31 March 2012

On Representation

My Representative is a Republican. I, on the other hand, like to be able to discover the truth behind any given issue. 

I'm sure that those two sentences read like the most feral partisan drivel that you've heard today - but that depends on how political your normal media is. [Personally, I like to keep the political spigot switched off. I get quite annoyed when it drips.] I would like to think that I am not given to hyperbole, but I also like to make grand statements when I think that they are justified. [I trust you'll pardon me if I get carried away?]

I have had reasons to become more familiar with the PPACA of late. That's the legislation that some refer to as "Obama Care". [That epithet is interesting for other reasons, but that's a digression for another time.] In my researching, I happened to wander over to the website of my Representative to the U.S. Congress. [I'll not name him just now; I may say some unpleasant things below.] On his website I read this:

"Rather than passing costly government mandates, Congress should work toward commonsense reforms that lower costs, expand access to quality medical care, and protect the sacred doctor-patient relationship.  I believe there is broad support for proposals like allowing individuals to purchase coverage across state lines, expanding Health Savings Accounts, and enacting meaningful tort reform."

Hmmm. Some of that is in the PPACA; namely expanded access. Reforms that cut costs were stripped out because Republicans did not want them. [In fact, Congress recently passed (by a purely partisan vote) legislation that would strike down one of the few remaining portions of the PPACA that would work to reduce costs.] Nobody ever threatened the relationship between doctors and patients, and Republicans have been pursuing tort reform for longer than they have been holding down minimum wage. [Ooops, that might have been hyperbole, but it sounds right to me, and I don't have a good way to look up the earliest attempts to do either. I do happen to know how long they have been working against Universal Health Care; since about 1922!]

When I first read that statement on my Representative's website, I thought it was silly that they wanted to strike down the PPACA and replace it with the PPACA. That would be silly, but I could understand why Republicans would want to do this. On a closer reading, the meaning became clearer, and the intent much narrower than I had first thought. Same old things.

Then I realized something odd. My Congressman's website does not provide any factual information on the PPACA. When I go to my Senator's website, I can find information on what the PPACA law can do for me right now. A laundry list of current benefits from the PPACA law. My Congressman's website does no such thing. Isn't this the 'Information Age'? So where is the information?

Now, if my Congressman is truly my Representative, shouldn't he be reporting back to me about the benefits of the PPACA - even if he is philosophically opposed to it? Strictly speaking, he works for me. I pay his salary, and he claims to represent his constituents. My opinions are not shared by a majority of other constituents, but shouldn't I also benefit from his representation? I'm not aware of all the things in the PPACA, and I'd actually like to know if I should be signing up for Medicaid.

So shouldn't I expect my "Representative" to report back to me on all the fun stuff that he's been doing? I want to hear about the bills. I don't mean the party line, I could get that from Fox anytime. If a bill has become law, is it unreasonable for me to expect him to explain what is in the law? If he were representing my business, he wouldn't last long by skimping on details like this. All that I can find on his website is a link to Library of Congress THOMAS - a website that makes bills and other legislative information available to anyone. THOMAS is nice, but linking to an entirely different site is a cop-out. Or maybe he doesn't know what is in the law? Either way, I'm dissatisfied.


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