The Return of the Goddess Reason by Darwin Leon
THE UNHEALTHY UNITED STATES CONGRESS
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
17 July 2017 Miami Beach
The well has been poisoned. The present government is unhealthy. It is an enemy of the people at large and a friend to the power elite. Measures can be taken to restore it to health.
The struggle by a minority of Republican Congressmen to build a slim partisan majority to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act legislated by Democrats, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority or supermajority of the people oppose repeal, and also adamantly oppose replacement in the mean form proposed, exposes the naked truth about the current government, that it and its president is unpopular and therefore unstable, and is not a government by and for the people at large although they are theoretically responsible for it.
Fashions in politics can be as fickle as in clothes. Popularity is not always wonderful, for power does corrupt, wherefore majorities may be tyrannical and foster totalitarian governments.
Supermajorities protect the people against political whims in government, especially where basic human needs are at stake. The most fundamental need is health, and for that we need mutual care from birth to death.
Without health, life and liberty and property, not to mention happiness, whatever that may be, is at risk. We love our freedoms, as if we were all kings and queens in private domains. Yet those domains are by no means isolate.
Freedom is not an empty concept: We want freedom from impediments like tyranny, poverty, disease, and so on. Health care legislation is, as it were, a treaty that we as individuals have with each other, that we will come to the aid of one other when attacked by diseases, injuries, and old age.
Health is therefore not only a personal matter but is a vital collective concern. And it is so personal for everyone that the success of humanity depends on the personal health of every person. Legislation in that regard is so important that both the whole and the part should be secured by a healthy consensus so that simple slim majorities do not give things one day and take them away the next.
The United States is presently subject to a minority government that would be dismissed and a new election called for if its Constitution were amended to invoke a cabinet system of government led by a prime minister selected by the majority party or a risky coalition. That amendment would have to be proposed by either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the states, and then be ratified by the legislatures or constitutional conventions of three-fourths of the states.
The drafters of the U.S. Constitution were wise to require a supermajority for fundamental acts, in this case to change the framework of the architecture for government. The Constitution also calls for a two-thirds supermajority for treaty ratification, expulsion from Congress, forgiveness of rebellions, impeachment conviction, restoration of authority to a president suspended for inability to perform his duties, and the override of a Presidential veto.
The American electorate has not been wise, however, to retain the vestiges of the tyranny against which the founders revolted, in the form of a temporary king in the president and the House of Lords in the Senate.
The mother country with its unwritten constitution has advanced since the invention of steam engines and automobiles. The Queen and Lords are respected, and at least two-thirds of subjects must have them to be British, yet Commons rules, and royalty and nobility is not an impediment to the people’s will or a check on the Commons except for the influence of respected opinions.
The United States does not need the Senate, whose members represent state elites and not the popular electorate, to check the famous madness of the members of the House of Representatives, who are supposed to represent the crowd the best they can. Under the present system they must do their best to keep the crowed deceived to maintain their seats. They too have been sickened by the poison flowing into the well from special interests.
The Senate loves to think of itself as a deliberative body of One Hundred Dignitaries, who slow things down by careful consideration based on reasoned debate, stall for amendments, or kill bills submitted by the House. That well has been polluted, not only by the almighty dollar they must constantly hustle for, but by mean partisanship sponsored by naturally selfish donors who have lots of money to invest in politics. It was thought that corruption would be more obvious in that noble house given fewer members, and it certainly is, but what are they to do for money until people can vote online so that votes and not dollars are the only political currency?
Wait a minute! What about the supermajority tradition of the Senate? What about the 60% needed to stifle the opposition from blocking bills and motions to even consider them? Forget about that. It is not yet in the Constitution or a statute. The Constitution says each house of Congress can make its own rules; they can do that at any time no matter what academics say.
The key word is “reconciliation.” There is a statute that allows for a simple majority to reconcile differences between the House and Senate in fiscal legislation. Why not stick anything which has to do with money, which is everything, into a reconciliation bill? The Byrd amendment to the statute provides that reconciliation bill may not include provisions that increase deficits ten years after the reconciliation. Senator Byrd sponsored the amendment because President Clinton wanted to rely on budget reconciliation to pass a 1993 health care plan.
Now the sponsors of the 2017 Better Care Reconciliation Act to replace the 2010 Health Care and Reconciliation Act, which was tacked onto the 2009 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 passed by the House 416-0 and approved 219-212 by the Senate after its health care amendment, do not want the nonpartisan budget office to review the half-baked repeal and quasi-amendment bill before voting on it—the House also skipped that input before voting on the bill it passed, and passed the buck to the Senate.
