Thursday, August 1, 2013

Affordable Health Care Law - Political Update - Making Sense Of It All

The Preamble of the United States Constitution includes the words “promote the general welfare.” Can there be anything more basic to “the general welfare” than making sure all citizens of the United States have a basic health plan. I am a believer of universal health care so I thought the current law didn’t go far enough. If we can provide free public education then I sincerely believe all citizens should be provided with free health care. Should there be limits. Sure. But our government should try to serve our citizens. President Obama saw a broken system and earnestly tried to fix it. It was not exactly what he wanted. But he knew that our system of government is based on compromise. He gave in on many areas to gain support for passage of a law that would address a “broken system” for the majority of Americans. It was a start. Improvements to the system would always be welcomed and would only strengthen a great first step in making health care accessible, and possibly affordable for all Americans. The bill was passed, with a “super majority” in the Senate, a majority of the House and the official signing by the President of the United States of America. I teach high school history and government. I really can’t come up with another event in U.S. History that comes close to what followed, and continues to occur, in the attempt by elected officials to sabotage our system of democracy. Republicans sued to get the Supreme Court of the United States to get the Affordable Health Care Bill declared unconstitutional. The key issue was the “individual mandate.” This would require all Americans to have health insurance or be subject to a fine. In an incredible decision, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, sided with the liberal members of the court to uphold the law. Chief Justice Roberts is a Republican and was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush. Most people, including me, naturally assumed all members of Congress would work together to improve the law and strengthen its implementation in the interest of helping all Americans. Wow! Was I wrong! The Republican controlled House of Representatives voted to repeal the law. Ok. I think one symbolic vote to voice their dissatisfaction would be acceptable. But 37 votes to repeal a “law” that would never get by the Democratically controlled Senate was a total waste of time and is an insult to the citizens of the United States who expect elected officials to work together to improve the quality of life for all Americans. Finally, I close with the latest stunt being used to sabotage the Affordable Health Care “Law.” Members of the House are threatening to withhold funding for the implementation of this law. I am familiar with the use of this action as a very appropriate use of our Constitution’s system of checks and balances. For example, if the President of the United States uses the military in an undeclared war, Congress can cut funding and force a cessation of the military action. But the Affordable Health Care Act is meant to help the American people. This is a passed law. This law has been found to be “Constitutional” by the Supreme Court of the United States. I applaud President Obama for his efforts but we are going through a unique period of U.S. History. This will be an extremely tough battle. But it is a noble battle worth fighting and winning.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Foundations of Our Democracy

The fiscal cliff has been averted.  The stock market went crazy with the Dow up over 300 points.  But the look on President Obama's face following the House vote told a different story.  There is a group of Republican House Members who must take a class in United States Government.  These representatives signed pledges to never raise taxes.  Many of those same representatives were elected by voters in their districts because they signed those pledges.  Their constituents should also take a government class.  But we are currently stuck with people in Congress who don't understand that the ability to "compromise" is essential to the success of our system of government.    

Grover Norquist appears on the news networks and keeps these members of Congress in line.  He is most responsible for these pledges.  He has threatened, and succeeded, in defeating any Republican Candidate who defies him.  Many Republicans no longer have the courage to break the "pledge" because they want to keep their jobs and will receive a lot of money to support their candidacy if they play ball with Norquist.  There is huge money behind these "Pledgers" as millionaires save millions by backing this group.  But the efficient operation of our government is the victim as "compromise" becomes impossible.

Courageous Republicans, mostly in the Senate, took on Norquist and the "Pledgers" to get us off the cliff but the biggest challenges remain with the debt ceiling, the sequestration that was delayed and the continuing problem of funding the entitlement programs.  We can handle these challenges if our elected representatives stop signing any pledges and sincerely talk to each other and compromise to get things done and do the will of the people.  What is the "will of the people?"  I think our Founding Fathers framed that answer best when they wrote the Preamble of our Constitution.  But we must fund what our Preamble describes.  If reasonable higher taxes are necessary,  Congress must have the courage to do what is right even if they could lose their job.