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Steve Lunetta: Decorum

Right About Now

Posted: September 13, 2009 9:44 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.
"You LIE."

Two words that stopped a president dead in his tracks and brought startled gasps from an audience composed of our elected representatives.

Senators and Congress-folks gaped at the Representative from South Carolina who dared to flaunt decorum and speak his mind.

During President Obama's health care speech, Joe Wilson got a little carried away with the emotion of the moment and blurted out what many in the room and on television were thinking. The president is fibbing.


The president had better be happy that he isn't the Prime Minister of Great Britain. For anyone who has watched that wonderful PBS program "Prime Minister's Questions," it is clear that our system is far more polite and civil.

In the TV show, which is a video feed from the House of Commons, the PM is required to answer any and all questions that the elected representatives may ask.

The opposition party verbally attacks the PM without mercy or regard for his feelings or self-esteem.

Of course, there are rules for the exercise and people cannot simply start shouting insults or curses, although it comes close.

The important thing, however, is that the PM must answer the questions immediately on the spot.

Armed only with a notebook, the PM must formulate an answer and be accountable to the elected representatives and, ultimately, the people of Britain.

Can you imagine what that would look like in our Capitol?

"Mr. President, you say that you've never met former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But here are 27 photos of you on different occasions with the disgraced governor. Why did you lie?"

"Mr. President, you've just made statements that health care costs are rising out of control and your plan will fix that. But you also said that your plan will cost us an additional $700-800 billion over a 10-year period. If it's costing us more how does it save us?"

"Mr. President, you estimated the cost of your plan to be $500 billion over 10 years back in February of this year. Now you say the cost will be 50 percent more. Are your figures wrong or are you lying to us? Again?"

These are hard questions that deserve true answers.

Let's look at the context of the situation that caused the sharp retort from Mr. Wilson.

President Obama was saying that illegal immigrants would not be covered under the health care plan. It even says so in the legislation itself.

There is only one minor issue. There is no enforcement provision in the program.

What good is a law that prohibits an action or behavior but then contains no mechanism for ensuring that the measure is carried out?

That is akin to saying that bank robbery is against the law but then not funding a police department.

How long would it take for bank robbers to figure out that there is nothing to stop them from making a little withdrawal?

The same goes for illegal immigrants. As soon as these folks realize that free health care can be obtained with no enforcement mechanism that says otherwise, nothing will prevent the system from becoming deluged.

It will simply be another enticement to come to the United States for entitlements that are not rightly the property of illegals.

Another small twist is also hidden in the bill. Legal immigrants currently must wait five years before entering any federally funded health care program.

Under the provisions of this proposed law, entry into these programs would be immediately granted regardless of time in country.

This raises the specter that many could come to the U.S. legally and obtain health care for their maladies and have the good American taxpayer pick up the tab.

Gee, I'd like to go to a foreign place and get all of my medical bills paid, too.

It is very true that there are many things wrong with our health care system.

Tort reform would be a good first step to slowing the rising cost of health care.

But this would be resisted by the trial lawyers association who has close ties to - say it with me - the Democratic Party.

Republicans want to have a place at the table and want our opinions to matter. We will not "shut up" as Mr. Obama would like us to.

Like Representative Wilson from South Carolina, I can no longer remain silent. Forget decorum, Mr. President. You lie.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal.


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