Obama's "Reform" And Clinton's Heart
Sunday, February 14, 2010
First, let me wish our former President a speedy recovery.
I’ve never been a fan of the “Clinton brand” of politics (or Clinton-styled policy). But the “Clinton brand” sure was different from what we know today.
Back in the ‘90’s the nation was arguing over things like “welfare reform,” and President Clinton’s relations with “that woman” (his description of his mistress Monica Lewinsky).
Today, Americans contend with an Obama Administration that will not (or cannot) tell us what happened to $787 billion of our tax dollars that were appropriated in a “stimulus bill,” but is nonetheless intent on spending an extra $100 billion so President Obama can “create jobs” for us. Today Americans contend with an administration that says “the system worked” after a terrorist was allowed to board a commercial airliner in Amsterdam, and then begin igniting his bomb-laden underwear as the aircraft was landing in Detroit.
And today Americans contend with President Barack Obama, who still insists that his agenda of “healthcare reform” will bring coverage to millions of uninsured Americans while at the same time reducing governmental spending. If we don’t make this new, $1 trillion-plus entitlement expenditure, so the 44th President has threatened, our government “will go bankrupt.”
I wouldn’t wish heart problems on anybody, regardless of one’s political positions. And I’m genuinely glad to see President Bill Clinton on the mend, after his heart problems last week.
But with the insanity of the Obama presidency as our backdrop, it’s worthwhile to stop and ask: what, exactly, is it, that helped enable President Clinton to walk out of a hospital unaided and looking as dignified and healthy and “put together” as ever, less than 24 hours after he rushed in with chest pains and a blockage?
The answer is the amazing device that we casually and routinely refer to these days as the “stent.” There’s nothing particularly interesting or unusual any longer about the existence of these little man-made tubes - most Americans alive today have become accustomed to Medical Doctors inserting “stents” into people’s bodies as a means of treatment for everything from blocked arteries, to esophageal cancer, to prostate problems. And it is the installation of two of these little tubes, into one of his clogged arteries, that is enabling a quick recovery from the blockage itself, and, according to his Doctors, will allow President Bill Clinton to return to his “very active lifestyle” within the next day or two.
So where do stents come from? Are they manufactured by government-run healthcare systems in Europe and Canada? Has President Obama’s ancestral home of Kenya benevolently contributed stents to the global medical community?
Truthfully, the “stent market” is a worldwide enterprise, of which roughly 37% is headquartered here in the United States. On average, about a million stents are implanted each year. One of the world’s leading stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific Corporation, is headquartered in suburban Natick, Massachusetts.
This is to say that a for-profit, publicly traded corporation that operates within the environment of America’s capitalistic economic system manufactures and distributes these all-important little “man-made tubes.” Investors buy shares of Boston Scientific stock, with the goal of earning a return (yes, “making a profit”) on their investment. In the process, Boston Scientific produces both a “return on investment” for its share holders, as well as a bunch of life-saving devices.
And it is important to note that last Fall, Boston Scientific C.E.O. Ray Elliot observed that what President Obama and the Congress were prescribing for healthcare “reform” amounted to “bad medicine” for his company. After the Senate version of Obamacare cleared the Senate finance committee in October, shares of Boston Scientific plummeted, demolishing roughly $2.5 billion in market value. Why? Because the Senate Obamacare bill dramatically raises taxes on medical device manufacturers, as a means of paying for the new entitlement program.
The Senate bill would likely double the company’s annual tax liability, Elliot observed, suggesting that this would mean an additional $150 million to $200 million taken away from the company each year. This, in turn, would mean that the company would be left with less capital to spend on research and development – which would be, Elliot’s words, “very damaging to Boston Scientific, and the medical device industry as a whole…”
Such “damages” may be irrelevant to Barack Obama. The President, his predecessors, members of Congress, certain other government employees, and members of certain people groups that are politically helpful to the President – i.e., unionized assembly workers at G.M. – would, under the Obamacare plan, continue to receive the best in private healthcare regardless of its cost. Yet a decline in the medical device industry could mean a decline in lifespan, and quality of life, for millions of the rest of us.
These consequences are inevitable, even if un-intended, when politicians simplistically view free-market enterprise as a villain.
And America would be better-off right now, if only President Obama had the “heart” – and mind – to respect our American system of capitalism.