Category Archive 'Congress'
25 Oct 2011

Every Conspicuously Successful Company Looks Like a Monopoly to Washington

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Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google

L. Gordon Crovitz, in the Wall Street Journal, quotes extensively from an interview which former Barack Obama-supporter Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, gave after being hailed in front of a Congressional committee recently to answer charges that Google is a monopoly and guilty of unfair trade practices.

Mr. Schmidt had just given his first congressional testimony. He was called before the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee to answer allegations that Google is a monopolist, a charge the Federal Trade Commission is also investigating.

“So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. OK? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer,” Mr. Schmidt told the Post. “It’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to . . . lower than free? You see what I’m saying?”

An absence of consumer harm didn’t stop senators from offering some improbable recommendations. Among them: that Google replace its algorithm with a panel of experts to ensure “fair” search results. As Google tries to improve the relevancy of its search results for consumers, some sites inevitably come up higher and some lower in the results. The losers now lobby Washington.

“Regulation prohibits real innovation, because the regulation essentially defines a path to follow,” Mr. Schmidt said. This “by definition has a bias to the current outcome, because it’s a path for the current outcome.” …

Washington is always slow to recognize technological change, which is why in their time IBM and Microsoft were also investigated after competing technologies had emerged.

Mr. Schmidt recounted a dinner in 1995 featuring a talk by Andy Grove, a founder of Intel: “He says, ‘This is easy to understand. High tech runs three times faster than normal businesses. And the government runs three times slower than normal businesses. So we have a nine-times gap.’ All of my experiences are consistent with Andy Grove’s observation.”

Mr. Schmidt explained there was only one way to deal with this nine-times gap, which this column hereby christens “Grove’s Law of Government.” That is “to make sure that the government does not get in the way and slow things down.”

Mr. Schmidt recounted that when Silicon Valley first started playing a large role in the economy in the 1990s, “all of a sudden the politicians showed up. We thought the politicians showed up because they loved us. It’s fair to say they loved us for our money.”

He contrasted innovation in Silicon Valley with innovation in Washington. “Now there are startups in Washington,” he said, “founded by people who were policy makers. . . . They’re very clever people, and they’ve figured out a way in regulation to discriminate, to find a new satellite spectrum or a new frequency or whatever. They immediately hired a whole bunch of lobbyists. They raised some money to do that. And they’re trying to innovate through regulation. So that’s what passes for innovation in Washington.”

Read the whole thing.

27 Dec 2010

Goodbye to the Worst Congress


The Washington Examiner closes the books on the worst congress in US history.

Americans can give thanks in this Christmas season for an end to the reckless and destructive 111th Congress. This is the Congress that passed Obamacare, against the wishes of a substantial majority of the public, on Christmas Eve of last year. In the dead of night, Democratic lawmakers stuffed the monstrous 2,700-page bill with special-interest goodies and political payoffs like the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.” As we have learned since, most members were still ignorant of the bill’s contents three months later, when it gained final passage in the House. No surprise that its immediate results — both intended and unintended — have been almost uniformly bad.

Similarly, odds are that not one member of the 111th Congress actually read the so-called “cap-and-trade” bill before it passed the House in June 2009. Even a speed-reader could not have digested House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman’s last-second, 309-page amendment, which read as clear as mud: “Page 14, strike lines 1 through 3 and insert the following. …” It was filed after 1:30 a.m. just before the vote on final passage. There is also serious doubt that any member of Congress understood the 2,000-page financial reform bill that Congress passed this summer. One of its two main sponsors, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., remarked, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time. …”

And Democrats wonder why Gallup found this Congress to be the least popular in the history of its polls?

After suffering a comprehensive and humiliating defeat in the midterm election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the unfrocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led lame-duck congressional Democrats on a last-minute banzai charge for more federal spending, debt, earmarks, taxes and regulations.

It is especially appalling that this lame-duck session succeeded in burdening the armed forces with sexual deviance, adding $1.4 billion of unnecessary food safety regulation, and endorsing an extremely problematic arms control treaty, all on the basis of fractures in nominally Republican ranks, despite the fact that, as the Examiner observes:

Americans [had] already rendered a verdict on such productivity and elected a new Congress with orders to clean up the mess in Washington.

16 Dec 2010

House Voted to Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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Is there a place for him in the Marine Corps? He thinks so.

