It often seems as though we the people have no control over our government. We feel powerless in the face of the huge bureaucratic behemoth that reaches into every facet of our lives. Our elected representatives often appear distant, except every few years when they need our votes to stay in office.
Average Americans tune in to the national news on one of the popular mediums and can only shake their collective heads when told that their country has a $17 trillion debt, the healthcare plan they were satisfied with has been taken away by force, unemployment is still too high, threatening an already weak economy, and their country is unable to protect its borders from a daily invasion of interlopers. Those and many other depressing stories will cause even the most optimistic Pollyanna to change the channel and search out a sitcom in order to calm a raging pulse.
It’s the feeling of helplessness that turns people into cynics, unwilling to participate in the political process. “They’re all the same, all they care about is feathering their own nests,” is a frequent refrain from those who have given up on the system. It’s hard to blame them when the closest they ever get to an elected official is when they receive email or snail mail requests for money whenever a campaign season is in full bloom. Moreover, those requests are generally accompanied by dire warnings. “If you want to preserve your way of life, send a contribution to the only candidate that can keep you from losing the American dream,” is an example of a method designed to elicit money by creating fear of “the other guy.” Of course, the other guy is saying the same thing about his fear-mongering opponent. You can attend any debate and you’ll hear the candidates say their opponent is lying. Excuse me, I mean you’ll hear them say their opponent is not being truthful. You see, it’s considered improper protocol to say what you actually mean; hence, euphemisms are tactfully weaved into the discourse.
Perhaps all of the above is just a personal expression of frustration. However, the good news is that there are many honest and forthright leaders in our orbit who don’t take their positions for granted, and work assiduously every day to fulfill the promises they made to their constituents. One such leader is 26th District Congressman Michael Burgess, currently serving his sixth term and running for his seventh. Prior to his election to the House in 2002, Dr. Burgess had been a practicing physician in Texas for about 30 years. Who would be better prepared to talk about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) debacle that has permeated every aspect of our lives and put our healthcare system in turmoil? In his book “Doctor in the House,” published in 2011, before the promulgation of the ACA and the irritation felt by millions when they tried to register online, Dr. Burgess wrote on page 86: “In spite of the repeated mantra during the debate over this bill – ‘If you like what you have, keep it’ – the fact is that nothing could be further from the truth.”
The congressman was simply stating what should have been obvious to the administration in Washington before they proclaimed that which turned out to be mendacity on steroids. Dr. Burgess stopped by for a visit recently and we talked, among other subjects, about the alarming trend by our current Chief Executive to rule by fiat, bypassing Constitutional safeguards which allow for checks and balances in our federal government. Attempting to enforce the laws upon which this country was founded, Rep. Burgess has co-sponsored a number of recent bills. H.R. 442 STOP Resolution reads in part: “Directs the House to institute legal action to require the President to comply with the law. The President has repeatedly ignored this Constitutionally-mandated duty.” Another bill, H.R. 3973, requires any federal official who is not enforcing the law to report to Congress and state the exact reason for the non-enforcement. Other resolutions offered by Burgess include a demand that the IRS stop targeting political beliefs, and one that expresses no confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder.
Nevertheless, while all these bills are being considered, the president is issuing Executive Orders that have the immediate force of law. As for the ACA, many members of Congress were given a choice to opt out of the plan that was being foisted on the rest of us mere mortals. Dr. Burgess exhibited the integrity he’s become known for; he decided to accept the same plan that’s being imposed on his constituents. “Last October 1, at 3 a.m., I started signing up for ObamaCare. I went online to see what it looked like. My check cleared the bank on January 6. I wish I kept a journal of the times I spent online on hold with healthcare.gov,” Burgess said.
“In addition, it was the most expensive insurance policy I’ve ever purchased. I’m in the individual market. I bought a bronze plan, which is the lowest level of coverage that you can have and the deductible is astonishingly high. I’ve had health savings accounts for years and was used to a high deductible, but this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Not only was it was extremely difficult, but, at the end of the day I have a $6,000 deductible. If I were to go to the hospital at 3 a.m. for an emergency procedure and get a bill for $4500, guess what; I’m paying it all myself.”
Keep in mind, this is a U.S. Congressman’s experience with the new law and he’s a physician, so, imagine how difficult it is for the rest of us. We can only hope that there are enough legislators in the House and Senate to keep an eye on a government that may be living up to the admonition: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything you have.”
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.