November 7, 2009
At about 11:05 P.M. cheers erupted from the floor of the House of Representatives when the 218th vote was cast in favor of H.R. 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for America Act." After the last few votes were counted it was 220 in favor, including one Republican, and 215 against, including 39 Democrats. With that five-vote margin, this nation took a big step toward a fundamental reordering of our society and economy -- a veritable leap into the unknown.
On most Saturdays this time of year, I would probably be watching a football game, but today was an extraordinary moment in U.S. history. My eyes were glued to the tube, watching the House of Representatives debate the thousand-page behemoth. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) spoke very forcefully against the bill, and Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) spoke eloquently about the lack of constitutional authority for such a measure, and the lack of any provisions to prevent illegal aliens from enjoying the health care benefits. I saw Congressman Bob Goodlatte speak twice, emphasizing the job-killing aspects. You can peruse the document at your leisure at the Library of Congress' "Thomas" legislative database. Is that too much to digest? Don't worry, there's probably somebody on Capitol Hill who has read most of it for you already. Or maybe not.
This was a good occasion for me to take advantage of instantaneous civic interaction via the new "social media." Chris Saxman sparked a debate on health care on Facebook, and I replied to one critic of Republicans (Susan Maddux-Anderson) thusly:
Susan is right that most Republicans failed to blow the whistle on Bush's fiscal profligacy, and that Obama is just doing what he promised. But it would be fatally wrong to suggest that there are no reform alternatives to Obamacare. It will either bankrupt us or enslave us, or both.
To which she asked whether other industrialized nations were bankrupt or enslaved, to which I replied:
No, they are are free-riding on the security protection that we have provided them since the beginning of the Cold War. We don't have that luxury. Plus, their economies depend on immigrant workers who aren't covered, which is the same direction we are heading. Statism has crippled economic innovation in Europe, which is why so many Europeans come here to live.
Just after the House voted to approve the measure, I replied to Zanette Showker Hahn:
"Sad" is putting it very mildly. At least there is hope that this unconstitutional travesty will get stopped in the Senate. What an irony that the one Republican voting "yea" (Joseph Cao) is a refugee from communism, and that he replaced that crook William Jefferson.
and right after that I replied to Shaun Kenney ("R.I.P. Free Market."):
It's the Constitution I'm more worried about. It's been several decades since we've had something resembling a free market in the health care sector, but somehow the Republicans failed to convey this fundamental fact to the public.
It's probably those damn health care industry lobbyists. Nancy Pelosi choked back tears as she announced the final vote, and I was crying inside too, but for the opposite reason. Now the fate of American liberty is up to the U.S. Senate...
Locally and nationally, the Democrats are gnashing their teeth at the big Republican victories in Virginia and New Jersey. Should they appeal to the Center or to their Base? Not surprisingly, Daily Kos thinks the latter, blaming the collapse in turnout. "This is a base problem." Forecast: increased polarization, with chance of violence.