Roll Call posted a fascinating article on Wednesday detailing the growing sense of concern (or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it PANIC!) that many Congressional Democrats—especially those in marginally safe to contested seats—are experiencing over the rolling catastrophe of Obamacare’s implementation. For those who opposed the passage of the law in the first place, it’s a somewhat satisfying scene, which Jonah Goldberg is correct to refer to as a sort of “Schadenfreudarama.” Now, granted: it’s not a completely satisfying sort of schadenfreude; it would be much more satisfying if the consequences of the massive failure only affected those who insisted on pushing the thing through in the first place, and didn’t involve millions of people losing health insurance plans that they liked, with millions more likely on the way—along with the hardships that fact will entail for so many people. But in these days of chaos and confusion, I suppose I’ll take comfort in what little scraps of enjoyment come from watching those who supported this massive act of legislative malpractice scramble to save themselves from the consequences of their actions (which, of course, they had repeatedly been warned about).
But back to that article, which provides details on a meeting that occurred Wednesday between House Democrats and White House officials in which members of Congress basically demanded that the Obama Administration FIX THIS MESS. Some of the quotes in the article seem to me quite revealing of the mentality that prevails on the left side of the aisle in Congress*. For instance:
“Why can’t we call people who know how to do these things, who do it for corporate America, and say, ‘We have a website, fix it?’” asked Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “Maybe I’m being simplistic, but can’t we call Bill Gates up and say, ‘Take care of this?’ Or go to a college dorm and say, ‘You guys, you invented Yahoo, can you take care of this?’”
“They informed me my budget was dead on arrival,” Christie told the crowd. “They said, ‘We’ll shut the government down.'”
“I said, ‘Listen, I’m going to get into a black Suburban and I’m going to drive back to the governor’s residence, go upstairs and order a pizza. I’m going to turn on a baseball game. You all can call me when you decide to reopen the government.'”
…and should be kept away from Congress like the rest of them all the same. Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello had this to say back in March:
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned up here (in Washington) and I didn’t really need to come up here to learn it, is the only way to get Congress to balance the budget is to give them no choice, and the only way to keep them out of the cookie jar is to give them no choice, which is why – whether it’s balanced budget acts or pay as you go legislation or any of that – is the only thing. If you don’t tie our hands, we will keep stealing”
Here’s the video:
For once, I believe we have a case of a Congressman telling us the truth. I look forward to seeing this chump’s hand’s tied in November. Hopefully he’ll be sent safely away from the Capitol where he can’t do any more legislative damage.
Since the ban on smoking in [small bars and restaurants] has been implemented, there has been a dramatic DECREASE in attendance at these locations. Profits are down, and more businesses suffer under the heavy hand of our state government, and the do-gooders who inhabit it.
I’m pretty sure that everyone knows by now that smoking is bad for you. And it clearly is. If you smoke long enough, you’re probably going to get cancer and die because of it. It’s not guaranteed, of course. Some people smoke for their whole lives and die at a ripe old age of an unrelated issue. But we all know the odds. And the fact remains that tobacco is a legal product; private businesses should have the right to allow its use on their premises. The government is not supposed to be a babysitter; it should not interfere in private decisions of this sort, and when it does it usually creates unintended consequences that are as bad or worse than the problem being “corrected.” All of this is plain to anyone with common sense; sadly, legislators seem to have less and less of that as time goes by.
The economic report released last week by Health and Human Services, which indicated that President Barack Obama’s health care “reform” law would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers, had been submitted to the office of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the Congressional votes on the bill, according to career HHS sources, who added that Sebelius’s staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken.
“The reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote,” says an HHS source. “Which is actually the point of having a review like this, you would think.”
The analysis, performed by Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, which in the past has been identified as a “nonpolitical” office, set off alarm bells when submitted. “We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff,” says the HHS staffer, “and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary’s office. Everyone went into lockdown, and people here were too scared to go public with the report.”
So in addition to midnight votes and bribes to reluctant Congressmen, the Obama folks sat on government reports, reports that the taxpayers paid for, which would have shined a light on the President’s healthcare reform lies. And that’s what they were. He can’t plead ignorance. His own actuaries were telling him it would raise premiums while he was going on TV and saying the opposite.
