According to blogger Bruce Webb, House Minority Leader John Boehner's proposed amendment to the health care reform act is "a fricking nightmare."
"It is worse than I could have imagined," Webb writes. "Someone tell me I have got this wrong. Or remove all sharp objects within my reach. Because they cannot be this brazen."
Webb explains that Title III of Boehner's proposal, which is enticingly called "Expanding Choices by Allowing Americans to Buy Health Care Coverage Across State Lines," would actually do little to help most Americans but would offer a great boon to insurance companies, which could choose to be registered in any state and sell insurance anywhere in the nation following only the laws of that state.
As the proposal itself spells out very clearly, this means that insurance purchased by consumers would not have to comply with the laws of their own state, offer "services or benefits mandated by the law of that state," or be "subject to all the consumer protection laws and restrictions on rate changes of the state."
What's more, the list of acceptable states in which insurance companies could register includes Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas -- locations that are not necessarily known for their devotion to consumer protection.
"In any event," Webb concludes, "if you like your 'Made in the U.S.A.' t-shirt made by near slave labor in Chinese owned sweatshops in the Northern Marianas you are going to love your 'Made in the U.S.A.' insurance plan regulated by the somewhat notorious government of the N. Marianas."
Webb also points out that the Northern Marianas are notorious for their long-term relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who helped see to it that the islands would remain free of pesky US labor regulations. Webb does not mention, however, that Boehner has his own Marianas connections by way of his former chief of staff, Barry Jackson.
Jackson worked for Boehner from 1991 until he joined the Bush administration as a deputy to Karl Rove -- a position in which he was occasionally lobbied by Abramoff's associates, according to the report of the House Government Reform Committee on Abramoff's activities.
Several years prior to that, however, in 1996, Jackson was one of a group of Congressional aides invited to Saipan by Abramoff's clients on the islands, at a time when the House of Representatives was considering strengthening immigration and labor standards for the Northern Marianas.
Either way, the Jackson connection suggests that Boehner ought to be well aware of the kind of regulatory standards that his own party has helped maintain in the Northern Marianas. Though perhaps a man who can't tell the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence shouldn't be expected to trouble his mind with such petty details.