It’s Up to Us Now to Reclaim the Torch of Freedom

Today, the Supreme Court tried to find a creative way to justify undermining freedom.  Obamacare is offensive to freedom-loving people.  Calling it a tax does not change that and should not allow it to pass the constitutional test. Chief Justice Roberts got it wrong.  President Obama and his supporters combined bad policy, with bad process, to produce a bad result for the American people, and described it as their crowning achievement.  Obamacare is a massive, partisan expansion of the role of government sold as a health-care solution. In reality, it ignores and would worsen the primary healthcare challenge for American families and businesses — rising healthcare costs. These costs threaten healthcare access and quality issues and remain the number one threat to our nation’s fiscal future.

Despite all this, President Obama and his congressional supporters could only come up with raising taxes and cutting Medicare as a way to modestly “reduce the cost” of Obamacare. Their so-called solution still would impose at least an additional $2 trillion of debt on American taxpayers.  This is what President Obama chose as his legacy? How could he when already we are approaching an offensive threat to freedom and economic opportunity — $16 trillion dollars in debt and national unemployment officially over 8% and actual unemployment over 11%?

While Liberals in Washington are ignoring the real reasons why the economy is not yet moving, Americans are suffering from underwater mortgages, growing debt, and other job-killing regulations that keep flowing from the Leftists now running the Executive Branch. Add to that Obamacare and we are really in trouble.

It’s a shame they don’t give college credit for commonsense. Yet, Senate Democrats under President Obama’s “leadership” have refused to produce a budget for several years, claiming now that a budget may be more “appropriate” after the November election.  If you are looking for the opposite of courageous leadership — avoiding tough choices and hiding from constitutional responsibilities but still happily taking a paycheck — this is it.

This transformation of the relationship between the federal government and the individual is one of the most important election themes this year. Americans are now engaged in a healthy discourse about the Constitution’s design for a limited government, and the role that the federal government should play in individuals’ lives.

One of the questions that emerged during the oral arguments in the Obamacare case was: If the federal government can require every American to make a particular purchase, for the sole purpose of regulating that activity, is there any logical limit on the federal government’s power?  What else can the federal government require private citizens to do?

Consider this, during Barack Obama’s presidency, we have witnessed a dramatic departure from the principles upon which our country was founded.  Obamacare has captured Americans’ attention because it was such an overwhelming power grab by Democrats in Washington.

Not only is the individual mandate a threat to freedom, but the remaining provisions of Obamacare are an attack on our fundamental freedoms, and an example of the wrong thing to do in a time of severe economic challenges.

In fact, experts have concluded that provisions that will force people to buy more generous plans on state exchanges could raise premiums by up to 30 percent.  The expansion of Medicaid at the expense of Medicare will leave seniors without quality care, and will expand the deficit to monumental proportions.  And the Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to choose a health plan that includes contraception is a clear violation of our freedom of conscience.

I believe in solving problems.  Our healthcare system is far from perfect.  We must continue to work on access to quality care for all Americans.  It can be done successfully without government mandates by unleashing market-driven solutions.

There was another way to address legitimate concerns without choking our economy and limiting our freedom.  Americans should be able to buy health insurance with pre-tax dollars, or continue to receive insurance through their employer.  Companies should be encouraged to compete over state lines, and Americans should have a choice of different plans and premiums, just like with auto and home insurance. Health insurers could also offer high-deductible plans with lower premiums combined with health savings accounts, or more traditional managed care or fee-for-service plans. Low-income individuals would get tax credits so they could buy the same kind of health care as other Americans.

We can reform Medicare with a premium-support program that offers beneficiaries choice and control over their healthcare options.  This would transform Medicare from a program run by government to a program that empowers seniors.  We should also block-grant Medicaid so that states have the flexibility to effectively manage their programs and offer the best options for beneficiaries.  These, and other reform ideas will transform our federal entitlements from programs that breed dependency to programs that empower beneficiaries and encourage independence.

Today’s outrageous decision reiterates the need to continue our fight for freedom.  Last month I founded a new organization, Patriot Voices, which aims to amplify voices for freedom and provide an outlet for limited-government policy solutions and promote constitutional principles.  As President Obama and liberal Democrats continue to advance their harmful agenda, I believe it is important for conservative voters to have the opportunity to voice their opposition to the Democrats’ relentless attacks on the Constitution.

The 2012 election represents a turning point.  Voters will not be choosing merely between two candidates, or between Right and Left; instead, we will be deciding a philosophical question about the future path for the country. Do we want to continue down President Obama’s failed path of Big Government, or do we want to return to our country’s founding principles?

On Election Day, Americans should remember that President Obama has expanded the size, scope, and the role the federal government to an unprecedented level – and he intends to do more.  In November, Americans will have the chance to voice their displeasure about Obama’s many attempts to undermine the Constitution and replace freedom for our children and grandchildren with debt and Big Government.  Instead, let’s raise our voices and pass on the torch of freedom.

Let’s be perfectly clear what is at stake.  Obamacare will make every American dependent upon the federal government for their health care. It will change the relationship between the people and their government.  Liberty as we have known it for 236 years will be forfeit.   President Obama will veto any weakening of his law.  The only way to stop this comprehensive overhaul of the entire private and public healthcare system from becoming the law of the land is to defeat President Obama this fall. The stakes are set.  The mission is clear.  What say you?

Rick Santorum, a former representative and senator from Pennsylvania, ran as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. He is the founder of Patriot Voices, an organization to mobilize one million conservatives committed to promoting faith, family, freedom, and opportunity.