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Editorial: From O’Brien, a despicable argument

In May 1854 a fugitive slave named Anthony Burns who had escaped from his master in Virginia as a shipboard stowaway was captured in Boston and held at a city courthouse. Abolitionists held an incendiary protest rally at Faneuil Hall demanding Burns’s freedom and then stormed the court. Guards fought back with clubs and swords. In the chaos that ensued, one courthouse guard was killed.

President Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire approved the use of federal troops to ensure Burns’s return to Virginia – and supported his attorney general’s ruling that abolitionists could not buy Burns’s freedom. Burns’s master later sold him to a horse dealer for $905, and that man eventually accepted $1,300 from an abolitionist for Burns’s liberty.

This was reality in the United States under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The law compelled American citizens to assist in the capture of runaway slaves. It denied slaves the right to a jury trial and increased the penalty for interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to $1,000 (about $27,000 today) and six months in jail. Federal commissioners who enforced the law were paid more for returning a suspected slave than for freeing him, inevitably skewing the law in favor of Southern slaveholders. In many cases, legally free blacks were rounded up in northern states as alleged fugitives and dragged into slavery in the South.

Surely among the most odious laws ever enacted, it was, bizarrely, the subject of a speech in front of the State House last week by none other than Bill O’Brien, the former House speaker and potential 2nd District congressional candidate.

“And what is Obamacare?” O’Brien asked a crowd assembled to protest the Affordable Care Act. “It is a law as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed slave owners to come to New Hampshire and seize African Americans and use the federal courts to take them back to federal . . . to slave states.”

Got that?

Obamacare is a law passed in 2010 with the goal of extending health insurance coverage to nearly all Americans. Among its provisions: Insurers can no longer deny coverage to children (and eventually adults) based on pre-existing conditions, and they can no longer set lifetime limits on coverage for individual customers. All new health plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance. Young adults can stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. States have the ability to greatly expand health coverage to poor residents under the Medicaid program with federal assistance – assistance that Republicans in New Hampshire are stubbornly resisting, to the extreme detriment of their constituents.

At the heart of the law are new mandates for individuals and employers: Many Americans will be required to purchase health insurance. Many employers will be required to provide it to their workers. These are the rules that O’Brien apparently finds onerous. But the idea behind them is sound: Without insurance, sick people still get treated, and the rest of us end up paying for their care. The more people who are insured, the fairer the system and the smaller the cost to the rest of us. When then-Gov. Mitt Romney first championed such a law in Massachusetts, it was described as a system based on “personal responsibility.”

The federal health care law is not perfect. No doubt there will be complications as the most dramatic portions take effect. No doubt there will be room for improvement. But its purpose is to give Americans that which is available in most of the rest of the industrialized world: the assurance that if they get sick, they will have access to decent health care at an affordable price.

To compare that to a law intended to uphold the rights of whites to hold blacks as chattel is nothing short of obscene.

Legacy Comments32

The Monitor tactic of using O'Brien as a straw-man to deflect from the train wreck that Obamakare is. The Monitor's marching orders to the liberal loons is to ignore the issue of the house of cards built on a foundation of lies known as Obamakare and focus on the enemy Bill O'Brien. If I were a cartoonist I would be drawing rabid dogs foaming at the mouth from the red meat the Monitor editorial board (with tin foil hats) threw out for them.

On another note, more bad news for NH. One week after Shaws said it will close 6 stores in NH, Shop & Stop just announced they will close 3 gas stations and 6 stores in NH that will impact 650 workers. The Shaws store will impact 450 workers. Very sad, more folks out of work.

Rabbit, why aren't you rejoicing that the core free market principle of creative destruction is working so well? It sucks for the employees, especially because they are the victims of their bosses' bad business decisions. How familiar are you with the neighborhood around their Lincoln / Valley Street store? Stop & Shop was ill-fitted. By comparison, take a peek at how business is booming at the nearby Elm Street Market Basket. Give your customers what they want at prices they can afford, and you thrive. Engage in clean business practices, and that's icing on the cake.