One of the few things Bill Clinton did that I thought reflected favorably on his leadership was the attempted “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” compromise on the issue of persons inclined toward homosexual activity serving in the military.

Clinton’s DADT policy was intelligent and philosophically libertarian. I’m not sure that it was actually necessary, as I do not believe that there exists a significant number of persons of the homosexual-activities-inclined persuasion both eager to enlist in the military and emotionally stable and responsible enough to serve, but in so far as real persons meeting that description may actually exist, President Clinton’s DADT policy satisfied both their military ambitions and the needs of the armed forces for good order and discipline.

The attempt underway by the democrat party leadership of the 111th Congress, a Congress currently enjoying a 13% favorable public approval rating, to ram through a repeal of DADT in a lame duck session has more of the character of a legislative coup d’etat than conventional legislation.

The radical ideologues that found themselves suddenly empowered by a congressional majority resulting from the electorate’s choice of the only alternative in the American two-party system to the incumbent party in response to economic disaster refuse to recognize their repudiation at polls nationally in November and are proceeding to attempt to force through yet more unpopular and extremist legislation in the same high-handed fashion used to enact Obamacare.

The leftwing-controlled House has passed legislation repealing DADT and Harry Reid has expressed the intention of holding in the Senate the same kind of all-night sessions used to enact socialized health care to clear the way, in time of war, to use the American military for an unpopular form of ideological-motivated coercive social engineering.

People who have imperfect vision are not accepted for military aviation. The US military rejects people for being too short, too tall, too fat, and too thin, and even for having flat feet. I don’t know the current policy, but some years ago, persons with too many visible tattoos were not permitted to join the service. Open expression of any form of bizarre behavior, open sexuality, interest in sexual fetishism, confused gender identity, and perversion ought to remain valid grounds for exclusion or separation from the service.

The repeal of DADT will make homosexuals a privileged and protected class within the American Armed Forces. Activists and sexual predators oriented toward young persons of service age will flock to the military to plant their subcultural flag. A cloak of federal protection will descend over flamboyant displays of homosexual identity and desire and the symbolic language of sexual fetishism will take its place beside the traditional emblems of military ranks and organized units. Just as a number of Roman Catholic seminaries, in the period of vocational decline following Vatican 2, were transformed into organs of the Hominterm, there will undoubtedly before long be significant non-combat military units completely taken over by, and operated for the benefit of, perverse sexual activity to the most profound detriment of their legitimate purpose.

The kinds of American families which today send their children to serve in the American Armed Forces will think twice, after incidents featuring the abuse of authority to extort sexual access become commonplace.

The presence in the military of larger numbers of a non-combat-oriented minority privileged by a system of political protection will inevitably lead to more military personnel resembling PFC Bradley Manning working in clerical positions of trust and responsibility, and over time advancing in rank. The homosexual subculture is characteristically leftist and radically hostile to conventional society, the United States, and US Foreign Policy. Members in good standing of that subculture are highly likely, statistically speaking, to oppose the operations the US military is engaged in, and to have sympathies for, and ties, to leftwing activist groups. It is no accident that many of the most prominent British traitors of the WWII and Cold War period, the Cambridge spies, Burgess, Blunt, and Maclean, were all homosexuals.

Republican in Name Only Senators Murkowski, Collins, Snowe, and Brown have pledged to vote to break the filibuster. Let’s hope that responsible conservative Republican leadership is up to the job of stopping this outrageous assault on the American military by an insolent and irresponsible gang of politicians whose opinions and loyalties are representative of only a minority of Americans

22 Nov 2010

Why Congress Was Unpopular

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from Rico via Theo.

02 Nov 2010

Americans Bravely Vote Today


In the face of horrific consequences.

The Onion reports that Americans Bravely Go To Polls Despite Threat Of Electing Congress:

Despite the very real threat of electing the 112th Congress, millions of courageous Americans lined up at their polling places today and put their right to vote above the awful possibility of sending a politician to represent them in Washington.

08 Jun 2010

Department of the Navy… AND Marine Corps

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USMC officer’s cap badge

The Hill reports that the US Marine Corps’ traditional popularity with Congress has gotten completely out hand and more than adequate support currently exists for the hideous innovation of modifying the name of the Department of the Navy to “the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.”

That’s just about as bad as changing the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense.

