So we’re going to force individuals to buy more-expensive plans than they might want (the issue Paul Ryan alluded to at the health-care summit), dump them into pools with high-risk patients, and then hope the costs don’t drive healthier customers out, hiking up the costs for the remaining individuals, who will look to the government for ever-increasing subsidies. Remarkable isn’t it, that the Democrats never looked, or cared to look, at the experience of Massachusetts and New York before jamming through their historic legislation? But then they didn’t much care in the end what was in it or how the CBO flimflam scoring was arrived at. What was important is that they had a “win.”
Loathing the feds is my new national pastime. It’s easy, fun, and it’s the right thing to do.
“We are not governing here today, we are greasing the skids for an abuse of a budget procedure intended to control the size of government, not expand it.”
As with all things relating to the Zombie Bill From Hell (I refer of course to Obamacare; I’d link to the bill under discussion at the moment, but, you know, there isn’t one), this must be taken with a grain of salt, but if true, this certainly seems promising. According to Roll Call:
The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday.
Let’s review the state of play: in November, the Democrat-controlled House shat out its version of the wretched Obamacare effluvium, which, to be fair, at least included Bart Stupak’s amendment to bar federal funds from being used for abortions, but does include the awful “public option” which is simply a way to describe the destruction the private insurance market in pretty legislative-ese.
After “passage” in the House – pun intended – this prime example of maggot-ridden legislative excreta slimed its way into the chambers of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” which promptly undertook to digest and expel the bill by the only means possible – via an orgy of bribery and corruption that shocked the consciences of normal citizens but was described to me by the arrogant twerp who answers the phones in Senator Carl Levin’s office as “the democratic process at work.” If you’re disappointed to discover that the “Democratic Process” now seems to include such dirty legislative whoring as the now-immortalized “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase,” not to mention “Gator-aid,” well, join the club. Even my own state of Michigan got a bit of a kickback thrown in, thanks to the aforementioned Levin and the horrifying Debbie Stabenow. Perhaps we could refer to their little deal as the “Blue Cross Buyout.” It should also be noted that the Democrat leadership of the Senate was forced to engage in this raw political prostitution in order to hold together their much-vaunted 60-seat “filibuster-proof” majority. The pièce de résistance of this particular legislative stool sample was the fact that it was forced out of the impacted colon of the Senate on Christmas Eve, as a smelly, disease infested “Christmas present for the American people.”
The end result of this disgusting display was a pile from the senate Senate significantly different from the loaf pinched off by the House. Of course, for a bill to become a law, both houses of Congress must pass legislation in the exact same form before it can be sent off to the President for his signature. (The process is laid out in the US Constitution if anyone cares about that old thing anymore.) This posed a problem for the statists who make up the leadership of the Democrat party, as the two houses had passed fundamentally incompatible bills. The House had included the public option in order to assuage the insane liberal caucus of their party, but the provision was removed from the Senate version, along with the Stupak abortion language. These were pretty big hurdles for the contemptible Democrat leaders in the respective houses to overcome, but considering that the political left in the United States has been drooling over the possibility of subjugating the entire population under a government health care regime for the better part of a half-century, and also taking into account that our current president is a rigid leftist ideologue, there was little doubt that they could get the job done in the end.
While all this was going on in Washington, there was the minor issue of the election of a replacement for the dear departed Edward M. Kennedy, longtime Massachusetts senator and official Drunken Jackass of Congress. Up until, say, November, it appeared that the race would go to Standard Massachusetts Leftist Martha Coakley. But then a funny thing happened – the idiots in the House passed Obamacare, which caused Coakley’s opponent to pick up a little momentum, and then the mouth breathers in the Senate passed Obamacare, which created even more momentum for Coakley’s opponent. And then on January 11, Coakley’s opponent absolutely smoked her in a debate in which he declared that the Senate seat in question was “… not the Kennedy seat and it’s not the Democrat’s seat. It’s the people’s seat.” Is was no looking back from that point, and thus did Senator Scott Brown become the Obamacare saga’s deus ex machina.
