Monday, March 22, 2010

Dividing the country

In the wake of the House narrowly approving health care reform legislation Sunday night, I'm trying to think of an issue in my lifetime that has divided the country like this one.

Abortion with Roe v. Wade? No. O.J. Simpson murder trial verdict? No. Iraq? Nope. Watergate? Not that either.

We probably have to go back more than 40 years to the height of the Vietnam War protest to find the United States as divided on one white-hot issue as health care reform. Part of it is the talk-radio, CNN/msnbc,, Drudge Report climate we live in.

The House passed the legislation, 219-212. Not one Republican voted in favor because he/she would probably like to run for re-election and win. A Republican voting for $980 billion health care reform is political suicide.

Naturally, Democrats are euphoric. The other side of the aisle not so much. On "Good Morning America" this morning, Arizona senator John McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, said: "Outside the Beltway, the American people are very angry. They don't like it, and we're going to repeal this."

McCain said the GOP “will challenge it every place we can,” and said there will be reprisals at the polls, in Congress and in the courts.

The Tea Party crowd is warming up their vocals and getting new signs ready and it's not even 10 a.m. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann are wiping their mouths in anticipation of waxing for and against reform.

Already today, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state will be joining other states that the health care reform legislation is unconstitutional.

"To protect all Texans' constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation's founders, and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government, the State of Texas and other states will legally challenge the federal health care legislation," Abbott announced.

Abbott is expected to argue that the legislation, with a requirement that nearly every American has to be insured by 2014, violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

After Obama signs the bill into law, expected to be as early as Tuesday, several Attorney Generals have said they would file suits.

"At no time in our history has the government mandated its citizens buy a good or service," Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli said.

I guess I'll take a wait-and-see attitude, but two things seem to have already emerged: (1) seeing Nancy Pelosi on TV gives me a nervous tic, and (2) when something seems too good to be true that's because it's too good to be true.

Reform will give insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured in this country. Most of the new measures will not go into effect for three years. The first things that it would do is close the so-called "doughnut hole" for senior citizens in their prescription drug benefits and prevent sick children with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage by in the insurance industry.

How is this going to be paid for? By spending cuts and taxes. It will probably be mine and your taxes, but I will wait and see. In the meantime, I'll sit back and watch the fight.

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