Sunday, November 8, 2009
Before the health care bill barely passed in the House last night, Republican leader John Boehner (R-OH) invoked fear and trembling into his fellow Tea Party protestors, calling the House bill ‘the biggest threat to freedom I have seen in the 19 years I’ve been here in Washington.’ This is quite an illuminating comment from someone who has superb health insurance (as a member of the US House of Reps). What 'freedom' is Boehner referring to exactly? Most likely, it's his own freedom: to have the best health care coverage in the land as he continues to get re-elected each term. Do you think he has any comprehension that 45,000 die each year in the United States because they lack basic health care? Or how about the $396 million spent by health care lobbyists from January to September this year to block any sort of 'reform' in this country? Some freedom. To add insult to injury, Boehner’s GOP came out with their own health care plan (finally) this week just in time to tout its low cost (just $61 billion over the next decade compared to more than $1 trillion for the Democratic plan that was passed), its expanded choices (for anyone who can afford them) and its protection of doctors and small businesses without mandating that insurance companies provide treatment regardless of preexisting conditions.
Only problem is that over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the GOP plan would increase the number of uninsured in the US from 47 million to 52 million. GOP leaders have been hiding behind the mask of principle-centered ‘deficit neutrality’ as well. The only problem with that is that the Democratic plan will actually be in the black (by over $100 billion) because it is paid for by a 5.4% tax on incomes of over $500,000. Our fellow citizens who are blessed with opportunity in this country will pay for medical care for ‘the least of these’ which would make the US much more free than it was with private insurance companies making huge profits off a deregulated insurance industry (like Wellpoint, which has made $2 billion in profits so far this year, while laying off thousands of workers).
Those of us calling ourselves 'prophetic' Christians must discern where true freedom is being counterfeited by the powers that be. We, for certain, must have our eyes constantly looking out for ways that government leaders and parties, corporations and other special interest groups (and individuals like Boehner) put their own power agendas as obstacles to eclipsing freedom, healing and opportunity for those marginalized in our society. On the cross, Jesus 'disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it' (Colossians 2:15). The Apostle Paul compared the crucifixion of Jesus to a triumphal Roman military parade where the enemies were shamefully stripped naked and paraded through one of the Empire's towns. It reminded citizens of the Empire that any threat to freedom would be defeated and scandalized. One of the legacies of Jesus' brutal murder at the hands of the most powerful in Roman-dominated-Palestine, was that it unveiled the motives and allegiances of the real enemies of God's brand of freedom for all to see. It was a mockery of justice. The One who fed and healed the masses, taught wisdom and modeled true humanity to God's People was too much to handle for those in power. Truly, Jesus was the greatest threat to the freedom of the powers-that-be that they had ever seen.