- RL Intern
Catharsis at the Crossroads of Health Care and the Constitution
Contrary to the accusations of my critics, I am not a true believer in any “ism.”
I, like most Americans, have some trepidation when it comes to big government agencies telling me what to do and how to do it. Just like I have some grave distrust of big monopoly corporations selling my personal information or forking over my meta data to the National Security Agency without so much as a reflection on the abridgment of my privacy or personal liberties.
Big governments, like big corporations, are prone to big corruptions. This has something to do with the adage, “all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We have seen this in the 2008 Wall Street banking failure and we are seeing it now with the NSA’s domestic spying scandal. But this is nothing new. Does anyone out there remember Watergate, the Pentagon Papers or the Savings and Loan debacle?
In fact, our national history is littered with political and financial scandals, perpetrated by the likes of Stanford, Crocker, Rockefeller, Hurst and J. P. Morgan to name just a few. This history only elucidates the threat to our republic the concentration of money and power in too few hands. It always has and always will. Understanding this has led this nation to distrust anything that is “too big to fail.”
Now here’s the hard part. The Tea Party Republicans in Congress are out to kill the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare as they like to hang around the president’s neck. They, like the generation of conservatives before them, are anti-big government. They, like Ronald Reagan, see big government as the “big problem” rather than the solution. Their solution is to shrink the big bad government by “starving the beast” by any means possible–including shutting it down. This, for no other reason than that they believe national health care is an encroachment on the free market or their liberties. It’s hard to tell which at this point.
The Tea Party, as their name alludes, is a throw back to a time in this nation’s history when it was practical to have a small central government. They like to quote Founding Fathers a lot. As romantic as this notion of theirs is, it is neither practical nor possible to run this nation on a “small is better” proposition. Nor is their assertion even an honest one.
History shows us that with every expansion of this country, in territory, population and industry, the central government has expanded in both size and cost. It has done so to fulfill the very premise of the U.S. Constitution: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
It’s not like we haven’t fought to better define the very meanings of these words from court rooms to civil war to rebellions and riots over the intervening years. Today, however, the Tea Party and its backers want to drag this nation back to a time in their imagination or is it their delusion?
The significance of the Affordable Care Act is that as this nation has prospered over the course of the last 30 years, the wages of the middle class and working poor have remained flat if you adjust for inflation. While the wealth of the top one or two percent has exploded.
According to Robert Reich some 400 individuals now own more than half of the wealth in this country and they are paying less of their income on taxes as a percentage than their employees. The Affordable Care Act addresses this decidedly unfair inequity. This law is a game changer for the health insurance industry whose profits have increased over the last decade by some 400 percent while at the same time it regulates who and how they have to cover more people.
This health care act passed by Congress legally falls under the, “promote the general welfare” provision of the U.S. Constitution. It was tested in the Supreme Court and is completely in line with the current needs of the people and the general state of the economy. What the Tea Party Republicans can’t stand is that it will probably work to provide health care to some 30 million Americans currently uninsured and that it will end up becoming as popular as Medicare and Social Security! Much to their amazement and disillusion, Americans far and wide will embrace this act and understand it on the basis of its inherent fairness–even with its initially flawed approach.
But I doubt that any of this reasoned reflection on either the expanding role of government or the necessity of health care reform will convince them, as they are too busy throwing a tantrum in the nation’s capitol, creating a false crisis.
Under other circumstances, this would be deemed a threat to the republic. What I say is, “let them scream.” Let them have their catharsis. Give the federal employees a week off. Send congress home, and then call them all back after they’ve gotten it all out. Then the president should ask all the government employees to go back to work asking only that they wait to be paid once the tantrum is over.