On the face of it, the stunt Republicans in the newly-convened House of Representatives used to start their 2011 session is not a bad idea; the reading of the noble United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Amendments provides a point of reference for not only the Congress, but all of us. Hearing those elegant words and phrases once again reminds Americans of both our roots and our progress, albeit a better reminder would have occurred if the actual original version of the Constitution had been read, the one which counts Negroes as three-fifths of a man, and counts women not at all, for voting purposes. Still, an honest review of the Constitution is worthwhile.
Unfortunately, though, Republican actions spoke far louder than those noble words on the first day of our new Congress. Those actions included the start of attempts to repeal the new health care reform bill, which if successful would ultimately deprive some forty million Americans of decent health care while restoring the denial by health insurers of coverage for pre-existing conditions and the failure to cover adult children up to age 26 on their parents' health insurance.
While one of the major Republican criticisms of that bill is their unwarranted claim that there was not sufficient time allowed for amendments to the original bill, the reality in this new Congress is that amendments to their repeal attempt will not be allowed at all. But then, since they cannot get any repeal through the still-Democratic Senate and past the President's veto pen, this is clearly cheap posturing, and an appeal to the Tea Party extremists who hate everything about President Obama, going far beyond his watered-down health care bill. Proof of that, if any were needed, was the Tea Partier in the House gallery who screamed NOT OBAMA as the Constitutional requirement that a president be a native-born American was read by a member. The so-called Birthers refuse to accept Barack Obama's citizenship no matter how much research demonstrates that he was born in Hawaii, part of the U.S. the last time anyone checked.
If one really wants to read the handwriting on the wall of the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives, one need only look at how fast they broke their own "pledge to the American people", a document not too dissimilar from their former speaker Newt Gingrich's Contract With America in 1994 (many said Contract On America would have been more accurate.) On the very first day of this new Congress, the pledge that each and every piece of legislation they introduced would have a specific Constitutional reference attached was immediately broken; laws were proposed with no Constitutional reference at all, as that might have taken real intellectual research.
Similarly, while their pledge stated unequivocally that any new legislation which raised costs would require a clear statement of just where those extra costs would come from, and/or a clear statement of just how an equivalent amount of public money would be saved, that provision was prominently lacking in the health care repeal effort; since the new health care bill is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to save over two hundred billion dollars, repeal would require the Republicans to explain just how that extra cost of repeal would be made up. They didn't. They are indeed not off to a good start, nor are they really acting on behalf of "the people" in spite of all their pious rhetoric. Actions do indeed speak much louder than their words. The new Republican majority in the house made a mockery, not of the Constitution, but of themselves.