With Congress in recess, many Democratic representatives have returned home to host town hall meetings to launch a full court press to pass controversial health care legislation.
The reception they've received reflects the public's outrage at HR 3200. Citizens are angry over the $1 trillion health care plan and their growing frustration with the $800 billion stimulus bill that hasn't stimulated much of anything including promised new job creation.
In Philadelphia earlier this week, Senator Arlen Specter appeared with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. They were booed and jeered throughout their presentation. (See FOX News video here.)
In response to a frequently heard complaint that lawmakers have not even read the bill, Specter replied lamely: "We have to make judgments very fast."
But the question that Specter's reply begs is: why does the Senate always have to move so fast? Slower, especially on issues with health care's magnitude, would be better.
One of the gravest concerns about HR 3200 is that under the leadership of House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, illegal aliens would be able to obtain complete medical coverage.
Pelosi would deny that. But in an August 3 op-ed published by The Hill, a newspaper for Congressmen and their staffs, Texas U.S. Representative Lamar Smith wrote: "The Democrats' bill in the House contains gaping loopholes that will allow illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer funded benefits. And these loopholes are no accident." [Health Care Scheme Would Benefit Illegal Immigrants, by Lamar Smith, The Hill, August 3, 2009]
If you think paying the health care tab for non-citizens is just a bag of shells, then consider the statistics that Smith detailed in his article.
Citing the Pew Hispanic Center, Smith wrote that 59 percent of all illegal immigrant adults lacked health insurance in 2007, a dramatically higher rate that the 14 percent uninsured rate for U.S.-born adults.
Furthermore, the children of illegal immigrants are also uninsured at extremely high rates — 45 percent of their foreign-born children are uninsured. California, and specifically the San Joaquin Valley, is home to hundreds of thousands of those children.
Although children born to aliens are American citizens, a health care plan that provides benefits to their adult parents would encourage more illegal immigrants to come to the U.S., have more citizen children and thereby create a never-ending cycle of immigration.
As we learned after the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, amnesty begets more illegal immigration. The U.S. economy is already stretched thin without having millions more illegal immigrants draining our limited resources, making less available for citizens and legal immigrants.
Furthermore, if we legalize 15 million illegal immigrants today, what will happen when they retire?
Robert Rector from the Heritage Foundation found that the net governmental cost for elderly immigrants with low skills amounts "to $17,000 per person per year … half of this cost was medical expenditures under the Medicare and Medicaid programs". The foundation estimates that the eventual cost of amnesty including all government retirement benefits could reach $2.6 trillion.
President Barack Obama has a disingenuous solution to whether illegal immigrants should be covered by HR 3200. Obama wants legalize all of them. Presto, no more illegal aliens.
But amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants would have a disastrous long term affect on the American economy.
Lodi's Congressional representative Jerry McNerney stands firmly behind Pelosi.
As currently written, H.R. 3200 does not require the states to verify citizenship status of applicants before enrollment. Deal's amendment would have mandated verification through E-Verify, the system currently used to identify legal workers.
Asking McNerney to explain his "No" vote would make for a lively town hall meeting, assuming he should decide to hold one.
When I called McNerney's office to inquire if any had been scheduled, I was told to keep checking his website for times and places. But as of today, none have been posted.
Could it be that McNerney would prefer not to be questioned about why he thinks American citizens should fund illegal aliens' health care costs?
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.