Unless you were somewhere in remote Africa like our former intern Amanda Sandlin of Tamaqua, you probably know that Congress pushed through - via party line - health care reform legislation. Come to think of it, even in Africa, Sandlin has internet connection so she probably knows it passed.

There are some things very infuriating about the health care reform bill passage:

Ÿ It was passed strictly on party line. The politicians who voted on the bill went with the wishes of their respective political party rather than making up their own minds. It's frustrating that the highly-paid, supposedly capable, politicians in Washington can't even think for themselves.

On the Democratic side, the vote was 220-33 in favor of the bill, while Republicans unanimously opposed it, 178-0.

Ÿ Do you know who will enforce the provisions of the Health Care Bill? It will be the IRS, possibly the most feared agency in our federal government. The IRS is the agency which can attach penalties to your income tax if you have no health insurance, which can put liens on your property, and which can put fear into the most law-abiding individual because you're generally presumed guilty until proving yourself innocent.

Ÿ The most unhealthy part of the passage was the wheeling-and-dealing that occurred by the Democrats to garner enough votes for the passage.

Our esteemed Congressman Paul Kanjorski had said he was undecided, when in reality, he reacted after his majority party agreed to - for lack of a better word - bribe him with incentives to vote in their favor. It was agreed to give special assistance to Scranton Orthopedic Specialists in Dickson City, which is an area served by Kanjorski.

It's terrible that a law can't be passed on its own merits; that the sponsoring or backing parties must resort to special deals to get votes, and that lawmakers like Kanjorski play this game.

Democracy is when one votes how they feel, not coerced through threats or bribes or anyother such unethical means.

Ÿ Finally, when local residents visited Washington D.C. to get their points across on how they feel about health care reform, most politicians were not available. They didn't care about meeting with the local groups.

Even putting aside the trips to Washington, have you been asked by Mr. Kanjorski how you feel about health care reform? Was there any local input invited to inform our congressman - or any congressman, for that matter - how the constituents feel?

Is it still a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people?"

The whole health care reform process appeared to be a chess game among the two political parties with little regard to we, the people, who now will have to pay the price.

Amanda keeps in touch with Facebook and e mails on her times in Africa which is thousands of miles away. It seems when people are elected to seats in Washington, which is only about 150 miles away, they lose touch. Never was this so obvious than during the past health care reform debates.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]