Au revoir, accountability
03 - 17 - 2010: Talking Points Memo (TPM), a left-leaning blog, has a post up as of yesterday morning, with a link to the Obama White House "final talking points" on the healthcare legislation currently pending in the House of Representatives. The post there is entitled, "White House Releases Final Talking Points: Reform Good For Average Person, GOP Good For Average Insurer," a post written by Christina Bellantoni.
One of the curious attributes Bellantoni takes express note of in her post, is the repeated use of the word "control" in the Administration's talking points.
The word "control" appears several times in the talking points, and one line was repeated almost world [sic] for word in Obama's health care speech in Ohio yesterday.
"Now, I don't believe we should give the government or insurance companies more control over health care in America. I believe it's time to give you, the American people, more control over your own health insurance," Obama said, in a close paraphrase of what the White House suggested members should say.
Interesting. It is especially since most Americans now believe that the real object of the Obama healthcare legislation is to give the federal government control over healthcare, and that premium costs will rise. The much touted accountability claims now seem completely inoperative. How else to account for the unpopularity of the bills? Even the Associated Press is now reporting that premiums will go up under ObamaCare! Ed Morrissey at HotAir now links new studies predicting ObamaCare will be a big jobs killer.
In fact, the current legislation is so wildly and increasingly unpopular that Democrats in the House of Representatives are pondering the use of a highly controversial and sneaky legislative tactic that would permit them, as reported in the Washington Post, to actually avoid taking a roll-call vote on the Senate Bill itself.
The tactic, called the "self-executing rule" is now being dubbed the "Slaughterhouse tactic," because Congresswoman Louise Slaughterhouse (D-NY) is reportedly the one who suggested using it. Having published the original extensive article -- "House may try to pass Senate health-care bill without voting on it," by Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, the WaPo, is now editorializing against the use of the tactic, calling it "dodgy."
The rule, which has been used very sparingly in the past, would instead allow the House to take only one vote -- on the reconciliation rule resolution -- and would, therefore, permit the Democrat members to claim they never voted for the Senate Bill, even though they have to pass that bill in order to advance the reconciliation process they currently favor. Various commentators have opined on the questionable political use of the tactic, including Mark Tapscott at The Examiner, here, Cornell Law School assistant clinical professor, William A. Jacobson at Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion here, Ed Morrissey at HotAir here, and, some have as well opined on the constitutionality of the tactic, especially given the enormous scope of the healthcare legislation, including Andy McCarthy at NRO, here, and Michael W. McConnell in the Wall Street Journal, here (subscription. req.)(ht: Ed at HotAir). Prof. Jacobson also posted a helpful update link over to this "plain English" discussion of the constitutionality issue at Politico.
The bottom line, in essence, seems to be that the House is proposing use of a "secret ballot" for the House Democrat membership on the passage of the Senate Bill.
Gee, one wonders, how is that giving "the people" control over their own healthcare? That sounds more like the House is impermissibly grabbing for control over the healthcare vote by employing a "secret ballot" tactic.
And, a few Democrats are beginning to speak out against the use of that back-handed maneuver:
For example, consider the views of Democrat Congressman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania's 4th District, a suburban and rural district lying north and east of Pittsburgh. Congressman Atmire says that one of the things he hears about most from his constituents, is their unhappiness with the process. He even told Fox News that, in general, they do not like the "reconciliation" process, and with regard to a specific question on the "Slaughterhouse Rule" itself, Atmire said that, as for
"the self-implementing rule that you're talking about, where you wouldn't have a formal vote on maybe the most important policy of the past forty years, I have a big issue with the way they're doing the process. I think it's wrong and my constituents don't like it."Meanwhile, Roll Call is reporting that Senator Blanche Lincoln, (D-Arkansas) actually is using the issue politically against her primary opponent, challenging Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to join her in criticizing the sneaky maneuver, noting that Halter had called for "more accountability in Washington" and adding that "the House should vote on the Senate health bill under normal rules."
So, maybe the reason the Obama Administration keeps using the work "control" in their talking points, is because control seems to be such a huge element of the thrust of their agenda, including healthcare, and even including the use of the underhanded "Slaughterhouse" tactic.
Consider the following surface inconsistency.
As we all know, one of the primary elements of the Obama legislative agenda is the adoption of "card check" legislation which would eliminate the "secret ballot" for rank-and-file workers. Eliminating the secret ballot opens the door for intimidation, and therefore gives union bosses much greater "control" over union elections.
But when it comes to House Members, Pelosi now wants to allow the Democrat members to employ a "secret ballot" maneuver to avoid voting on the Senate Bill!
Here is how Speaker Pelosi put it herself in describing her preference for using the trick vote:
"But I like it," she said, "because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill."
In other words, the Democrat members of the House will get to "declare" that the Senate Bill passed, without ever voting on the bill itself! And Pelosi believes it will give her greater control over an obviously antsy caucus, one that she is losing control of in her attempts to get the healthcare legislation over the final hurdles.
It seems that the only real way to reconcile all of this, would be to recognize that the Obama agenda is really all about "trickle-down control."
The Democrat Party is simply not the party of the average person, as the Obama talking points now laughably claim.
It has instead become the party of statist control.
UPDATE: More here from Bloomberg news, "Pelosi Tactic for Health-Care Vote Would Raise Legal Questions," by Greg Stohr, including an indication that one group will file suit if the tactic is used.
"The Landmark Legal Foundation, a Leesburg, Virginia-based organization that supports limited government, will sue to stop the health-care plan if the House uses the procedure, Mark R. Levin,
president of the group, said on its Web site."