Yes the free market does work that way, the strong survive. NYC is a perfect example of the free market working because of the competition. You have to compete to survive, even if you have a push cart that sells pretzels, your pretzels have to be the best and at a good price. That being said, I hate to see folks out of work, especially in a bad economy. The closing of Shaws and Stop & Shop will mean that teens will not have their first jobs, and folks who have not gone to college will be minus those service jobs. Over a thousand of them between the two stores. That to me is sad. Nothing to rejoice about.

Nice try Bruce, you did not prove my post incorrect. You did not address what I said at all. Just said I was wrong as usual. You got that down pretty good. You did not address what she said in full. Just said she meant the senate bill, nothing else. In other words, if Bruce does not want to address anything, he just claims your wrong. Nice Dem tactic. We all know what she said, Saying something was taken out of context is the lame go to excuse. Always has been and always will be. Nice try but no cigar.

Why not try to clarify and elaborate on your "We all know what she said..."? Spell out exactly what you think she said--if you can without seeming foolish. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence--you're the one making the claims-- so put it in plain English, not innuendo.

You are ignoring voluntary and involuntary part time work Gracchus. They are different. Voluntary part time applies to the folks who work part time by choice. Like teens, woman with families and some elders that just want short work weeks. Those part time were traditionally in food services, retail and service jobs. Involuntary part time applies to when you want full time and cannot get full time. Or had full time and were reduced to part time. The difference now is that many who had full time jobs are seeing their hours reduced. Many folks who had full time jobs are now seeing their companies outsource those jobs to temps, or contract out for projects. The fact that these companies will have 2 part timers doing the work of one full timer also makes the unemployment rate look better.

" The difference now...." I call BULL@&%!. The trend started in the 70's toward involuntary part time employment (along with reduction or loss of benefits including pensions). It has more or less accelerated steadily since then with a dramatic increase - I repeat - starting in 2007. What was called with pride "the working class" has now been promoted by consensus of politicians and pundits to the middle class, a clever marketing trick to mask their gradual decline toward pauperization. " The fact that these companies will have 2 part timers doing the work of one full timer..." isn't a fact at all. Those companies are either working their one full-timer harder (and not paying in proportion to the increased productivity), or they have one part-timer replacing their former full time employee. When one uses the word "fact" there is a certain obligation to make what follows factual.

Graccus, you cuss and push your opinion with no evidence. This left leaning website shows Obama owns low wage part time jobs: For those of us who know how to read a graph 2002-2008 looks a lot better than 2009-present and the source of the Graph is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Folks this is a great graph which shows the horrific direction that Obama has taken us. So time to go back to Graccus's Bizzaro World where you are happy happy happy living under the worst president ever.

The stats prove you wrong Gracchus. The debate was not about when part time jobs started, the debate was about the part time jobs that are involuntary. yes there was an increase in par time jobs, because our economy grew and there were more service jobs. That is not what I am talking about. Those increases in part time jobs do occur at different times for different reasons. There was a period of time when full times Moms dropped to part time by choice to have more time with their kids. There was a period when the economy was booming and there were more part time jobs for teens. All true. The issue is how many folks now are being reduced to part time that do not want to. And why?

100 years from now I am wondering what people will be saying about ObamaKare the "Not so affordable care act?" I wonder what they will say about the lackeys in the liberal media that didn't hold politicians accountable who voted for a bill without even reading what was in the bill? I wonder what they will say about the feeble politicians who actually signed a bill to find out what was in it. I wonder what people of the future would think about people allowing this bill to happen even though it was a total train wreck and cost people hundred of thousands of full time jobs? My guess they will call it the Democrat Driven Depression.

Citations please, on the losses of hundreds of thousands of full time jobs because of this law. We've already lost hundreds of thousands of jobs due to the "free markets" approach of economic management. Your buddies in Congress a decade ago passed the Patriot Act without reading what was in it, where were your protests then Van?

