Dissent Is No Longer The Highest Form Of Patriotism (A Continuing Series)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 28, 2010


If you object to health care reform, and are affiliated with a major corporation, this happens:

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has summoned some of the nation’s top executives to Capitol Hill to defend their assessment that the new national health care reform law will cost their companies hundreds of millions of dollars in health insurance expenses. Waxman is also demanding that the executives give lawmakers internal company documents related to health care finances — a move one committee Republicans describes as “an attempt to intimidate and silence opponents of the Democrats’ flawed health care reform legislation.”

On Thursday and Friday, the companies — so far, they include AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar, Deere, Valero Energy, AK Steel and 3M — said a tax provision in the new health care law will make it far more expensive to provide prescription drug coverage to their retired employees. Now, both retirees and current employees of those companies are wondering whether the new law could mean reduced or canceled benefits for them in the future.

The news is an embarrassment for Democrats. As President Obama and congressional leaders tout the purported benefits of the new health care law, some of the nation’s biggest companies are saying it will mean higher costs and fewer benefits — not exactly what Democrats want to hear in the days after their historic victory.

So Waxman has ordered the executives to explain themselves at an April 21 hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee. That subcommittee just happens to be chaired by Rep. Bart Stupak, the Michigan Democrat who held out his vote on health care reform until a few hours before final passage on March 21, giving the bill’s opponents the unfounded hope that he might vote against it.

The caricature of George W. Bush as a dissent-suppressing tyrant has nothing on these people. Nor, for that matter, does the PATRIOT Act.

I am waiting to see if anyone in the mainstream media jumps on Waxman for this. If he were a Republican committee chairman seeking to intimidate critics of a Republican President’s legislative program, there would be no doubt that they would have by now.

Previous post:

Next post: