OUR CORNER: Bill is signed, but vitriol continues

Is it safe to come out yet?

When the health care bill passed last week, I went deep in my underground bunker after hearing over and over how this was is the end of America.

Based on the heated rhetoric surrounding the new law, I assumed by now all of our grandparents would have been put to death, every doctor would have quit and communists of all shapes and sizes would by now be rolling along state Route 410 in tanks.

But it doesn’t look like that happened. Could it be that the dire warnings were simply lies designed to scare the population into opposing a bill that had so much support for many of its individual components?

Yes it could.

Even now, after the bill has been signed and is the law of the land, the lies and vitriol continue to spill out in ways I can hardly believe.

Despite my concerns with parts of the bill, I probably would have held my nose and voted for it because the reforms and regulations included in it are of vital importance to not only the health of the citizens of this country, but the health of the economy.

Even though I HATE the individual mandate. (I sure wish Obama had won the election. What? He did? Then how did we get Hillary’s plan?)

But it is one thing to oppose the bill or parts of the bill. It is another thing to oppose it based on things that aren’t in it. Or to get violent about it.

Which brings me back to the lies.

And there’s no other word for it. There are people who continue to propagate bald-faced lies about what this new law does and does not do.

The biggest is that the new law is socialism. It is not. Not in any definition of the word. This law continues a system where private corporations provide health insurance, reining in only its worst abuses, such as the use of pre-existing conditions as a way to deny coverage.

The new law is 100 percent not a “government takeover” of insurance and in fact forces most people to use the private market.

Another lie is that Democrats were trying to “cram this bill down America’s throat,” despite it being the top platform plank in the 2008 election that gave the Democrats supermajorities in both houses of Congress.

That means a majority of voters supported the people who supported healthcare reform. And they had majorities the size of which this country hasn’t seen since the Big Dem Machine of the mid- to late-1970s.

But last summer, as the right wing rhetoric began to ramp up, polling numbers began to shift, showing the public beginning to turn away from the health care ideas they supported.

A closer look at the arguments showed that many opposition leaders were lying about what was in the bill. The idea of “Death Panels,” most notably put forth by half-term Gov. Sarah Palin, for example.

Death panels, of course, do not exist. The bill never included “death panels” of any sort and even the parts identified as “death panels” were in fact a Republican idea that was incorporated into the bill precisely because it was a good one. They were actually end-of-life counselors to help people prepare for the stupidly paperwork-heavy act of dying.

But the idea of “death panels” took hold and public support began to sour.

All of this came to a head last summer at those town hall meetings at which Tea Partiers, militia members and other fringe groupers made news by showing up to the meetings with guns strapped to their hips and screaming about “refreshing the blood of the liberty tree.”

Guns. On their hips. To what was supposed to be a civilized political discussion.

I mean, that’s just freakin’ crazy – nearly lock-them-up-for-treason crazy. And certainly not how we do things in America.

But again, despite all of that happening last summer, we were recently inundated with the “rushing this” and “cramming it” rhetoric, after more than a year of discussion and work the bill.

A year! It doesn’t even make sense to say that this bill was “rushed” or “crammed.” While we’re on the subject of opposition rhetoric that makes no sense, I recommend that anyone who thinks reconciliation is an evil Democrat plot check out how many times the Republicans and their 51-person majority used it in the past decade, including a few major pieces of legislation.

It’s also important to note that this past week, the Senate stayed late into the night to address Republican opposition to the amendments proposed in the reconciliation bill by the House.

The Republicans fought as hard as they could to stop the amendments, many of which were created to take out some of the pork and kickbacks the Senate larded into the bill. I don’t really understand why the Republicans were fighting to keep the pork in the bill, but there’s a reason I’ve been hiding out in my bunker.

Opponents are reported to have hurled spit and epithets in the run-up to the vote and, since the vote, numerous reports have been made about threats of violence against lawmakers and their families.

It’s insane. I guess I never really put together that when the tea partiers were talking about this law being the end of America, they didn’t mean because of the law itself but that it was a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they would take their less-than-overwhelming but prodigiously armed 15 percent of the population and attempt the violent overthrow of the United States government.

Whatever happened to the minority realizing they are out-voted and that they lost? I ask this especially since many of the people so outraged now seem to be the same ones who told me five years ago that even trying to question the president was unpatriotic.

It’s enough to send a rational person underground.

That all being said, while many of the reforms in this law are necessary and good, I actually support the attorney general of this state and the others who are suing the federal government over the individual mandate.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out how the government can force free people to use their own money to purchase any product or commodity. I am not a constitutional expert, of course, but my degree is in American history and I have spent many years studying the founding of the country and the writing of the Constitution, and I can’t seem to find this particular power.

While a single-payer system in which the government levies a tax to create a program promoting the general welfare appears constitutional (Article 1, Section 8), I can’t seem to find a provision that allows the government to use tax penalties to force participation in a marketplace.

Some people make the comparison to auto insurance, but hey, you don’t have to have a car if you don’t want to pay car insurance.

I tend to believe the administration and the president, himself a constitutional law professor, have thought this through and have an answer for the question. But I’d still like to hear them defend it.

Until then, of course, I’ll be in my bunker. Just in case.

I’ve seen Red Dawn…