98 Senators and 357 House members voted for the 2001 Patriot Act. A truly bipartisan non read. Opps...citation:

GDN-Sounds like a comment from OFA (Obviously Faulty Actions). I will give you Citations one Liberal and one Conservative:

This might be better for the Washington Times link: What could be more poetic justice: A mostly part-time president creates mostly part-time jobs.

Only in Van-Bizarro world does an editorial become a citation for alleged facts. And only on that same exotic planet does a decades-long trend toward work becoming part time get attributed to Obamacare. Employers have been turning their full time employees into part timers - or worse, temps - since the 1970's. Try blaming that on Obamacare. And, if you had read it, you would know that the Monitor editorial was bemoaning the raw deal that part time workers are getting while noting the increase in their numbers starting in 2007. Now, Van, who was president in 2007? I didn't hear you!

Looks like gracchus' Bizarro world just got smoked. Read them and weep: Job growth in recent months has skewed toward part-time work in low-wage industries, and that trend continued in July, Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show. This coming from USA Today not exactly conservative

Lets take a deep breath. I am categorically opposed to hate or fear mongering. I am no fan of Bill O'Brien. Nor do I approve of the Obamacare Law. Slavery was probably the darkest page of American History, perhaps comparable to our nations policies toward the Native American People. The notion of universal healthcare is a noble aspiration for both Democrats and Republicans who hold life dear. On the other hand the procedure used to implement this law ( we'll read it after we pass it), and the magnitude of impact to older people on Medicare , and small businesses, are especially unknown with some evidence that such impact is negative. Along comes Bill O'Brien, an AFP stooge , with the most remarkable and inappropriate comparison in his brief political personal history since leaving Massachusetts. He has barely any knowledge of history or science of human behavior in polarized groups. One group, usually having more power, and often in control of some government resources acts in this sequence in order to maintain power by finding a common ground in an "enemy" population, to buttress their popularity and hold on power. 1- Identification 2- segregation, or concentration 3- dispossession or confiscation 4- elimination , liquidation or simply murder. Often this is done under the guise of some government authority or "law". This healthcare law does not seek to identify a distinct group. At most , it identifies the amorphous terms : the wealthy, and I submit unintentionally the older folks, and small businesses. Even step one is arguable, hence no reason to proceed to further steps. The slaves were distinctly identified, segregated, dispossessed and their life was in the hands of the masters with no impunity for killing them, and deprive of them of their very life, with no process. The dumbest analogy by Billy O , yet. Exhibit # 2765, that this man is not from the Abe Lincoln party and simply a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Well slap my face! If this is the T. Soltani, representative from Epsom, something nothing short of tectonic is going on here. I will confess to being about as far left as anybody can be, and for the second time in less than a month I find myself in total agreement with Mr. Soltani. I don't know what's happening, but if 2 people from such opposite political poles can find common ground there might just be a ray of hope.

I agree wholly with tsoltani's assessment of O'Brien,he's a shameless political opportunist par excellenc. Any attempt to equate him with a lower life form does a disservice to lower life forms. One note of correction, the reference "we'll read it after we pass it" is an allusion to a statement Nancy Pelosi made, which opponents of Obamacare then took out of context. Pelosi's words referred to the Senate version of the health care bill being put together, and Pelosi, responding to a question about that bill, and not being a member of the Senate, said she'd have to wait until it passed to see exactly what was in it. Given the horse-trading, and last minute amendments any bill in either house undergoes before passage, it was a perfectly appropriate remark.

Even Max Baucus admitted to not reading the bill. Reading the bill was outsourced, most likely by one of the 1.9 million part timers created by the Democrats since 2009.

