01.31.2010 0

Editorial: Climbing the Health Summit

  • On: 02/26/2010 09:41:21
  • In: Health Care
  • Yesterday, the long-awaited health care takeover summit at the White House took place, and it was not as was expected nor advertised. It was supposed to be a trap. Congressional Republicans were supposed to “compromise,” laying the groundwork for the government takeover of the nation’s entire health care system once and for all.

    Only, they did not lie down. Indeed, they were well-prepared and their arguments were highly effective against ObamaCare on just about every point, even though Democrats spoke for 233 minutes compared to the GOP’s 110 minutes, according to the Senate Republican Conference. Barack Obama alone spoke for 119 minutes, which he studiously ignored as not counting towards the Democrats’ time. Said Obama, “I don’t count my time because I’m the President.”

    Leaving Obama’s arrogance aside, Republicans made the most of their time in the summit, and outside of it. Congressional Republicans’ messaging machine was firing on all cylinders throughout the day. They deployed a rapid response fact-checking barrage of press releases, which ALG News chronicled at its news aggregator, Washington News Alert. Everything from Obama lying about CBO’s report, which does state that ObamaCare would raise premiums; to Reid lying about the Democrat threat of reconciliation.

    Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, apparently were not so concerned about getting rapid reponses out to the media at all. By design, it appears, they put all their stock on the summit selling itself, or perhaps the media promoting it for them. The truth is, their silence was telling.

    Republicans, on the other hand, climbed the summit. And they came out on top.

    Within an hour of the summit’s opening remarks, it was clear that skeptics who thought Republicans should have sat it out were wrong. Republicans need not have walked away from this challenge. For, they hit the ground running.

    Senator Lamar Alexander in the Republican opening statement made the point, quite effectively, that the summit was effectively pointless if Congressional Democrats refused to take the reconciliation threat off the table.

    Said Alexander, “my request is this: before we go further today, that the Democratic Congressional leaders and you, Mr. President, renounce this idea of going back to the Congress and jamming your bill through on a partisan vote through a little-used process we call reconciliation.”

    Continued Alexander, “You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right, but it’s never been used for anything like this. It’s not appropriate to use to rewrite the rules for 17 percent of the economy. Senator Byrd, who is the constitutional historian of the Senate, has said that it would be an outrage to run the health care bill through the Senate like a freight train with this process. The Senate is the only place where the rights to the minority are protected, and sometimes, as Senator Byrd has said, the minority can be right.” Indeed.

    Instead, Congressional Democrats left reconciliation — a process reserved for minor budget fixes — right there on the table as the summit continued unabated. Everything Republicans, and more importantly, the American people needed to know about the spirit of “bipartisanship” in Washington took place in those first minutes. And the meeting followed suit.

    For Obama, the summit was a failure. And it failed precisely because Democrats refused to take the loaded gun off of the table. Instead, Republicans refused to simply bow to the will of Obama and his party. Republicans could have very easily just filed out of the room at that very moment, and just as much would have been substantively produced legislatively by the summit.

    But, if they had just walked out then and there, or if they had not attended at all, a great opportunity would have been missed to set the record straight, which is exactly what they did. On point after point.

    Obama and the Democrats may have thought they were laying a trap, but instead, it is they who have been hoisted by their own petards. So, Americans for Limited Government would like to say bravo to Congressional Republicans for standing up for the American people. They thank you.

    On a bright note, reconciliation may have been an exaggerated threat all along, as reported by RedState’s Dan Perrin. Apparently, the votes may not be present in the House to pass a reconciliation bill. Why?

    Senator Kent Conrad said, “I don’t know of any way where you can have a reconciliation bill pass before the bill that it is meant to reconcile passes.” Only, that is exactly what Democrats’ plan is in the House: pass the reconciliation bill first, then have that pass in the Senate, and only then would the House pass the Senate bill. Obama would then sign the Senate bill first, and the “reconciled” bill second, amending the Senate bill.

    But, if a serious point of order can be raised, as it surely would, that the rule can only be applied to standing law and, importantly, that was enforced by Congress’ parliamentarian, House Democrats would be left with but one choice to enact their health takeover: vote on the Senate bill first. Except, they do not have the votes to do that.

    Reports Politico, “When reminded that House Democrats don’t want to do health care in that order, Conrad said bluntly: ‘Fine, then it’s dead.’” One can only hope, Obama’s attempt at resurrecting his bill yesterday notwithstanding. Even if he ultimately succeeds at passing this monstrosity, at least the American people have a political party that fought for them, even when the cards were stacked against them.

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