The House has come into session, setting the stage later today for a historic finish to an equally historic legislative battle. Congressional Democrats appear confident that they have — or will have — the votes to win the day.
In the next few hours, and in the aftermath of passage, we’ll hear a lot of rhetoric and exaggeration about the bill’s benefits and risks. While it will not solve all of our health care problems, it also won’t “ruin our country,” as House Minority Leader John Boehner puts it. Nor does it represent “the chains of slavery and tyranny,” as U.S. Rep. Ted Poe of Texas alleged on the House floor a few minutes ago.
It’s a health care bill, for goodness sake.
It’s important that we try to keep things in perspective. President Obama and the Democratic majority were elected on the promise of enacting health-care reform, and they are carrying out their promise using the tools that the system has long provided them. There is nothing tyrannical about elected politicians doing what their constituents elected them to do. And if American citizens later decide to reject this approach, the system will offer them the means to do so.
We do know this much: The current system is increasingly unsustainable. This year alone, businesses are facing rate increases of 25 percent or more for employer-provided health care, and that represents a drag on our economy and our productivity every bit as real as a tax increase of that size.
It is time to act.