Behind the House Health Care Vote

Where was the American people's representation on health care reform in Washington on Saturday night? Or better, why did our representatives in Washington move so hastily to advance an inclusive health care reform bill that will permanently alter 1/6th of our economy and affect every citizen when most Americans don't support it?  

Despite the fact that the bill that was introduced only eight days earlier, has 1,990 pages (and nearly as many words as Tolstoy's War and Peace), House majority leader Steny Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi strong-armed 220 votes in favor of the "Affordable Healthcare for America Act" (HR3962). That includes one vote from a Republican in name only: Joseph Cao of Louisiana.

A filibuster-proof 60% majority is needed to present the bill to the president, and the smart money says that 58 to 60 Senators will vote for a health care reform bill, too. Yet according to a November 2nd poll by Rasmussen, only 42% of Americans support the health care proposals of the president and congressional Democrats, while 54% oppose it. How can it be that the House passed health care reform when we the people are in "landslide" opposition to it (remember that the president won by a "landslide" margin of 52.9%)?

There are at least three reasons for this apparent lack of representation of the majority's will in Washington. The first is that growing, building, expanding, and increasing are some of the most fundamental of human natures. From the beginning of our Republic, the role of government has grown exponentially (a word too often used, but surely accurate in this case). This danger was not lost on at least two of the founders:
From the nature of man, we may be sure that those who have power in their hands ... will always, when they can ... increase it.

 -George Mason
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground      

-Thomas Jefferson
The original design of government in our country was minimalistic, the prevailing thought being that larger government would inhibit citizens' natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Over the past 220 years, the self-defined roll of government has grown to encompass unemployment income; retirement health care and income; income, housing, and food for the poor; and even cell phones.

To no small extent, the reason for this growth comes from those self-serving politicians who have glorified the importance of action.  They want to put their name on something.  They are fulfilling their natural desire to expand their own control.

According to a Foxnews.com article, Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA) was contacted by President Obama, Chief of staff Emanuel, and other high-ranking administration members seeking his support for the health care bill. Altmire said their message was that "This is a historic moment. You don't want to end up with nothing."

A second reason for the difference between elected representatives' desire for health care legislation and the rest of America's opposition has to be that some representatives feel they are better able to understand and act on policy than the average citizen. Put more simply, they believe they are smarter or better-educated. If representatives didn't believe in some level of their own superiority, then there would be no discrepancy with their constituents' views.

As an example of this superiority complex, consider a recent AP article from this Saturday, November 7, that cited Senator Barney Frank chastising a group of about 20,000 who marched in Washington last week to protest the health care bill. Said Frank: "Some of the people [at the rally] that wanted to engage me in conversation appeared to have been the losers in the 'Are you smarter than Michele Bachmann?' contest." Here, Frank mocks as stupid the citizens, not to mention a fellow legislator, who disagree with him. Clearly, his intelligence is beyond comprehension. How can we all be so dumb?

The third reason for the disparity between the will of the citizens and the will of our representatives is political momentum, or what we can call the legacy costs we are now paying for years of an unpopular Republican administration. The sentiment of anti-Republicanism ushered in a democratic majority in both houses in the 2006 mid-term elections -- and in 2008 a super-majority in both houses, as well as the most liberal president we have had in many years. This momentum emboldened Democratic leadership to ambitiously bulldoze their reform over the American people.

Legacy cost has become an important and dangerous threat to our republic. The liberal policies being considered now, like health care reform, "cap-and-trade," and those already enacted would have been considered on the extreme left wing in years prior. For example, the specter of universal health care has failed three times: first with FDR's New Deal, where it couldn't find the support it needed; then LBJ's "Great Society" didn't include it for the same reason; and finally, "Hillarycare" of 1993 proposed universal coverage, but not a government plan to compete with private insurance. Only now, with the perfect storm created, does enactment seem imminent.

All told, there are certainly many reasons for the spread between voters and representatives who support the Democrats' health care reform. But man's natural tendency to expand, the self-perceived superiority of our representatives, and the legacy costs for an unpopular previous administration are three of the more apparent ones.

Thankfully, tides can change...and 2010 is nearly here.