With the election of Brown (who had campaigned on a promise to be the 41st vote against the atrocious Obamacare plans), the Democrats seemed to be screwed. They needed a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in order to pass whatever pile of crap came out of a conference committee with the House, which would be necessary considering that the insane liberal caucus in the House would never vote for the no-public-option Senate bill and the awful Senate Dems weren’t in a conciliatory mood regarding Bart Stupak’s pro-life language in the House Bill. With Brown taking over for Kennedy, the filibuster-proof majority was gone, leading many to say that health care reform was dead, seeing as how the “nuclear option” of using the Senate’s budget reconciliation process to pass this major landmark legislation was simply unacceptable. Such leading lights of the Senate as the author of the rule creating reconciliation had said that to do such a thing would be an abuse of Senate procedure. Aside from which there was the little matter of poll after poll showing that the American people hated the legislation. So the smart thing for the Dems to do would be just to drop the whole thing, pretend it never happened, and try as hard as possible to minimize the anger of the electorate before the midterm elections, which were starting to show signs of being a 1994-style wave election for the Republicans.
Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama aren’t smart people. They decided to… I think this would be to triple-down on enacting this legislative colostomy bag. Obama organized a “summit” at Blair House that ended up proving that Republicans have both legitimate major critiques of Obamacare, legitimate gripes about the process, and legitimate plans of their own to fix the health care system. It also contributed to the meteoric rise of Paul Ryan as a conservative superstar.
The natural thing to do at this point would be for the Dems to stop shooting themselves in the foot. But remember, we’re talking about zombie legislation being pushed by mini-tyrants on an ideological power trip. Ain’t nothing natural about it. So why not quadruple-down on the whole mess and try to cram Obamacare down America’s gullet via reconciliation?
Of course, this would involve a whole bunch of legislative shenanigans that make the whole process about as transparent as the crust of the Earth. But no matter! The bill must be passed so we can find out what’s in it! And so the whole corrupt bunch of “leaders” in the House and Senate have been huddling together to try to come up with some sort of parliamentary trickery that would allow the House to pass the Senate version of the bill with an assurance that the Senate would come back to “fix” the bill via the reconciliation process in some bizarre way. Hell, they’re even trying to come up with a way to allow the bill to “pass” the House without actually being voted on by the House. Yuval Levin at NRO notes:
Democratic leaders should be asking themselves just how they have gotten to the point that their strategy is to amend a law that doesn’t exist yet by passing a bill without voting on it.
Indeed. And this is where Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin comes into play with his ruling. If Frumin has ruled as reported, that would mean that the House would have to vote on the Senate bill before the Senate acts on a reconciliation bill to “fix” the original bill. Considering that the House trusts the Senate about as far as they can throw it, that makes passage of Obamacare in the House that much more difficult. It was already nearly impossible, which is why the Dems have been looking to the abominable but appropriately named Congresswoman Louise Slaughter to craft the “House votes by not voting” option mentioned above. A sampling of pundit reaction, starting with Daniel Foster at NRO:
“Game Changer” is quickly replacing the various iterations of “under the bus” as the most overused political cliche of our age, but this certainly qualifies as one. And it leaves House Democrats with little but the fig leaf of the “Slaughter Rule” as political coverage.
So there you have it, House Democrats. Once you vote for the Senate bill, Obama will sign it, the Left will declare victory, and who knows if reconcilliation will ever happen. This confirms that the Democratic leadership has once again been hiding the ball and not leveling with either their own members or with the public about the procedural aspects of the bill. It will certainly not help to calm the nerves of House Democrats, who already suspect the “fix” is in and that they are being trapped into voting for the noxious Senate bill — Cornhusker Kickback and all.
Summing Up the Past 24 Hours: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus makes a demand that already derailed healthcare reform once. The Congressional Black Caucus complains that Obama isn’t listening to them. The co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus announces that the President’s stumping across the country isn’t doing a lick of good. The Stupak Twelve announce that there will be no deal. And now the Parliamentarian makes it that much harder to get wavering Congressmen on board.
