Thursday, August 01, 2013

Ken Cuccinelli: :"The Last Line of Defense": libertarian at times, but inconsistent (obsessed with "Obamacare")

Author: Ken Cuccinelli, with Brian J. Gottstein

Title: “The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty

Publication: 2013, Crown, ISBN 978-0-770-43709-1, 260 pages, hardcover, also available I Kindle.

Amazon link is here

The author was elected attorney general of Virginia in November 2009 and is trying to position himself for the GOP nomination for governor of Virginia.

The Virginia Democratic party has run television commercials complaining that the book describes seniors and the disabled as dependent on government, especially the federal government; but actually the author talks very little about such personal “dependency.”

On one level, the book seems like a libertarian manifesto, with certain inconsistencies.  Outside of the scope of the book, the author would need to explain why he seems to be fighting against abortion in almost all circumstances, and thinks that Virginia’s “crimes against nature” law should remain on the books even if he would use it only in crimes against minors (when other laws are obviously available).
Most of the book is indeed about economic policy, and a good portion of it rails against Obamacare, an describes his effort for Virginia to have the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) overturned, or at least the individual mandate, that individuals can be required to purchase insurance if they can’t get it from employers. 

Of course, I understand that for the government to mandate that an individual engage in unwanted commerce (that is, purchasing health care) sets a dangerous precedent, that could encourage similar action in other areas.  Imagine, for example, that the government requires bloggers to have libel liability insurance, which might be almost impossible to get.

But Cucccinelli takes himself for a ride, saying that universal health care would be constitutional, if politically infeasible in the US, if supported only by taxes (more like what happens in Europe).  He also says that it is constitutional for a state (like Massachusetts under Romney) to mandate the purchase of health insurance, under federalism.

The attorney general doesn’t say much about how people with pre-existing conditions should get insurance in a free market, or what to do about the fact that everyone today pays for the uninsured anyway.  He does vouch for private charity, but can “family and friends” really take care of catastrophic illnesses in people with pre-existing conditions like juvenile diabetes?  This would lead to a discussion about filial responsibility, or notions of pre-existing personal responsibility for others that could change our whole concept of marriage (even just traditional heterosexual marriage). 
That discussion should happen in a book by a conservative.

I do agree that some of the “libertarian” proposals for health care – like allowing purchase across state lines – make sense and could be simpler that our system of exchanges. People who have to purchase their own health insurance should certainly get the same pre-tax exclusion that employers get. 
Cuccinelli is a bit of a denier on climate change, saying that there is no proven link between carbon dioxide concentration and a warmer climate.  That’s just ridiculous.  Of course, a climate can temporarily cool for other reasons, like volcanic eruptions.

He also is blind to the environmental damage done by coal strip mining, especially mountaintop removal.

On Network Neutrality, though, I tend to agree with his concept that more competition is what will effectively promote fair user access.

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