Health care reform shouldn’t come as a surprise

Early Monday morning marked the passage of the unprecedented “Obamacare” bill by the U.S. House of Representatives. President Barack Obama’s signature officially made it federal law.

Turns out some people aren’t as psyched about the progressive health care reform as the majority of elected Democratic leaders are. In a last-minute plea to the House on Sunday evening, Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, posed the question regarding the writing of the bill, “Can you say it was done openly, with transparency and accountability without backroom deals struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people?” Boehner angrily answered his own question, shouting, “Hell no, you can’t!”

Later, Congressman Randy Neugebauer of Texas yelled, “it’s a baby killer,” out of turn, referring to the health care bill.

As for my peers, most students I talk to feel very strongly one way or the other, but I’m not sure too many opinions are factually grounded. Most opposed to the bill say that universal health care represents the beginning of socialism. All who drive automobiles in our country are required to have insurance or face a fine for failure to do so. With that similarity in mind, I’m not convinced that requiring citizens to possess protection against rising health care costs – in the form of insurance – is socialistic. Rather, it sounds more to me like fulfillment of the Declaration of Independence’s goal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Among other grievances Boehner expressed regarding the health care bill is the increased financial burden imposed on the taxpayers. To his point, Democrats heralding the bill’s $143 billion deficit savings over 10 years as incredible is a bit ridiculous, considering the estimated cost of the bill nears $950 billion, also over 10 years. The bill will be paid for by taxing rich families and individuals (who make over $250,000 and $200,000 respectively), insurance companies’ “Cadillac” high-end policies and indoor tanning facilities. This disproportionate distribution of tax burden certainly isn’t “fair,” but our progressive tax system never has been. In fact, the “fair tax,” a proportional national sales tax in lieu of federal income tax, was proposed by Mike Huckabee when running for president in 2008, who was thoroughly chastised for suggesting it.

The fact of the matter is that Obama and his Democratic colleagues are doing exactly what the voters – who were dissatisfied with the actions of the Republican majority under the Bush administration – elected them to do. Sure there was a fair share of backroom deals and “arm twisting” involved in getting the health care bill passed. They used to have a word for that…oh yeah, politics.

Former President Lyndon B. Johnson was the king of “arm twisting,” namely in passing civil rights reform. Johnson pursued civil rights for the same reason Obama has pushed health care reform so intently – because he desired to do the right thing, despite popular perception.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the poignant commentaries and overall enthusiasm, both for and against health care reform. We can certainly expect a similarly poignant discussion on other hot-button issues the Obama administration intends to explore, such as cap-and-trade relating to environmental issues.

At the end of the day, our elected leaders have passed legislation important to their constituents, and they deserve praise for their dedication to the electorate.

John Andrew Willis is a junior Spanish major from Dallas.