By Yussuf J. Simmonds
(NNPA) A year ago when President Barack Obama signed the landmark legislation known as the Healthcare Reform Act, he said, “At this moment, we are being called upon to fulfill our duty to the citizens of this nation and to future generations… I don’t know how passing health care will play politically, but I do know that it’s the right thing to do. It’s right for our families. It’s right for our businesses. It’s right for the United States of America.”
That was a milestone and since then, many state’s attorney generals have challenged its constitutionality. However, California’s Attorney-general Kamala Harris has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit strongly asserting the legality of federal health care reform and urging the court to uphold the law stating, “The law strikes an appropriate–and constitutional–balance between national requirements that will expand access to affordable healthcare while providing States with flexibility to design programs that achieve that goal for their citizens,” according to the amicus brief states.
In addition, since President Obama came into office, he has been dogged by chronic unemployment and a faltering economy when he inherited from his predecessor. The effects of those twins of national disaster have reportedly been on a rollercoaster ride, according to many economists.
However, the disastrous effects can also be readily seen through the experiences of the average American and especially Black Americans. Massive foreclosures, joblessness, unprecedented homeless, high consumer prices added to the aforementioned have lowered the standard of living and quality of life for a large segment of Americans.
Now comes war–another unprovoked military entanglement–in addition to the two that the President inherited that at present seem unwinnable and an inability to be extricated from. And, that is exacerbating most of what is ailing the country–economically and otherwise.
Some statistics: 46 of the 50 states are operating ‘in the red’ and cannot expect any assistance from the federal government, which is also operating ‘in the red’; one of the generals, reported to the Defense Budget Committee that the recent military engagement has cost approximately half a billion dollars; recovery from disasters such as Hurricane Katrina (more than five years ago), the more recent BP oil spill, and recoveries from the mid-western and eastern seaboard weather-relative tragedies, just to name a few, have been stalled at the expense of military expenditures.
The light at the end of the tunnel appears to be the support that President Obama has received especially from members of his own party even though they are the minority in the House (of Representatives); but the slim majority that he enjoys in the (U.S.) Senate often acts as a buffer to counteract the GOP majority in the House.
For example, during floor debate on the Republican legislation to repeal health care reform earlier this year, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said in part, “I’m proud to join my Democratic colleagues on the floor this afternoon to state our unequivocal stance against health care reform repeal. The landmark health reform law takes a stand against the health care disparities that exist for low-income Americans, people of color, and people with pre-existing conditions…. I implore my Republican colleagues to work with us to strengthen the law, make it better, and provide health care and jobs to millions of Americans.”
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) released the following statement marking the anniversary of the Health Care Act: “One year ago, history was made when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. On this important anniversary, there is certainly much to celebrate. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans are far better off now than they were a year ago. More Americans have increased access to quality health care than ever before, as well as improved coverage, more control and fewer obstacles to receiving the care they need….”
In an op-ed, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) stated: “This week will mark one year since the Health Care Reform bill was enacted, making quality health care more accessible and affordable for all Americans. Before President Obama, before this legislation, we were the only modern industrialized nation in the world to lack any kind of comprehensive system ensuring that its citizens had access to basic medical care. Now we are headed towards a future where Americans of every economic level can afford basic health insurance….”
The plaudits for the President came from throughout the nation as Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) reiterated his continued support of the act that was designed to provide quality and affordable health care for all Americans: “The Affordable Care for America Act has the same monumental significance that Medicare and Medicaid has had for all Americans,” Thompson said. “The Affordable Care Act has extended health coverage to more than 32 million Americans by providing security for seniors, guaranteeing health insurance coverage for the uninsured, and making health care more affordable for middle class families….” Thompson maintains that the law is highly beneficial.
But, the light at the end of the tunnel dimmed somewhat as some of the President’s supporters, though standing shoulder to shoulder with him, questioned the value of him sending America’s military once again into battle. Thus far, many have proceeded cautiously.
Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) of the Congressional Black Caucus issued the following statement on his recent address to the nation: “As an ordained minister, I am an advocate of the seven principles of a just war which are not, in my opinion, theologically present in the military policy relating to Libya. As a Member of Congress, however; I can understand the position that President Obama was in to protect the Libyan people in order to prevent a potential genocide. I am pleased that NATO will take control of the enforcement of the arms embargo and No Fly Zone on Wednesday, and equally pleased that the United States will take a supporting role in this effort. We cannot afford another Iraq or Afghanistan and I firmly believe that the President fully understands that.”