Clinton & Gingrich: Mandatory exercise and wealth transfers

I missed the apparent lovefest over healthcare between Newt and Hillary last Thursday at the National Press Club. It was covered in Friday’s WaPo article The Reformer and the Gadfly Agree on Health Care, also covered in’s piece entitled Former political foes patch up differences to tout health care.

Some of the more eyebrow-raising comments:

“Gingrich, out of elected office, was free to depart from his anti-government roots. With Clinton nodding in support, he came out in favor of mandatory daily physical education, healthful food in schools and a “transfer of finances” from rich to poor. Some of this,” Gingrich said after a long list of concessions to the left, “may surprise you.”

Mandatory exercise and diets? Mandatory??

Clinton had surprises, too. She nodded in support of Gingrich’s proposal to “voucherize Medicaid” and agreed with his statement that “welfare reform has really worked.” She granted that “there is enough money in the system right now to cover the uninsured” and she said that piecemeal reform was the best route.”
In other words, Clinton believes that egalitarian redistribution works and is cost-free.

This little sentence on the philly site is hilarious:
Clinton and Gingrich both said there were ways to fix the system that would not raise ideological red flags, or trigger bitter partisan fights.
Of course they do. It looks like both Dems and the GOP have agreed that piecemeal expansion of government power in health care can be a nonpartisan affair.

P.S. Has Gingrich gone completely mad?

13 thoughts on “Clinton & Gingrich: Mandatory exercise and wealth transfers”

  1. Newt’s not mad, he’s clever as a fox.

    He and Hillary are both big fans of the Medical Records Bill. This proposed construction of a nation-wide network for Americans’ digital health records will advance Newt’s pet, the Third Wave, while the multi-billion dollar government intervention expands Hillary’s governmental paternalism.

    The capitalization of healthcare informatics on the national scale will be expensive. This article quotes John Hummel, senior vice president of IT at Sutter Health in Sacramento, CA. who thinks the final cost to taxpayers will be between $500B and $700B. This expenditure may boost the fortunes of IT companies, and it may ultimately save lives, but it also smells a lot like corporate welfare.

    As an investor with Siemens AG, Intel and Microsoft in my portfolio, I guess I should embrace this bipartisan bill. has this example of a Louisiana hospital ward that revamped its IT to transform the ward into a paperless operation and many benefitted. The beneficiaries of this project were the hospital and its patients, as well as the IT consultant, Siemens AG, and its hardware vendor, IBM.

    Imagine the boom in the IT industry if Hillary and Newt get their way. Then ask, can’t private monies accomplish the same thing?

  2. I agree. It amazes me that Gingrich is so blinkered by shiny new technology. While significant productivity gains with seamless medical records, test ordering, and lab results may be in the offing, I doubt the government will reap much of that. The fewer dollars spent in duplicative work will be spent on more health care services.

    Medical care is for the time being a time-intensive enterprise. The only way someone can evaluate your symptoms is to spend a considerable amount of time interviewing you. That time constraint cannot be compressed much further than it already has, and no tech device can substitute for it.

    Once again, government is likely to err in backing the wrong horse businesswise, when simply creating a fair regulatory and enforcement environment would be far more successful. But boy, doesn’t Newt like the shiny and new?

  3. Thanks for the diabetes info, Steven.
    Once initiated, there would be no logical end to the governemnt’s intrusion into our lives. By redefining “public health” from protection against communicable disease to any disease that affects large numbers, the government thereby increases its power to take control over your personal life.

    By the logic given in the article, high cholesterol (affecting more than half of all Americans), coronary disease, depression, obesity, and others become matters for the public health officer. The step from there to every other disease, driving, recreational pursuits, the movies we see, and and books we read (are they good for the public?) is ever smaller.

    In the April 18, 2004 NYTimes Magazine, Hillary Clinton wrote an article entitled Now Can We Talk About Health Care?, (hosted proudly on as well). I have mentioned in it what I see as an ominous term, little noticed at the time, but disturbing in light of this development. She writes about our collective health.

    There is, of course, no such thing at all. She follows this stating, “Public health programs can help stop preventable disease and control dangerous behaviors. Take obesity, for example.” To remedy this, she advises, “It comes down to individual responsibility reinforced by national policy.” We have here our first example of what ‘reinforcement’ means.

    I suspect New York’s actions here are the first salvo in the use of ‘public health’ as a means for statist control.

  4. Mandatory exercise and diets? Mandatory??

    Ah, nostalgia. Back when Clinton was elected, I wasn’t too sure about this whole national health insurance thing, but I figured it was worth talking about at least. Maybe it was a good idea.

    Then a colleague talked me out of it. He was all for it.

    He was a very athletic fellow for whom the Flab-American demographic (such as yours truly) was an aesthetic embarrassment. He was saying that, as a matter of simple human decency, the government ought to provide such-and-such level of health care to all Americans — however, the government also ought to insist that people take care of themselves with proper diet and exercise. He said something like, “People ought to have to prove that they jog a mile every day.” I told him that not everyone is fit enough to do that (thinking mostly of grannies and such), and he said, “Well, then, they oughta git fit.”

    I realized then that his attachment to the Cult of Fitness was such that it had become the main reason for his advocacy of national health care, and the actual health care part had become merely a bonus.

  5. A digression: a lot of these enthusiasts are nuts. The notion that if some people benefit from regular running/biking/whatever, that that also means that your grandmother should stop driving and should instead bicycle to the mall (“like they do in China/Cuba/Europe!” — yeah, that’ll convince me) is patently ludicrous to most Americans yet somehow seems to make sense to a certain type of person.

  6. I agree with Jonathan. Creating a ‘public health crisis’ out of diabetes or any non-communicable disorder is not merely language abuse, but makes the assumption that everyone wants and values the same things (or should do so), which is demonstrably false. Longevity is not a universal goal, and it should not be mandatory to pursue it.

    Egalitarian methods such as this reject individual choice in health care and conflict with our natural rights to life, liberty and property, which protect individuals from the moral as well as the legal force of collectivities.

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  8. “Was he ever not?”

    How about 1994, the greatest Republican victory of my lifetime, when we took back the Congress for the first time in decades. That was Newt’s victory. He ran it. I remember the night like it was yesterday.

  9. Just curious: What is ChicagoBoyz’ stance on the food that’s on sale in public schools? Even my most libertarian brain cells can’t get too indignant about a rule or two getting passed (not that I know how these things work) limiting the amount of crap food available in public schools.

  10. I have mixed feelings about it. Schools must act in loco parentis, so cafeterias address nutrition in a mostly uniform, bland fashion. The concern over childhod obesity has led to calls for stricter control at school, via eliminating soda and pizza, for example.

    My only problem with it is that the “solution” does not address the origin of the rise in obesity. Kids are fatter primarily because of the huge parenting shift since the 1970s: more kids are home alone, unattended. They are inactive, watch TV and eat. Fix that, and obesity goes away.

    Attempting to remedy this by changing what’s on sale for lunch at school mistakes its cause. It won’t be harmful, except in that the responsibility for kids is again shifted away from the family, which was the problem in the first place.

    Repeating this error is unlikely to work, but we’ll certainly spend alot of time trying it.

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