Category Archive 'Reconciliation'

26 Mar 2010

Voting on Viagra For Pedophiles

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Yesterday, Rush was joking about the dems being favor of “hardened criminals.” Kimberly Strassel explains the point of the Republican amendments offered during reconciliation.

‘And so when you walk into that ballot box, remember that it was my Democratic opponent who favored providing Viagra to pedophiles.”

That isn’t a campaign line any American has heard yet, but give it a few hours. The Senate this week took up its “reconciliation” bill, with its final changes to the law the president signed Tuesday. It wasn’t so much reconciliation as reckoning.

Democrats only got their ObamaCare victory by breaking every rule, and that was always going to come at a price. To lever the health bill through the House, Democrats used the arcane process of reconciliation. It got them a win, but it also meant Senate Democrats this week had to endure the political equivalent of water-boarding.

Here’s why: reconciliation allowed Republicans to bring up unlimited amendments. Because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) could not allow the reconciliation bill to be changed in any way—which would send it back to the House—his party was obliged to vote down every one of those amendments. And every one had been designed to make even hardened pols whimper.

Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered language to bar the government from subsidizing erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted pedophiles and rapists. Democrats voted . . . No! Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) proposed exempting wounded soldiers from the new tax on medical devices. Democrats: No way! Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) wanted to exempt critical access rural hospitals from funding cuts. Senate Democrats: Forget it! This was Republicans’ opportunity to lay out every ugly provision and consequence of ObamaCare, and Democrats—because of the process they’d chosen—had to defend it all.

And so it went, into the wee Thursday hours. All Democrats in favor of taxing pacemakers? Aye! All Democrats in favor of keeping those seedy vote buyoffs? Aye! All Democrats in favor of raising taxes on middle-income families? Aye! All Democrats in favor of exempting themselves from elements of ObamaCare? Aye! All Democrats in favor of roasting small children in Aga ovens? (Okay, I made that one up, but you get the point.) Aye!

Aye-yi-yi.

These votes are “ridiculous” huffed Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd. Republicans are not being “serious” grumped Mr. Reid. Of course, “ridiculous” and “not serious” better apply to ObamaCare, which was in fact the substantive point of amendments like Mr. Coburn’s. A 2005 survey found that some 800 convicted sex offenders had—whoops—received Medicaid-funded impotence drugs. This is what happens when a big, inefficient government runs health care, and as Mr. Coburn noted, it is about to do it on a bigger, more inefficient scale than ever, thanks to ObamaCare.

Since the health bureaucracy can’t be trusted, the only way to guarantee a subsidy’s end is to ban them with legislation. And since Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to help craft the bill, this was Mr. Coburn’s best shot. And since the majority had by then boxed itself in, it is now on record as being OK with little blue pills for pedophiles. Unfortunate, really, since most members obviously are not. But hey, three cheers for reconciliation!

No more hiding, either, by Democrats who voted for ObamaCare even as they claimed to have reservations. Republicans flushed them out, making each individual Democrat stand up to defend each individual piece. The record now shows that Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln is on board with higher premiums, that Colorado’s Michael Bennet is good to go with gutting Medicare Advantage, that Nevada’s Harry Reid is just fine with rationing, that New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is cool with taxes on investment income, that California’s Barbara Boxer is right-o with employer mandates, and that Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter is willing to strip his home state of the right to opt out of the health law.

24 Feb 2010

They Will Pay The Price, If They Try It

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Megan McArdle warns that trying an end run around the Senate’s rules will prove a costly mistake for democrats.

If the Democrats use budget reconciliation to bypass the Republicans, they will be making a big mistake.

Reconciliation is not meant to handle these sorts of problems; it’s meant to help Congress get revenues in line with outlays without letting protracted negotiations push us into a budget crisis. It’s not possible to do any sort of comprehensive, rational overhaul of the Senate health bill — which after all, was intended to be the opening salvo in a negotiation, not the final bill.

More broadly, for all that Democrats are declaring that they have a mandate, it’s pretty clear that the public does not want them to pass any of the health care bills on the table — which has to include the Obama plan, since it is only a minor tweak on the existing proposals. Polls have shown more Americans opposing passage than supporting it since early summer, and opposition has risen fairly steadily over time.

