The Health Care Video We Needed Six Months Ago

As Americans get increasingly dumbed down from one year to the next, it becomes more and more important that every key legislative issue be presented like an Afterschool Special or maybe Schoolhouse Rock, from back when I was a kid.

Today, historic health care legislation went into effect in this country. Some folks in this country are better off for it. Most folks don’t know why. While I have come to the conclusion that this was the right fight fought at the wrong time, it is nevertheless a major step forward in social progress for the US of A. The video below explains in the simplest way possible what has transpired.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

You are Not Among the Downtrodden, Please Sit Down and Shut Up

Earlier this week, President Obama took some questions at a CNBC Town Hall meeting focused on the economy. The first question made news everywhere as Velma Hart expressed disappointment in the President.

She worried about returning to the “hot dogs and beans” days she thought she had left behind. The fact that she is a Chief Financial Officer of a stable concern went in one ear and out the other but I was brought back to reality when I saw Ms. Hart on MSNBC’s “Hardball” and she mentioned not being able to buy a new car. Excuse me? We have people living in their cars because their houses have been foreclosed and this is the extent of Ms. Hart’s inconvenience?

Could it be that the fact Ms. Hart was black lulled everyone into thinking she is one of the “common man”? News flash: she is not. I have no doubt as a CFO,  she makes upwards of six figures a year. She is the last person to play poster child for the downtrodden scolding Obama for letting her down.

To use one of her favorite phrases, “quite frankly” Velma Hart needs to count her lucky stars, sit down and STFU.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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There Is No Mandate

I have heard it time and time again. “Never in our history has the government forced an individual to buy something.” (Actually false from a couple of different angles.)

“This health care mandate is unconstitutional.” Several states have filed suit against the Fed on these grounds.

Well thanks to MSNBC and Huffington Post contributor, Lawrence O’Donnell, I’ve learned the dirty little secret that neither Republicans nor Democrats want you to know.

There is no individual mandate. Yes you read that right. No mandate. Nothing, nada, zilch. Let one of my favorite commentators, “Crazy Larry” explain it to you. Pay close attention at the 2 minute and 30 second mark after Larry has shot down one of Jim DeMint’s lies.

But don’t take his word for it. Here is the legal language from page 336 of the bill.

(2) SPECIAL RULES.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law—
(A) WAIVER OF CRIMINAL PENALTIES.—In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.
Patient Protection Affordable Care Act As Passed.

So now the law suits that were already frivolous have become totally absurd. Yes, there is a penalty for not purchasing insurance but there is no penalty for not paying the penalty. The penalty is not enforced in any way. On the contrary, the law prohibits enforcement of the penalty.

Why won’t anyone from the President to the Democrats to the Republicans ever tell you this? Simple. The President and his party want you to buy insurance. If you don’t, premiums inevitably rise. So they need you to believe there is an enforceable penalty for not doing so.

As for the Grand Old Stale Party, they can’t tell you the truth because then their fundamental debating point goes out the window. How can something that doesn’t exist be unconstitutional?

At this point I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m glad to see the Party of No exposed for the fools and liars they are. On the other hand if too many folks learn the truth, the expansion of health care coverage could be seriously compromised.

Once again the first bite of the sausage tastes real good but don’t look in that kitchen!

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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No, You Cannot Have Your Country Back

I want my country back!

That was the hue and cry of the Tea Party movement in the summer of 2009. Many Republicans heard the call, dug their heels in and stood against anything that the Obama administration wanted to do. Today those people lost a bit more of “their country” when President Barack Obama signed into law the most sweeping social welfare legislation of the past 45 years. There are already states attorneys-general lined up to challenge the constitutionality of the law. I think those men, the Tea Party Movement and the Republican Party have lost sight of what America is.

There are those quick to throw the Constitution in our face when we ask government to take more responsibility for the welfare of our citizens. What these people conveniently ignore is that the Constitution is not the end of our country, it is the start of it, the opening ground rules so to speak.  Our founding fathers recognized that they could not predict every contingency that would influence the course of our nation. Hence Article V of the Constitution allows for amendments to be made to it. In addition to those amendments our country is governed by federal, state and local  legislation. This is how a civilized society operates, with a written code of order.  The Framers had the wisdom to define some specifics but to know that some latitude was needed to ensure the nation could evolve. In particular, the Framers knew the importance of distinguishing between a right and a privilege and they made sure that the Constitution could not be used to abridge the rights of our citizens. The ninth amendment states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

via Bill of Rights Transcript.

Furthermore, our Declaration of Independence made it clear which fundamental rights our founding fathers believed in:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

via Declaration of Independence – Transcript.

It is to the extent that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been advanced in this country, that we have fulfilled the promise of our founders. What makes our country arguably the greatest country in civilized history is our ability to evolve, our ability to recognize when we have wronged our citizens and then correct that wrong. What makes our country great is that against the tide of cynics who wish to protect their own comfort and safety, we have enacted legislation that protects the vulnerable. We have a rich history of making this country fair for all people, whether it was freeing blacks from slavery, to giving women the vote, we have time and time again taken a nation built by and for Christian white men and expanded it to be the most inclusive nation on the face of the Earth.

Today’s health insurance reform legislation, while far from perfect, takes us another step in that direction. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi gave a concrete example on the floor of the House Sunday night. How can we be free to pursue the American Dream if we cannot change jobs for fear of losing our health insurance? This country, without health insurance reform, restricts the liberty of its people. Insurance reform is consistent with this nation’s commitment to protect its people. Life threatening illness is not consistent with life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.  A country in which only the rich can enjoy the “privilege” of good health flies in the face of the very fundamental rights our founding fathers delineated. Therefore access to health care is not a privilege, it is a right and it must be protected by our federal government.

Today was a step toward  answering the call of the Tea Party movement and the Republicans. Today we said:

If you want a country where the rich only get richer and the poor only get poorer then
No, you cannot have your country back!

If you want a country where the noble concept of self-reliance is used as an excuse to ignore those in need through no fault of their own then
No, you cannot have your country back!

If you want a country where the middle class and poor can be bankrupted by illness because it’s just not your problem then
No, you cannot have your country back!

If you want a country where morality takes a back seat to political expediency then
No, you cannot have your country back!

The truth is that you really started to lose “your country” on January 1, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. While very limited in scope, this was the first document to really redefine what liberty meant in this country.  It is sad that so many of you have still not seen the light more than 140 years later. You still do not recognize that it is America’s heart that makes it unique among civilized countries. Our country at its best recognizes and encourages the contributions of all its citizens and every legislative milestone that makes it more likely that more Americans succeed is a victory for all of us.

So Tea Party member, Republican, Conservative, status quo lover, you cannot have your country back because your county is not the “real” America. The real America is a country that constantly strives to be a more perfect union. Today’s signing of health insurance reform into law marked another step in progressing toward that goal.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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