MARTHA’S VINEYARD – As if he weren’t busy enough in the coming months with issues of universal healthcare, energy policy, the economy, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Obama will be looking to focus on another domestic concern when he returns from vacation next week. In his first vacation while in office, Obama and his family have chosen to visit Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. According to the White House, the Obama vacation has been scheduled as exactly that; a vacation. Even so, the President opted to schedule time out of his respite today to announce his plans to provide a universal hair care plan for millions of Americans who are otherwise without such a plan.
“One of the most basic fundamentals for mitigating the effects of a struggling economy is to reduce costs.” announced Obama. “If the cost of a good, quality hairstyle for the American people can be reduced, then we all win.” According to Obama, the plan itself will be a hybrid of two different plans. The President was very specific in describing the fundamentals of the plan. “If you like your barber or hairstylist, you can keep them. If you should choose to participate in a public option, then that benefit will be available to you as well.”
The business of hair care in the U.S. is a multi-billion dollar industry. Such a move on the administrations part could put yet another sector of the American economy under the control of the U.S. Government. After Obama finished his announcement and returned to his tennis match with First Lady Michelle Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a bill for the measure was near completion and would be presented to Congress after the August recess.
Opponents and critics alike of the administration were quick to cry foul over Obama’s latest decision to pursue such a plan. A draft of the legislation was leaked to various members of the press and subsequently found itself uploaded to the internet for review. Within hours of the leak, the internet buzzed with extensive analysis of such a plan and its cost.
According to the leaked draft, Section 141 provides for the creation of a Hair Choices Commissioner. Section 122 defines the Essential Benefits and Acceptable Coverage at the very basic level as a wash, a conditioner treatment, a cut, and a blow dry. By defining the acceptable coverage, choices made by the individual regarding their hair care are significantly diminished as a result of the plan. Section 223 of the plan even serves to remove decisions made by federal officials from the scrutiny of judicial review.
Additional review of the potential legislation leads open to rationing of care as well, as the costs simply outweigh the government’s ability to pay for it. Constantly changing trends in hairstyles serve as the first sign. Section 1151 of the pending bill goes into a great deal of detail using legalese to define a standard, cost efficient hairstyle as “business upfront, party in the back”. The same description can be assigned to the mullet, a style which was popular 20 years ago.
Over the years, similar plans have been implemented in various countries throughout Europe, along with various rural areas here in the U.S. such as parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. In each of those cases, the publicly funded hair care options were discontinued due to increasing deficits and poor quality of care.
Immediate criticism of the bill was soon to follow. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin opinioned on her Facebook page that instituting such a plan would lead to the creation of “wig panels” where members of the government would make judgments about the hairstyles of others based on statistical information alone. Callers to talk radio programs suggested that Adolph Hitler had pursued a similar initiative in 1943.
Whether the plan will make it out of Congress and to the President’s desk could very well rest in the hands of the American people. Universal Hair Care appears to be an issue owned by the Democrats. At this point, the Republicans don’t have enough votes in either chamber to stop the hair care bill from becoming law. Town hall meetings have already been scheduled to discuss the bill and what it will and will not do. If this afternoon’s internet activity on the subject is any indicator of what will happen, the public discussion on the measure promises to be quite spirited. Whether Congress will vote based on the will of the people, or the will of their political party remains to be seen.