Friday, January 14, 2011

"Job-killing" bill an unfortunate title choice

With Congress set set to resume business following the terrible events in Tucson, Arizona, House Republican leaders have made it clear that they intend to push the bill they delayed this week that would repeal the health reform law that was enacted last year.

There is a bit of controversy surrounding this proposed repeal, besides the fact that it would both increase the budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars as well as leave more than 30 million Americans with no insurance options.

The controversy lies within the name of the bill itself: the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act."

Besides being titled in a way that would make any respectable high school English teacher cringe, the bill includes the word "killing," which in the wake of the shootings in Arizona is noticeably inconsiderate. At a time when lawmakers on both sides are heeding the call to tone down the violent rhetoric, this bill's title instead continues it encouraging a bipartisan battle through the use of hostile language meant to incite anger.

Several GOP members of Congress have pledged to reduce the violent imagery in their discourse. The first move they could make to keep that promise would be removing the violent imagery in their bills they propose. It seems like it would be an obvious move to make -- but as we've seen in recent history, Republicans rarely take sensible actions when it comes to issues of grave importance.

I don't want to be misconstrued here: the Republican Party certainly has the right to name their bills in whatever way they see fit. If they want to say that this bill will "kill jobs" and place that sentiment in the title of their bill, then by all means they shouldn't be restrained from doing so.

However, at a time of terrible tragedy, it seems to have defied all senses of logic and decency. First off, the bill won't "kill" any jobs -- a loss in labor may occur, but this would be due more to people being able to retire earlier than any threat of job losses, the Congressional Budget Office states.

But then there's the issue of decency. Again, in the wake of the tragic events that took place in Tucson, and following bipartisan calls for a more respectful dialogue between opposing ideologies, the Republican leadership is attempting to pass a bill that seeks to incite the very rhetoric they're trying to soothe.

President Obama put it best when he spoke to a crowd gathered at the University of Arizona. When thinking about those departed, especially nine-year old Christina Taylor Green (who had just been elected to her student government), the president stated that he "wanted to live up to her expectations" of how government was meant to function, of what our democracy was meant to be.

The president has taken the right approach towards resolving to calm the rhetoric. The Republicans are also, for the most part, doing good on their promises to bring it down a notch as well. But keeping "killing" within the title of their health care repeal is going against that promise they have made. It's their choice to make if they want to preserve that title -- but it's also disrespectful to the notion that violent imagery need not be made in order to make your point understood.

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