The debate on health care has gone beyond reaching a fever-pitch; it got to that level last week folks. I’ve already hashed out reconciliation and making this health care bill into an education and budget bill as well.
Now the process has gone off the rails. I’m talking a 100 car trainwreck in downtown D.C. where every car is laden with C4 and rocket fuel.
Bad bills are one thing. Big government and forced health care just ratchets things up another notch, and is something else entirely. Nancy Pelosi and her cronies slaughtering The Constitution goes beyond the pale though.
Pun fully intended.
What am I talking about? If you haven’t heard, let me boil it down for you:
This health care bill is unpopular, even among Democrats for a variety of reasons all over the board. Its not liberal enough (no single payer system), its not fiscally conservative (blue dog Dems), it uses tax-payer money to pay for abortions (some Dems and many Republicans), and a whole party is voting against it, etc. What really rankles the Democrats isn’t the fact that the majority of Americans don’t like it. What gets their goat is that many Democrats don’t like the fact that they have to approve the Senate’s version of health care before they can vote for the book of amendments to make it more palatable for themselves. With the straight up or down reconciliation vote (which is already controversial itself) that President Obama called for – everyone has to go on record that they voted for or against the Senate’s version of the bill and the amendments. That’s two votes.
Democratic Representatives in the House don’t want to go on record come the mid-term elections as having voted for the sweetheart deals that enabled the Senate to pass the bill. Deals like Ben Nelson’s ‘Corn-Husker Kickback’ and Mary Landrieu’s ‘Louisianna Purchase’. Deals specifically designed to give benefits to those specific states (among others) in order to secure those Senators’ votes.
So, to address the reticence of some Democratic reps, the speaker has found a way to avoid going on the record. Pelosi, got Rep slaughter (D., N.Y.), chair of the House Rules Committee, to propose passing the Senate health care bill and the corrective amendments with one vote using a ‘deem and pass’ rule. Basically, the House first holds the amendment vote. With its passage, it is understood that the Senate’s health care bill is ‘deemed’ to have ‘passed’ as well.
There’s only one teeny problem with that…it is specifically prohibited in the Constution. Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution reads:
…But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively…
This excerpt is near the end of the first paragraph, right after talking about Presidential veto and the two-thirds vote needed to override it.
You need ‘yeas and nays’ and the names of of those yeas and nays must be recorded. This slaughter rule unqesetionably violates both the clear wording and the intent behind it.
James Madison chose the wording and the inclusion of this when he penned The Constitution for a reason. He knew that you needed to hold members of Congress accountable. Come the mid-term elections, Republicans and Independents can quote these Democratic Congressmens’ records and spin the story that said congressmen voted for the sweetheart deals. Those reps don’t want that. The problem is, that accountability is to the voters – who will not be happy and are more likely through the democratic process to votes them out of office. So, afraid of their own political futures, some may not vote for the health-care bill and that handful of ‘neys’ really could make the difference. It is that close. Pelosi in order to game the system and get the health-care bill passed has no problem shredding The Constitution and that is why she is one of the few Democrats I repeatedly name time and time again in this blog. She represents the worst of everything in our political process and the government.
I in part quote today’s WSJ’s leading opinion piece:
“If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of Madison’s core checks and balances. Yes, self-executing rules have been used in the past, but as the Congressional Research Service put it in a 2006 paper, “Originally, this type of rule was used to expedite House action in disposing of Senate amendments to House-passed bills.” They’ve also been used for amendments such as to a 1998 bill that “would have permitted the CIA to offer employees an early-out retirement program”—but never before to elide a vote on the entire fundamental legislation.”
The full article is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703909804575123512773070080.html
I couldn’t have said it better. This process shouldn’t have ever been used at all. The Hindenblog talks about this exclusively here: http://hindenblog1.blogspot.com/2010/03/crash-slaughtering-constituionwe-fouled.html – shaming the Republicans because THE CONSTITUION MATTERS!
This procedure is Pandora’s Box. When opened (as the Republicans have done), what comes out at first is innocuous twist of rules that is just a matter of convenience and helps expedite the legislative process. Eventually though, you get the true evil – a demon that springs out of the box that will fundamentally transform one-sixth of the US economy or more. Now of all times is NOT the time for games to be played to get something passed come hook or crook. Such games directly threaten the republic. The HindenBlog article I referenced above put it best:
“The Constitution matters. Nobody cuts corners, and violates the Constitution…even a little bit…without enormous risk. The motives may be pure, the immediate consequences nil, but ignoring the founding charter of our nation for the sake of expediency leads us to the kind of despicable perversion we see in Slaughter’s proposed rule. The terrible power of precedent is put into play, as we see now. That the precedent set is tortured beyond credulity does not matter, as any law student knows. Thereafter, the new precedent…often unrecognizable as the logical extension of what they did by the authors of the preceding one (because it isn’t logical)…becomes the new place-holder that creative, unprincipled people will try to move further down the road to ruin.”
Remember friends – the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, even if it is intentions that you don’t want.