When Reconciliation Doesn't Mean Getting Along

DigestFriday, March 5, 2010

The Foundation "If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." --Thomas Jefferson

Government & Politics When Reconciliation Doesn't Mean Getting Along Reconciliation is still the buzzword on Capitol Hill as Democrat "leaders" Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi try to figure out how to ram ObamaCare down our throats. Not that they see it that way; as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer put it, "That's not ramming something through with a majority. It is doing what democracy calls for." Well, this isn't a democracy, it's a republic: and the Founders set it up that way for a reason.

Accompanied by his teleprompter, Barack Obama began a renewed push for a vote on the health care bill by Easter when he met a group of people wearing lab coats in the Rose Garden on Wednesday (and he accused Rep. Eric Cantor of using a "prop" by bringing the 2,400-page bill itself to last week's health care summit). Obama claimed that "new and improved" legislation "incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans." As we said Tuesday1, however, the problem isn't whether the bill is "bipartisan." A few Republican ideas sprinkled in won't fix it. The problem, at its core, is that a plan for Congress to take over one-sixth of the U.S. economy is unconstitutional.

In the face of all evidence, the teleprompter continued, "I don't believe we should give government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats more control over health care in America." Huh? Giving government bureaucrats control over health care in America is precisely what Obama is proposing to do.

For all the talk about reconciliation in the Senate, the House vote may be the more important one. The Associated Press2 reports, "The House passed health overhaul legislation by a narrow 220-215 vote in November, but since then several Democrats have defected or left the House. To avoid a filibuster in the Senate that Democrats can't defeat, Obama is now pushing the House to approve the Senate's version of the bill, along with a package of changes to fix elements of the Senate bill that House Democrats don't like, including a special Medicaid deal for Nebraska and a tax on high-value insurance plans that is opposed by organized labor."

If Pelosi is able to strong-arm the Senate bill through the House with a bare majority, Senate reconciliation becomes moot. With three vacancies, Democrats need just 217 votes for passage, and there are a handful of Democrats who voted "no" in November who now say they're undecided. On the other hand, 12 pro-life Democrats, led by Bart Stupak of Michigan, say they're prepared to switch sides and scuttle ObamaCare if sufficient protections against abortion funding aren't put in place. The Senate bill doesn't meet their benchmark.

Never underestimate this president's lack of shame, though -- or his penchant for Chicago-style politics. For example, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) voted against ObamaCare in November, but he is now "undecided." So on Wednesday, Obama nominated Jim's brother Scott to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Offering jobs for playing the White House way is nothing new3, and Scott Matheson is, to be fair, a well-credentialed nominee. However, even the appearance of selling judgeships for health care votes would give pause to a more honorable president.

As for leftist sentiment, perhaps MSNBC host Ed Schultz best summed it up this week, saying, "[S]mall government has never gotten anybody any health care."

"The Republicans have a choice," Schultz declared. "Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. ... We have people in need and they need to be helped."

Memo to Ed: If government would get out of the way, those people might be able to help themselves, as our Founders intended. Democrats aren't about to let that happen because it really isn't about helping those in need.