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Sometimes you have to burn a village to rule it

selfexecute-thumb.jpg

I'm going to pull a reverse-Brooks in this post, but break the rules and simply tell you what I'm doing at the beginning: On the deem and pass question, Democrats are wrong, but Republicans are wronger.

The problem with deem and pass isn't, well, deem and pass. It's the wrongheaded view of House members who have convinced themselves that there's something irreparably wrong with the Senate health-care bill. But the Senate bill, like the House bill, is a very good, if imperfect, piece of legislation. It's better on cost controls than the House legislation but worse on affordability. Structurally, however, the two are very similar: They both include subsidies for individuals and small businesses to purchase regulated insurance products from exchanges and an individual mandate to ensure that the healthy don't game the system.

The bigger problem with the Senate bill is the deals attached to it. But the deals aren't, from a policy perspective, particularly important. They're just politically important. And politics is politics, so the deals will come out. But just because Fox News pretends that they somehow define the legislation is no reason for House Democrats to adopt the same argument.

If the Democrats are wusses, the Republicans have chosen to foment a hysterical, corrosive cynicism. "Any veteran observer of Congress is used to the rampant hypocrisy over the use of parliamentary procedures that shifts totally from one side to the other as a majority moves to minority status, and vice versa," writes congressional expert Norm Onstein. "But I can’t recall a level of feigned indignation nearly as great as what we are seeing now from congressional Republicans."

Deem and pass -- more technically known as a "self-executing rule" -- is a common congressional procedure, as you can see from the graph atop this post. Republicans used it dozens of times when they were in power. But now that Democrats are doing the same, the GOP is painting it as a threat to the republic itself. That may be good politics, but it is bad civics. They are scaring the bejesus out of their constituents and assuring that even if the legislation does pass, a substantial fraction of the country will think tyranny has come to America. That tyranny, as the Republicans know, is in the form of majority votes that accord with the rules of Congress. But they will happily destroy this Congress in order to secure a slightly better shot at controlling it.

In part, this need for a nuclear response is a sign of their weakness in the face of the reality of this bill. They're much more comfortable talking about process, or marginal deals, then about the legislation itself. The bill covers more than 30 million people. If you trust the scorekeeper that Republicans trust whenever they're in power, it cuts the deficit by almost a trillion dollars over the next two decades. It will protect millions who would've been denied insurance because they needed medical care, or would've found their benefits yanked when their sickness was discovered.

Indeed, ever since the health-care summit, which was the most substantive discussion we've had thus far, health-care reform is recovering its popularity. Republicans know that perfectly well, and so they're exploiting a dumb Democratic maneuver to change the topic. They can't win on the substance of health-care reform, but maybe they can win by making Washington look like a noxious, awful place that you can't possibly trust. Of course, soon enough, they'll be in charge of this noxious, awful place, and the public will be that much more cynical about Washington, and Republicans will find successful governance that much harder.

Graph credit: By Sarah Binder/Monkey Cage

By Ezra Klein  |  March 17, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

But as the years 2001-2008 showed so clearly, the GOPers don't really care about governance. They just want the power to distribute the spoils to their supporters (donors). That's why the Dems' task is always harder. Plus the Dems seem to feel less comfortable with wholesale lying.

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 17, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"Please ask CBO not to say anything important till I get back."

That's funny!

Feel better, Ezra.

Posted by: SisterRosetta | March 17, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

But the Senate bill, like the House bill, is a very good, if imperfect, piece of legislation.

Ezra, you are falling into the high expectations trap. The bill is worth passing, but saying that it is very good is a stretch. I give it a C- on substance, barely adequate. I would describe it as the best we can get, but not even close to what is needed.

This is what happened with the stimulus. Obama overpromised what it would do, and when it underdelivered, he was pilloried by the repiglicans as ineffective. HCR will suffer the same fate if it is touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Posted by: srw3 | March 17, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't know Ezra, I think these process issues are unimportant to most people. While this may play well in the DC area and amongst us politics-junkies, I don't think most people care how the sausage was made so much as how the sausage tasted.

Think back to the Medicare Part D vote of a few years ago. Those of us that care deeply about politics were a might disturbed by what went on with that vote, but I'd bet that if a poll was taken today about the vote most people would have no idea what happened.

And I disagree with the premise that Republicans will regret their current actions when they retake Congress. The GOP has assessed the American populace's attention span as being somewhere between a fruit fly and humming bird. They are right about this; if they weren't any attempt by the GOP to brand itself as "fiscal conservatives" would be laughed at.

Posted by: nisleib | March 17, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

As the Republican leaders keep shrieking that anything other than tax cuts for the wealthy is unconstitutional, I recall an line from a movie: "You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Posted by: theorajones1 | March 17, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The respective behavior of both parties here has led me to the following paraphrase of Wintson Churchill:
the Democratic Party is the worst political party except for all of the others

Posted by: gregspolitics | March 17, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"If the Democrats are wusses, the Republicans have chosen to foment a hysterical, corrosive cynicism."

That's a surprisingly good summary that applies to a lot more than just health care reform. It's almost a blueprint for operating procedures when Democrats have the majority.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 17, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Contra, Ezra, I think passing the Senate bill via a self-executing rule *was* a perfectly good plan. Essentially, since the two bills are a package, House Democrats would be voting for both bills with one vote.

