We live in an age of misinformation. Not since the Compromise of 1877, which effectively ended the progress of the Emancipation Proclamation, reversed the positive strides made following the antebellum South and ushered in a century of Jim Crow, has the American Republic tolerated lies and a nuance of unsubstantiated rhetoric designed to promote an agenda which denies our citizenry the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Yesterday, the Republican Party, and their newly elected Tea Party caucus members, began Congressional control of the House of Representatives by following through on a campaign promise to their far-right base by repealing President Obama’s landmark health care reform bill. After two years of ardent opposition to the president’s agenda and complaining that he should focus on jobs and the economy instead of health care reform, they have proven themselves to be hypocrites of the highest (or lowest) order. What is particularly troubling is the fact that the vote is purely ceremonial.
The Senate leadership has already indicated that they will not even consider bringing the bill to a discussion, let alone a vote. Even if the Senate had agreed to consider repeal, President Obama’s White House would happily veto it. Repeal, like much of the GOP’s rhetoric, is a dead idea. The time and energy wasted by Republicans in pursing this sham of an agenda is shameful at best and idiotic at worst, especially considering the high levels of unemployment — and underemployment — the American people are experiencing. These repeal efforts, disguised as patriotic and representative of real Americans (whatever that means), are as symbolic of the insurgency and sedition exemplified by the Confederate flag.
WATCH MSNBC ‘COUNTDOWN’ OF REPUBLICAN REPEAL EFFORTS:
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Recent data from the Department of Labor shows prevailing, pervasive high levels of unemployment, and gross inequity between white and brown America when it comes to measuring who has been hardest hit. The data, based on December 2010, demonstrates the overall unemployment rate dropped from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent. Though this represents the lowest unemployment in the past two years, it can hardly be considered a triumph. For African-Americans, the unemployment rate was 15.8 percent, while among white Americans it was 8.5 percent, reflecting a truth we seldom acknowledge: that separate, and inherently unequal, remains the status quo.
Underemployment is a barometer which measures the number of people who have given up looking for work all together, as well as those who work part-time but find it difficult to gain full-time employment. The Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC released a report last year which showed that blacks currently suffer an underemployment rate of nearly 25 percent compared to 15 percent for white Americans. For young black men the rates are not surprisingly more troubling at a rate of 21 percent, for those between the ages of 25 and 29. The Republican Congressional leadership seems to be unaware, or unconcerned, of these crucial realities. Much like their empty, anti-Obama attack machine, they provide no solutions, no answers for the nation’s economic malaise and no legislative agenda besides repeal, deny and obstruct.
The recent Martin Luther King holiday encouraged many to reflect on King’s legislative effort to promote the Poor People’s Campaign, which effectively could be seen as a stimulus job’s bill. Forty-two years after his death, the American political apparatus has failed to provide anything so hopefully ambitious. The facts are clear, but hardly ever articulated: the health care reform act, (or Obama-care as it has been surreptitiously coined) provides tax breaks for small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees.
The bill pays 35 percent of all premium costs, and will pay for 50 percent of premium costs after 2014. It allows young people to remain on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, and requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. It also expands health care to 30 million people who were previously uninsured and lowers the cost of Medicare to the elderly. The Affordable Care Act is a job-creative, job-sustaining piece of legislation which the Congressional Budget Office has calculated will trim the national deficit by $143 billion over the next decade. Why do we continue to tolerate the lies purported by Boehner, McConnell, Palin, Limbaugh and company?
In the wake of the tragedy in Tucson, politicians from all ends of the ideological spectrum agreed that the divisive tone of our discourse should change, because it had not only become unproductive but dangerous and irresponsible. Yet with this one repeal vote yesterday, the Republican establishment proved they were not interested in compromise or acting in the nation’s best interest.
It is a poignant reminder that today is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. His now famous message should be a lesson for the Congressional leadership of every generation, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” If Republicans continue down the road they are following, it will indeed be time to end entitlement spending, and give them what it seems they have been asking for all along. No more government checks for any of them. No more Congressional welfare. No more paying our political leadership to do nothing.