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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/22/10

A Great Achievement for a Decent, Civilized United States of America

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America's Democrats, under the inspirational leadership of President Barack Hussein Obama, have single handedly guaranteed that some 32 million additional Americans will become eligible for health insurance, beginning in 2014. Single handedly, Democrats have guaranteed that insurance companies no longer can deny coverage to children with pre-existing medical problems, a guarantee that will be extended to all adults in 2014. Single handedly, Democrats have guaranteed that the so-called "doughnut hole" in the Medicare prescription drug benefit will close.

Single handedly, Democrats have guaranteed that Medicaid will expand to cover incomes up to 133 percent of the national poverty level ($29,327). Single handedly, Democrats have guaranteed that, beginning in 2014, small businesses, the self-employed and the uninsured can select a plan from state insurance pools. Single handedly, the Democrats have pulled off the astounding feat of this increased coverage while reducing our federal deficit by $138 billion over the next decade.

Single handedly? Yes! President Obama will sign into law a Health-Care bill that failed to win even one supporting vote from the Republicans. As the history of the past decade has demonstrated, rather than help less fortunate Americans obtain health insurance, Republicans preferred to give their "yes" votes to legislation giving tax cuts to the rich and to resolutions supporting illegal, immoral wars of aggression, such as the one they heartily supported in Iraq. With no sense of shame, Republicans put forth a health-care plan that extended coverage to a mere 3 million Americans.

Republicans would have you believe that their objections to the new Health-Care law were matters of principled disagreement - too costly, too much government interference, et cetera. However, anyone inclined to believe such assertions should not only recall their support for the expensive war in Iraq and the budget busting tax cuts for the rich, but also the question raised repeatedly by Chris Matthews: If Republicans are, indeed, genuinely concerned about getting near universal health care right, why didn't they offer and pass health care reform, when they controlled the both houses of congress and the presidency? They had total control for most of 2001 to 2006.

Equally damaging to Republican assertions is recent reporting by the New York Times: "Before the health care fight, before the economic stimulus package, before President Obama even took office, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, had a strategy for his party: use his extensive knowledge of Senate procedure to slow things down, take advantage of the difficulties Democrats would have in governing and deny Democrats any Republican support on big legislation." Applying that strategy to health care, Republican Senator Jim DeMint claimed: "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo." So much then, for Republicans' claims about principled disagreements.

Even worse than the behavior of congressional Republicans was the ugly, crude and obnoxious behavior exhibited by libertarians and "Tea baggers." We've all seen the raucous town hall meetings where the ignorance exhibited by health care opponents appeared to be directly related to their exaggerations, lies, hatred and racism. A word of warning: You might suspect you're "white trash," when you've resorted to calling civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis, a "n-word." You also might be viewed as "white trash," if you've chosen to spit on an African-American congressman, simply because he plans to vote for health care.

The best book I've read about these ugly Americans is: America Right or Wrong by Anatol Lieven. Explaining the reasons for such ugliness, Lieven writes: "As a result of economic, cultural and demographic change, in America, the supremely victorious nation of the modern age, large numbers of Americans feel defeated". Over the years, the hatred generated by this sense of defeat and alienation has been extended to both domestic and foreign enemies."

The greatest recession since the Great Depression (caused by greedy Wall Street bankers), the election of an African-American President and his attempt to fulfill his promise to enact near universal health care -- which an irresponsible writer for Investor's Business Daily derided as "affirmative action on steroids" - have further exacerbated their sense of defeat and hatred.

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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