Senator Robert Byrd on Using Reconciliation for Health Care Reform

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Here’s what Mr. Byrd said in April 2009,

“I oppose using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform and climate change legislation…. As one of the authors of the reconciliation process, I can tell you that the ironclad parliamentary procedures it authorizes were never intended for this purpose.”

But in March 2010 Byrd is saying, “

I believed then (April 2009) , as now, that the Senate should debate the health reform bill under regular rules, which it did. The result of that debate was the passing of a comprehensive health care reform bill in the Senate by a 60-vote supermajority.

I continue to support the budget reconciliation process for deficit reduction. The entire Senate- or House- passed health care bill could not and would not pass muster under the current reconciliation rules, which were established under my watch.

Yet a bill structured to reduce deficits by, for example, finding savings in Medicare or lowering health care costs, may be consistent with the Budget Act, and appropriately considered under reconciliation.”

Byrd’s statements, although tepid and a bit vague, suggest he would not take a strong public stand against the Democratic plan. Aides had viewed Byrd as a wildcard in the process until they read the letter to the editor, and it was greeted with a sigh of relief.

Byrd is only a single vote. But by signaling comfort with reconciliation to finish health care reform, he provides cover for Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats to argue that their plan is procedurally sound. (Guess you could say in the end Senator Robert Byrd is a true politician in that he flip flops like all the rest depending on the circumstances.)


Midterms WILL be costly

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I’m gonna add, Republicans can also be prepared to lose unless they get some sort of plan together…and they won’t last through the next election if they don’t

If Democrats ignore health-care polls, midterms will be costly

By Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen
Friday, March 12, 2010;

In “The March of Folly,” Barbara Tuchman asked, “Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests?” Her assessment of self-deception — “acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts” — captures the conditions that are gripping President Obama and the Democratic Party leadership as they renew their efforts to enact health-care reform.

Their blind persistence in the face of reality threatens to turn this political march of folly into an electoral rout in November. In the wake of the stinging loss in Massachusetts, there was a moment when the president and the Democratic leadership seemed to realize the reality of the health-care situation. Yet like some seductive siren of Greek mythology, the lure of health-care reform has arisen again.

As pollsters to the past two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, respectively, we feel compelled to challenge the myths that seem to be prevailing in the political discourse and to once again urge a change in course before it is too late. At stake is the kind of mainstream, common-sense Democratic Party that we believe is crucial to the success of the American enterprise.

Bluntly put, this is the political reality:

First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate’s reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.

Nothing has been more disconcerting than to watch Democratic politicians and their media supporters deceive themselves into believing that the public favors the Democrats’ current health-care plan. Yes, most Americans believe, as we do, that real health-care reform is needed. And yes, certain proposals in the plan are supported by the public.

However, a solid majority of Americans opposes the massive health-reform plan. Four-fifths of those who oppose the plan strongly oppose it, according to Rasmussen polling this week, while only half of those who support the plan do so strongly. Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data.

The White House document released Thursday arguing that reform is becoming more popular is in large part fighting the last war. This isn’t 1994; it’s 2010. And the bottom line is that the American public is overwhelmingly against this bill in its totality even if they like some of its parts.

The notion that once enactment is forced, the public will suddenly embrace health-care reform could not be further from the truth — and is likely to become a rallying cry for disaffected Republicans, independents and, yes, Democrats.

Second, the country is moving away from big government, with distrust growing more generally toward the role of government in our lives. Scott Rasmussen asked last month whose decisions people feared more in health care: that of the federal government or of insurance companies. By 51 percent to 39 percent, respondents feared the decisions of federal government more. This is astounding given the generally negative perception of insurance companies.

CNN found last month that 56 percent of Americans believe that the government has become so powerful it constitutes an immediate threat to the freedom and rights of citizens. When only 21 percent of Americans say that Washington operates with the consent of the governed, as was also reported last month, we face an alarming crisis.

Health care is no longer a debate about the merits of specific initiatives. Since the spectacle of Christmas dealmaking to ensure passage of the Senate bill, the issue, in voters’ minds, has become less about health care than about the government and a political majority that will neither hear nor heed the will of the people.

Voters are hardly enthralled with the GOP, but the Democrats are pursuing policies that are out of step with the way ordinary Americans think and feel about politics and government. Barring some change of approach, they will be punished severely at the polls.

Now, we vigorously opposed Republican efforts in the Bush administration to employ the “nuclear option” in judicial confirmations. We are similarly concerned by Democrats’ efforts to manipulate passage of a health-care bill. Doing so in the face of constant majority opposition invites a backlash against the party at every level — and at a time when it already faces the prospect of losing 30 or more House seats and eight or more Senate seats.

For Democrats to begin turning around their political fortunes there has to be a frank acknowledgement that the comprehensive health-care initiative is a failure, regardless of whether it passes. There are enough Republican and Democratic proposals — such as purchasing insurance across state lines, malpractice reform, incrementally increasing coverage, initiatives to hold down costs, covering preexisting conditions and ensuring portability — that can win bipartisan support. It is not a question of starting over but of taking the best of both parties and presenting that as representative of what we need to do to achieve meaningful reform. Such a proposal could even become a template for the central agenda items for the American people: jobs and economic development.

Unless the Democrats fundamentally change their approach, they will produce not just a march of folly but also run the risk of unmitigated disaster in November.

The Louise Slaughter House Solution to Pass Health Care Without Voting On It

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What?  Yes you read the title right, Louise Slaughterhouse has devised a way to get the Health Care Bill passed without voting on it. This is a sign of a desperate Democratic legislature, that doesn’t have the votes to pass the much wanted Health Care Bill.

The Louise Slaughter House Solution

As reported yesterday on HUMAN EVENTS, Pelosi has a new health care bill scheme to bypass a vote on the Senate health care bill.  The House would simply “deem” the Senate health care bill as passed as part of the House budget reconciliation “fix” bill vote.

National Journal is reporting that Pelosi buddy and House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is devising what Republicans have termed the “Slaughter Solution” — a special rule trick that would seek to bypass a vote on the Senate health care bill “deeming” it passed by in the voting rules for the reconciliation bill.

(Slaughter spoke at the President’s health care “summit” of the dire need for health care reform because people are being forced to wear dead people’s dentures.)

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was asked about the “deeming” issue at a pen and pad session with print reporters.

“The public has been outraged by a lack of transparency in this bill,” Cantor said.  “If the majority and the Speaker can just deem this bill passed in the rule — that means no one has the right to even vote on it in the House and to see their level of support.  That is certainly unprecedented in a bill of this size and scope.”

The tyranny of the majority.  Slaughter is playing precisely the “rules be damned” game Pelosi has since becoming Speaker.  She should be getting calls from every voter across America.

Conrad Says Reconciliation “Hard to See”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) yesterday told The New York Times that reconciliation cannot be used on a bill: it can only be invoked on an existing law. (That’s also what the parliamentarian said yesterday as well….reconciliation can only be used on “existing law”. Right now the health care bill is just that, “a bill”….not “law.”)

“It’s very hard to see how you draft, and hard to see how you score, a reconciliation bill to another bill that has not been passed and become law,” Conrad said.

Translation:  The Senate health care bill must first be passed by the House and signed into law by the President before reconciliation could be used.

Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin is set to rule on this issue at any time.  He met last night with Senate Democrat leaders and representatives from the White House.