A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released 16 March clearly shows US citizens are disgusted with Congress. Only 17% approve, while 77% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. In fact, 50% said they’d replace every single sitting Representative and Senator. We’ll see, come election time. I’ve heard the anti-incumbent rhetoric before only to see the lemings re-elect the same useless baffoons.
Some people blame the tea party movement and Republican opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform bills. Others claim Pres. Obama is pushing the Democrats to takeover health care in what many call a form of socialism. Many also see the Democrats attempting to increase government power at all costs. And let’s not lose sight of the fact Democrats have lost touch with working people.
The health care reform fiasco really underscores the breakdown in Congress and growth of the void between our representatives in Washington and we, the people. There are claims health care reform itself led to the polarization of the two parties and the rift between the elected and the electors. The fact is, Congress has been following its own agenda for some time. Discontent of the citizenry has been bubbling for decades and has come to a head recently. Several factors play into this, including the economic sitation, the lack of responsiveness of our representatives to their constituents, and the magnitude of bills being debated and passed.
In September 2008, Congress passed legislation to bail out teetering Wall Street institutions for $800 billion. Previously, they bailed out AIG to the tune of nearly $200 billion. Of this trillion dollars, there’s been little trickledown to the common man. And, despite tanking the global economy and nearly collapsing, these same financial charlatans have regularly given themselves bonuses. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t sit well with Main Street. Next came the $800 billion dollar Stimulus, another costly program that has not done much for the middle class. In Michigan, its primary benefit has been to allow the state legislature and governor defer hard budget deficit questions, not unlike trying to plug a leaking dike with bubblegum. In seeking to raise public support for the Stimulus, Pres. Obama claimed Caterpillar would benefit, ostensibly from increased sales of the construction equipment it sells. Caterpillar’s CEO contradicted the president’s claims.
Which brings us back to health care. Caterpillar told lawmakers health care reform will cost them $100 million in the first year alone. Last week, a Fox News poll found 55% of voters opposed to the health care bill, with only 35% in favors. While support is about the same as last July, opposition has risen 8 points since then. Then there’s that matter of whether or not those we elect to represent us actually do. My US Senators both failed to answer my questions on the Constitutionality of mandating buying private insurance, as did my US Representative. Forgive the length, but House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) summarized the moral failure of Congress in remarks on the House floor before the vote on the health care reform bill; emphasis added.
Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, I rise tonight with a sad and heavy heart. Today, we should be standing together, reflecting on a year of bipartisanship, and working to answer our country’s call and their challenge to address the rising costs of health insurance in our country.
Today, this body, this institution, enshrined in the first article of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers as a sign of the importance they placed on this House, should be looking with pride on this legislation and our work. But it is not so.
No, today we’re standing here looking at a health care bill that no one in this body believes is satisfactory.
Today we stand here amidst the wreckage of what was once the respect and honor that this House was held in by our fellow citizens. And we all know why it is so.
We have failed to listen to America.
And we have failed to reflect the will of our constituents.
And when we fail to reflect that will—we fail ourselves and we fail our country.
Look at this bill. Ask yourself: do you really believe that if you like the health plan that you have, that you can keep it?
No, you can’t.
In this economy, with this unemployment, with our desperate need for jobs and economic growth, is this really the time to raise taxes, to create bureaucracies, and burden every job creator in our land?
The answer is no.
Can you go home and tell your senior citizens that these cuts in Medicare will not limit their access to doctors or further weaken the program instead of strengthening it?
No, you cannot.
Can you go home and tell your constituents with confidence that this bill respects the sanctity of all human life, and that it won’t allow for taxpayer funding of abortion for the first time in 30 years?
No, you cannot.
And look at how this bill was written.
Can you say it was done openly, with transparency and accountability? Without backroom deals, and struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people?
Hell no, you can’t!
Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s amendment?
Hell no, you haven’t!
Mr. Speaker, in a few minutes, we will cast some of the most consequential votes that any of us will ever cast in this chamber.
The decision we make will affect every man, woman and child in this nation for generations to come.
If we’re going to vote to defy the will of the American people, then we ought to have the courage to stand before them and announce our votes, one at a time.
I sent a letter to the Speaker this week asking that the ‘call of the roll’ be ordered for this vote.
Madame Speaker, I ask you. Will you, in the interest of this institution, grant my request?
Will you, Mr. Speaker, grant my request that we have a call of the roll?
Mr. Speaker, will you grant my request that we have a call of the roll?
My colleagues, this is the People’s House.
When we came here, we each swore an oath to uphold and abide by the Constitution as representatives of the people.
But the process here is broken. The institution is broken.
And as a result, this bill is not what the American people need, nor what our constituents want.
Americans are out there are making sacrifices and struggling to build a better future for their kids.
And over the last year as the damn-the-torpedoes outline of this legislation became more clear, millions lifted their voices, and many for the first time, asking us to slow down, not try to cram through more than the system could handle.
Not to spend money that we didn’t have.
In this time of recession, they wanted us to focus on jobs, not more spending, not more government, certainly not more taxes.
But what they see today frightens them.
They’re frightened because they don’t know what comes next.
They’re disgusted, because they see one political party closing out the other from what should be a national solution.
And they are angry. They are angry that no matter how they engage in this debate, this body moves forward against their will. Shame on us.
Shame on this body.
Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen.
Around this chamber, looking upon us are the lawgivers—from Moses, to Gaius, to Blackstone, to Thomas Jefferson.
By our actions today, we disgrace their values.
We break the ties of history in this chamber. We break our trust with Americans.
When I handed the Speaker the gavel in 2007, I said: “this is the people’s House—and the moment a majority forgets this, it starts writing itself a ticket to minority status.”
If we pass this bill, there will be no turning back. It will be the last straw for the American people.
And In a democracy, you can only ignore the will of the people for so long and get away with it.
And if we defy the will of our fellow citizens and pass this bill, we are going to be held to account by those who have placed us in their trust. We will have shattered those bonds of trust.
I beg you. I beg each and every one of you on both sides of the aisle:
Do not further strike at the heart of this country and this institution with arrogance, for surely you will not strike with impunity.
I ask each of you to vow never to let this happen again—this process, this defiance of our citizens.
It is not too late to begin to restore the bonds of trust with our Nation and return comity to this institution.
And so, join me.
Join me in voting against this bill, so that we may come together anew, and address this challenge of health care in a manner that brings credit to this body, and brings credit to the ideals of this nation, and most importantly, it reflects the will our people.
Voting for the Senate ammended version of House Resolution 3590, the health care overhaul bill, were 219 Democrats. Opposed were 34 Democrats and all 178 Republics. The measure passed 219-212; see how your representative voted in Roll Call 165. As for Michigan’s delegation, the Republicans voted no and the Democrats—including holdout Bart Stupak—all voted for the bill. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), the state’s lone representative, voted no, as did the single Democrats in Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Utah. Both of Alabama’s Democratic Representatives also sided with their Republican colleagues.
28 Mar 2010
While it might be hard to believe people are not always truthful, especially in politics, it sometimes happens that people spin things to suit their position. Such is the case with Caterpillar’s claim the health care legislation will add $100 million to their costs. As it turns out, the health care law eliminates a tax cut from which Caterpillar benefited for seven years. While this is an increase in cost to Caterpillar, what they are losing is the corporate welfare of $100 million taxpayer dollars every year.