No, the Senate prefers to rely upon White House agencies for fiscal analysis including predictions of deficits. The President is pushing repeal and replace, and will be delighted to vindictively sign the legislation, cast by Democrats and some Republicans as a handout to the rich at the cost of the sick, poor, not to mention the middle class.
Many are those who are not in a charitable mood. The extent of our selfishness depends on how much we have; that is, the margin we have above our needs, and we think many of our wants are needs, say, that beer money if not the two cars in the garage. The extension of Medicare is quite frankly unpopular except among those who need it and the likes of Warren Buffet and other welfare capitalists.
To support relief to the wealthy during the currently prosperous time for them, the White House claims that the Congressional Budget Office was all wrong in its assessment of the consequences of Obamacare, that not enough have signed up for insurance under the Individual Mandate to spread the risk, so the insurance companies, to protect their vast coffers, are jacking up premiums or dropping out of the market.
The truth of the matter is that people, especially young and healthy ones, do not like to pay the fines required if they choose not to buy insurance. They would rather take the risk of an unexpected accident or illness, which might drive them into bankruptcy and force the public to pick up the medical tab anyway. Thus is the risk spread anyhow.
It is more than obvious to every logical person that the solution to this squabble, in terms of replacement, is a single-payer, Medicare-like plan, with benefits similar to those enjoyed by the Senators in their government plan. Then the United States could join other civilized countries with national health care plans. But reason goes down the drain with big deductions from earned income.
Whatever is done on the issue so vital not only to the survival of the nation but to the people should not be done lightly. That is, it should be done with their consent, and with a consensus.
Do you trust a simple majority in Congress and the President of the United States with your life in this vital matter? Only 30% do at this juncture.
Major health care legislation should be submitted to the people in a referendum that requires a supermajority. Let the people be a check on Congress in advance so they do not have to show up in the halls of Congress, as in this case, to demonstrate on crutches and in wheelchairs. Amendments to that legislation should require a 60% majority in Congress.
Why not just a simple majority in a referendum? The crowd is wise but only with experience, and we should be more certain of ourselves before getting it, because then it might be too painful for everyone concerned.
Take, for example, Great Britain’s popular 1975 decision to remain in, and then the 2017 popular decision to exit, the European commonality.
The House of Commons had voted 395-170 to continue in Common Market under new terms; that action was confirmed by a nonbinding referendum, the nation’s first ever, held 5 June 1975, with turnout of 64% and huge majority of Yeas over Nays of 8,908,508. The Question put was, “Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?” Labour split on the issue, breaching collective Cabinet responsibility, so votes in Commons were carried only with opposition support, i.e. the issue was nonpartisan. There was a 64% turnout, with a huge majority of 8,908,508 Yeas over Nays, wherefore the referendum was hailed as the biggest support for government ever, hence popular.
Critics, however, said the nation was dead, that it had relinquished its sovereignty. A document on the discussion of sovereignty in parliament, kept secret for thirty years under the Thirty Year Rule, disclosed that Parliament thought it advisable to put consideration of Power before Sovereignty.
That makes sense. Would the people rather have the sovereignty of North Korea, or even Switzerland, or the political and economic power of the United States? After all, with or without the power, they shall still have sovereignty over their culture, still be Americans or Cosmopolitans.
The governing House of Commons considered the EU matter settled for 40 years, and then the BREXIT movement, narrowly approved in a referendum by a margin of 52% in 2016 to exit, as compared to 67% or two-thirds to remain in 1975. The turnout was 72% in 2016, considerable more than the 64% to remain in 1975, but the margin of Yeas over Nays was very slim to exit in 2016, only 1,291,501, whereas the margin to remain in 1975 was 8,908,508.
Now, then, before the feat has been fully accomplished, the British have had second thoughts due to bad experiences, foreboding even worse to come as the rest of Europe goes merrily on its way, so BREXIT may be reversed despite the strong nationalist feelings.
It is high time that the people of the United States take legislation into their own hands, purge Congress of its poison, and provide preventative, structural measures for their own sake. As it stands, almost everyone agrees that it is sick, and doom must be prophesied to invoke a cure. The cure can only come from people at large, who must themselves be healed, because the disease in their representatives begins with them.