If the politicians want to do something nice for the Marine Corps, why not do something useful like giving marines back their Model 1911s chambered in .45 ACP? If they want to do something nice and symbolic, how about giving the marines back their summer dress whites?

The Marine Corps is factually a branch of the Naval Service, and the Department of the Navy should stay the Department of the Navy.

The Pentagon is opposing a popular provision that would change the name of the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.

The provision, which Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has pushed for years, has a record 425 co-sponsors in the House and recently passed by unanimous consent as a standalone bill.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a former Marine, has introduced a similar provision in the Senate that has attracted 78 co-sponsors — more than enough to pass as a standalone bill or as part of the pending defense bills as an amendment.

In a letter released by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, called the effort to rename the Department of the Navy “unnecessary.”

“A re-designation could be viewed as more than symbolic, and could easily be misinterpreted as a step away from the heritage and tradition of a strong Navy and Marine Corps team,” Johnson wrote to Levin. …

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Navy pilot, has been one of the strongest opponents to the change of the department’s name.

29 Apr 2010

The Dodd Bill: HuffPo Gets It Right

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Frank Luntz debunks the democrats’ supposed financial “reform” at Huffington Post of all places. This editorial would fit just fine on any conservative blog site.

The New York Times’ headline said it all: “Off Wall St., Worries About Financial Bill”. The Democrats in Washington may think it’s a slam dunk, but the rest of America doesn’t agree.

Look, those who are on the side of significant financial reform are fighting on the side of the angels — and with broad public support. We are fed up with Wall Street abuses and arrogance that makes life for the rest of us on Main Street more difficult. Let’s hold people and businesses more accountable and responsible for what they do and how they do it.

But that doesn’t suddenly equate to support for the legislation now being considered by the Senate. In exactly the same way that the public wanted healthcare reform, just not Obama’s healthcare reform, they want something done to punish the perpetrators of the financial meltdown, but not at the expense of their own checking accounts — or American economic freedom.

The dirty secret of the Senate financial reform bill is that some of its biggest supporters work on Wall Street. Recipients of taxpayer bailout money have no concerns about the bill — in fact, the CEOs of Citi and Goldman Sachs have publicly endorsed it, and several of the other big banks have expressed support. It keeps the “too big to fail” guarantees in place for another generation of financial services companies.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. The Democrats supporting the current legislation have assured an anxious electorate that whatever funds are used to create whatever regulatory scheme created will come from the banks, not the taxpayers. Let me emphasize that so that even casual readers will catch it: the Democrats promise that you won’t pay for their legislation, banks will.


Since when have corporations ever paid taxes, fees or penalties? Employees end up paying in the form of lower salaries and benefits. Customers end up paying in the form of higher costs.

And in this case, every account holder will be forced to pay higher fees on their checking account and savings account. That’s you, my friendly reader. Can you say “checkbook tax”? I can, and I think lots of candidates will be saying it come November. Is that what you really want to do to your constituents, Senator Lincoln? Is that what you really want to explain on the campaign trail, Senator Bennett?

But it goes deeper than just taxation and regulation. Wall Street can pass it all onto consumers. Main Street cannot. And that’s because Wall Street firms have all those pesky well-connected, nicely dressed lobbyists to ensure that whatever is passed strengthens their hand at the expense of the little guy.

Regardless of what side you’re on, the financial reform bill is special interest heaven — a bill written by lobbyists, for lobbyists, and will probably be implemented by lobbyists. The Dodd bill has carve-outs right from the get-go. Real estate agents, title companies, the Farm Credit system, even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae are exempt from its onerous and costly provisions. And for everyone else, it’s been a special interest feeding frenzy.

More than 130 companies have publicly hired lobbyists seeking their own loophole. Mars Candy wants to continue to use derivatives to hedge against price hikes in sugar and chocolate, so they’ve hired a lobbyist. Harley Davidson wants to protect dealer financing of their bikes, so they’ve hired a lobbyist. And eBay wants to not harm its subsidiary, PayPal, so they’ve hired … well … a team of lobbyists.

But most average Americans — the ones who bailed Wall Street out in the first place — cannot afford lobbyists, and won’t be exempted from the legislation.

There’s a reason why American trust in government is at an all-time low. Voters believe legislation like this is passed not for the public interest, but for special interests. And that is certainly the case with the Dodd bill.

22 Mar 2010

After the Health Care Bill

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Megan McArdle explains why the democrats’ success in getting their way represents a procedural precedent likely to change the legislative process permanently.

