Health care: Opposing an Intolerable Act
The history of the United States begins with a rebellion against unfair taxation.
In 1767, a distant and unresponsive government in London, led by an out-of-touch leader in King George III, implemented the Townshend Act. That measure slapped taxes on many popular items, including tea. The law didn't, however, provide representation in Parliament for the taxed colonists.
Unable to make their voices heard in the halls of government, a group of American patriots dumped tea in Boston Harbor. The punishment for that first Tea Party was a series of intrusive laws so oppressive that they were described as the "Intolerable Acts."
History, as they say, tends to repeat itself. On March 21, the U.S. House passed an unpopular health care measure, which the president swiftly signed into law.
Obamacare is today's "Intolerable Act." It too should be opposed and repealed. Fortunately, this time Americans are represented, so we can overturn this misguided law without resorting to violence.
Much of the fight against this bill will be led by the individual states -- as it should be. Our Founding Fathers wanted states to retain most of the governing power. They realized that states were better positioned to find ways to solve problems close to home. Hence, they gave the federal government a very limited role.
So far, 33 states have taken steps to challenge various aspects of Obamacare, including its unprecedented mandate that every American purchase health insurance or face a steep penalty. Four additional states will have this question on the ballot in November.
It's important for Americans to push back at the ballot box, because it's clear many of our leaders in Congress aren't listening to their constituents.
Obamacare is the most significant piece of social legislation since Social Security passed seven decades ago. But the way it passed is different.
The Social Security Act was drafted in the open and widely debated. And that "transformative" bill enjoyed broad popular and solid bipartisan support. Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote, and polls show a majority of Americans oppose it. They realize that this new law would accelerate Washington's intrusion into our daily lives.
Supporters of this law argue (hope?) that popular hostility will recede now that it has passed. And yes, 32 million people will gain the theoretical right to health insurance. But half of that coverage comes from placing at least 16 million more Americans into Medicaid, an unpopular and overextended welfare program that already rations care. As Americans feel the bite of higher taxes and notice they're not benefiting, opposition to the law will only increase.
There's a reason government-run health care has been the holy grail of the Left for decades: It represents a giant step toward the creation of a European-style welfare state. This is an evolution Americans have resisted since our beginnings because it is alien to our national character.
Americans instinctively dislike the ugly deals and kickbacks used to pass this law. They're aware that the actual law signed by the president contains payoffs for Florida, Nebraska, Louisiana and other states. But those deals are useful in that they've educated people as never before about the differences between the liberal and the conservative visions for America.
Our health care system requires reform.
We can and should strengthen the ability of American families to choose the coverage they want, rather than giving that power to Congress and its agency bureaucrats. We can also spur competition and choice to bring efficiency and lower costs to the health system, in place of Obamacare's deadening regulation and damaging price controls. And, above all, we should foster state innovation rather than Washington-based central planning.
There are no permanent defeats in Washington. Things looked bleak for the colonists in 1776, and yet they prevailed. The forces of freedom will do so again.
Round two of the struggle to improve health care is underway.
Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation.