National health care is the law of the land. The explosion was obvious. But just like any detonation, you have to wait for the dust to settle to see what the effects of the explosion really were.
I feel like I just watched a bomb explode.
National health care is the law of the land. The explosion was obvious.
But just like any detonation, you have to wait for the dust to settle to see what the effects of the explosion really were.
It could be that after the dust clears, we'll see no major impact from Sunday's historic vote. But it is also possible that the force of the impact will be enough to create a landslide that carries a supermajority of Democrats in Congress to the minority party two short years later.
According to Democrats, this bill will bring health care access to 95 percent of Americans, cut the deficit and eliminate unfair business practices of health insurers.
According to Republicans, this bill will kill personal liberty, bankrupt the country and leave us waiting in line for health care procedures inside a den of socialism as we use copies of the constitution to bandage gaping wounds left untreated by state-owned medical clinics.
Something tells me the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
President Barack Obama said Sunday night that this bill "is what change looks like."
Even though most polls show support for the bill below 50 percent, health care reform was a major plank in Obama's presidential platform, and the pressure was on to deliver a win. When Sen. Ted Kennedy died and was replaced by a Republican, the belief was that the chances of doing anything significant with health care were almost erased.
However, some parliamentary gamesmanship and a hold-your-nose-and-vote session got the measure passed.
However, as the vote ran late into a Sunday evening, it felt like a NASCAR race won by a beat-up car gliding across the finish line after running out of gas rather than an impressive performance.
There was no popular mandate for this bill. This was a matter of making sure Obama didn't lose on this issue after starting his term with a super-majority in both legislative houses.
Republicans discovered that fighting this bill on moral grounds was difficult. Obama and the Democrats want to make life better for people who don't have health care. That is pretty high moral ground.
So the GOP began to work the angles. They started fighting by saying it would be nice to provide this health coverage for everyone, but America simply can't afford the huge costs that will be involved. They also threatened that approving the bill will be the first step in becoming a socialist state.
That isn't sarcasm or satire. It's a quote.
The head of the Republican National Convention, Michael Steele, called the vote a "headlong rush into socialism." He said the GOP would not stand for the "Obama-Pelosi-Reid hijacking of our freedom and democracy so they can impose their socialist 'utopia' of higher taxes, restricted access, inferior quality and deadly inefficiency on the best health care system in the world."
Kansas Fourth District Representative Todd Tiahrt said, "Freedom-loving Americans across the nation lost an important battle today against liberal forces of socialism."
Could America end up like the socialist utopias of Canada, Germany and England? There are worse fates.
The battle also took a turn into abortion politics when it was revealed that there was no reason tax money wouldn't be used to fund abortions if the bill passed. Obama responded with an executive order to ban the possibility of that happening and won over the five pro-life Democrats led by Bart Stupak.
When Stupak stood before the house to announce his support of the bill, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) yelled out "baby killer."
Even in admitting that he yelled the phrase, Neugebuaer claimed he had actually yelled, "it's a baby killer" about the bill. The fact that Stupak was at the podium at the time of the taunt was purportedly mere coincidence.
With these logic-optional attacks and epithets from the Republicans and the bluebird of sunshine claims of Democrats, it will be interesting to see who the voters side with in November.
In reality, most of the sweeping changes don't sweep through for a few years.
The most immediate changes include preventing insurance companies from dropping people who get sick, eliminate pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny health insurance and allowing young adults to remain on their parents' plans until they are 26 years old.
The Republicans are already rattling their sabers signaling that the fight over this bill isn't over yet. The fight will change venues to the Congressional elections of 2010.
After those elections, more of the dust will have settled and we'll see how much - if any - damage was done.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the newspaper.