Thursday, December 17, 2009

DemCare Fireworks!

Today contained a whole bunch of fireworks on the Senate DemCare debate. First, let's look at why Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is requiring such a high price tag:

A poll conducted by the Tarrance Group over the past two days helps explain why Senator Ben Nelson is nervous about supporting even a modified Harry Reid-version of health care reform. The poll interviewed 500 registered "likely voters" in Nebraska and asked for their views on a range of issues, including health care reform. Among the findings:

*Asked to name the most important one issue facing Congress, 28 percent said "health care reform;" 23 percent said "deficit spending of the government;" 14 percent said "the economy;" 11 percent said "jobs;" and 7 percent said "taxes." All told, 55 percent pointed to an economic issue as most important, 28 percent said health care reform.

*90 percent of Nebraskans said they were satisfied with their current health care; 9 percent were unsatisfied

*Asked "do you favor or oppose President Obama's plan to expand health care coverage to most Americans even if this plan increases the role of the federal government in health care and increases the cost of the deficit?" 67 percent opposed, 26 percent favored, and 7 percent were unsure.

*Respondents were asked directly about Nelson's vote. "As you may know, there is likely to be a vote soon in the US Senate on President Obama's health care plan. If Senator Ben Nelson votes in favor of this plan, would that make you more likely or les likely to support Senator Nelson when he runs for re-election?" 26 percent said "more likely;" 61 percent said "less likely;" 7 percent said "unsure;" and 6 percent said "no difference."

That's the kind of leverage that the American people can swing on their elected reps - this sort of pressure is powerful enough to counter a whole lotta' arm twisting from the Dem leadership. It's also an example of how little attention they pay to the American people - Nelson is still considering allowing himself to be bought off. Bring the pressure even harder, Nebraska! Don't let him go!

Now, let's get to the fireworks. We begin with The Obamessiah's latest fear-mongering tactic:

President Obama told ABC News’ Charles Gibson in an interview that if Congress does not pass health care legislation that will bring down costs, the federal government “will go bankrupt.”

The president laid out a dire scenario of what will happen if his health care reform effort fails.

“If we don't pass it, here's the guarantee….your premiums will go up, your employers are going to load up more costs on you,” he said. “Potentially they're going to drop your coverage, because they just can't afford an increase of 25 percent, 30 percent in terms of the costs of providing health care to employees each and every year. “

The president said that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid are on an “unsustainable” trajectory and if there is no action taken to bring them down, “the federal government will go bankrupt.”

Oh, really? I think Gateway Pundit says it best:

Actually, the truth is that the US will go bankrupt if Obama and democrats keep tripling the national deficit every year like they did last year.

Obama increased the national debt to $12 Trillion.
And he nearly doubled the unemployment rate since Bush was in charge with his failed Stimulus Plan.

Earlier this week Obama said Republicans “need to stop trying to frighten the American people.”

So, what were the fireworks? Well, in one of the first signs of legitimate opposition from the GOP, Sen. Coburn followed through on his promise to force a reading of an amendment that would have re-instituted the public option. The amendment was over 700 pages long, so it was a very long process:

Sen. Tom Coburn has just demanded that the Senate clerk read the single-payer amendment offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders — and it’s 767 pages.

Typically, Senators offering amendments will ask for unanimous consent to avoid reading the entire meausure, but all it takes is one Senator to object to demand its reading, and Coburn objected to Sanders attempt to dispense with the reading of the amendment.

It took 18 minutes to get through the table of contents. After a couple hours, Sen. Sanders -- the Senate's only open and unabashed socialist (the rest are still in the closet) -- withdrew the amendment to stop the pain. Here's the strategy:

What does this do? It makes a hash out of Harry Reid’s plan to move the bill through the Senate by Christmas. Twelve hours of floor time for just a single amendment means that no other business can be conducted until at least Friday. Coburn apparently launched this effort in response to an attempt by Reid to shove the bill to a cloture vote without giving everyone enough time to read the bill or peruse the CBO analysis, due this week.

It’s a reminder that even with a supermajority, Reid needs to work with the minority to keep momentum.
Here's a very interesting exchange between Coburn and Sen. Baucus that is very revealing:

So, it turns out that the 'Republican obstructionism' you're hearing about in the legacy media is really an effort to force the Senate to take responsibility and accept some accountability for their actions. Hm, what a novel concept!

Interestingly, Sanders' withdrawal of the amendment was, itself, unconstitutional, since it requires unanimous consent of the entire Senate in order to stop the reading of a bill. It just shows how desperate the Democrats are to shove this thing down our throats without us having a clue what it is. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell educates the Democrats on what the law actually says about this:

I sincerely hope the GOP push this as far as possible. The language is clear, and the motivation is perfectly legitimate.

This is, in my opinion, the first time the Senate GOP has shown some real spine and attempted to STOP DemCare rather than nibble around the edges to 'fix' it. It's a breath of fresh air! It's about damn time the GOP get serious.

