Thursday, August 20, 2009

Heritage Morning Bell

“By Any Legislative Means Necessary”
The American people do not like President Barack Obama’s health care plan. According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll 42% of Americans “think his plan is a bad idea” compared to only 36% who think it is a good idea. 40% of Americans believe Obama’s health care plan “will result in the quality of your health care getting worse” compared to 24% who believe their care will get better. And 47% of Americans oppose “creating a public health care plan administered by the federal government” compared to only 43% who support it.

Facing this cratering of public support, the left in Congress is now considering abandoning moderates and independents to pass their narrow partisan ideal of health reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spokesman Jim Manley promised yesterday that Democrats will pass Obamacare “by any legislative means necessary.”

What exactly does Senator Reid mean by ‘any legislative means necessary’? The Wall Street Journal explains: “Most legislation in the Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but certain budget-related measures can pass with 51 votes through a parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation.” The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 created reconciliation, but Congress didn’t really use it until the 1980s. In 1993, President Bill Clinton tried to use the rule to press his health care plan through the Senate, but Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) resisted, introducing the Byrd Rule which allows any Senator to strike specific provisions or amendments from legislation if a 60 vote Senate majority agrees that the item is “extraneous” to the budget. At the time Byrd specifically argued that health care was out of bounds for a process that was intended to only apply to budgets.

But Democrats in Congress are undeterred by history, precedent, and public opinion. They are now planning to split the bill into two parts: one bill with budget-related matters and another bill with policy changes such as the insurance market reforms. They even are prepared to argue that the core of the left’s health care vision: a government-run health care plan can be considered a budget related item. The WSJ reports: “Democratic leaders have concluded they can pack more of their health overhaul plans under this procedure, congressional aides said. They might even be able to include a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, a key demand of the party’s liberal wing.”

The American people are already sick and tired of 1,000 page bills and strong arm legislative tactics. A new Gallup poll shows that 82% of Republicans and even 40% of Democrats disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Even more troubling for the “by any means necessary” crowd is that 70% of independents share a negative view of the House and Senate. Finally, a new Pew poll shows that for the first time since President Barack Obama took office the percentage of Americans who hold a favorable view of the Democratic Party has slipped below 50%. How will independents feel about liberals in Congress if they pass a health plan that 40% of Americans believe “will result in the quality of your health care getting worse”?

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