May 7, 2013, Arken News, Washington: As members of the House of Representatives debate the Apple A Day Act, or "AADA," President Obama on Tuesday defended the law, telling voters that protecting Americans' health is "the right thing to do."
Mr. Obama, speaking to an animated crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, assured voters that the controversial law is "going to pass" despite continued Republican efforts to stop it. When questioned about non-Republican efforts to stop the law, Obama ordered the microphone cut, and agents from the Secret Service quickly reassured the crowd that only Republicans, such as Papa John, would stand between Americans and apples.
"I will work with anybody to improve access to all types of fruit where we can, but this law is going to pass," Mr. Obama told a crowd of squealing supporters. "And it will help the vast majority of Americans feel greater security. If you're already eating an apple a day, it's going to be even easier, because now you'll be required to. And if you don't eat an apple a day, we'll make sure you do."
Even as the president touted the health care mandate to voters in Iowa, a formation of Harrier jets passed slowly overhead, further exciting the crowd. Meanwhile, however, the House of Representatives was in the midst of a heated debate over the law's merits.
House members voted 240-182 in favor of a rule setting up a grueling five hours of having House junior legislative assistants exchange printed memorandums regarding a potential vote to attach a non-binding rider to the Apple A Day Act, which will be up for a vote this week. Four Democrats -- Reps. Dan Boren, of Okla.; Mike Ross, of Ark.; and Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre, both of N.C. -- voted for the rule, and are expected to vote in favor of the rider as well.
Republicans argue that the Apple A Day Act, which was written by the United Apple Grower's Association, and several pages of which were reviewed by one of President Obama's staffers sometime last week, is unconstitutional, because it contains no provisions ensuring that extra apples may not be shared with illegal immigrants.
House Democrats, however, insist that Americans have long known how healthy apples are. If Americans only ate more apples, health care costs would be "lower for everybody," in the words of Jim Stanton, the Division Manager of Community Relations at the Hometown Growers Association, which manages thousands of acres of orchards in Chile and Guatemala. Lifelong progressive and leading blogger Sheila Hirschmann, of DHS subsidiary Daily Kos, says, "The nanny stops by Whole Foods every day on her way here, and brings an organic apple to each of my children. And my children are healthy, and it's just not right that some other people are so irresponsible they don't do it, too. My kids shouldn't have to suffer increased health care costs. I even usually...let Sarita have one, too, if she gets Ben's shirts ironed just right."
Critics have called upon the Obama administration to keep its campaign promise to make available "the public apple," providing each American with the option for a free daily apple, but when questioned, Vice President Joe Biden said, "That...apple, the public apple, is not...on the table at this time. [If you have] the ability to buy [an apple], you'll buy one, and if you don't, you'll be fined. It's as simple as that."
"Apple A Day is on course to become the official law of the land," said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, referencing the upcoming vote. "If Americans...are forced to buy apples from private grocers, instead of different types of fruit, or no fruit at all, some people say that's fascism. But they're wrong. Far more jobs could be created if a different fruit, such as grapefruit, was substituted for apples."
Democrats, meanwhile, argue that having House staffers plan meetings to discuss a potential debate of the law is a waste of Congress' valuable time, particularly in a legislative body for a country with only a little over 300 million citizens. "I don't...see what the problem is with this law," said Jim Stanton, biting into a Red Delicious. "We all know the old saying, 'a doctor a day,' sorry, 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away,' and all we've...done here with this [law] is change that to, 'an apple a day keeps the police away.'"
"We don't want Washington telling folks what they should buy to eat every day," said Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. "We know the president is going to have the I.R.S. sending County sheriffs to seize the homes and belongings of Americans who can't prove they've bought an apple a day, because ultimately, the only way to enforce the non-apple fines the AADA imposes is by putting liens on private property, which means evictions and seizures by government agents, and that's why we should have built a border wall a long...time ago."
Joan McCarter, also writing at Daily Kos, was more candid, telling supporters, "Get your facts...straight. Human beings aren't of concern here--just businesses. Because of [Obama's detractors], because of Fox News, because of a lack of good public education about the Apple A Day Act from the administration and supportive members of Congress, other business owners, especially small business owners, are left with the idea that maybe these apples are just going to be too expensive and too burdensome. And if we focus just on the business side of the mandatory apple and breakroom provision, and completely ignore actual humans who are going to be required to buy apples from our donors at [the United Apple Grower's Association] with money from their own pockets, then debating this [apple] issue gets a lot easier for our side."
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