Myrtle Beach congressman’s just-for-show award, collegiate meddling, and ObamaCare tinkering

For Weekly SurgeMarch 19, 2014 

This week, Congressman Tom Rice from Myrtle Beach wins a “participation” award, the South Carolina House of Representatives is scared College of Charleston students are going to catch the Gay, and President Obama quietly goes into full panic mode over the ACA.

U.S. Chamber of Congress “Honors” Congressman Rice -- Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Congress -- a lobbyist group representing business and trade organizations -- honored U.S. Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) for an 85 percent approval ranking on so-called “pro-business” issues. Of course, 86 percent of House Republicans received the same award, and even USCC CEO Thomas J. Donohue’s quote in Rice’s press release was the same as that used for other award winners. That being said, Rice did come down on the right side of good issues, such as returning education back into the hands of states. However, his vote to pass CISPA, which reduces online privacy rights for citizens and strengthens government snoops like the National Security Administration, is particularly alarming. “Pro-business” Republicans are a dime-a-dozen in Congress, and winning awards for easy votes is nothing special. Instead, we need more people like Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who are the GOP’s leaders on civil liberties. The tide is turning on Big Brother Republicanism, and votes for unconstitutional bills such as CISPA leaves Rice standing in a bad place when that tide finally breaks. On that vote alone, I wouldn’t send Rice back for another term until he starts mentioning “personal privacy” as often as he talks about “jobs.”

Rep. Smith and His Merry Band of Book Burners -- On March 10, S.C. Rep. Garry Smith (R-Simpsonville) saved future students of the College of Charleston from learning about the carnal sins of sexual deviants; at least those in the school’s summer reading books program, not the ones featured on Bravo’s Charleston-based reality show “Southern Charm.” Smith led the House’s charge to cut the CofC’s budget by $52,000 (the amount of money it takes to fund its summer reading program) after it assigned the novel “Fun House” to incoming students; a novel Smith claims “graphically shows lesbian acts” and promotes “the gay and lesbian lifestyle.” And, you know, the gays killed the dinosaurs, or something like that. Rather than make a compelling argument that better novels could have been selected -- perhaps something like “Atlas Shrugged,” where at least straight people copulate in detail -- Smith vomited the same tired bigotry of those who still believe homosexuality can be cured at a camp. But, then again, this type of paternalistic censorship is nothing new for colleges, and colleges are usually the ones responsible for it. For example, Coastal Carolina University played the role of censor recently when it banned this newspaper from its campus for what the school viewed as “alcohol-related content.” When did we get so scared of opposing opinions, ideas and lifestyles that we rushed to the government to intervene? In environments of free inquiry -- the supposed purpose of Classical education -- ideas are to be examined and challenged. When we have bullies like Smith, or CCU, using the force of government to shape the conversation for students, it puts these students in an academic plastic bubble. Censorship doesn’t help students, or hold universities accountable; it only serves the egos of self-important paternalists who think they know best, and opens the door for future, greater abuse.

Obama’s Tinkering Puts Your Healthcare at Risk -- The Obama administration recently created a so-called “hardship” loophole in the Affordable Care Act that allows virtually anyone to avoid costly IRS fines for failing to find healthcare coverage before the March 31 enrollment deadline. This is effectively the same thing as Republicans argued for during the government shutdown debate, but then Democrats claimed the individual mandate was essential to the long-term viability of ObamaCare. What changed? Nothing, except the Democrats’ November polling numbers, which is pushing the President into a panic. The de facto suspension of the individual mandate is a major victory for individual liberty. However, the individual mandate -- along with Obama’s other numerous other substantial changes to the ACA’s infrastructure -- weakens the structural integrity of the entire ObamaCare program. How? The ACA prevents insurers from charging more for sicker patients. This requirement can inflate costs for everyone if healthier people opt out of joining the insurance pools -- a real problem if the individual mandate is lifted and healthy people decide the risk of going without coverage is less expensive than monthly insurance premiums. Over time, an insurance pool composed of primarily sick people raises costs, and makes affordable coverage virtually impossible without taxpayer-funded bailouts. Again -- this is why Democrats called Republicans crazy for wanting to remove the individual mandate. The other side is that insurance companies and employers are making decisions -- affecting jobs, and insurance coverage -- based on information that is changed at the last minute by the Obama administration. Companies can’t adjust to changes as quickly as Obama can change them, which leads to confusion and instability. And, confusion and instability leads to higher insurance costs to you, and turns America’s healthcare system into a giant game of Jenga. Eventually, Obama is going to pull the last remaining block holding everything up.

Andrew Davis is a Myrtle Beach native and former Director of Communications for the national Libertarian Party. Contact him at, or follow on Twitter at @SCPundit.

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