Regardless of what you think about health care, tomorrow we wake up in a different political world.

Parties have passed legislation before that wasn’t broadly publicly supported. But the only substantial instances I can think of in America are budget bills and TARP–bills that the congressmen were basically forced to by emergencies in the markets.

One cannot help but admire Nancy Pelosi’s skill as a legislator. But it’s also pretty worrying. Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority? Republicans and other opponents of the bill did their job on this; they persuaded the country that they didn’t want this bill. And that mattered basically not at all. If you don’t find that terrifying, let me suggest that you are a Democrat who has not yet contemplated what Republicans might do under similar circumstances. Farewell, social security! Au revoir, Medicare! The reason entitlements are hard to repeal is that the Republicans care about getting re-elected. If they didn’t–if they were willing to undertake this sort of suicide mission–then the legislative lock-in you’re counting on wouldn’t exist.

Oh, wait–suddenly it doesn’t seem quite fair that Republicans could just ignore the will of their constituents that way, does it? Yet I guarantee you that there are a lot of GOP members out there tonight who think that they should get at least one free “Screw You” vote to balance out what the Democrats just did.

But I hope they don’t. What I hope is that the Democrats take a beating at the ballot boxand rethink their contempt for those mouth-breathing illiterates in the electorate. I hope Obama gets his wish to be a one-term president who passed health care. Not because I think I will like his opponent–I very much doubt that I will support much of anything Obama’s opponent says. But because politicians shouldn’t feel that the best route to electoral success is to lie to the voters, and then ignore them.

Read the whole thing.

04 Mar 2010

What Are They Thinking?

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The leftist democrat base waves flowers

Political strategists on both sides are wondering aloud why it is that democrat members of Congress seem willing to climb aboard the health care flying bomb and head into a one-way legislative mission trying to sink Americans’ free choice in health care. Are they crazy? Do they believe the Emperor Obama’s promises that they will live forever in the Socialist equivalent of the Yakukuni Shrine? Quite a lot of them surely won’t be coming back to Washington next year. So why are they doing it?

Gary Andres explains the thinking of the democrat kamikaze.

One Democratic lobbyist advanced the “public education thesis.” “Sure, this might seem controversial now. But once it’s done, Members of Congress will have a chance to explain what they did, why, and how it’s going to make a difference.”

According to this theory, support will rise and opposition will ease, but only after the bill is enacted. The strategy, however, hinges on lawmakers’ ability to do an effective post-passage marketing job. It also assumes the opposition will not mount any kind of successful counter mobilization to protest its passage.

A variation on the public education thesis is the “Americans support success” conjecture. It goes something like this: Voters like accomplishments. Seeing the president in the Rose Garden, signing health care reform legislation into law will improve Mr. Obama’s approval numbers, which helps his party politically in the midterm election. Getting a bill done – almost irrespective of its contents – will help boost the White House’s and Democrats’ political fortunes, according to this view.

Next there is the “good as it gets” hypothesis. After two successful election cycles (2006 and 2008) Democrats amassed large majorities in the House and the Senate. But now they have reached their maximum majority size, based on this theory. With the prospects of their party strength only shrinking next year, now is the time to act on health care.

George Crawford, a former chief of staff to Speaker Pelosi and now a senior government affairs advisor at King and Spalding wrote an opinion piece recently in The Hill underscoring this point. Crawford argues that after “successful campaigns over the past several cycles, Democrats had come closer to their potential high-water mark.” He goes on to posit the party’s majority would get smaller irrespective of the House’s actions in the 111th Congress. So they might as well do it while Democrats have the votes.

Finally, there is the “energize the base” argument. This one has perhaps the most appeal because it includes some empirical support. Public polling on health care always masks huge variation in opinion between Republicans and Democrats.

For example, in a recent Rasmussen poll, President Obama’s health care plan lagged overall by a 41 percent (oppose) — 56 percent (favor) margin among likely voters. Yet looking at the crosstabs tells a very different story. Nearly 7 out of 10 (71 percent) self-identified Democrats favor the legislation, while only 12 percent of Republicans approve. This nearly 60 point spread between the parties on this issue has emerged in poll after poll in the last several years on this issue.

