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The Health Care Bill: A Study In Tyranny

By       Message Dan Sisson     Permalink
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Just as perplexing (or infuriating) were the lies told in efforts to derail any attempt to get at the truth about Health Care. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, stated Obamacare failed because 28 million Americans were without insurance. Universal coverage was never the intent of the law and his charge is unrelated to reality. Likewise he said because more people didn't sign up for Obamacare the law was a failure. In fact, millions of citizens had health coverage for the first time in their lives. It should go without saying that deliberate lying by a Cabinet Member contradicts a rational society and is a guarantee of failure. Ironically government officials making up the truth may end up being why so many citizens voted for Trump.

Why would lying become a mainspring of the Republican Party on a health plan? Because behind the distortions of facts and lies is a purpose: acting as a faction the Republicans intend to provide tax relief to the top 1 to 2% -- the billionaires and millionaires. This is why they intend to cut Medicaid and eliminate Obamacare and give the money saved to the rich. But they don't say that. The president tweets that he won't cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security but again he never refers to the top 2% and he never takes questions about "fake news."

Instead Republicans lie about the cuts and pretend those who lose coverage due to Obamacare's demise and cuts in Medicaid will continue to have coverage. When the senate could not pass a bill closely modeled on the Ryan bill the newest strategy was revealed. Republicans would simply repeal Obamacare outright with no replacement. Whether they considered the feelings and fears of those who would lose all coverage is not apparent and they won't answer questions.

But even more antidemocratic procedures were revealed in the process. Not only arm-twisting of fellow Republicans but blatant threats to those recalcitrant senators who opposed Trump reveal the corruption in our political process. Those calling the White House to help unseat Dean Heller (R-Nevada), for giving a speech critical of Trumps priorities on health care were none other than the richest billionaires in the state. Thus money, not truth or facts or concern for citizen's health or even the state's interest becomes the deciding factor for the Republicans.

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This failure to respect a senator's independent judgment or even the institution's reputation as the "greatest deliberating body in the world" is emerging full-blown. McConnell, the Republican leader, is unwilling to compromise or accept defeat on any legislation he deems important. His willingness to invoke the "nuclear option" and avoid filibustering a Supreme Court nominee was undemocratic just like his determination to avoid holding hearings on a nominee for a year because he wanted a member of his own party on the court. There is only one conclusion: authoritarian legislative techniques dominate our national legislature as it does many states today. The corruption implied is becoming more and more of a problem as larger and larger amounts of money influence the process of making laws.

With this emphasis upon technique in the Health Care Bill we can see many of the same legislative 'tricks' used on diverse issues as tax reform, decisions on energy, on climate change, even voter registration and redistricting to mention just a few. Republican majorities have made a conscious decision to take the "low road" in their efforts to help the rich at the expense of the many.

Thom Hartmann's query about how much more the system can handle in the face of this onslaught is the right one. In 2017 we can still see the outline of a democratic -constitutional society but the spirit is ebbing fast. The major problem is we the people don't know how widespread the corruption is because the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions have hidden it.

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When Thom mentioned that Jimmy Carter stated we were an "oligarchy with unlimited political bribery" the ex-president was expressing an opinion that most of the profound thinkers in human history have agreed is evidence of a change in the form of government. An oligarchy is defined by the phrase "rule by the few in the interest of the few." Bribery on any scale, but especially on a grand scale, is indicative of authoritarian governments that despise democracy and make a mockery of their constitutions.

Their leaders demand loyalty to themselves not to a constitution or the law. These leaders use money to attain even greater power by gathering the millionaires and billionaires around them who unquestionly finance their goals while flattering their egos and ambitions. History proves without exception that these 'leaders' are always insatiable in their thirst for more and more power.

Our Founding Fathers knew what the unchecked accumulation of power meant: tyranny. One of their contemporaries, a Briton named Edmund Burke, believed America's great contribution to history was their citizens ability to 'snuff tyranny in the breeze.' James Madison, the Father of our Constitution and the 4th president, wrote in The Federalist a description of the separation of powers doctrine which he believed could preserve liberty but only if it was observed.

Today there is little recognition of the separate branches of government and the integrity of their procedural systems. These checks were designed to ensure fair debate, so all positions were heard and considered by the body as a whole -- in committee as well as on the floor -- in the creation of law. The members of each branch were encouraged to respect one another's independence and integrity. Today this is gone and so is the civility that enabled compromises to take place. We are witnessing a political culture in Washington and in many state legislatures too in which the members of the two major parties can't even speak to one another without clenched teeth.

In sum, politics in America has become mired in a factional morass that defies solutions. The more money spent the more difficult it is for the average citizen to even comprehend public affairs. This is why examining one issue, health care, and seeing the lies and deceptions on the part of Republican leaders marching 'lock-step' to reward the top 2% and increasing inequality is endangering America.

This scenario about health care is being repeated everywhere with every major issue whether it's taxes, education, defense contracts, regulations for energy and the environment, trade pacts etc. in literally hundreds of issues facing our society. A recent book by Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains, presents a clear picture of how misinforming the majority of Americans is a conscious long-term strategy used by billionaires to increase their wealth at the expense of the people.

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If readers can grasp the outrages against democracy and a fair approach to writing laws on an issue

like health care and then generalize how the same techniques are used elsewhere, they will become

aware how widespread political corruption has become. Jimmy Carter is right. We have become a

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Author of The American Revolution of 1800. Recently retired academic who has taught courses in politics, history, revolution, terrorism and technology in 11 colleges and universities in the West from Alaska to California over the last 50 years.

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The Health Care Bill: A Study In Tyranny