When Nancy Pelosi told America, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” she forgot to mention that democrats already knew what was in it. They just didn’t want the rest of the country to find out.
If we had a responsible media this would make headlines for about the next year and a half.
November cannot come soon enough. I am salivating over the opportunity to vote this year. I want these people to hurt at the polls. I want them shamed. Of course, that assumes that they have the capacity to feel shame any more.
Basically, this is an admission that the numbers the Democrats submitted to the CBO were entirely false, and that they plan to make this bill a deficit expander in the spring. It’s a breathtaking admission of deceit and hypocrisy — and its exposure should have the media asking more questions about that CBO scoring and putting Democrats in the hot seat over it.
In a swindle that would make Bernie Madoff look like an amateur, Barack Obama has gotten a substantial segment of the population to believe that he can add millions of people to the government-insured rolls without increasing the already record-breaking federal deficit.
EXACTLY. This whole “debate” that we’re having over “health care reform” consists of Obama and his Democrat spirit squad asserting things that simply aren’t true (we’re gonna do this without adding a dime to the deficit; you won’t have to change your insurance plan if you don’t like it; our reform will actually control costs; etc); conservatives pointing out and demonstrating that the Democrat assertions aren’t true; and Obama and his Democrat spirit squad simply asserting the same things over again, as if repetition will make it true. At this point, it’s no stretch to say that Obama is simply a bald-faced liar, as are his minions in Congress like Reid and Pelosi.
The Obama health-care plan can be financed without increasing the federal deficit — if the administration takes hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare. But Medicare itself does not have enough money to pay its own way over time.
However money is juggled in the short run, the government’s financial liabilities are increased by adding this huge new entitlement of government-provided insurance. The fact that these new financial liabilities can be kept out of the official federal deficit projection, by claiming that they will be paid for with money taken from Medicare, changes nothing in the real world.
I can say that I can afford to buy a Rolls Royce, without going into debt, by using my inheritance from a rich uncle. But, in the real world, the question would arise immediately whether I in fact have a rich uncle, not to mention whether this hypothetical rich uncle would be likely to leave me enough money to buy a Rolls Royce.
They are lying. They’re simply lying.
An even more transparent gimmick is collecting money for the new Obama health-care program for the first ten years but delaying the payments of its benefits for four years. By collecting money for ten years and spending it for only six years, you can make the program look self-supporting, but only on paper and only in the short run.
This is a game you can play just once, during the first decade. After that, you are going to be collecting money for ten years and paying out money for ten years. That is when you discover that your uncle doesn’t have enough money to support himself, much less leave you an inheritance to pay for a Rolls Royce.
But a postponed revelation is not part of the official federal deficit today. And that provides a talking point, in order to soothe people who take talking points seriously.
“Fraud has been at the heart of this medical-care takeover plan from Day One.” Sowell is right. We’re “reforming” health care through a process so dishonest and corrupt, if it was the sale of a used car all 50 state Attorneys General would be all over it like stink on a monkey. Feel good about this yet?
Ramesh Ponnuru makes a point that I’ve been thinking of since the weekend, which is – what difference does it make if the dems use the Slaughter rule to pass the bill in terms of the political response? I mean, they don’t want to vote for the actual bill because it’s politically toxic, so they’re going to vote for the unpopular bill that’s politically toxic to pass under an unprecedented abuse-of-power rape-the-constitution style parliamentary trick?
Any House Democrat who votes for the rule that allows the Senate bill to be deemed passed will be voting for the Senate bill. A foreseeable consequence of that vote is that the Senate bill may become law while some of the fixes the House votes for do not. It is entirely fair for Republican opponents of any House Democrat who votes for the Slaughter rule to tie him to the Senate bill. Republicans will be able to say, fairly, that such a House Democrat has voted for the Senate bill—kickbacks and all—and tried to hide the fact. Republicans may as well point out now that that’s exactly what they’re going to do.
AAAAGH. Welcome to my nightmare, people. So many unprincipled people in one place with power to make a decision that will clearly have detrimental effects on my future.
And yes, I realize that the point has nothing to do with politicians acting rationally, it’s all about setting up a permanent left-leaning welfare state constituency, gaining power by any means necessary, etc etc…
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.
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.
I’ll level with you. I thinkthis 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.