Reconciliation could blow up on Dems
By: Deroy Murdock, The Dickinson Press
SAN FRANCISCO — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D — Calif., and her henchpersons are whipping Democrats to secure 216 votes to pass the Senate’s health care reform bill. The Senate then would approve a companion “reconciliation” measure to deodorize some of the more pungent legislative bribes and corrupt deals that helped grease the Senate legislation’s passage last Christmas Eve. Nebraska’s so-called “Cornhusker Kickback,” the “Louisiana Purchase,” and Florida’s “Gator-Aid” are among the most sinus-piercing payoffs.
Before they vote, however, wavering Democrats should wonder: “What if the Senate doesn’t deliver?” There is no guarantee that reconciliation will squeeze anything past the Senate, even with just 51 votes, rather than the oft-needed, filibuster-proof 60.
“House Democrats are being ... asked by the president to hold hands, jump off a cliff and hope (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid catches them in the Senate after the bill is law,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
Here are several ways the Senate could leave the House standing alone at the reconciliation altar:
r Under reconciliation, senators may propose amendment after amendment, ad infinitum. Republicans could amend the Senate into paralysis. They could argue that Democrats made their hospital bed and should languish in it until November, when voters may pull the plug on the donkey party. Increasingly inflamed citizens might applaud such a GOP strategy and help Republicans dislodge Democrats for defying the American public. A March 16 Wall Street Journal/NBC survey of 1,000 adults found that only 36 percent consider ObamaCare a “good idea,” while 48 percent call it a “bad idea.” (Error margin: +/- 3.1 percent).
r The Senate might excise some provisions that irk House members. But the Senate parliamentarian could disqualify votes on others, since reconciliation is limited to questions of taxes and spending. So, at least some items that Pelosi and company want the Senate to fix could remain law, assuming President Obama signs the Senate bill. He must do so before reconciliation can commence.
r Abortion far outpaces reconciliation’s revenues and outlays. So, pro-life Democrats will be bitterly disappointed if they expect the Senate to strike its own, pro-abortion language and embrace the pro-life Stupak Amendment. Insert your earplugs before imagining the reaction of Democratic senators Barbara Boxer of California or Barbara Mikulski of Maryland if anyone tried to make Stupak’s Amendment law.
r President Obama cynically could sign the House-passed Senate bill and then develop late-onset reconcilaphobia. He and Senate Democrats could grow fond of the Senate bill. Such an Olympic-class bait and switch would enrage the irate American public and could seal Obama’s fate as a one-term president.
However, like bees that perish after losing their stingers while defending their hive, Obama and other Democrats may commit political hara-kiri while high-fiving themselves for handing Uncle Sam 17 percent of America’s economy.
ObamaCare opponents should ask House Democrats: “Since so many House measures die in the Senate, why won’t this reconciliation scheme wind up in the Senate graveyard beside cap and trade, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the National Bombing Prevention Act and 287 other initiatives the House has passed since January 2009?”
Meanwhile, House leaders grow increasingly shady as they pound this legislative gruel down the gullets of the gagging American people. Team Pelosi may attempt to pass the Senate bill through a “self-executing rule,” whereby House members would approve a reconciliation proposal, whereupon ObamaCare will be “deemed to have passed” the House without a pesky yea-or-nay vote. Pelosi praised this subterfuge: “I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”
If Obama, Pelosi and other Democrats pull this scam, Americans should deny them the cash they crave. Come April 15, citizens should tell Washington that they “deemed to pay” their taxes, and then pocket their earnings.
— Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.