Earlier this morning, on a straight party-line vote, the Senate passed Harry Reid's health care reform bill. After a recess for the holidays, Nancy Pelosi will officially begin trying to figure out how to get the House to either concur with the Senate bill or to craft a compromise (either through a Conference Committee or by trying to avoid one) which would be acceptable to both the House and the Senate.
At this point, it's unlikely that a bill will be passed before February, but the Democrats have surprised many with their party discipline so far.
A couple quick points I'd like to make:
First, media coverage is already talking about the Democrats being close to an historic achievement. I don't see it that way, or at least in the breathless, admiring tone in which they mean it. What they've passed is a bunch of fascist regulation of private industry, not their socialist dream of a government-run system, aka the "public option". These plans will bankrupt both state and federal budgets, not create universal coverage, and destroy the best health care system in the world, even if an imperfect one that needed an utterly different type of reform.
To the extent that this bill is historic, it's because the Senate was willing to bribe its members and ignore its own rules to pass it. Furthermore, it is probably historic for being so blatantly unconstitutional, particularly the "individual mandate"; where in the Constitution does the federal government have the right to force someone to buy something?
Second, some are praising Harry Reid's legislative ability in getting this bill passed, doing whatever it took to keep his majority together. And there is certainly truth to that. But the net result is likely to be political disaster for Democrats generally and Reid particularly. Many of these Democrats live in an echo chamber where they only hear the liberal view of the world and come to believe that most voters in their districts are liberals. (Even in moderate districts, that sense is often magnified by union-organized phone and mail campaigns to the offices of Representatives and Senators.)
Third, to have any chance of beating this bill, a few things have to happen: Pelosi must be unable (or unwilling) to get the votes to concur with the Senate bill with no changes. She must then not be able to get enough votes in the House for a bill she believes will pass the Senate (because the Senate coalition is so fragile, even with the bribes paid), or, conversely, she must only be able to get enough votes in the House to pass a bill which will not pass the Senate.
My guess is that Pelosi will try to avoid the Conference process with more Democrat shenanigans. If that happens, she should be taken to task by Democratic Congressmen upset with their legitimate legislate prerogative being taken. And my guess is that she wants a bill with more taxes and more socialism than the Senate bill. She may gamble that the Senate Dems have already gone too far down the road to turn back and offer a "compromise" that's not exactly the Senate Bill but not quite as socialist as her own desires.
It's going to be fascinating to watch.
I maintain my view that we need 100 Republican candidates for Congress next year running on an explicit platform of repealing this bill. I realize nothing can be repealed while Obama is President, but this is a theme that will demand to be carried on for the following two years, to propel the election of a fiscal conservative president who will support the repeal of the most costly and destructive legislation in our nation's history.
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