In other words, passing health care reform is a bit of a Holy Grail for Democrats. It is one of the most important debates and potential accomplishments for the party’s most ardent partisans – and has been for many years. Failure to enact this legislation would render a crippling blow to those most apt to volunteer, talk to their friends about politics, give money and vote in the upcoming midterm election. These base voters may not always guarantee the party’s victory, but without them defeat is assured.

Some combination of these four theories is the driving force behind the Democrats’ end game on health care. Of course, each of these conjectures includes a host of counter arguments that could prove disastrous for congressional Democrats in November. But for now, the president and his party’s legislative leaders agree – the only thing worse than passing health care reform is doing nothing at all.

It is very odd, distinctly in the “man bites dog” category of events falling into the opposite of normal reality, to see the democrats, the party of competent political tactics and mechanics, the party contemptuous of theory, the party dedicated above everything else to winning at any price and governing, deliberately marching into political destruction, openly defying a substantial majority of public opinion, in full knowledge of the consequences.

We can only conclude, I think, that ideology really has triumphed over there. They are willing to sacrifice their Congressional majority, and many of their political careers, for Socialism.

Obviously, they believe that, once they pass their health care bill, it will become another third-rail entitlement. Americans will become dependent and addicted, and no one will ever be able to alter the new order of reality and repeal it. Curiously, they seem to have overlooked their own Rube Goldberg design (intended to bring costs under a trillion dollars) of starting revenue collection immediately, but delaying most of the system’s arrival until 2013 and after. Republicans have plenty of time to recapture Congress and then repeal all this, and Republicans are promising to do exactly that.

In the end, the democrat’s kamikaze health care push is very likely to prove just as futile as the Japanese precedent in the final stages of WWII.

21 Jan 2010

The Impending Democrat Civil War

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J. Robert Smith, at American Thinker, is feeling very optimistic. He quips that the health care reform bill is as dead as the Articles of Confederation and predicts that internal democrat party conflicts will move to the forefront of Washington’s agenda as moderate democrats begin making defensive moves attempting to survive politically and the democrat party’s leftist base proceeds to twist arms and punish defectors.

In the coming weeks and months, the best political spectator sport around might not be Democrats versus Republicans or conservatives versus liberals, but Democrats of all stripes turning on one another.

Other than demagoguery, what Democrats are most accomplished at is fratricide (think back to the ’60s and ’70s). In the wake of Scott Brown’s hosing of Martha Coakley, the Democrats are about to have a good old-fashioned civil war. Pity for them; bully for America.

The Democrats are dividing roughly along these lines: left ideologues against pols, the latter being those congressional Democrats who like their jobs and don’t intend to wrap themselves in the European Union flag and jump off a craggy cliff into the Potomac.

It’s Pelosi and Frank and their ilk versus Heath Shuler and his ilk. But given Tuesday night’s win for Scott Brown in deep blue Massachusetts, it may be more than self-styled Democratic moderates who choose to defect. A few liberals may join in, too.

President Obama is showing every sign of being a cliff-jumper. Word out of the White House is that he plans to go on a populist offensive. In other words, he aims to demagogue anyone and anything in an attempt to divert voters’ attention from his utterly woeful, ideologically blind performance to date. And did I mention that under the cover of a hate, resentment, and envy campaign, Mr. Obama and his chief congressional lieutenants, the envenomed Nancy Pelosi and the passive-aggressive Harry Reid, will still scheme to foist statism on America?

While the President’s bravado may warm the hearts of Huffington Post and Daily Kos denizens, and while he may win plaudits from the Davids (Broder, Gergen, and Brooks) and the New York Times (among other liberal mouthpieces) for his supposed shrewdness, plenty of work-a-day congressional Democrats aren’t going to enlist in a lemmings’ march into the sea.

Self-preservation is a powerful instinct. The Coakley upending is the fork in the road for Democrats who are more enamored of themselves than stinky left-wing orthodoxy. The marker at the road’s fork points right, toward the middle ground. It’s where these Democrats know they must go if they are to stand a prayer of retaining their seats in November.

With every passing day, expect a few, and then lots of sobered Democrats to take the road right, regardless of the sharp disapproval of Pelosi and Reid or the threats of the White House Capone crew.

Congressional members peeling away from their party’s failing president is nothing new in Washington annals. LBJ and Richard Nixon could have given you earfuls.

