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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Legislative suicide

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proven herself to be a solid political operator -- savvy in tactics and with sharp elbows she's not afraid to use. A scheme she is purported to be thinking about to win passage of Senate health care bill would destroy that reputation -- and any Democratic chances at retaining Congress.

The Washington Post reports the speaker is thinking of using a common parliamentary tactic that would "deem" the Senate bill passed and avoid a vote. Yes, voice votes and similiar dodges are common legislative maneuvers, frequently to spare members tough votes.

But it would also give Republicans yet another, probably even more damaging weapon to use in their attempts to play the politics of health care -- a tactic that would be the foundation of each and every commercial and stump speech from Washington to Wasilla for the rest of this year.

The Party of No has done a pretty good job already in delay and obfuscation. They hammer endlessly that the Senate decision to use reconciliation -- a simple majority -- is a bad way to pass legislation.

Never mind that they used it to ram through the Bush tax cuts or, more significantly, the bill already won 60 votes PS (pre-Scott). The next Senate vote will be on how to reconcile the House version with its own.

And similarly, Pelosi could argue that the "self-executing rule" is not unusual when bringing two versions of legislation together. In normal political times, she would have a case.

But a public -- left and right -- already fed up with the inability of Congress to get anything done would be highly sensitive to the GOP charge that Democrats wouldn't even stand up and vote on something that is important them.

Frankly, it is long past time for the majority party to stand up and stop behaving life the animal which is its symbol. They have already cast votes yea and nay and those recorded votes will be used against them by the Party of No.

Wouldn't it be better to say I stood up and put my voice and my name behind what I believe will be a major step forward to help all Americans -- rather than slink into the shadows and cower in fear over the name calling?

Courage can be a potent campaign tool.

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Blogger Readwriteblue said...

Courage is a virtue that none of our politicians seem to have. The erosion of our rights and freedoms by an always expanding and increasingly less competent bureaucracy of perpetual politicians can be stopped and reversed, but only by the courageous.

March 16, 2010 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes one mindful of the courage it took in WW1 to lead a charge out of the trenches. The current crew in Washington, on both sides of the aisle couldn't lead a horse to water, let alone make him drink.

March 16, 2010 12:17 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

There would still be a vote. The papers that have covered this thus far have done a poor-ass job of doing it. My guess is they followed verbatim the GOP press releases rushed out. Fact of the matter is there would be a vote on, it would just be on the reconciliation fix. They would only "deem" the bill passed should the reconciliation fix get through, by inserting that language into the reconciliation bill.

March 16, 2010 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

OL--read Norm Ornstein from AEI (yeah, that AEI!)

"In the last Congress that Republicans controlled, from 2005 to 2006, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier used the self-executing rule more than 35 times, and was no stranger to the concept of “deem and pass.”


March 16, 2010 11:03 PM  
Blogger Mikhail Silverwood said...

I'm getting really annoyed here. I've been doing everything I can to follow this healthcare legislation (I live in another country) and I'm so sick of people discussing the parliamentary process.

It's time to worry about the important things: the content of the bill and Obama's politics.

The Democrats are using their partisan muscle, and certain questionable moves, to get this legislation passed. Okay, fair enough for you to criticise, but now let's move on.

When you control congress, you have the ability to evade the minority party. That's how the system works. Bill Clinton had to deal with it from 94 to 96, and I no one complained about that.

I'm much more interested in discussing what will happen after the bill is passed: what will Obama's numbers look like; will the healthcare system improve or get worse; six months after the bill is passed, and it's clearer to judge if the plan worked or not, what are Obama's numbers.

March 16, 2010 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We'll be at the next election soon. Have the candidates clearly express their approval/disapproval of the health care bill. Then you'll see a clear madate from the people, not skewed polls, anecdotal feedback etc. We've gone this long without it, a few more months without national helthcare won't kill us. Then you'll see what the people really want. For something this monumental it shouldn't be parlimentary rules which pass it.

March 17, 2010 5:00 AM  

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