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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"By Any Legislative Means Necessary"

Here's what a Reid aide recently said about the Democrats' plan to pass health care reform.

we will not make a decision to pursue reconciliation until we have exhausted efforts to produce a bipartisan bill.”

“However,” he cautioned, “patience is not unlimited and we are determined to get something done this year by any legislative means necessary.”

“By any means necessary”

Now, which is worse for the president, politically? If he follows through and jams health care through the legislature, or if he tries to do this and still fails to pass the bill. The White House and their allies are ramping up the pressure and the arm twisting.

Two senior House Democrats are seeking a raft of financial figures from health-insurance companies, upping the ante as President Obama and his allies push to make the insurance industry's flaws a centerpiece of their campaign for health-care reform.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the panel's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, wrote letters Monday to more than 50 of the nation's largest insurers informing them that the committee "is examining executive compensation and other business practices in the health insurance industry." They requested detailed information on the compensation packages of the companies' highest-paid employees, as well as information on the companies' boards, conferences and events they sponsored, the profitability of the individual health-care products they sell and revenues earned through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The health insurance companies have long been the target of demonization by the White House and now Democrats are looking to investigate them in an investigation that is open ended in an attempt to put the screws to them.

The problem is that there simply aren't enough arms to twist to get this passed. They're losing the Blue Dogs.

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., at a town hall meeting in Moss Point Monday night, said, per the Associated Press, "I would hope that everyone in this room knows by now that I am not going to vote for the health care plan."

Says Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., according to the Gwinnett Daily Post, "As the bill stands right now, I would have to vote 'no' until we get a better handle on the costs.
I am adamantly opposed to throwing more money at the current system."

During a town hall teleconference Tuesday night, Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., said "he would not vote for a House health care reform bill in its current form," a Memphis TV station reports.Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Louisiana, said "it's appearing more likely that he’ll break with his party and oppose President Barack Obama’s controversial health-care plan should it come to a vote on the House floor," reports Houma Today.

Melancon said he is "still concerned about how the bill, in its current form, will affect individuals and small businesses in south Louisiana. Patient choice comes from competition in the marketplace, and I am concerned that the public option, as designed, would unfairly undercut anything the private sector could offer.”

There's about fifteen Blue Dogs mentioned in the article either firmly against the plan or leaning that way. Representative Massa of New York was on Fox News this morning also coming out against the bill because it isn't liberal enough.

There's 52 Blue Dogs and all are serious candidates to vote against the bill. Only 39 of them would have to vote against the bill to kill it in House.

In the Senate, before the bill could be jammed through, the rules would have to change, or the bill would have to be revenue neutral. By making it revenue neutral, that would hamstring the way in which the legislation could be crafted. (in a way that is technical and far too complicated to explain here) If the Democrats were to change the rules, however, and simply make it a majority vote to pass that would set off chaos. For instance, Robert Byrd, who created the so called reconciliation rule, has said that he would not accept ramming this bill through in such a way.

Furthermore, there are fifteen Senators in the Senate that are the Senate's version of the Blue Dogs. Most of these folks are not going to accept a health care bill that is jammed into the Senate by changing the rules on a bill that is overwhelmingly disapproved by the public at large.

So, what d we have? The White House is trying, and will try, every dirty political trick and tactic in order to ram health care through. How's that for a "new kind of politics"? Yet, after all of that, they will still fail to pass anything. They don't have the votes to pass this. Moderate Democrats have to face a moderate, if not conservative, constituency. Here's the bottom line. There aren't enough dirty tricks, heavy handed tactics, and arms to twist to pass this bill. The bill is a monstrosity. It creates 53 new regulators. It's 1017 pages of inexplicable language. It's a web of government bureaucracy, control, and interference. There's no amount of Chicago style politics that will change that. So, if the president intends on using every dirty trick he learned in Chicago to ram this through, he can try. He will still, however, fail to pass the bill.

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