Stick a fork in it.
House Democrats do not trust the Senate; they do not want to pass the Senate bill–with all the special deals in it–and hope the Senate will fix these problems and others later. Even Democrat Michael Capuano of Massachusetts is expressing very grave concerns about passing the Senate bill unamended.
If this report is true, the parliamentarian’s ruling seems to nix the “Slaughter Solution,” whereby the House would deem the Senate bill passed only after the reconciliation bill is passed by both the House and the Senate.
So where do Democrats go from here? One possibility is that Harry Reid will fire the Senate parliamentarian.
If Democrats really think they can get away with such a heavy-handed move in the first place, they might as well replace the parliamentarian with Rahm Emanuel and kill two birds with one stone.
And, to round things out, Eeyorepundit:
I’ll level with you. I think this is huge, but the procedural chicanery has gotten so convoluted that I can’t be sure anymore. Could mean nothing.
Allah also notes the possibility that all of this could be rendered moot by a raw exercise of political power on the part of that smirking jackass who lives at the Naval Observatory, but that would call down the thunder from the sky, methinks. But hey, aren’t they already doing that by considering the Slaughter option?
All this to say, America may have just dodged a bullet, and we may owe the Senate parliamentarian a huge debt of gratitude when this is all over. It’s not over yet, but we may be a bit closer tonight.
Paul Ryan, once again, just saying what needs to be said:
And, I really think it comes down to a political philosophy. And they believe in a political philosophy that is more like a cradle to grave, more of a social welfare state, kind of like you see in Europe versus the American ideal that we’ve known and loved and grown up with. And, so really what this is more about is ideology than health care policy. Because if this was about health care policy we could get a bi-partisan agreement tomorrow. It’s not about health care policy. They are trying to ram it through as fast as they can before their power slips away from them and that’s why they’re trying to create this brand new entitlement which really does have the government takeover 17% of our economy.
Power Line shared this video in a post yesterday on the Health Care “Summit” at Blair House, and it’s a fine example of Paul Ryan taking the Democrat attendees (including Obama) to school on why their proposal is a disastrous sham. Ryan is absolutely correct to note that this “reform” is filled with cynical accounting gimmicks that are going to completely blow up the federal budget, even more so than the Dems have already managed to do. (This isn’t to say that the Republican party hasn’t had a hand in screwing up the budget as well.)
The whole summit was obviously a sham from the start; that was absolutely clear when the Dem congressional leadership continued to talk about using reconciliation to jam the bill through even after the announcement of the meeting. No amount of talk was ever going to cause the Dems to back off of their determination to pass a government takeover of health care. This whole thing was set up to make it seem that Obama and his congressional allies had made an effort to engage the Republicans and their supposedly non-existent ideas, thus allowing them to say that the opposition was “just politics” or “just talking points” and push forward the same way they had been before Scott Brown took over for Teddy Kennedy in the Senate.
Except it didn’t work. The Dems looked like fools. Their argument seemed to be based on sob stories from constituents, and they weren’t remotely prepared to address the substantive concerns raised by the opposition. But they’re still going to double down on it: Obama’s permanent campaign arm “Organizing for America” has unveiled a new astroturfing strategy for talk radio, encouraging callers to “share a personal story” and then repeat the talking points that the Dems have been using for over a year now and which have consistently failed to convince most Americans that Obamacare is necessary. Kathryn Jean Lopez received this email from a summit viewer:
The Democrats came to the summit armed with constituent stories illustrating the single point on which there is no disagreement: something needs to be done about health care in America. President Obama respectfully listened to these stories without comment.
Eric Cantor came to the meeting armed with a copy of the bill that represents the central purpose of this gathering. And the president gratuitously mocked the presence of the bill as an irrelevant political prop.
This told me everything I needed to know about the summit.
