Washington Democrats gorge on absolute power
The old saw, "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely," applies perfectly to the process we're witnessing in Washington.
Republicans still represent the views of roughly half of the American people -- on health care, it's more like 60 percent -- and yet the minority party has had no moderating effect on the health care reform packages moving swiftly to passage.
It's a bill written by Democrats and passed by Democrats, with all of the give-and-take taking place between Democrats. The horse-trading is between the middle and the left, instead of between the right and the left.
So instead of a bill that falls close to the middle, Congress will produce one that is well left of center.
In the House, freshmen Democrats elected from conservative districts balked at voting for the most liberal bill to move in more than 40 years. They were bought off with promises of plum committee assignments or bullied into line by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with threats of burial in committee catacombs.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from conservative Louisiana, held out, citing the enormous costs. Ironically, she delivered her vote after getting a promise of $300 million for her pork-laden state.
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., took up the torch lit by Michigan's Bart Stupak in the House and insisted that the Senate bill ban abortions from public funding. He didn't get his abortion amendment. But he did win a promise from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to exempt Nebraska from the cost of the mandated Medicaid expansion.
Forty-nine other states will have to eat those costs, along with Nebraska's share. In Michigan, it could total $500 million the state doesn't have.
Send some love to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who has joined a handful of his colleagues from other states to challenge the constitutionality of the curious deal.
Reid says this is how legislating works. It is when there's no check on power. Some of the stuff we've seen over the past couple of months would qualify as criminal coercion, vote buying and bribery if it were the private sector writing the checks.
But as Obama pointed out, elections have consequences. So at least for the next year, this Democratic Congress will be able to do whatever it pleases.