Several public opinion surveys over the last ten or eleven months make it clear the American people do not want the health care reform legislation currently before Congress to pass. It’s a sea change in the public’s attitude since from the days immediately following the 2008 election, when Democrats from the newly-elected Barack Obama on down universally proclaimed that the people had given them a mandate, that they had embraced the idea that the government should increase its control of the health care system and, with it, nearly one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
Those claims were smoke and mirrors then and they are smoke and mirrors now. Utilizing a process that, contrary to the claims of leading Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has been anything but transparent, a bill has been produced full of special interest carve outs, tax increases and pork-laden political payoffs that, according to those who have studied the bill closely, will only make matters worse.
The American public has grown cynical about the whole business. Who can blame them -- especially when a majority of those in Congress will not even promise to read the bill before voting on it? Unfortunately for the people’s interests, the trickery appears to be getting worse. Nothing exemplifies the contempt that Speaker Pelosi has for the public and everyone outside her little circle of intimidated puppets better than her arrogant assertion that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” What she calls the fog of controversy is actually the process of painstakingly deciphering 2,700 pages of arcane obfuscation. The bill contains one simple reality that Pelosi and team desperately want to conceal: it will dramatically expand government’s reach into the private sector of our economy and dramatically reduce individual liberty.
Up to now, political analysts on both sides of the aisle believed the only way to get a bill to President Obama’s desk for his signature was if the House voted to approve, without amendment, the health care bill that passed the Senate last Christmas. And enough votes could be secured to do that only if the House and Senate leadership -- in order to win the votes of Democrats who continued to have concerns about provisions included in the Senate bill like the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” and its lack of sufficient protections to block federal funds from being used to pay for abortion and abortion-related services – promised to fix the issues that caused them concern through a legislative process known as “reconciliation.” But that may no longer be the case.
In another arrogant display of legislative power and contempt for the ordinary citizen, Rep. Louise Slaughter – the Pelosi ally who chairs the all powerful House Rules Committee – is said to be preparing the way for the Senate health care bill to pass the House without ever being voted on in order to overcome the fact that they don’t have the votes to pass it.
According to National Journal’s Congress Daily, Slaughter is giving serious consideration to a plan that would " usher the health care overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill” by manipulating the rules of the chamber in such a way that the Senate bill would be “deemed” as having passed once the House approves a bill that would make the corrections certain members want.
It is now more apparent than ever that Pelosi and Reid are the White House are committed to passing the health care bill by whatever means necessary, even if they have to pull the wool over the public’s eyes to do it. In essence, members of the House are being asked to base their next vote on health care on a bill they and the American people have not read and which has not, as yet, been written.
Congress’s arrogance has been on full display throughout this debate, making clear that it will pass a healthcare bill that a majority of Americans oppose by any means necessary. Now, more than ever in this debate it is important that the everyone say “no!” to this kind of political chicanery in a loud, clear and united voice. What the Democrats are doing is no longer simply a matter of passing a bill; they are threatening to undermine 200 years of legislative process and Democratic traditions in order to get their way.
Colin Hanna is president of Let Freedom Ring.
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