The Wall Street Journal gets it right today:
In the end, after all the bipartisan cooing, the President’s 20-minute closing argument explained where the debate really is. Democrats won the election and they are going to do what they want to do, starting next week and on a partisan vote if they can shanghai enough Members.
The point of yesterday’s session was to give a soothing, moderate political gloss to a government health-care takeover that will raise costs, greatly expand the entitlement state, and reduce choice and competition—the opposite of everything Mr. Obama claims.
Is it any wonder that a guy like Paul Ryan, who is openly skeptical of the Obama power grab and is actually willing to push back with facts and reasonable arguments, keeps seeing his political stock rise? Is it any wonder that growing majorities view the federal government as a threat to their liberty?
November can’t come soon enough.
More from today’s sham summit:
Perhaps most important, Ryan confronted the Democrats with the issue of the “Doc Fix” — a separate bill that would have added $371 billion to the Democrats’ legislation if it hadn’t been stripped out. The Doc Fix would have prevented Medicare reimbursements to doctors from plummeting by 21 percent, a drop that Congress put into the bill to improve its CBO score but never planned to allow, most political observers agree.
Niether Obama nor any of his party people were able to effectively respond to this point, or to the other points raised by Ryan, because Ryan is correct and the only honest response to his critique is to admit that he’s correct. The Democrats are playing games with the financial side of their “reform” bill in an effort to make it seem palatable to the American people (although failing miserably); they honestly do not seem to care whatsoever about the absolutely crushing deficits they are racking up at present. This mindset is absolutely foreign to me.
Back in December, I made a call to the office of Senator Carl Levin to express my extreme displeasure with the “health care reform” effort. Now, calling Levin’s office is always a frustrating affair, as Carl has virtually ossified in his liberalism and probably doesn’t have the capability to think outside of his union- and left wing-dominated box, but this particular instance was a supreme example of the arrogance permeating his office after all of his years as a senator. I was explaining to his staffer the various reasons that I opposed a government takeover of the health care sector, chief among them my (completely plausible) nightmare scenario of skyrocketing health care costs (which are inevitable in a socialized system) and the necessary rationing that will follow paired with the future possibility of legalized “assisted suicide,” which could easily be pushed into a de facto policy of euthanasia for the old or disabled as a cost-saving measure. The staffer completely ignored the point, instead insisting that when I am elderly I will be able to rely on Medicare. I responded with the perfectly obvious observation that Medicare is already going bankrupt, to which the staffer responded that I was incorrect; there is merely a “revenue shortfall,” but “Congress can fix that.”
To the best of my knowledge, Congress has two means available to “fix” a “revenue shortfall” (or, in plain language – to stave off bankruptcy): they can either raise taxes (a hell of a lot when those boomers retire) or cut services (AKA ration services). Needless to say, that phone call didn’t end well.
Here’s the difference between a guy like Paul Ryan and a guy like Carl Levin: Ryan at least recognizes the problem for what it is and has presented a plausible, workable plan to correct America’s fiscal mess. Levin may or may not recognize the problem in the first place, and if he does, he simply doesn’t care. To Levin, America exists to support the federal government, and no problem is too small for federal intervention. No federal program is superfluous; no federal agency ever outlives its usefulness. If there was ever a time when Carl Levin was not a creature of the State, it has long past. He is a statist through and through.
We need to stop electing people who either don’t know or have forgotten the meaning of limited government and federalism. We have to send home those in Congress who don’t understand that their first priority is to defend the individual liberty of citizens, not to buy off as many voters as possible. We need adults who can be honest and make some hard choices in Congress. So kudos to Paul Ryan for actually trying to get that ball rolling. I wish him all the luck in the world.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) just called the funding scheme of the Senate bill a “Ponzi scheme” that would “make Bernie Madoff proud.”
I’m intrigued by this guy. I keep hearing about his plan to return the US to fiscal sanity, and he seems to be able to say what needs to be said; in this case, he’s saying it directly to the president’s face. More of this, please.