Streetcar Line

Why Revenge Is Necessary

The frightening affront of Obamacare.

By 3.25.10

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Every member of Congress who is not a liberal ideologue or from a wildly leftist district who voted for Obamacare on Sunday should be haunted and hounded by and for their vote for as long as they draw breath upon this good Earth. And the same is true for every liberal ideologue who actively crafted and pushed the corrupt and unrepublican (small "r") procedures and flagrant lies that were used to cram Obamacare up our gullets from the nether end of our common polity.

Before we consider the proper shape and degree of the hounding and haunting, let us be reminded of why this legislation is an atrocity of epic proportions.

Let us start with all the lies that Barack Obama told or the promises that he broke, each one of which will damage our way of life as the falsehood is made manifest in law.

This president, this sinister creature of Frank Marshall Davis and Saul Alinsky, of Indonesian sojourns and Columbia University radical salons, campaigned vociferously against Hillary Clinton's call for an individual mandate for health insurance. Now the individual mandate is the centerpiece of Obamacare.

Obama promised that he would never, ever raise taxes on individuals making under $200,000 or couples under $250,000. This legislation breaks that promise.

Obama said the bill would not provide public funding of abortions. It does provide such funding.

He said it would cause average premiums to drop by $2,500 annually. Premiums instead will rise. He said he would not tax health-care benefits. This bill does tax them. He said his plan wouldn't lead to rationing. It actually does far worse than mere rationing: It provides for death panels by proxy.

Obama said that "budget reconciliation" was improper for passing Obamacare. He is using reconciliation. He said that a 51-vote simple majority in the Senate should not suffice for major legislation. He is using a simple majority. He said during the judicial wars that the filibuster should be sacrosanct, but he is trampling over the filibuster. He said he would cut out sweetheart deals, but instead he engaged in a host of such deals. He said he would do all negotiations in the open, and without corrupt lobbyist influence, but instead he cut secret deals (secret at first) with a whoring PhRMA and with other moneyed interests. He said he would air the negotiations on C-Span, but he didn't. He said he wouldn't support a "public option," but he told the lefties in Congress that this would be merely a first step towards a public option. He said he would incorporate Republican ideas, but the final legislation was devoid of all but one minor GOP suggestion. He said Republicans would be welcome at the table, but they instead were almost entirely shut out (except for some early negotiations with Montana's Sen. Max Baucus) of actual legislative drafting. Instead, they belatedly were afforded only a dog-and-pony show at Blair House where Obama was peevish, where he personally jawboned the GOP (not to mention what he let other Democrats do) for more minutes than the GOP collectively talked, and where he never actually responded to the substance of most Republicans complaints and ideas.

He repeatedly advertised that his bill would give all Americans the same system that Congress enjoys; instead, it actually exempts top lawmakers and staffs from the bill's requirements. And he promised that he would post any bill on the Internet for five whole days, after congressional passage, before he signed it. But he signed this bill after just 36 hours.

And that's just a sample of the dishonesty of The One.

Meanwhile, it is hard to blame, on substance, the ideological lefties who really believe in this stuff, or to blame those who represent far-left districts and feel obliged to represent their constituents' wills. But for every other congressman who voted for Obamacare -- all those on the fence on substance, and whose districts are not strongly in favor of it (and indeed usually strongly against it) -- what they have done is an affront to the republic and to human decency. And what the congressional leadership did to the lawmaking process is an affront to our system of government.

The mandate to buy health insurance is an abomination. The very thought of a government forcing individuals to buy something the individuals don't want is anathema. It is abject tyranny. It is manifestly unconstitutional. It is despotic. It is so antithetical to the American tradition as to be unacceptable and invalid. For those reasons, it may well lead to non-violent civil disobedience on a massive scale.

It is worse still that lawmakers would refuse to put themselves or their staffs under the same system it puts the 300-million-strong rest of the hoi polloi. It is worse still that Obamacare's system of incentives is such that the CBO estimates that four million people will lose their employer-based plans and thus be put in the position of being subject to the unconstitutional mandate. (This, by the way, gives the lie to yet another Obama claim, namely that nobody would lose their insurance if they want to keep it.)

The bill is a job-killer. It puts a mandate on businesses that employ at least 50 workers -- which means that thousands upon thousands of firms will cut their official payrolls to 49. It is a taxing atrocity, imposing $569.2 billion in tax hikes. It will especially hurt medical device companies through new taxes and "fees," putting some out of business and hurting the patients who rely on them for life-saving or life-improving aid. And, to collect all its taxes, it will -- it already has begun, in terms of planning -- lead to the literally frightening spectacle of the hiring of some 16,500 new IRS agents, making the IRS an enforcement army, with imprisoning authority, on par with the worst of the commissars of the most autocratic czars.

Put this scary influx of IRS commissars together with the 175,000 new members of AmeriCorps now organized officially into "cadres," and all of a sudden we're getting within hailing distance of Obama's threatened "a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the regular military.

It will add trillions more to total government spending, and hundreds of billions (absent budgetary gimmicks) to deficits and debt that will unconscionably burden future generations. It will push individual states closer to bankruptcy by adding an unfunded mandate for expanded Medicaid coverage.

And it was all accomplished by methods so foul as to be a permanent stain upon Congress and the White House. Backroom deals. Railroaded rules. Limited debate. Abuse of reconciliation. Baits and switches. Promises of "deem and pass" in order to gain commitments that otherwise would never come (but that could not be withdrawn once deem-and-pass was abandoned). Threats and intimidation. Union thug tactics. Louisiana Purchases and Cornhusker Kickbacks. Bismarck earmarks and Connecticut con jobs. And funding for three "airports for no reason" in order to purchase the vote of putatively pro-life weasel Bart Stupak.

Meanwhile, passage of Obamacare makes a mockery of the idea that this is government of and by the people. For lawmakers to jam down our throats this monstrosity after elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia argued against it, after town hall meetings and Tea Parties and letters and faxes and emails and phone calls by the millions upon millions upon millions, after overwhelming polling opposition that grew and grew and grew, is for them to show that they no longer serve the people but instead aspire to rule them, with an iron fist if necessary. This is a subversion of republican (again, small "r") ideals so profound as to be Aaron Burr-like. It was made worse by the Democrats changing the rules midstream to appoint a replacement for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Hereditary Dynasty, without which they never would have reached the 60-vote Senate majority to pass the original Senate bill in the first place. And this followed all sorts of legerdemain to finagle the "election" of Al Franken to the Senate from Minnesota, and to secure Arlen Specter's party switch, and to benefit from an unfair prosecution of Alaska's Ted Stevens (not the most admirable of characters, but apparently not really a criminal after all).

This whole country was founded on the belief that ends do not justify means, but instead that a careful meshing of constitutional procedures would be the best safeguard against dangerous ends. But the Obama-Pelosi Democrats made their ends, their lust for pure power, overcome every previously acceptable requirement for reasonable, fair, and constitutionally and traditionally approved means. This was an abuse of the democratic process so flagrant as to be Putin-esque. These tactics are quite literally a threat to the republic, and they must be condemned, reversed, and punished.

As to what form that punishment should take, another column will be needed to tackle that issue. Rest assured, though, that the raving atrocity of Obamacare makes punishment of its perpetrators, punishment of the right and legal kind, a moral imperative.

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About the Author
Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @QuinHillyer.