more skeptical about the notion that individuals owning their own health insurance policies will make things better, for it’s cheaper for people to get insurance from their workplaces than as individuals. Moreover, private insurance does not always enable “people and their own doctors [to] get to decide how to care for their families”, for private insurance can be rather stingy when it comes to health care. Regarding competition across state lines, I think it’s a good idea to shatter the monopolies in states when it comes to health insurance (see my post here). At the same time, I fear that competition across state lines can lead to a race to the bottom as insurance companies seek to keep prices low. That, in my opinion, will not help those who have pre-existing conditions.
On the need for insurance companies to spread risk out, I question that relying on private insurance is the best way to do this. You need a large pool of people contributing to the policy for the risk to be spread out, and that does not exist when there are a bunch of private policies out there. A single-payer system, by contrast, has a vast number of people contributing to the same policy.
2. Page 173: “I see an America—-led by the states and the people who live there—-that has clean air, clean water, ample green space, and an environment filled with abundant wildlife. I also see an America with abundant energy, a generous mix of wind, solar, and hydro-electric power; fossil fuels; and many other resources of which we are blessed with large quantities. There is no reason we cannot lead the world in developing clean energy while continuing to fuel our economy with the energy it needs to create wealth, jobs, and opportunity.”
I appreciate Perry’s view in this passage that there should be a lot of “green space” with “abundant wildlife”. I’ve heard conservatives mock the notion that we should be concerned about trees being cut down, development getting rid of green space, and endangered species. “Why not put the animals in zoos?”, some conservatives have asked.
Would federalism make matters better or worse, though? I referred in an earlier post to Noam Chomsky’s view that leaving more powers to the states hurts the environment, since states are more captive to big companies than the federal government is, as states want for the companies to stay and thus are more willing to give them what they want (i.e., lax environmental regulations). (This may be a national problem now, however, since companies can leave the United States for places that have lax environmental regulations.) At the same time, people want to have clean air and clean water, and hopefully they’d be able to make their voices heard and obeyed in Rick Perry’s ideal system, were something like that to become a reality.
I agree with Perry’s emphasis on clean energy. I tend to believe, however, that the government should take some initiative in financing that. In addition, Perry highlights the importance of fossil fuels, but my concern there is that fossil fuels are pollutants.
3. Page 177: “When the federal government oversteps its authority, states should tell Washington that they will not be complicit in enforcing laws with which they do not agree. Again, the best example is an issue I don’t even agree with—-the partial legalization of marijuana. Californians clearly want some level of legalized marijuana, be it for medicinal use or otherwise. The federal government is telling them they cannot. But states are not bound to enforce federal law and the federal government cannot commandeer state resources and require them to enforce it. So good luck to the federal government if it wants to enforce every law on its books without the help of state and local law enforcement.”
States disobeying the federal government can lead to chaos, but there is a part of me that would cheer California on were it to do this! I also appreciate Perry’s acknowledgement that California has the right as a state to do something that he disagrees with—-legalize marijuana. I thought that he somewhat moved away from this approach as a candidate for President, however, not in the area of marijuana, but rather on the issue of same-sex marriage, as he supported a Federal Marriage Amendment rather than allowing states to set their own policies.
4. Pages 190-191: “I want to single out for special recognition Chip Roy, an outstanding legal scholar who previously served as legal adviser to U.S. Senator John Cornyn in his Senate leadership office and on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and who resigned his position as Special Assistant United States Attorney to devote himself full-time to the completion of the original manuscript. Writing a book of this nature in the midst of a campaign for reelection was a herculean task and wouldn’t have been possible without Chip’s dedication over the course of several months. He brought to this effort an amazing knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and other Founding documents, and a keen ability to frame federalist arguments in striking terms that make complicated law easier for non-lawyers like me to understand and discuss. Chip, it was a pleasure to work with you. You have a brilliant legal mind, and after working with you on this project I will never again attempt one like this without you by my side.”
Although there are things about this book that I did not like—-Perry’s immature attack on Al Gore, and his failure to define the arguments of the other side (whereas Rick Santorum in It Takes a Family at least attempted to do this, on occasion)—-there were elements of this book that I really liked. There are Tea-partiers who love to blab on about the Federalist Papers, but I have doubts that they even read them. Rick Perry, however, quotes them. Perry also makes historical arguments, and he does serious policy-analysis of such issues as Obamacare, documenting his claims with end-notes (and, while he sometimes appeals to right-wing sources in his documentation when discussing certain issues, he also cites studies and news articles). Chip Roy may have had a lot to do with this book being as good as it is. At the same time, when it comes to the Federalist Papers, I think that David Sessions of The Daily Beast has a point when he argues that Perry quoted them rather selectively, quoting the passages that agreed with his position while ignoring the ones that disagreed!