Beware the Ides of March and a vote for Obama's health care bill
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"If there is one thing I fear, Antonius, it's ... having no opponents left, which won't be good for me ... you have more faith in my integrity than I do at times. Autocracy is insidious. Perhaps there is no man ever born, even me, with the strength to resist it unless opposed."

Julius Caesar to Mark Antony, in Colleen McCullough's series about ancient Rome

As I begin writing this column on March 15, I find myself thinking: Politicians, beware the Ides of March, and the rest of this week too, with an expected ObamaCare vote in the U.S. House of Representatives; and beware the November election.

For too long, you haven't had real opponents. The two-party system created political adversaries; but there can only be genuine opposition when the people themselves take up political arms in the form of electoral pitchforks.

The opposition world has become a small one. I was thinking about Julius Caesar yesterday after a friend in my western Pennsylvania hometown forwarded an e-mail from Blaise Dornisch, founder of the Elk County (Pa.) Tea Party. I correctly assumed he belongs to the brilliant Dornisch family, which included two of my high school teachers and the founder of a local book club I've attended when visiting my family.

Like many local guys, the teachers had nicknames: "Bunky" taught General Science, and "Auckie" taught sophomore English, introducing me to poetry and Shakespeare. He brought the characters in "Julius Caesar" alive; it remains one of my favorite plays.

At that time, however, I grasped only one side of the story, the part that dealt with the cowardly assassination of one of history's greatest men.

While still deploring that violent act, I later came to better understand the concerns of many Romans that Caesar was becoming altogether too full of himself and leading Rome toward dictatorship. As he warns Antony, autocracy is insidious. And we are seeing its beginnings right here, right now, as an arrogant president and his followers attempt to force through a health care takeover this week over the opposition of the American people.

In my hometown, to my delight, that opposition is led by the son of the book-club founder, Dick Dornisch.

Blaise Dornisch's Tea Party was one of the early ones, begun last spring at the same time as ours formed here in Massachusetts. Reached by phone, he told me that 50 to 80 people attend the regular meetings and other groups are still being created across Pennsylvania.

I was shocked in 2008 when Elk County, populated by citizens of the type candidate Obama derided as "clinging to their guns and religion," voted for him anyway. But I figured it was just a matter of time until regret set in there as it has elsewhere in the nation.

The Elk County Tea Party is organizing for the April 15 rallies in Washington and around the country. It's part of a regional group that is interviewing candidates to run for Congress. They are opposing the pending health care bill. Blaise sent me an article by Scott Atlas at the National Center for Policy Analysis rebutting ObamaCare proponents' claim that other countries have better, state-run systems.

In a well-referenced analysis, Atlas lays out facts about our present health care system, including these:

  Americans have better survival rates than Europeans and Canadians with breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.

  Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than do patients in other developed countries.

  Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.

  Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the UK, where getting elective surgery and radiation treatment can take twice as long.

  More than 70 percent of German and British adults say that their health system needs "fundamental change" or "complete rebuilding."

It's essential to understand that according to the NCPA study, Americans not only have much better access to important new technologies than patients in Canada or the UK; we are also responsible for the majority of new health care innovations. Since the mid-1970s, Atlas notes, "the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has gone to American residents more often than recipients from all other countries combined."

Atlas acknowledges "serious challenges, such as escalating costs and the uninsured," but argues that we need specific reforms, not a complete overhaul of our health care system. And he suggests the typical American encouragement of new ideas and entrepreneurial attitudes, will work far better than government control.

Our congressmen this week are being asked by their leaders and President Obama to adopt the Senate bill, with all its flaws, that they're told will be corrected later.

I called Rep. John Tierney's local office in Peabody on the Ides of March to ask how he intended to vote. I was told he hasn't seen the final bill yet.

All across America, congressmen are pretending they don't know what the Senate passed on Christmas Eve, which needs to be passed "as is" by the House to proceed to enactment.

The truth is, what congressmen don't know is what tea-partiers and other, still quiet but concerned Americans are going to do in November if a bill they don't want becomes law.

We need to tell them now.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.

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