Handle Without Care

As the Supreme Court took up the Affordable Care Act this week, the Texas congressional delegation did its best to save us from a lifetime of tyranny.


Eileen Smith

The Texas Republican congressional delegation has always put the health of Texans first, as evidenced by its consistent opposition to expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, funding Medicaid and protecting women’s health. Let’s face it, the Texas Legislature can do only so much at the state level—although the sonogram bill was last session’s crowning conservative achievement—and now that Rick Perry will not be our next president, we won’t be able to see him gleefully repeal what he called that “abomination” known as Obamacare.

It’s no big surprise then that Texans in Congress are outspoken about their disdain for the two-year-old Affordable Care Act, forced upon the American people by those jack- booted thugs of the federal government and its omniscient death panels. (Admit it. You’ve noticed a lot fewer old people around.) So just what makes this law so egregious, not just to Congress but to the majority of Americans? The primary goal of extending health care coverage to 30 million uninsured people? The protection of people with preexisting conditions? Or the individual mandate to buy health insurance? I do believe we’ve found a winner!

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over the constitutionality of the law, specifically the requirement for all Americans to obtain health insurance or face penalties. The individual mandate has become the default rallying cry for opponents of the law who view this as the ultimate government overreach, an outrageous intrusion of privacy that we haven’t seen since…well, since conservatives decided they should dictate a woman’s use of contraceptives. In an op-ed in last week’s Austin American-Statesman, Sen. John Cornyn accused President Obama of embracing an “unprecedented federal power grab,” a characterization echoed throughout the Republican delegation.

Never mind that, as Politico notes, the mandate won’t affect most Americans, who already have coverage that satisfies the requirement. It’s also interesting to note that the phrase “individual mandate” never actually appears in the statute. If the mandate is found unconstitutional (all eyes on Supreme Court swinger Justice Anthony Kennedy), the question becomes whether the entire law must be struck down or only certain provisions that relate to the mandate.

In an op-ed in Roll Call, Congressman Louie Gohmert, never afraid to say whatever’s on his mind at any given moment, accuses the Obama administration of “supreme hypocrisy and vulnerability.”

Obamacare’s threat to our liberties cannot be overstated. If the federal government can mandate health insurance of a specific type alleging the greatest good for the greatest number of people, then previously protected activities must yield to the new Obamacare trump over constitutional rights. Religious and personal beliefs of all…will have to yield to the tyranny of the majority as its whims ebb and flow under the guise of health care if this law is upheld.

And, even more ominously: The slope created by a federal right to dictate health insurance is not slippery, it is a cliff. The overriding of liberties, once begun, will know no obvious bounds.

Good God. Looks like we can count on a life of indentured servitude to the federal government and preventive health screenings. That is, if we’re lucky enough to survive the devastating cliff fall. And then what? On Monday Gohmert said that if the law is upheld, liberals should be afraid of what a future “redneck president” could impose on them. Is he talking about Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum?

Also writing in Roll Call, Congressman Lamar Smith warns against tyranny as well and, channeling our forefathers, calls Obamacare their worst fear come true. But Smith’s most powerful argument is when he points out that the individual mandate could just be the beginning of the federal government forcing Americans to buy anything. For example, “if falling citrus prices drove farmers into bankruptcy, Congress could force consumers to purchase oranges.” That’s not fair. Why should I be forced to buy oranges when I can just go to the emergency room and drive up everyone else’s premiums?

Gohmert and Smith are in good company with fellow Texan Randy Neugebauer, the guy who shouted “baby killer” a couple years ago at Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak as the (pro-life) Democrat spoke in favor of the health care bill during a floor speech. Because apparently—along with grandma and grandpa—the death panels are also coming after the babies.

Speaking of the endangered elderly, in an interview with Houston’s KTRH talk radio, Congressman Kevin Brady spoke of the “rationing of health care” for seniors, alleging that this will take the form of denying reimbursements to physicians and hospitals treating these patients and that bureaucrats (otherwise known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board) will be making life and death decisions for them.

But it was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison who pulled out all the stops, creating and starring in her own video, where she holds up— homemade signs with percentages on them to best illustrate her opposition to Obamacare. This, from the one Texas Republican who actually votes to expand health insurance for poor children.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in June. Just in time for the conventions! In the meantime, be grateful that your Texas representatives in Congress are fighting for you by fighting against the tyranny and oppression inherent in the Affordable Health Care Act. You can thank them when your insurance company drops you.