On an even better note, Sen. DeMint has pledged to force the reading of the DemCare bill itself before a vote comes up! OUTSTANDING!!! It would take weeks. Erick Erickson voices the frustration that most of us with common sense and non-government jobs are feeling:

But then something curious happened — something that violates the sacrosanct nature of the Senate’s rules; rules so inviolable that until yesterday neither Democrat nor Republican ever risks crosses the rules in over 200 years.

In short, the Democrats have now crossed the rubicon.

For over 200 years, the Senate’s rules have ensured orderly and very fair debate. The minority has rights that the majority has never and would never trod upon. One of the chief rules of the Senate is that when one Senator has the floor, no other Senator may act.

Tom Coburn had the floor. He made the clerk read the amendment. Somehow, however, Senator Sanders was able to have his amendment yanks mid-reading.

Under Senate rules, that is flat out impossible.

Hopefully the Senate Republicans now realize they are dealing with third world kleptocrats, not American legislators. Mitch McConnell’s “messaging” strategy bought the Democrats time to cut a deal and now the Democrats are willing to throw away over 200 years of Senate tradition and order to confiscate 1/6th of the American economy from the private sector.

Let's hope they got the message.

Regardless, because of all these things, the inevitability of DemCare passing in the Senate before the end of the year is slipping away, and House Dems are starting to get a little panicky (not to mention angry):

Congressional Democrats are starting to voice their anger at President Obama over the way health care legislation has been compromised, blaming him for not fighting harder.

"The president keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel," said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). "No public option, no extending Medicare to 55, no nothing, an excise tax, God!" he exclaimed about the Senate health care bill to Roll Call. "The insurance lobby is taking over."

Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), told Politico of Senate delays, "It's ridiculous, and the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines. That's nonsense."*

While many House Democrats have expressed anger with the Senate for the watered-down bill, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) argued that it was really Obama who let centrists take control. "Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge?" he said. "It's time for the president to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate."

Wow - they're starting to turn on Obama! This is actually a sign that they know they've walked off a cliff for no benefit. If DemCare stalls in the Senate, then all these Dems who have taken a severe electoral risk (or, in some cases, suicide) to follow Obama have done so for no reason. Naturally, they're disgruntled.

Another aspect of this is that Sanders is now backing off his support of DemCare without the public option. Reid may have gained Lieberman by dropping the public option, but he may also have lost Sanders, gaining him nothing. This is the danger in trying to craft a bill by buying off loads of individual Senators with specific goodies in the dark of night. It's tough being Harry Reid.

Potentially even worse, it appears that the unions may now be jumping ship, joining Howard Dean as the hardcore Left who want to scrap the bill for not being Leftist enough. Hey, whatever - let's all agree to kill the thing, and start arguing from there.

On a related note, the polling is getting worse and worse by the day:

As the Senate sprints to pass a health-care bill by Christmas, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that those believing President Obama's health-reform plan is a good idea has sunk to its lowest level.

Just 32 percent say it's a good idea, versus 47 percent who say it's a bad idea.

In addition, for the first time in the survey, a plurality prefers the status quo to reform. By a 44-41 percent margin, respondents say it would be better to keep the current system than to pass Obama's health plan.

By comparison, in September's and October's NBC/Journal polls, the American public preferred changing the system to the status quo, 45 to 39 percent.

Ouch! This is why it's critical to delay DemCare as much as possible, and expose the Dems' methods as much as possible. It's already in a crater, but the longer it hangs out there, the worse it gets. At some point, it will become so toxic that any Democrat who wants to keep his job will run away from Obama's Pied Piper moment. Some appear to be heading that way already:

Little by little, Congressional Dems are beginning to pin the lion’s share of the blame for the badly weakened health care bill on a single figure: President Obama.

Here’s Russ Feingold, for instance, making a striking accusation: Obama may be more to blame than Joe Lieberman for the current state of play…

“This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place, so I don’t think focusing it on Lieberman really hits the truth,” said Feingold. …

Meanwhile, here’s Anthony Weiner, making the surprisingly aggressive accusation that Obama’s lackluster leadership is to blame for letting the process get hijacked by Lieberman et al:

“Snowe? Stupak? Lieberman? Who left these people in charge? It’s time for the President to get his hands dirty. Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the President to stand up for the values our party shares. We must stop letting the tail wag the dog of this debate.”

Hot Air suggests that though Reid and Pelosi may have botched their handling of the operations of pushing DemCare through, the lack of leadership belongs solely to Obama:
Of course, we warned people what would happen when the Democrats nominated a man with no executive experience and a long track record of voting present to the toughest executive office in the US. If they’re shocked, shocked! to find his executive leadership skills wanting, they deserve this Captain Louis Renault Award:

It looks like this chapter of the battle may be coming to a close before too long. Keep up the pressure, and let's see if we can't drill this sucker into the ground.

There's my two cents.

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