While there is a tendency for constitutionalist, conservatives, and Tea Partiers to feel discouraged by their government’s insistence on passing a bill that was unpopular with the majority of Americans and rife with unconstitutional measures and infringements upon our liberties, they should take heart in the many victories their activism brought about.
Here are but a few:
The Public Option
Prior to the fall of 2009 President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid were dead set on any health care reform packages containing a “public option.”
In a letter sent to Sen. Ted Kennedy in June of that year President Obama wrote, “I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.”
“Any real change requires the inclusion of a strong public option to promote competition and bring down costs,” [Nancy] Pelosi said. “If a vigorous public option is not included, it would be a major victory for the health insurance industry.”
Democrats even went so far as to try and call the public option by another name to fight off opposition. The “competitive option” as Nancy Pelosi began calling it was losing ground with the American people.
"You'll hear everyone say, 'There's got to be a better name for this,'" Pelosi said. "When people think of the public option, public is being misrepresented, that this is being paid for with their public dollars."
In the end, concerned citizens that showed up to town hall meetings across the country in opposition to the President’s plan won out and the public option was dropped.
There has been much misinformation regarding the so-called “death panels” contained in the original health care reform packages proposed by congress. While many Democrats would like to mislead you into believing they never existed, Sarah Palin was the first to point out the specific sections in the legislation that contained them.
“Section 1233 authorizes advanced care planning consultations for senior citizens on Medicare every five years, and more often “if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual ... or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility... or a hospice program." During those consultations, practitioners must explain “the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice,” and the government benefits available to pay for such services.”
After a massive outpouring of anger from senior citizens the Senate Finance Committee dropped “mandatory end-of-life counseling” or death panels from the bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a statement. “We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”
Federal Funding of Abortions
Although specific language preventing the use of federal funds was left out of the final bill, pro-life activists managed to score a small victory for the unborn. On Wednesday, President Obama signed an executive order reaffirming a ban on the use of federal funds for elective abortions.
There is much to be concerned of with regards to abortion and the health care reform bill signed into law, but this order puts the president on record assuring the American people their tax dollars will not go to funding abortions. As Keith Olbermann would put it, a promise he breaks at his own “peril.”
Perhaps one of the most meaningful victories for opponents of health care reform came with the election of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. In an election that hung on one key issue, health care reform, Scott Brown was able to win the very seat held by Sen. Ted Kennedy, a seat Republicans had not won in more than 45 years.
The election of Scott Brown also broke the Democrats 60-vote majority.
No longer with a filibuster proof majority, Democrats were forced to embrace the highly controversial reconciliation method to pass health care reform, a move which was highly unpopular with the American people and will cost Democrats dearly in November.
Deem and Pass
Upon fear that opponents of Obama’s health care reform plan may be able to put enough pressure on Democrat members of the House to vote against the bill Nancy Pelosi proposed a maneuver known as the “slaughter rule” or “deem and pass” that would have the house voting on a rule to consider a Senate version of health care reform as passed even though no actual vote had been taken.
Amid cries from citizens questioning the constitutionality of such a move, and reports that Nancy Pelosi herself filed a lawsuit to prevent a similar move in the House under GOP control, she was forced to back down.
Although the bill ultimately passed with votes garnered via smoke filled backroom deals and coercion, the damage to the Democrats’ reputations was done. Nancy Pelosi’s approval rating fell to an all time low of 11%, Harry Reid’s fell to 8%, and for the first time since being elected, more people disapproved of President Obama than approved.
In the end, Democrats scored a temporary victory in the battle over health care reform, but not without having to make many concessions along the way. Opponents of Obamacare should hang their hat on what they did accomplish and look to build on these small victories in November.
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