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Thursday was perhaps the most important day this century for Americans. The Supreme Court’s affirmation of President Obama’s sweeping health-care reform will have far-reaching impacts on all our lives, possibly even helping to save some of them.
But we believe history will tell us that the days – even the hours – following that momentous announcement will prove even more significant.
That’s because our mettle as a nation and a society is being tested by life-altering change, and, frankly, we don’t believe the country is up to this. The status quo feels so much more comfortable to so many, but kicking and screaming will continue as a preference to trying something new.
Is that good enough? Should we as a nation step back from this precipitous opportunity?
But stepping back is what seemed to be happening almost immediately.
The echoes of Chief Justice John Roberts’ announcement of the court’s ruling on the law had not ceased to echo when we heard the first squeals of repeal.
We barely knew the accurate news of the day – CNN and Fox seemed to have trouble with that – before we heard the bombastics of political posturing.
We hadn’t had time to form a strong feeling about that decision before everyone – talking heads, social media and an onslaught of pejorative E-mail – was telling us how to feel.
We find that totally unacceptable – and totally predictable.
Could we take one day, perhaps, and consider what this law truly means, removing all political and ideological filters and simply stating the goals and the opportunities? Obviously, we could not take one minute.
Here is the problem: Health care in our country does not meet the needs of society, falling short of our standard for quality of life. We expect good care, but millions of Americans don’t have access to or resources for affordable care.
Here is what we need: A program that addresses that need, that people want. About seven in 10 Americans polled by Atlantic Monthly said they believed the government should ensure medical care.
Here is what we have: A program, as flawed as it may be, that attempts to provide that solution.
Here is what we don’t need: All our energy focused on complaining about the solution and continuing to push aside the problem.
Yet, that’s what we fear.
Sadly, Kentucky’s two senators seem to believe it is serving their constituents to do just that. Memo to Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul: Please solve problems and quit complaining about what other people do that affronts your politics.
Senator McConnell responded as we would have expected from a man who has said his primary goal for this year was to see that the president was not re-elected: He seized on the court’s calling of the penalty for not adhering to law as a “tax.”
Senator McConnell was the first voice of politics and made that simple word “tax” the focus of his response, the foundation for his belief that the law should be repealed.
Is this a tax? Most assuredly, but so is every other fee a private citizen or company pays to the government for its services. You can call it a fee or a tariff or a fine or anything else, but every dollar you give is a tax on your personal income.
And then we have Senator Paul, who set a new standard for opening his mouth and allowing useless words to escape. Here’s what Senator Paul said after the ruling:
“Just because the Supreme Court says the law is constitutional doesn’t make it constitutional.”
Love or hate the law, agree or disagree with its merit and the court’s decision all you want, but the one absolutely undeniable fact from this ruling is that it doesrender the law constitutional. That’s the court’s purpose for being.
We understand that there are tentacles of issues with this law that render it controversial and imperfect. We don’t pretend to be able to understand them all, much less able to provide solutions.
For that job, we elected Senators McConnell and Paul, and here’s what we would have them do:
Senators, stop fighting this law. You have not passed anything better. Try it out, let it breathe, see it in action.
Heath-care reform has been in the public debate for years. It is remarkable that this bill ever was passed, and we recognize it does not address tort reform, drug research or long-term care issues.
But at least it is a start. Let’s give it a chance.
One thing is for sure: The problem with our nation’s health care can’t get any worse while we try.