Congress deals stunning blow to constitution
The recent passing of the health care overhaul bill and the events that led up to it represent the worst period in American politics' history. Not only was the content of the bill unconstitutional, the methods in which the votes were accumulated were dirty and reeked of corruption. Even when many Americans opposed the bill, Congress shoved "reform" down their throats. The coming months and years will tell if this was actually a "historic moment" comparable to the abolition of slavery or, perhaps more likely, a temporary dissolution of ethics and democracy in the American government.
There was never any major argument against the necessity of health care reform. For better or worse, President Barack Obama chose this issue as his domestic priority, and the country finally had to address it. Unfortunately, the president and his progressive cronies had already made up their minds on how to reform the system: Socialize it. Most Republicans and moderate Democrats were willing to compromise between their diverging ideologies to reach a reasonable, responsible and practical solution. But progressives would not have it — it was their way or the highway. Essentially, those in power decided there was an incredible urgency for legislation — any legislation — to be passed. So they argued that the time for debate had elapsed, and that America deserved a final up-or-down vote. So they approved one of the greatest intrusions on American lives since the Patriot Act.
To be fair, there is a handful — albeit, a small handful — of sensible refinements in the bill. Mainly, and most obviously, is that it extends health insurance to 30 million people who now will not have to worry about bankruptcy as a side effect of caring for their children. Also, these people will now contribute to the risk pool by paying premiums instead of going to the emergency room for free care. However, the bulk of the bill is an egregious tax hike on the middle and upper classes, an infringement on the liberties of every citizen, and will result in an even more mountainous burden of debt — if you can believe it can get any bigger — on the nation's youth. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this overhaul will cost $940 billion and will reduce the federal deficit by $143 billion over 10 years. The reliability of these estimates is more than questionable, though. The CBO is required to analyze the bill at face-value and cannot factor in other possible costs or consequences, says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the CBO from 2003 to 2005. He contends that the federal deficit will actually increase by $562 billion as a direct result of this bill, while the Heritage Foundation predicts it will cost this country closer to $2.5 trillion.
Numbers and accounting aside, the majority of Americans did not support the bill. In fact, the majority of congressmen did not support it until recently, and it is not very clear why a handful of congressmen suddenly had a change of heart. We will never know how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, et al., managed to round up 219 votes — except for the obvious ones who were bribed with billions of federal dollars toward Medicaid assistance and benefits — because all of this arm-twisting and deal-making was done behind closed doors. The hypocrisy of Pelosi's claims of transparency and bipartisanship is astounding. The meetings between leadership and members of the House of Representatives were as transparent as a brick wall, and the only sense of bipartisanship in this monumental power grab was in the opposition to it.
Headlines last Monday and Tuesday read "Victory for Obama," which is a telling truth. It was a victory for Obama and progressives nationwide. However, it was a defeat for all Americans. It was a defeat for the spirit of freedom and opportunity that this country breathes. Our representatives took an oath when elected to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States," and in this regard they have failed. They have failed their constituents. They have failed their country. More importantly, they have failed our country. Take it from House Minority Leader John Boehner: "Shame on this body. Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow country men ... [You] have failed to listen to America." In its quest to expand the reach and power of the federal government, in its delusional need to nanny us "helpless" citizens, Congress has ignored and betrayed the single most important premise this country was founded upon: Liberty. Three hundred million Americans, willing or not, are now required by law to buy health insurance — as well as fork over billions to the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the statute. I do not call that freedom. I call that tyranny. Though many would not opt out of buying health insurance, having a law that requires it is a dangerous precedent. It was Harry Browne who said, "A little government involvement is just as dangerous as a lot — because the first inevitably leads to the second." The path to an Orwellian future is a slippery slope. We cannot give Washington an inch.
In a Democratic republic, the job of a congressman is to represent the will of the people and to protect their freedoms, not to arrogantly claim to know what is best for them. Progressives in the Capitol have betrayed America's trust, and they will pay for it. The socialist, neo-European policies that have been hiding under the guise of progress have been revealed, though, and Americans are rightfully outraged at Congress' blatant destruction of their freedoms. If there was any hesitation to oust incumbents this fall, the passing of this bill should eradicate any doubts. When addressing the nation last Monday, Obama said, "When faced with crisis, we did not shrink from our challenge, we overcame it. We did not avoid our responsibility, we embraced it." And now that is what we must do. We have a responsibility to protect our own freedoms and our democracy — especially if our government will not.
James Winters is a School of Engineering sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering.