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Reform strategy keeps focus on process over policy

By Ben Pershing
Democrats' desire to shift the health-reform focus from process to policy may have to wait a bit longer, as House leaders are weighing a path to passage that ensures yet more debate over parliamentary procedure.

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday that she is considering a maneuver that would allow her Members to avoid a direct vote on the Senate health care bill later this week, sparking outrage from Republicans who accused her of trying to avoid accountability," Roll Call ledes, adding that Pelosi is mulling "a rule that would automatically enact the Senate bill without a separate vote when the reconciliation bill containing a series of 'fixes' is passed on the House floor. That would allow Democrats to avoid taking a difficult, separate vote on a Senate bill many dislike because it contains special deals for Nebraska, Florida, Louisiana and other states. Instead, Members could tout their vote for the larger package." The Washington Post reports: "The tactic -- known as a 'self-executing rule' or a 'deem and pass' -- has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill. It is one of three options that Pelosi said she is considering for a late-week House vote, but she added that she prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure. ... Republicans quickly condemned the strategy, framing it as an effort to avoid responsibility for passing the legislation, and some suggested that Pelosi's plan would be unconstitutional."

USA Today notes that David Dreier argued the strategy "would amount to passing a sweeping piece of legislation without debate. 'She promised transparency,' Dreier said of Pelosi. 'They're working overtime to try to avoid it.' However, Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Mann said the 'deem and pass' move being contemplated by House Democrats is not that unusual and has been employed to handle 'difficult partisan issues,' such as the ban on smoking on domestic airline flights." In response to the GOP's criticisms, Democrats have been circulating this Time piece from the weekend, which begins, "The Slaughter Solution? Another name might be the Dreier Doctrine." The story quotes extensively from a 2006 Roll Call column to make the point that Republicans frequently used the same tactic when they were in charge and Dreier ran the Rules panel. Ezra Klein calls it "a circuitous strategy born of necessity. ... This is all about plausible deniability for House members who don't want to vote for the Senate bill, although I doubt many voters will find the denials plausible." Jonathan Cohn says he is similarly "baffled by this logic" on the part of Democratic lawmakers.

Even if the House just votes on a rule and not the Senate bill itself, Pelosi and company still need to round up 216 ayes. The Associated Press focuses on the lobbying: "Days away from a make-or-break vote on his health care overhaul, President Barack Obama is turning up the pressure as only presidents can, as Democratic leaders make a desperate scramble for votes. The president is wooing freshman Democrats in the Oval Office, holding at least two one-on-one sessions in the past few days that never appeared on his official schedule, according to aides to two lawmakers invited, Reps. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., and Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla. Both voted "no" when the legislation passed the House on the first go-round last year, but now they're not ruling out siding with the president and Democratic leaders on what's expected to be a cliffhanger vote in the House later this week." The Los Angeles Times reports: "At a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, Pelosi urged her Democratic colleagues to get behind the sweeping healthcare overhaul, even if they had problems with individual parts of the plan. Consumer groups, labor unions, industry associations and business groups also intensified pressure on Democratic lawmakers who are on the fence. Many are facing a barrage of television ads in their districts, including a $10-million campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a leading critic." John Larson says "the votes are there" to pass the bill now.

Politico writes, "Instead of the typical wheeling and dealing to pick up much-needed support, Pelosi and her leadership team are warning members that the bill is final, and its language is set, so don't come seeking major changes or handouts for your district. Asked if she was willing to change the final legislation at the request of Democratic holdouts, the speaker said, 'No.' ... [T]his doesn't mean party leaders can't or won't court votes with the lure of provisions in future bills or campaign help from the president, but it indicates that House leaders plan to go to the floor with the reconciliation bill they have rather than making last-minute changes at the Rules Committee to attract more support." The Hill examines efforts to sway the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: "Democratic leaders are using a mixture of pressure and persuasion to get Hispanic Democrats in the 'yes' column when it comes to the vote on healthcare. ... Caucus members have threatened to withhold their votes because of Senate language in the healthcare bill that would prohibit illegal immigrants' buying healthcare coverage from the proposed health exchanges. ... [Charles Gonzalez] noted that at least a dozen members of the CHC are 'tied in knots' over the prospect of choosing between opening up avenues to health insurance to many of their constituents and supporting what they worry is a precedent-setting policy of immigrant discrimination."

At a campaign-style rally in Ohio Monday, the New York Times says "Obama sought to seal the deal with Congress and the American people Monday by focusing on a single patient: a self-employed cleaning woman who dropped her costly insurance plan and just discovered she has leukemia. ... The president sought to turn the debate away from politics by reminding his party that people's lives -- even more than politicians' electoral fortunes -- were at stake. He cast passing the health care bill as a critical test of Democrats' ability to govern." The Wall Street Journal points out that Obama "delivered his remarks at a rally in the district of Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who voted against an earlier version of the bill last fall because it wasn't liberal enough. Mr. Kucinich said last week that he was still opposed. But he took a ride with the president aboard Air Force One, and faces pressure to reconsider. ... Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, Mr. Biden hosted a fund-raiser for Rep. Steve Driehaus, a freshman Democrat. Mr. Driehaus voted for the House version of the overhaul last fall but is now on the fence. Mr. Biden largely avoided the topic of health care, but praised Mr. Driehaus's past support for the administration."

David Brooks laments that "once partisan reconciliation is used for this bill, it will be used for everything, now and forever. The Senate will be the House. The remnants of person-to-person relationships, with their sympathy and sentiment, will be snuffed out. We will live amid the relationships of group versus group, party versus party, inhumanity versus inhumanity. We have a political culture in which the word 'reconciliation' has come to mean 'bitter division.' With increasing effectiveness, the system bleaches out normal behavior and the normal instincts of human sympathy. Noemie Emery writes: "A stranger moment in politics has seldom been seen. A vast expansion of government that affects every one of the country's 300-plus million inhabitants may be passed by a hair against fierce and fiercely repeated public opposition by a Congress that no longer speaks for its voters--most of whose members are angry and scared." Robert Reich hearkens back to 1994: "Today's Republican battle plan is exactly the same as it was sixteen years ago. In fact, it's been the same since President Obama assumed office. They never were serious about compromise. They were serious only about regaining power. From the start, Republicans have remembered the lesson of 1994. Now, as they prepare to vote, House Democrats should remember the lesson as well."

On financial reform, Bloomberg writes: "Christopher Dodd's plan for the biggest Wall Street regulatory overhaul since the 1930s drops provisions he sought in November and dilutes others as he seeks bipartisan support. The measure shelves a single regulator that would have stripped the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. of bank-supervision roles, and a plan to hold brokers to the same fiduciary standard as investment advisers. ... The Connecticut Democrat's bill, based on a proposal by President Barack Obama last June, lets regulators oversee over- the-counter derivatives, forces hedge funds bigger than $100 million to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and empowers the Fed to force large firms to break up if they pose a 'grave threat' to the economy. Some critics said it didn't go far enough." The Wall Street Journal says Dodd's plan "would take sharp aim at big Wall Street banks, with provisions that would rein in profits, require more capital and tamp down executive compensation, likely exacerbating a political brawl between bankers and the White House. ... The bill's prospects remain unclear, and thus far it has no Republican support. Democrats are trying to generate momentum after months of attacks from Republicans and business groups who complained the overhaul push would kill jobs and weigh down a struggling economy. The Obama administration is expected to use the debate to pressure Republicans into either supporting the bill or appearing to side with the banks."

USA Today reports: "Political observers expressed doubts that the plan would become law, considering that Dodd, D-Conn., would need to win over Republican votes to get the 60 required to break a filibuster and ensure passage in the Senate." The Washington Post says "Liberals and conservatives, as well as financial lobbyists and consumer advocates, could each find elements of the new bill that appealed to them. Dodd backed off his initial vision for a standalone consumer protection agency, an idea rejected by Republicans and much of the financial industry. He instead agreed to house the agency within the Federal Reserve, though he vowed to preserve its independence. At the same time, he included provisions to rein in big banks and give shareholders of public companies more of a voice; both are measures that appeal to fellow Democrats. And yet, groups as disparate as the American Bankers Association and the activist Americans for Financial Reform found reason to voice displeasure with aspects of the far-reaching legislation."

By Ben Pershing  |  March 16, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health Care , The Rundown  
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Comments

The American drug cartel, which has held off running ads until officials sign off on the final reconciliation bill, is growing more comfortable with the emerging legislation and is preparing a substantial pro-reform ad buy in 43 Democratic districts, according to the drug industry.

The amount and timing of the buy have not yet been set and hinge largely on action in the House. Still, the development is a substantial step forward from Monday morning, when industry officials, coming off a tough weekend of negotiating with Democratic staffers, said there were no ads in the works. The movement should also help appease the White House, which has been leaning on the industry to provide Democrats air cover.

It looks like Obama gave the drug cartel permission to raise all of their prices once the bill is passed - quid pro quo.

Posted by: alance | March 16, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Open letter to all members of Congress re Obamacare

Your position and that of the sitting members of congress will not rise unscathed from the support of Obamacare. Support of this issue is a direct usurpation of the powers authorized to congress under the Constitution of the United States of America. In supporting it you violate the trust that has been placed in you by the citizens that you represent. In support of this issue you show gross disregard for the men and women that have fought and died for the words and principles of the Constitution over the entire history of this nation.

Why are you trying to destroy the United States of America by flagrantly supporting legislation that is in direct opposition to the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution? Two other instances of such activity by the federal government were FDR’s Social Security and LBJ’s Medicare. Both are in trouble while you are attempting to add to the entitlement problems.

My home state of Massachusetts had the right idea of health care administered by the state, but its progressive implementation is driving the state into financial distress due to the rising costs of maintaining the system.

Our national security is at risk as one of our largest debt holders (China) is trying to control our foreign policy with one of our close allies, Taiwan.

It has been said that if America falls, it will have to be from the inside as no other nation is strong enough to take it down externally. I ask this question of you in the open public forum “Are you proud to be one of the termites eating away at the foundations of Liberty?”

If you are a religious person, you must worry that the millions of Patriots that have passed before will be demonstrating against your entrance at the Pearly Gates.

Dale E. Brown for Congress MA05 2010
www.brownsview.us

Posted by: brownsview | March 16, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Submit a Joke

Believe it or not, we'll pay $100-$300 if you make us chuckle! Just send us your hilarious joke or anecdote, and if we publish it in Reader's Digest, you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

For instance, do you really have to wait four years for your free colonoscopy after having Pelosi shove this bill up your butt? No, you can move to France. Ha,ha,ha,ha!

Posted by: deeman | March 16, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Seriously I think the only reason Obama's numbers have dropped in the polls is because of progressives like me that supported him because he propounded a progressive agenda throughout his campaign. Now all he does is pander to the other side and compromise. What the heck are you independents complaining about!!!
He has been nothing but excruciatingly moderate his entire time in office on just about every one of his policies.
He ESCALATED the war in Afghanistan. You think I wanted that… you think I voted for that. He decided not to push hard for a public option. He decided to use tax cuts as economic stimulus when it just gets stuffed into the pockets of the wealthy. Do you realize we are now the only developed nation in the world without some form of a high speed rail system. China gets it and they are laughing at us. Don’t you realize that the status quo is what is destroying this country. France has universal healthcare and guess what they pay half what we do for it and guess what else THEY ARE HEALTHIER!!!! Maybe not the citizens that make over $250,000 but how many of the people commenting on this post do!
I mean what do you people want… speaking of which if the answer to that question is Sarah Palin then there is so little hope left for this country that I wonder why China doesn’t just call in its debt right now and get it over with (DEBT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION SADDLED US WITH AFTER INHERITING SURPLUSES!!!) I mean why don’t we want are leaders to be smarter then us… When you have a problem and go to a doctor don’t you hope that he knows more than you do about medicine!

Posted by: snuffles753 | March 16, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the bill"

The arrogance of that statement is impossible to believe but there it is.

Well my fellow Americans there you have it. You are too STUPID to see thru this transparent subtrafuge! You will not remember who voted YEA on the original house bill. You will calmly tell those elected representatives who voted yea then and now claim they would never have voted nay now all is forgiven,

In a pigs eye, nobody is that stupid except those that wanted this pile of trash in the first place!

Posted by: PRRWRITER | March 16, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the bill"

================================

If thats the case - time to abolish the fed government. I would hope that I sent an elected official there to do just that - "Vote" - not duck his/her responsibilities..I mean - that's their job - no? Its called personal responsibility for ones own decision...something I do not want them to avoid....otherwise they should pay twice the penalty.

Posted by: short1 | March 16, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the bill"

The arrogance of that statement is impossible to believe but there it is.

Well my fellow Americans there you have it. You are too STUPID to see thru this transparent subtrafuge! You will not remember who voted YEA on the original house bill. You will calmly tell those elected representatives who voted yea then and now claim they would never have voted nay now all is forgiven,

In a pigs eye, nobody is that stupid except those that wanted this pile of trash in the first place!

Posted by: PRRWRITER | March 16, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the bill"

The arrogance of that statement is impossible to believe but there it is.

Well my fellow Americans there you have it. You are too STUPID to see thru this transparent subtrafuge! You will not remember who voted YEA on the original house bill. You will calmly tell those elected representatives who voted yea then and now claim they would never have voted nay now all is forgiven,

In a pigs eye, nobody is that stupid except those that wanted this pile of trash in the first place!

Posted by: PRRWRITER | March 16, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the bill"

The arrogance of that statement is impossible to believe but there it is.

Well my fellow Americans there you have it. You are too STUPID to see thru this transparent subtrafuge! You will not remember who voted YEA on the original house bill. You will calmly tell those elected representatives who voted yea then and now claim they would never have voted nay now all is forgiven,

In a pigs eye, nobody is that stupid except those that wanted this pile of trash in the first place!

Posted by: PRRWRITER | March 16, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Return the POWERS and attached monies to the COMMUNITIES. Minimize Federal and State Governments. The Rural Areas between the COMMUNITIES become the Arteries of the Globe.
Imagine a TOWN MEETING in the Good Old Days..
Secret Ballot is the Norm for sensitive issues.
John Saari Wexford County Commissioner

Posted by: saari | March 16, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Federal health care reform? "First, Do No Harm."

SECRET HOMELAND-LED PROGRAM SILENTLY TORTURES, IMPAIRS, 'SLOW KILLS' AMERICANS WITH NATIONWIDE CELL TOWER MICROWAVE/LASER 'DIRECTED ENERGY' WEAPON SYSTEM: VETERAN JOURNALIST

• Secret Bush-Cheney legacy multi-agency federal-local program uses cell tower/GPS satellite microwave/laser electromagnetic precision "directed energy" RF radiation attack system to silently torture, impair, subjugate "targeted" citizens -- and oversees local police-protected "community watch" vigilante harassment, vandalism, and financial sabotage campaigns.

Electromagnetic and social neutralization, elimination of "dissidents," undesirables.

• Why so many cell towers saturate the American landscape -- urban and rural.

• Weapon system patents reveal silent, powerful attack system in YOUR backyard.

• American human rights atrocities, ideological purge, under the cover of national security.

WHY WON'T MAINSTREAM MEDIA QUIZ THE ADMINISTRATION ABOUT THIS DOMESTIC WEAPON SYSTEM -- IN EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD IN AMERICA?

See: poynter.org/subject.asp?id=2 ("articles" list)

OR: http://www.nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves

BUCKS COUNTY, PA- BASED MAGLOCLEN FUSION CENTER: "Central command for a Mid-Atlantic States American Gestapo."

Where is the DOJ/Civil Rights Division Investigation?

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR: NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "U.S. SILENTLY TORTURES..." and "GESTAPO USA" ("stories" list).

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 16, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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