Here’s what’s wrong with billWell, now politics has really gotten personal. Which is why I don’t agree with many of my conservative friends who say that now that America has taken the (literally) suicidal step of turning our health care over to our government via “ObamaCare,” it’s a permanent setup that will only grow more far-reaching and destructive over time.
By: Betsy Hart, The Dickinson Press
Well, now politics has really gotten personal. Which is why I don’t agree with many of my conservative friends who say that now that America has taken the (literally) suicidal step of turning our health care over to our government via “ObamaCare,” it’s a permanent setup that will only grow more far-reaching and destructive over time.
That’s the pattern of entitlements, the thinking goes. And that’s surely why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was willing to sacrifice, if necessary, even the majority leadership of Congress itself. That could happen when midterm elections meet an outraged electorate over essentially nationalized health care. Still, this “new era” is worth anything to them.
But, they forget Leona Kozien.
Let’s back up.
It’s true that there have been major federal expansions over the past century that are now simply part of the fabric of American life. The income tax, New Deal recovery legislation, Social Security, Medicare and the Clean Water and Air Acts, to name a few. But as Joseph Morris, a Chicago-based constitutional attorney and political historian points out, in contrast to ObamaCare, every one of these was passed with strong bipartisan support.
Nor did any of these historic initiatives face anything like the overwhelming opposition from Americans that this health-care power grab did. And the case can easily be made that these other federal expansions did not have the direct, significant and very personal impact on almost every American that ObamaCare will.
The hope on the left is that some of the eventual cozy benefits — like supposedly not being denied health-care coverage for pre-existing conditions — will entice the electorate toward approval over time. But this law will sting far more than it salves.
Broad-based higher costs, taxes and even whole new income streams subject to taxation will hit relatively fast. Many people, like me, will eventually lose health care plans we’re happy with or have these plans skyrocket in price. All of us, as a prerequisite for living in America, will be compelled to purchase “approved” insurance, and the IRS will enforce that provision. That’s a federal first. And that’s all before real health care rationing even sets in.
Enter Leona Kozien.
In 1988, by an overwhelming bipartisan margin, Congress passed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act. The act was the largest expansion of Medicare since it was enacted in 1965, and it had all kinds of goodies, the centerpiece being prescription-drug coverage. Only, there were additional costs for Medicare recipients and an income-tax surcharge on some of the elderly to pay for benefits for all in the Medicare program.
Yet a high percentage of the elderly already had private supplemental insurance they were very happy with.
In large part because seniors finally found out they were on the hook for this new entitlement one way or another, they went crazy. In just one dramatic scene, a group of the elderly surrounded the car of Dan Rostenkowski, then the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, as the Illinois Democrat was leaving a “town hall” meeting in his district. One nimble senior, Leona Kozien, famously climbed onto the hood of his auto to try to get his attention.
“I don’t think they understand what the government is trying to do for them; that’s the problem,” Rostenkowski told reporters at the time.
Like I said: Sound familiar?
Congress repealed the act in late 1989.
We saw the Democrats’ true colors when they rammed ObamaCare through the House on a strictly partisan vote last Sunday. It was a little like the last scene in “Animal Farm” when the pigs gain control and don’t even bother to pretend to stand with the farm animals any longer.
The Democrats’ overreach was unprecedented. Thanks to millions of Americans not unlike Kozien, I have to think there’s a good chance that whatever happens now in response will be, too.
— Hart writes for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.