Democrats have had plenty of time to make their case. They have failed to do so. The longer they have talked, the more firmly the voters have rejected their ideas. If Congress goes ahead anyway, they will pay a terrible political price.

Many progressives are pushing the notion that having already once voted for it, Democrats will pay that political price no matter what, so they might as well pass it. That ignores several factors. First, a hated bill that failed last December is not going to engender the same ire as a hated bill that passed in May.

24 Feb 2010

Obama and Other Democrat Senators Condemn Nuclear Option

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Back in 2005, when democrats held up George W. Bush’s judicial appointments in an unprecedented display of partisanship, the Republican majority in the Senate threatened to use the so-called “nuclear option,” i.e., to use reconciliation to overcome the filibuster to achieve judicial confirmations.

Diane Feinstein warns: “It begins with judicial nominations, next will be executive appointments, and then legislation.”

5:00 video

Biden: “I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.”

In 2005, John McCain split from the Republican Party and derailed the proposed nuclear option, imposing his own compromise.

20 Feb 2010

“It’s Back!”

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After the monster is finally dispatched in the dramatic climax of the conventional exemplar of Hollywood’s scary movie genre, when the nerves of the mass audience begin to relax, pulse rates slowdown, and theater-goers are expecting the final credits to arrive any moment on the screen, it has become traditional for directors to have a little fun by confounding expectations, setting aside all considerations of plausibility, and having the recently slain monster come right back to life and attack (and be dispatched) all over again.

One of the most impressive riffs on this by-now only too familiar trope is performed by Jon Voight, playing a murderous hunter in Anaconda (1997). Voight’s Paul Sarone comes a cropper, winding up in the coils of the giant anaconda. He is squeezed until his bones audibly break, and then ingested while the audience gets a view right down the alimentary passage of the giant reptile. We think we’ve seen the last of the heartless and relentless Sarone, but no, moments later, the snake regurgitates the villain, all covered with digestive juices, who –in one of trash cinema’s moments of genius, proceeds to wink at a truly horrified Jennifer Lopez.

2:14 (Spanish-subtitled) video

It appears that, in the same unappetizing style of curtain call made well known by Jon Voight, the health care bill may be coming back.

New York Times:

President Obama will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week, senior administration officials and Congressional aides said Thursday.

Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority.

Congressional Democrats, however, have not yet seen the proposal or signed on.

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I don’t agree one bit with Ezra Klein‘s claim of the public option being popular in the country, but here you see what the democrat party left is telling itself as it winks (from its current moribund position) at a horrified American voting public.

What you’re seeing here are the weird politics of the public option at play. It’s popular in the country. It’s wildly popular among the base. It’s the subject of obsessive interest in the media. There is little downside to supporting it publicly, huge downside to opposing it, and no one is allowed to ignore the issue, or even take a few days to see where the votes are.

But it’s divisive on the Hill. Bringing it back energizes all the narratives that Democrats fear most: That they’re cutting secret deals without Republicans in the room, that they’re building an extremist bill, that health-care reform is a government takeover. And this is all happening without 60 votes in the Senate or even certainty of simple majorities in the Congress. Democrats have spent the last month in a state of agonized confusion, and just as matters were clarifying, now this battle threatens to start up again.

No one I’ve spoken to — even when they support the public option — thinks that its reemergence is good news for health-care reform. It won’t be present in the package that the White House will unveil Monday. Everyone seems to be hoping this bubble will be short-lived.

But it might not be. The media is talking about it, liberals are organizing around it, none of the major actors feels politically capable of playing executioner, and Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson don’t have the power to do the job on their own. As of now, the strategy only has 20 or so supporters, and it’ll need at least another 20 or 25 to really be viable. But if it gets there, White House and Senate leadership are going to have some hard calls to make.

So, there you are. The democrat party base sees no downside, in ramming through a health care bill opposed by 58% of the American public via an unprecedented ultra-partisan maneuver around the conventional rules and procedures of the United States Senate.

It remains to be seen whether the parliamentarian of the Senate will permit the de facto elimination of the filibuster, and it is probably not altogether certain that Reid can muster even the 51 votes he would need to take that ultra-radical step.

If the democrats have the hubris to do all this, well, we will see just how well they like being in the minority in a Republican-controlled Senate with no filibuster. The first thing we should do is to repeal Obamacare, and kill the monster of socialism permanently and for the last time.


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