Can you imagine anything greater than waking up on Christmas morning, looking under the tree and finding that you, your family and everyone else across the fruited plain never, ever had to pay for their healthcare again? Well, countless people across the country believed just that on March 23, 2010 when President Obama signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. Not surprisingly, people started showing up at doctors’ offices and hospitals around the country expecting free care. Not surprisingly, these are the same individuals who thought that by electing Obama, all their bills would be paid (http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=P36x8rTb3jI). Just like there was no “Obama’s Stash” to pay their bills (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ojd13kZlCA), there was and is no free healthcare.
Let’s start from the beginning. As I recap the events leading up to the signing of the bill, you may feel your blood pressure start to rise and your head may feel as though it is going to explode. I suggest you remain seated and take deep breaths. Here we go….
The 2,700 page law was quickly constructed in 2009, during a time when the Democrats had a supermajority in the House and Senate, which allowed them to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Even without one Republican vote, any bill could be rammed through by any means possible. This is the closest a democracy can get to being a dictatorship. First of all, President Obama declared that his administration would be the most transparent in history and that all discussions and debates regarding Obamacare would be broadcast on CSPAN for all to see. That never happened. And who could forget Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to press for a vote on the bill saying, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV-05TLiiLU). That’s right; no one even took the time to read it before giving it a “Yay” or “Nay”. How’s that for educated voting?
Secondly, as the months passed and the debate raged, a collection of pro-life Democrats held up the passage of the bill over the inclusion of tax-funded abortions. Slowly but surely, the Democratic holdouts were bribed, one-by-one, to change their stance and support the passage of the bill. Ben Nelson of Nebraska changed his vote after receiving tens of millions of dollars in Medicare funds for his state. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana received the same sort of offer, and eventually caved. These became known as the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase”. The last vote to steal was that of the group’s leader, Bart Stupak of Michigan, who continued to oppose the inclusion of tax-payer funded abortions. In the end, Stupak also conceded, though his excuse centered on Obama’s new Executive Order promising abortions would not be funded in the bill. This was a lie. The Executive Order was non-binding and held less power than the abortion language within the bill itself. The truth came out later, as Stupak had also been bribed, with his district in Michigan receiving funds for airport upgrades. In America, citizens would do hard time in prison for offering/accepting bribes. In the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration, it’s just business as usual.
The Dictatorship won. Nearly seven out of ten people in the U.S. was against the albatross that was thrust upon us that day, but our voices were stifled and ignored.
Remember how grade school textbooks spoke glowingly of our elected officials: how they are representatives of “We The People”? How the Schoolhouse Rock episode “I’m Just A Bill” shows the legislative process in such a fair, orderly fashion? Being hit by the reality that none of this is true is bested only by the realization that there is no Santa Claus (sorry if I ruined it for you!). To lead in such a distasteful manner runs contrary to our Founding Fathers and the intent of our legislative processes. This is a failure of our leaders, but the culpability lies also with the voters who failed to select trustworthy representatives of their beliefs and causes. Remember, elections have consequences. The decisions that were made in 2008 allowed this to happen.
Over two years later, I still see countless bumper stickers and have eavesdropped on conversations that praise Obamacare and still exude a celebratory air about its passing, as though it was the second coming of the Magna Carta. I would love to sit down with every single person and ask them: why exactly do you love Obamacare?
-Is it the rising costs of insurance premiums (wasn’t it supposed to lower costs?)
-Is it the coming $770 billion in new tax increases (according the Congressional Budget Office)?
-How about the $1/month surcharge for abortion on every health insurance policy, which is mandatory?
-If you’re a senior citizen, are you excited that $716 Billion is being taken from Medicare to pay for it?
-I’m sure it’s the new added taxes on medical devices that are causing companies to ship jobs overseas or go out of business completely, right?
-Does it include the fact that it prohibits individuals from using their personal Health Savings Accounts to pay for over-the-counter drugs and also caps tax-exempt payments to Flexible Spending Accounts, which are often used and much-needed by special needs families?
-What about your tax money paying for coverage not only for yourself and all other U.S. citizens, but for millions of illegal immigrants as well?
-Is it the government forcing religious organizations, against their Constitutionally-protected beliefs, to provide for birth control?
-It must just be all that free stuff we are getting (wait, I thought they said it would be free?)
If your head is still attached to your shoulders, I have some good news. THIS CAN ALL BE FIXED. The political tide turned when Obamacare was shoved down our throats. The Tea Party rose from nothing. Enthusiasm for political activism went through the roof. Voters turned out in droves for the 2010 election, voting out incumbent after incumbent who had supported Obamacare and did not represent the will of the people. This began the start of a new era. Even with the shocking 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in upholding Obamacare, the law can still be repealed. If we educate ourselves and are diligent in the selection of our leaders, we can send real representatives to Washington D.C. who will ensure that our government remains a Representative Democracy – one where our voices matter and will not be ignored. As was the case in 2008, the power lies in your hands.
Use it wisely.