Much has been made about yesterday's historic signing into law of Health Care Reform (HCR, for our purposes) by President Barack Obama, and what's interesting is that for the first time in a very long time, being signed into law hasn't stopped the debate. Indeed, it seems to have only inspired more vehement hatred from its opponents. I would like to characterize the opponents of HCR as a fringe element of the right, but the truth is that every single Republican in the House of Representatives voted against it. Every single Republican spoke the same arguments from what appeared to be a template during the debate. Here are the claims, and what's wrong with them:
"We're for health care reform, just not this legislation."
Why it's wrong: Republicans have already made it clear they intend to sabotage the implementation of HCR legislation, going so far as to insist that Congress doesn't even have the authority to reform health care. If they were really in favor of reform, they wouldn't insist that reform isn't even allowable under the law because that would, obviously, mean they couldn't reform it their way, either.
"The Democrats forced this legislation through Congress, using underhanded means."
Anyone who knows anything at all about politics knows that deal-making is how things get done. This isn't something I say with any ounce of cynicism. How else would you get anything accomplished? How else should a representative democracy work? Of course concessions were made along the way. But they weren't made to a specific congressperson for his or her own sake; they were made because that person's job is to represent the wants and needs of their constituents. It's a shame that the Republicans elected not to participate at all in the writing of this legislation. Their job is to represent their constituents, and if their constituents are, indeed, in favor of reform as we're told they are, then they abandoned the opportunity to participate in this legislation for reform. My representative in the House is Geoff Davis, and he did not represent me at all by refusing to partake in the construction of this bill.
But, Travis, didn't he represent his constituents who did oppose it? you ask. The only ones he represented were those who are in opposition to the idea of reform. There was no legislation to oppose at the time; there was only an opportunity to help shape that legislation, and for all intents and purposes, he simply folded his arms and said, "I'm not playing." He could have represented the concerns of his constituents while participating in the crafting of this legislation, and he didn't.
"There's no room for the government between a patient and a doctor."
This only makes any sense to someone who has never--and I mean never--had to be seen by a doctor. If you don't have insurance, you already know about clinics and the wait times and somewhat impersonal treatment patients receive because you can't afford to see a private physician. If you do have insurance, then you're bound to have had a doctor tell you about a test that's needed to better understand your symptoms or injury, only to have your insurer say they won't pay for it. Just what is it that government involvement would make different from the experiences of the uninsured or the insured?
The truth is, insurance companies only have one priority and that is appeasing their shareholders. Those shareholders are only appeased if they make money, and they don't make money by actually paying for the tests and treatments that your physician thinks you need. They make money by collecting your premium every two weeks and getting out of paying for anything they can. A representative government, on the other hand, is answerable to The People and must operate with their goodwill in mind.
"This is about a socialist government takeover of private industry."
President Ronald Reagan was absolutely right when he said that people can decide better for themselves than government can decide for them what is best for them. Where HCR comes into play is, it addresses an area where private individuals are powerless to make a decision on their behalf. No one chooses to develop medical conditions, or to sustain injuries. HCR is not about some kind of paternalistic control over our lives; it's about making sure that people with needs are able to get on with making those decisions for themselves that President Reagan rightly said we were better suited to make for ourselves.
"The Democrats ignored the will of the people."
The Democrats won in 2008 in large part because President Obama promised to work on delivering health care reform to the American people. They were elected by constituents who believed in HCR, and wanted this to happen. They are the majority party for this reason. Are there polls that suggest people are against what has happened, and have there been increasingly volatile protests? Of course. It's disingenuous for anyone to ever think "The will of the people" represents all Americans. But to characterize this as a fringe group of zealous politicians scheming to impose legislation in defiance of all Americans is flat-out wrong.
Is the HCR legislation perfect? Of course not. For some, it goes too far; for others, not far enough. But anyone who believes that the Republicans sincerely wish to see reform is willfully ignoring the obvious facts.