Already, three House committees have passed this critical legislation and over August, the two of us will work closely with those three committees to produce one strong piece of legislation that the House will approve in September.
In the meantime, as members of Congress spend time at home during August, they are talking with their constituents about reform. The dialogue between elected representatives and constituents is at the heart of our democracy and plays an integral role in assuring that the legislation we write reflects the genuine needs and concerns of the people we represent.
However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted “Just say no!” drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.
These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.
Health care is complex. It touches every American life. It drives our economy. People must be allowed to learn the facts.
That’s absolutely right, and it’s also why millions of average Americans are extremely upset right now. Pelosi and Hoyer conveniently omitted the fact that they tried to railroad this bill through committee and onto the House floor for a vote before anyone — including the CBO — had read the bill or could even explain what was in it. The arrogance and elitism of the House Democratic leadership (epitomized by its recent $550 million luxury jet buying spree) is stunning. As HughS recently pointed out, Congress and the White House haven’t been this out of touch with mainstream America since the late 1970’s.
The Democrats’ current attempt to stifle debate and push critics onto the sidelines goes way beyond Ronald Reagan’s much-derided “put up or shut up” challenge to his detractors 25 years ago. President Obama himself has explained how his health care reforms are to be “debated”: I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.
I’m not going to defend all of the shouting-down that has occurred at town hall meetings, because obviously some of it was out of line. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or Harvard PhD. to figure out that ordinary Americans, especially senior citizens, are angry because they believe they have been sold a bill of goods by Congress. Pelosi, Hoyer, Obama, etc. should have figured out by now that their tired “nothing will change” and “you’ll have more choices than ever before” talking points simply don’t work any more, because we have President Obama, prominent Democrat lawmakers, and chief health care policymakers all on the record supporting single-payer nationalized health care, and explaining that ObamaCare is simply a first step toward the eventual destruction of private health insurance. Those are facts Madame Speaker.
But instead of making an effort to intelligently explain what is actually in the bill, or what their ultimate goals for health care really are, the Democrats have instead resorted to compiling enemies lists, threatening dissenters both verbally and physically, and sending union thugs to pack town hall meetings and keep disgruntled constituents out.
Obviously none of these ham-fisted power tactics are going to satisfy voters, or make them feel confident about their government. Nor will they scare Americans away from directly confronting and challenging their elected officials. The President and members of Congress serve the American people, not the other way around. If they can’t figure out this simple fact, then they need to be sent packing.
(PS – the inspiration for my illustration can be viewed here.)