Andrew Foy, M.D. and Brent Stransky are authors of the upcoming book, "The Young Conservative's Field Guide." They can be contacted through their website at aHardRight.com.
Where was the American people's representation on health care reform in Washington on Saturday night? Or better, why did our representatives in Washington move so hastily to advance an inclusive health care reform bill that will permanently alter 1/6th of our economy and affect every citizen when most Americans don't support it?  

Despite the fact that the bill that was introduced only eight days earlier, has 1,990 pages (and nearly as many words as Tolstoy's War and Peace), House majority leader Steny Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi strong-armed 220 votes in favor of the "Affordable Healthcare for America Act" (HR3962). That includes one vote from a Republican in name only: Joseph Cao of Louisiana.

A filibuster-proof 60% majority is needed to present the bill to the president, and the smart money says that 58 to 60 Senators will vote for a health care reform bill, too. Yet according to a November 2nd poll by Rasmussen, only 42% of Americans support the health care proposals of the president and congressional Democrats, while 54% oppose it. How can it be that the House passed health care reform when we the people are in "landslide" opposition to it (remember that the president won by a "landslide" margin of 52.9%)?

There are at least three reasons for this apparent lack of representation of the majority's will in Washington. The first is that growing, building, expanding, and increasing are some of the most fundamental of human natures. From the beginning of our Republic, the role of government has grown exponentially (a word too often used, but surely accurate in this case). This danger was not lost on at least two of the founders:
From the nature of man, we may be sure that those who have power in their hands ... will always, when they can ... increase it.

 -George Mason
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground      

-Thomas Jefferson
The original design of government in our country was minimalistic, the prevailing thought being that larger government would inhibit citizens' natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Over the past 220 years, the self-defined roll of government has grown to encompass unemployment income; retirement health care and income; income, housing, and food for the poor; and even cell phones.

To no small extent, the reason for this growth comes from those self-serving politicians who have glorified the importance of action.  They want to put their name on something.  They are fulfilling their natural desire to expand their own control.

According to a Foxnews.com article, Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA) was contacted by President Obama, Chief of staff Emanuel, and other high-ranking administration members seeking his support for the health care bill. Altmire said their message was that "This is a historic moment. You don't want to end up with nothing."

A second reason for the difference between elected representatives' desire for health care legislation and the rest of America's opposition has to be that some representatives feel they are better able to understand and act on policy than the average citizen. Put more simply, they believe they are smarter or better-educated. If representatives didn't believe in some level of their own superiority, then there would be no discrepancy with their constituents' views.

As an example of this superiority complex, consider a recent AP article from this Saturday, November 7, that cited Senator Barney Frank chastising a group of about 20,000 who marched in Washington last week to protest the health care bill. Said Frank: "Some of the people [at the rally] that wanted to engage me in conversation appeared to have been the losers in the 'Are you smarter than Michele Bachmann?' contest." Here, Frank mocks as stupid the citizens, not to mention a fellow legislator, who disagree with him. Clearly, his intelligence is beyond comprehension. How can we all be so dumb?

The third reason for the disparity between the will of the citizens and the will of our representatives is political momentum, or what we can call the legacy costs we are now paying for years of an unpopular Republican administration. The sentiment of anti-Republicanism ushered in a democratic majority in both houses in the 2006 mid-term elections -- and in 2008 a super-majority in both houses, as well as the most liberal president we have had in many years. This momentum emboldened Democratic leadership to ambitiously bulldoze their reform over the American people.

Legacy cost has become an important and dangerous threat to our republic. The liberal policies being considered now, like health care reform, "cap-and-trade," and those already enacted would have been considered on the extreme left wing in years prior. For example, the specter of universal health care has failed three times: first with FDR's New Deal, where it couldn't find the support it needed; then LBJ's "Great Society" didn't include it for the same reason; and finally, "Hillarycare" of 1993 proposed universal coverage, but not a government plan to compete with private insurance. Only now, with the perfect storm created, does enactment seem imminent.

All told, there are certainly many reasons for the spread between voters and representatives who support the Democrats' health care reform. But man's natural tendency to expand, the self-perceived superiority of our representatives, and the legacy costs for an unpopular previous administration are three of the more apparent ones.

Thankfully, tides can change...and 2010 is nearly here.

Andrew Foy, M.D. and Brent Stransky are authors of the upcoming book, "The Young Conservative's Field Guide." They can be contacted through their website at aHardRight.com.