Groundhog Day was earlier this month, but some days the news out of Washington, D.C., seems more like the plot of the cult classic starring Bill Murray. If you have not seen this movie, rent it. It is a wise choice for snowy days like today in the Heartland, and provides a practical example of what is going on in our nation’s Capitol.
In the film, the lead character is a TV weatherman who finds himself living the same day over and over again.
He finds himself at the mercy of a groundhog, and loses control of everything, including his car. Just like in the movie one wonders who is really driving.
Recent events coming out of the Beltway makes this citizen wonder if the same people who wrote the screenplay for Groundhog Day are secretly writing talking points and speeches for our leaders. Congress and the President used to get along. Now they are engaged in a feud that may ultimately prove destructive to the nation they are charged with governing.
The latest disagreement involves a sensitive issue that challenges the freedom we have taken for granted. Simply put, does the government have the right to demand compliance for something private citizens find contrary to their religious beliefs and well being? And does the government have the right to demand that private business provide free services? And, is this at odds with first amendment rights?
The most recent regulation emerging from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ignited a firestorm last week, pitting the Catholic Church and other faith based organizations against the Obama administration concerning the coverage of contraception, the morning after pill, and sterilization. (see previous column) What do these issues really mean for all of us as Americans? At the end of the day it is not about providing access to critical preventive services like the Obama administration says. It is about the authority of federal government. The contraceptive rule is just the beginning of what will likely be many more regulations coming out in the next few months where the government is going to force individuals, businesses, and others to do certain things or face a penalty.
The health reform legislation, commonly referred to by the media as Obamacare, is without a doubt the most aggressive law involving the issue of federal power in this writer’s lifetime. Because of the partisan tactics used to pass the bill through Congress, an enormous amount of authority was given to the Executive Branch to write key pieces of the law. For you non-policy wonks, it means unelected bureaucrats are creating critical details of a law that will impact all of us.
Why is this important? Well, if Congress passes a bad law, you can vote them out every two years in the House of Representatives, and every six years in the Senate. However, bureaucrats are appointed and stay there– particularly if they hold key positions that are not political appointments. So if you think the Catholic rule is the last rule or regulation that will cause drama because of this law, think again.
My forecast for this law is foggy because of uncertainty. A repeal effort and politicking for the 2012 election have caused many in business and state government alike to adopt a wait and see approach, in hopes that the fog will lift. While your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen, I would advise an umbrella for those who own small businesses or work for state government. A storm is coming.