Walking into Miss B’s Café in Louisburg, KS you join farmers, cattlemen and cowboys. It is a throwback to a time when the local community would gather around a table and talk to one another about local, state and national issues over a hot cup of coffee and a sumptuous breakfast. On the Saturday after the budget compromise I ventured back to that institution to listen to the heart of America expecting to hear appreciation for the Congress and Administration avoiding a government shut down. Instead I learned of the depth of discontent with a political system that seems to be out of touch with its people.
I, for one was impressed with the compromise for several reasons. First, spending was cut by the largest amount in the history of this Country. Granted, it is only a cut of the increase in spending of this Administration and the previous Congress but it is significant that it came when the Administration and remnants of that Congress pledged that there would not only be no cuts, but another increase in spending. Moreover this was punctuated when the President and Majority Leader of the Senate then tried to take credit for the compromise. Not only did that effort fail with the majority of Americans but it angered the stalwarts of their party who have accused them of being spineless.
Secondly, it is apparent that Congressman Boehner was the engineer of the compromise and it was his leadership that made the result possible. For most of us, our introduction to the Congressman was his tearful statements when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. I was hopeful that he was as sincere as his delivery, but admittedly too jaded to believe it. His success is not only a testament that those deep feels he gushed were sincere but that he is now a proven leader.
Finally, I was impressed with Boehner’s generosity toward the Tea Party, giving them credit for being a big part of the solution. It is unusual for any politician to give others credit, especially those outside of their loyal party. And regardless of what the press says, the Tea Party is outside the Republican and Democratic Party. Instead as was the case with the President and Senate Majority Leader, they wanted to hijack the success of others.
So why all the dissatisfaction?
I think it is grounded in Health Reform, how it was achieved and what it meant to the common man. Not necessarily the provisions, or the cost but passing the legislation in the dark and imposing it on every citizen whether they want it or not. Indeed it was the genesis of the Tea Party movement.
The late Longshoreman-Philosopher Eric Hoffer put it best when he said that we will know when this country is in trouble when the system won’t leave you alone. Health Reform makes everyone obligated to our government if they want it or not except; that is, except Muslims, McDonald’s and other large multi national corporations who object for religious religions. What emerged from the dark includes:
• The bill will provide insurance to all non-U.S. residents, even if they are here illegally (Page 50/section 152)
• The government will have real-time access to an individual's bank account and will have the authority to make electronic fund transfers from those accounts. (Page 58 and 59)
• The plan will be subsidized (by the government) for all union members, union retirees and for community organizations (such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - ACORN). (Page 65/section 164)
• The tax imposed under this section will not be treated as a tax costs are in addition to your tax obligations. (Page 203/line 14-15)
• Doctors will all be paid the same regardless of specialty, and the government will set all doctors' fees. (Page 241 and 253)
• Cancer hospitals will ration care according to the patient's age. (Page 272. section 1145)
• The government will impose a prohibition on hospital expansion; however, communities may petition for an exception. (Page 317 and 321)
• The government will mandate advance-care planning consultations. Those on Social Security will be required to attend an "end-of-life planning" seminar every five years. (Death counseling.) (Page 425, line 4-12)
• The government will specify which doctors can write an end-of-life order. (Page 429, line 13-25)
• And if this isn’t enough, it specifically states that this bill will not apply to members of Congress who are already exempt from the Social Security system, and have a well-funded private health plans that cover their retirement needs.
The outrage of Americans to these draconian provisions is what created and continue to stimulate the heartbeat of the Tea Party. It is, analogous to the Hippie movement, the conscious of America, not compromised by drugs and the sexual revolution. It is the continuing and hotly contested debate over independence from government, democracy, the economy and each American inalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that has been raging since the founding of this country. I think the founders of this Country would be happy that the debate continues and leaders like Congressman Boehner are finally emerging.
My conclusion of what this all means is that unless there is a real change in America the next election will move the Congress to a Republican majority and a new President. While many pundits believe that improvements in the economy will provide the Administration enough to be re-elected, I believe that the pain of this recession has been deep and the high cost of gasoline continue that pain. It is clear that this Administration believes that the way to create less dependence of foreign oil is to make gasoline at the pump so high that everyone buys more fuel efficient automobiles. That is why they have made no efforts to control those costs. So they will be faced with loosing control of the government or loosing control of their party by reducing the cost of gasoline at the pump. It will be an interesting election cycle.