Legislation stalls at Congress because of the public, not the president

When President Barack Obama decided to initiate significant health care reform, it is not likely that he was attempting to infuriate a majority of American citizens. It is a sad reality, however, that most Americans have lost hope in health care reform. But the lack of support for health care reform is not a result of Obama’s mistakes. It’s the ineffectiveness of the U.S. Congress that has prevented the potential for health care reform from becoming a reality.

Comprehensive health care reform is at a relative standstill, no matter what the press reports. It is stagnant because Congress is stagnant. One thing is for sure – the health care reform bill will not make its way through the House of Representatives and the Senate without significant markups. The bill’s lack of progress can be attributed to the nature of the U.S. Congress, which can ultimately be attributed to the inept voters who elect its members.

In fact, the term “member of Congress” itself is telling of what is lacking in Congress – a group effort. Take the filibuster, a phenomenon with which those who have followed the health care process are all too familiar. Sen. Joe Lieberman strategically affected the health care process by his filibuster threat. Rep. Joseph Cao, a Louisiana Republican, had a similar effect Nov. 8, when he voted in support of the bill. Factions stand as one of Congress’ most powerful aspects, which, as the “Federalist Papers” indicate, the U.S. founders clearly frowned upon.

Also, it might just be the current Congress, but passing legislation is particularly unpredictable as of late. The health care bill is the most significant example, but there was also the stimulus, which seemed crucial at the time, but could be considered unnecessary now. Then, there were the August climate bill efforts, which strived for an equal distribution of energy rights and punished those who were using too much energy.

It is futile to place all of the blame on a large, authoritative body like Congress because it is impossible for those bodies to handle expansive issues like health care by themselves. But those who say that Congress is not partly to blame are oblivious. Once again, members of Congress do not strive to please the country. They strive to stay in office and fund their constituency’s needs. That fact alone should call for cries of opposition.

For health care, or any important piece of legislation, to pass as intended, voters must take initiative and elect capable congressmen and congresswomen. And those voters cannot be afraid to place some blame on those elected officials’ shoulders when they fail.

Wyatt Kanyer is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Yakima, Wash.