Historic Health Care Reform Success
Now it's time for immigration reform!
Luke Sharrett | The New York Times |
Supporters of immigration reform march on the National Mall in Washington on Sunday, March 21, 2010.
Over unanimous GOP opposition, the House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill overhauling the U.S. medical system last week, delivering a historic victory to Obama. A day later, President Obama signed it into law. It has been over forty years since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted. Since that time that has not been any law that has had such a significant affect on the growth of federal health care guarantees. The unprecedented Sunday evening votes took place after an extraordinary weekend of passionate negotiations among House leaders, individual Congress member and the White House.
Republicans tried their best, applying practically every weapon they could find in their legislative arsenal. But at the end they collapsed and the Democratic health care's passage created history.
The $940 billion plan is intended to provide insurance coverage to roughly 32 million uninsured Americans. The bill, which is the "first step" towards universal coverage, signifies Obama's unique ability to organize and control Congress to approve a bill that has been unattainable since Democratic president Truman attempted the same. As a result of the passage of the bill most Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay a fine. Large employers will have to provide coverage or risk financial penalties.
"This is what change looks like," Obama said shortly after the votes. The passage of health care reform is "not a victory for any one party. ... It's a victory for the American people and it's a victory for common sense." The president was visually pleased when he said that this healthcare reform initiative proves Americans "are still a people capable of doing big things."
Republicans unhappy with the bill are already preparing to wage war. They will try to argue that the bill is unconstitutional and try to prevent it from taking effect. The chamber was not silent for a second after the final "Yes" vote when Michael Steele, the chair of the Republican Party sent out a fund-raising e-mail message “launching a Money Bomb in an effort to raise enough money to gain 40 house seats to control the House of Representatives.
Even though Health Care Reform captivated America Sunday another potentially historic event at the National Mall in Washington D.C took place. It is estimated that over 200,000 people appeared in one location with one purpose in mind: comprehensive immigration reform. There are over 11 million people living in the United States in illegal status. They work. Pray. Pay taxes and have families, yet they live in the shadows of other Americans. They are the illegal immigrants. Many have been living in the United States for more than a decade, establishing deep roots. Under current laws the majority of them cannot "stand in line" and become legal residents as anti-immigrant groups have suggested, because there is no law that would give them that right.
Last weekend, more than 800 buses from 33 states brought people from around the country to the March for America. Many others carpooled or flew. Many are United States citizens. Along with their children, spouses, friends and co-workers together they traveled to Washington as advocates for a change in the broken immigration laws.
Now that healthcare has stepped out of the lime light, it is time for our nation to be informed of the importance of immigrants in our economic, political and social lives. Comprehensive immigration reform would make America more secure, by knowing that these millions of people who are living in the shadows would come out and register their presence here. Once and for all we will know who is here and the government will be in a place to separate the good from the bad; the criminal from the hard working and honest person. Thousands of our best and brightest students, who where brought here as young children and currently have limited access to higher education and legal employment, need a chance to live. Now is the time for compressive immigration reform and the Dream Act to became a reality.
The November election is around the corner. We will soon see how brave our elected officials are. Will they do the right thing and pass comprehensive immigration reform or will they side step the issue until after November in fear of not getting a vote for re-election. Time will tell.
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During his election campaign, the President vowed to move on the issue of reform within the first year of his tenure. In effort to pressure the White House while reviving the momentum of the immigrant rights movement, the March for Fair and Comprehensive Immigration Reform promised a spirit of unity heading into a single mobilization in the city scheduled for May 1st. The LA protests followed a larger demonstration in Washington, D.C. earlier this month that attracted more than 200,000 people. President Obama, in a videotaped message, assured marchers in the nationís capital that he would work on forming a bipartisan consensus on immigration reform this year to the best of his abilities. Though inaction has characterized the D.C. political establishmentís response so far, a new joint study by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center highlights the positive economic benefits that await reform. The two organizations have found that fixing the broken immigration system would add 1.5 trillion dollars to the nationís GDP over ten years, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs through new consumer spending, and add nearly one billion dollars in tax revenues.