Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Editorialist Timothy Egan gave us this befitting quote in his New York Times editorial last week: “For now, Americans are against “the bill,” whatever they think it is.” It’s not surprising that Americans are confused about the health care reform bill, recently passed by the house and more recently—on Christmas Eve— by an exhausted Senate. Between the name-calling, fact-bending, and outright lying going on, it’s a wonder that anyone is still paying attention.
Though no one has resorted to the“H” word yet (that I know of), there have been allusions to slave ownership Judas’ betrayal of Christ, and everybody’s favorite miserly holiday character. "Not even Ebenezer Scrooge himself could devise a scheme as cruel and greedy as Democrats' government takeover of health care," said house republican John Boehner (OH).
Rep Boehner goes on to say that "Senator Reid's health care bill increases premiums for families and small businesses, raises taxes during a recession, cuts seniors' Medicare benefits, adds to our skyrocketing debt, and puts bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors." Holy cow, that sounds terrible! Except that none of those claims are even remotely true.
Researchers from Temple University conducted an interesting study in 2006 and found that members of Congress tell the truth -- the whole truth -- only about a quarter of the time when debating major legislation on the floor of the House and Senate. It seems like the only way to truly know what the bill contains is to read the thing for yourself. (in your plethora of spare time, of course)
Also concerning is the disconnect between what the American people want and what has actually made it into the bill thus far. As the Pew Research Center notes, only 3% of Americans oppose health care reform over the possibility of abortion funding. (Let’s find some other fun things that a small faction of Americans support: 5% of Americans hold a favorable view of al Qaeda. And let us not forget the 4% who don’t support health care reform, but don’t know why.) On the other hand, 76% of the American public support a public option. Why was an amendment with 76% support (the public option) removed from the bill while one with 3% support (abortion restrictions) remained. Though I’m clear on the fact that this is not a direct democracy, it’s a little disconcerting that what’s happening in Washington seems to be completely disconnected from the desire of the American people.
Tell your Congressional Representatives to step it up a notch. We hired them to do a job and we expect them to do it well.