What else did Pelosi say in her speech when she uttered those words Bruce? She talked about how exciting the new law would be, and praised all the good rules in it. She was not talking about a Senate version. Every fact checker agreed that she was talking about the ACA. Then when she was questioned about what she meant, she dug the hole even deeper for herself. Why did you leave out the rest of what she said Bruce in that same speech? Is it because that if you included what else she actually said, that folks would see what she meant? Because the other things she said before and after do bring context to what she actually meant. But that is what progressives do, they leave out things, audit videos, etc to keep the folks from getting the whole story.

Another nice try at making something out of nothing. Taking words out of context and using them to imply more than they actually meant is an act of desperation. My post accurately described what Pelosi meant. Your comments add nothing to the argument but more smoke.

The House version was 100% the Senate version or it would not have passed. If you dont know why that is Fact....... then you need to learn why - google it

Superb editorial. The last sentence (which the O'Brien defenders probably didn't get to) sums it up perfectly: "To compare [Obamacare] to a law intended to uphold the rights of whites to hold blacks as chattel is nothing short of obscene."

Scare tactics, numbers are not honest etc, I believe that is called denial from folks who championed this plan without knowing what is in it.

Way to go Concord Monitor! I appreciate your "telling it like it is" with respect to Bill O'Brien. The man is absolutely despicable. He was far and away the worst house speaker the state has ever had and must be kept far away from power.

I am not an O'Brien Fan. The only thing I like about him was his fiscal policies. But I always saw him as always making himself look stupid every time he opened his mouth. As far as comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement, lets be fair here. The left has compared everything to the Civil Rights Movement including, Occupy Wall Street, Gay Marriage, Abortion, attacks on anybody that disagrees with them etc. So lets not be hypocrites here, with that said, it is wrong to compare anything to the Civil Rights Movement, and anybody that does should be ashamed of themselves.

Rabbit, I disagree with your assertion that "it is wrong to compare anything to the Civil Rights Movement,..." the examples you provide and the concept that this is simply a tactic from the Left. To my mind, Marriage Equality and equal treatment under the law IS a civil right. The autonomy of female citizens to decide basic biological functions of their bodies IS a civil right. As for Occupy Wall Street, I lived in NYC during that time and had friends on both side of the movement. Comparisons were made to the Civil Rights Movement, mostly by journalist and television pundits, it was to show that both were organic, grassroots organizations as opposed to "astroturf"/ corporately funded groups like Freedom Works or American Crossroads. Perhaps you could elaborate as I would like to understand your train of thought.

Google any of these headlines..........74% of small businesses will fire workers, cut hours under Obamacare .......Not Qualified For Obamacare´s Subsidies? Just Lie -- Govt. To Use ´Honor System´ Without Verifying Your Eligibility.......Tens of thousands Obamacare 'navigators' to be hired - required to get you registered to vote. ......Ohio´s Department of Insurance revealed that, thanks to ObamaCare, the average premium in that state´s individual market will be 88% higher next year-California to raise $146%.......CBO: Uninsured Under Obamacare Never Falls Below 30 Million........ GAO: HHS Already Rationing Enrollment in Obamacare’s Pre-Existing Condition Plan

The numbers being bandied about have little real honesty to them - they are mostly scare tactics trying to cause more confusion on an already very confusing issue. This is a complex program - prices to states will go down because of lessened need for uncompensated care payments. Prices will go down because of federal support for the neediest families. But you cannot be blamed for not knowing the intricacies... Did you know that NH under the last leaders stopped any work to educate citizens on the ACA? And reading the internet for help on this only confuses people more - insurance companies don't want this and they are going all out to stop it. I've read that the 40th attempt by the House to repeal it has brought the cost of these attempts to $50 million. How many people could have had insurance for that money?

Sail How about we wait until this law goes in effect. Then we'll see how true these ridiculous predictions of doom really are. The very last people I am going to trust are those who have howled at how wrong this law is from the start. What do they or you really know about healthcare? Nothing, thats what. We've been trying to manage health care for 30 years now with this for-profit, free market approach, nothing about it has worked the way those on your side has said it would. Now step aside, be quiet with all your doom, and lets try it out.

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