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What Americans Have Wrought PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
AFF Sentinel Vol.7#2
Waiting for Massachusetts!!

When the stimulus bill, the bloated budget bill and bailouts were sailing through Congress nearly a year ago, when auto and insurance companies and banks were being nationalized in the blink of any eye, no one we know would have predicted we would be where we are today. It was predicted the POR juggernaut (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) would sail through health care and cap-and-trade in mere months, maybe by July 4.

Yet now the American people have done what even many of them have said they couldn't do - make Washington pay serious attention to them. Now the ruling Democrats are evaluating even more arcane mechanisms for forcing a health care bill through, perhaps even with at least one less vote in the Senate than they had assumed they had.

We say "at least," because of the reaction Sen. Ben Nelson has received in polite, reserved Nebraska from his support of the health care bill. We assume you heard about the senator being accosted in a restaurant in Omaha by a constituent upset over the bill and other patrons joining in and booing Nelson out the door. It proves two things: 1) the middle of the country can tell good from bad and 2) even when the deal your senator works out protects your own hide, it's still wrong. Nelson had wrested a special exemption from future Medicaid tax increases for Nebraska from Harry Reid.

The Hill reported Sunday (01/17/10) that Nelson's approval rating - 64 percent when he was re-elected in 2006 - had dropped to 42 percent, according to Wiese Research polling done for the Omaha World Herald.

The Democratic leadership is discussing forcing the bill through a reconciliation sieve or trying to get the House to swallow the Senate version of the bill whole, eliminating the need for a Senate 60-vote margin on a combined bill. This after the leadership has spent - in the spirit of "openness" and "transparency" - day after day meeting with the White House in closed, Democrats-only meetings. But we're confident absolutely no one could have predicted nearly a year ago that the event that could really wreck the Democrats' grand plans would be a special election in liberal Massachusetts that could elect a Republican pledged to vote against the health care bill.

To add to the backlash, 17 states are considering legislation that would enable them to refuse compliance with the huge unfunded Medicaid mandates built into the health care bills.

Trying to force the Senate bill through the House would be difficult because the House barely passed their own version. As Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Georgia Republican who's also a doctor pointed out to Fox News, how would the 52 so-called conservative House Democrats who voted for the Stupak abortion prohibition language in the House version react to the much more open Senate language?

Using the reconciliation process in the Senate would be quite difficult and ugly. Reconciliation is a process for budget bills that only requires 51 votes. So the huge health care bill would have to be sliced and diced into the hunks that could be fashioned to look like budget measures. The Democrats would then have to pass another bill later to fix parts they couldn't ram through the budget meat grinder.

In addition, reconciliation rules only allow for 20 hours of debate, which conflicts with moderate Democrats' insistence that any version of the bill be posted for 72 hours, noted Jim Angle of Fox News. Then, points of order could be called on items the Democrats might try to slip into the bill and points of order require 60 votes to resolve. If the present bill is unpopular with a majority of Americans, it wouldn't get any more popular if it was re-shaped and re-worked through a process like that for reasons other than policy, Angle said.

But the very fact that the leadership is considering such drastic and unpalatable options demonstrate how far we have come in a less than a year. The sight of the unions traipsing to the White House to complain about the 40 percent tax on so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans under the Senate version and then receiving an exemption for labor and government unions shocked few and outraged many. Special treatment for unions keeps happening and worries us for the near future regarding card check legislation.

But Americans can, at the very least, take credit for forcing the left to the ultimate lengths of political maneuvering and spin to save their crown jewel.

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