Land: Quality of life would suffer under bill

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (BP)--Both the quality and duration of life for America's next generations will suffer if President Obama's health-care reform proposal becomes law, Southern Baptist ethics leader Richard Land says.

Speaking at a briefing for Southern Baptist pastors in northern Virginia, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) said, "I don't want to seem overly dramatic here, but I'm telling you, based on everything I know, if we get Obama-care ... it will significantly lower the quality of life and length of life of your children and grandchildren."

Health-care reform and a climate-change proposal known as "cap and trade" are examples of how Obama and other Democratic leaders have overreached, Land said.

"I think the Democratic leadership, Obama and the leadership of the Senate and House [of Representatives], have very much misread the [2008] election results," he told the pastors and others at the briefing. "[T]hey think it's given them a mandate to turn us into a semi-socialist country, and the polls show that that's not what the American people want."

Cap-and-trade legislation calls for cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. It establishes a cap on emissions and allows a trading system among energy companies and other organizations, permitting those that produce more emissions to purchase credits from those producing fewer.

"[C]ap and trade, or cap and tax, is the largest tax increase in American history," Land said, adding that the policy would result in higher energy bills for families.

The proposal will do nothing to reduce the earth's temperature, he said. "It will harm the economy," he said. "It will make the recession last longer. It will make any recovery weaker and come later."

Even with its pitfalls, a cap-and-trade system will not be as harmful in the long run as Obama's health-care reform, Land said.

"[W]e've had tax increases before that have been rescinded," he said. "But no country has ever implemented a public health program, a government-paid-for health program, and ever rescinded it. If they get through government-sponsored health care, we'll never get rid of it, and it's awful.

"When you have government-sponsored health care, the only way the government can control costs is to ration it."

People die in the publicly funded health-care systems of Great Britain and Canada who would not die in the United States, said Land, who lived under "socialized medicine" for nearly three years in England.

In addition to rationing, another life issues concern for Land and the ERLC is that the current health-care proposals in Congress would permit federal funding of abortion coverage.

An ERLC analysis released Aug. 3 concluded the House version that has been approved by three committees -- America's Affordable Health Choices Act, H.R. 3200 -- "will lead to diminished health care for most Americans, less choice, higher taxes, and unprecedented government intrusion into every level and aspect of society, from business, to education, to marriage, to individual liberty."

Once there is a government option in health care, Land said at the pastors briefing, "private insurance companies will not be able to compete." He said, "[E]very body will be put on the government program."

The pastors briefing was held July 9 at Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va., and is the second in a series of such regional meetings the ERLC is planning.


Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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