In the United States, the Healthcare debate is bordering saturation, as everyone seems to have an opinion on any one of the 2,000 plus Healthcare bills currently submitted to both Houses by both political parties. As such, it's very difficult to get a non-partisan view of what Congress is currently trying to get passed, and what the Law will say. Everyone has their opinions, with wild accusations from both sides being fired at will.
Because of this, it's difficult for anyone to have a balanced view of the debate, as the facts seem to be difficult to come by. So I thought I would take what I deem the responsible approach: read the healthcare bills myself. Unfortunately, there are literally over 2,000 submitted, and I don't have the free time available to read them all. Instead, I thought I would read the legislation the President has been touting as "The Bill" or "The Bills" on Congress, or the legislation he is supporting. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a single reference to a bill by the President or member's of Congress. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong places (I found I was in the end), but I just couldn't find them.
So, I thought I would get the information directly from the source: The President. Three weeks ago, I emailed the President's office, addressing an Aide, because I don't have any misconceptions that the President would have the time to read my email personally, and asked three questions:
- Which bill does the President support, so I could read it myself?
- If the bill is not crafted, can I get a draft version?
- Why has the President not kept his campaign promise made on Aug. 21, 2008, at a town hall in Chester, VA, to hold televised negotiations for Healthcare?
I had figured, as the President seemed intent on clarifying the wording of his Healthcare Reform initiative as represented by Congress and clearing up any misunderstandings, he and his office would be willing to at least point Americans to read the legislation. It made sense to me, at least.
I didn't get a response right away, but that is to be expected, as I'm sure his aides and interns have a lot of email to go through. So a week later I emailed Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Jason Chaffetz, my representatives, and asked them the same questions.
It has now been three weeks from the date of emailing the President, and two from emailing my representatives. To this date, I received two responses: one from the Office of the President, and one from Senator Orrin Hatch. I have yet to receive a response from my congressman.
The Office of the President, instead of sending my any answers, replied with a mass email asking me to post videos for Vice President Biden supporting healthcare reform. As my questions were related to getting information to decide on whether or not I supported the healthcare reform as currently proposed, I was a little shocked and concerned, but not surprised. The exact same thing happened to me when I emailed then Candidate Obama with a question: I instead received invitations to join rallies to support the candidate, when I was as yet undecided.
As some of you out there know, I am very particular in how my representatives listen to their constituents. I have voted against local and State officials that have refused to answer emails and letters, while heartily supporting those that do. Candidate and now President Obama's organization has failed twice now to answer what I consider critical questions. Others may disagree, but they have yet to earn the support they so erroneously assume I give when asking a question because they fail to answer those questions.
The next response I received was from Senator Orrin Hatch. In the past, I have sent emails and always gotten a response, which is why I support Orrin Hatch. His staff treats me like a valued person, taking the time to respond to my questions. This time was not different, as he provided an answer to the first question, the only one I would have expected he could give: the legislation. I knew he couldn't answer for the President on the third, and as there was drafted legislation, the second didn't need to to be addressed.
But what surprised me was the way it was answered. I didn't get any partisan statements, mentioning his willingness to fight for what is right, defying the Democrats and their evil ways, Parting the Red Sea, and other such political mumbo-jumbo that seems to be too prevalent in this debate. Instead, he told me where I could find the legislation, explained about the THOMAS Congressional Record posted by the Library of Congress, which has links on it's main website to HR 3200 (the house bill), and now to the Senate Finance Committee's bill. It was amazing, it was astounding, a politician that was more concerned with my question than with partisan rhetoric.
Mr. Chaffetz, I am still waiting for a reply from your office.
So, for those who are interested in reading the legislation yourself, it is available freely to all. Perhaps, if we as Americans stop listening to the Partisan bickering and get involved constructively in the process, civility can return to politics. But then I suppose it wouldn't be politics anymore, would it?