But left-wing activists and fundraisers and money-givers aren’t going to take defections lightly. While keeping guns trained on Mr. Obama to ensure his fealty, expect left-wingers to turn other guns on congressional Democrats cheeky enough to scuttle ideology in favor of survival.

Nowadays, the left isn’t so much a movement as it is a death pact. If you’ve taken its money or accepted its campaign ground troops or benefited from its uncoordinated expenditures — and most Democrats have — then you’re on the hook. It’s like the mafia: Once you’re made, you can’t be unmade. Woe to the good fella or gal who wishes to part company. …

If the Democrats’ civil war plays out as expected, the result will be legislative torpor, magnificent wheels-squealing, and grinding-to-a-halt gridlock for 2010. Much to the relief of taxpayers and Main Street Americans, the 111th Congress will do no more damage…because it can’t.

25 Dec 2009

It’s Not Over Yet

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Senator Jim DeMint

The liberal media and left blogosphere are typically congratulating themselves on “winning ugly, but winning,” as Ezra Klein puts it.

The American voting public is experiencing profound revulsion at the sordid spectacle of ultra-partisan legislation they’ve witnessed recently, featuring open purchases of votes, behind-the-scenes horse-trades, and a host of favors for certain regions and constituencies. We’re reforming health care in very special ways for Libby, Montana, the entire state of Nebraska, longshoremen, and trial lawyers. The Congressional democrat leadership has greased the path to socialism with the purest of sleaze.

There will surely be a reckoning in 2010 and 2012 for all this, but in the meantime (sorry, Ezra!) it is not clear that they have actually won.

Dan Perrin, at Red State, points out that, because of the procedural objection by Senator DeMint, more of the same kind of votes recently won by razor-thin margins will need to occur in both houses.

When Senator DeMint engineered, and Republican Leader McConnell actually objected to the appointment of the conferees, he was really handing the ball off to the left wingers — progressives if you will — and now they have their shot to either hold their own clan members who are against the Senate compromises and force them to vote No, or have their policy demands be ignored and take the crumbs from Senator Nelson’s and Senator Lieberman’s table.

Now, because of the Senator DeMint’s objection, unless the House votes for the Senate bill unchanged — which is highly unlikely… — then the Senate ObamaCare bill must be amended on the House floor to gain the votes they need to pass it on the House floor. And because of Senator DeMint’s objection to the appointment of the conferees, there will be no conference, or conference report.

If the House amends the Senate bill, they then have to send the amended bill back to the Senate — where all the 60 vote margin cloture votes still apply — cloture on the motion to proceed, and cloture to end the filibuster and cloture on any amendment.

Do I believe that this objection to the appointment of the conferees will kill ObamaCare? Yes, if the progressives or those 64 House Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment do not roll over and play dead.

Hat tip to Rand Simberg via Glenn Reynolds.

06 Dec 2009

Four Votes Short

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Well, getting ObamaCare to the Senate floor cost US taxpayers $300,000,000 for Senator Mary Landrieu’s vote. Apparently they are four votes short right now, so start breaking open those piggy banks, Americans. Democrats are going to begin writing very large checks on your bank accounts to buy those missing votes.

Do you suppose the Congressional Budget Office will ever start factoring in the massive mordida involved in the passage of spending legislation as part of the overall cost estimate?


President Barack Obama plans to head to the U.S. Capitol to press Senate Democrats to agree on health legislation as lawmakers struggle to resolve disputes over issues including a proposed government-run insurance plan.

Democrats met throughout yesterday to seek an alternative to Senate Majority Harry Reid’s plan to create the new national program to cover the uninsured. Opposition within his party leaves Reid at risk of falling four votes short of the 60 he needs to pass the legislation, the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system in more than four decades.

Obama’s scheduled visit comes as the bill’s backers need a jolt to come together, said Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry.

“We have to talk about how to put the final pieces together,” Kerry said. “It’s good to hear from the president now, because it’s getting to that stage where you have to come to a decision with your heart as well as your head.”

Reid called the rare weekend session to meet his deadline of getting a bill by year-end. Republicans, unified in opposition, forced the Democrats yesterday to reiterate their support for cutting more than $40 billion in home health-care services funding under Medicare. It was the latest Republican effort to highlight the bill’s potential impact on the elderly.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Republicans see the debate stretching into 2010 and that they gain the more the public learns. Republicans say Obama’s visit reflects a weakening Democratic position.

“The vote tally must be going in the wrong direction,” said Senator Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

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