The problem is that Democrats have been totally out-politicked on this one by the Republicans (again). There's nothing complicated about explaining to people that they're simply considering passing "the whole package" (two bills) with one vote.

Instead, they've let the Republicans portray this as some kind of trick where the Senate bill just magically "passes" the House without the House approving it.

At this point, I say just do two separate votes rather than get this thing caught up in the stupid back-and-forth again. But sheesh.

Posted by: Isa8686 | March 17, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

As Nixon staffer Pat Buchannan wrote in 1972: "In conclusion, this is a potential throw of the dice that could bring the media on our heads, and cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half."

The more things change...

Posted by: antontuffnell | March 17, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I'll continue to say that pass-and-deem (PAD) is lawful BUT, in this instance, is a dubious yet understandable choice. PAD has the advantage that if the "sidecar" fails for some reason, the primary bill continues to be in play, giving the Speaker multiple opportunities to coerce members into a party-line vote. It has the disadvantage that it will, for a while, be perceived as underhanded; moreover, it forces the CBO to evaluate the sidecar as a standalone measure, potentially revealing some brow-raising numbers. The nakedness of the numbers will be even more evident when the CBO report for the House (which evaluates the sidecar without the primary bill) is held beside the CBO report for the Senate (which evaluates the primary bill with the sidecar attached).

By deciding on a PAD strategy, the Speaker must believe that the chances of failure of the sidecar are great enough to offset all potential disadvantages (political and otherwise). Personally, I just don't see it spinning that way... but who knows.

Posted by: rmgregory | March 17, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, the fact that the Demcorats are using the Deem and Pass manuver in the first place kind of belies your statement about Obamcare becoming more popular lately. The only polls that show that are the liberal ones you cherry pick. The RCP average still shows it to be just as unpopular as it's been since last summer. As Nancy says, no one in the House wants to vote for the Senate bill. Also, it is true that the Republicans have used Deem and Pass themselves but they never used it for something on the scale of a reodering of 1/6 of the U.S. econonmy. What are the Democrats afraid of? If it's so popular bring it to a vote, a real vote.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 17, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"Ezra, the fact that the Demcorats are using the Deem and Pass manuver in the first place kind of belies your statement about Obamcare becoming more popular lately."

Wrong -

The use of deem and pass simply indicates that certain provisions of the Senate bill, with no reconciliation fix apllied, are politically unpopular. The House is still passing health care reform by deem and pass, they are simply integrating their vote for the Senate bill with their vote to fix it.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 17, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"no one in the House wants to vote for the Senate bill"

The current estimate is 200 more than 'no one'...

Posted by: JkR- | March 17, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"Ezra, the fact that the Demcorats are using the Deem and Pass manuver in the first place kind of belies your statement about Obamcare becoming more popular lately."

Patrick_M is correct.

I would add that Republicans have little to do with any of this. It's the infighting of the Democrats. The extreme left wing radials in charge against the minority moderates.

Part of representative democracy is having the governed accept the decisions of thsoe elected. Lies and tricks don't help them do that.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | March 17, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"The current estimate is 200 more than 'no one'..."

Nancy's quote not mine.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 17, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"Deem and pass" is a communist plot!

Posted by: TomServo | March 17, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Wrong -

The use of deem and pass simply indicates that certain provisions of the Senate bill, with no reconciliation fix apllied, are politically unpopular. The House is still passing health care reform by deem and pass, they are simply integrating their vote for the Senate bill with their vote to fix it."

The fact that they don't want to do a straight up or down vote and are even contemplating this maneuver seems to indicate that number of Democrats are very nervous about voting for this bill. For good reaon since a lot of them will probably lose their jobs this fall.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 17, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"But I can’t recall a level of feigned indignation nearly as great as what we are seeing now from congressional Republicans."

There is no better example of "feigned indignation" (and hypocrisy) then this video of Steny Hoyer lambasting the "slaughter rule" in 2003:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_1Zr4B_j9Y

Posted by: morgen-vs | March 17, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I understand the mentality "at all costs." Just admit it Ezra - this is not a common occurance that has happened "dozens of times." The Senate passed a bill with 60 votes, one of the members changed votes due to a special election in which the candidate from a liberal state vowed to be #41, now rather than the house passing an amended bill and allowing the Senate to vote - they are pulling a "deem and pass." Why would they do this? There is no other reason than to attempt to trick people into thinking they didn't support the bill. So - the bill passes and it stinks. The house blames the Senate who blames the house and the pres blames both. But no specific candidates are to blame because nobody actually voted on the final bill. Just ask yourself Ezra - Why are they doing "deem and pass" rather than simply amending the bill and sending it back to the Senate?

Posted by: Holla26 | March 17, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

RobT1,

Well yes, Democrats would much prefer to just have a conference committee with the Senate to iron out these differences and have a normal vote. But the Republicans aren't going to allow that to happen, so the House Dems have to muddle their procedure out of distrust of the Senate.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 17, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Democratic Rep. John Boccieri says he's faced with "voting on an imperfect bill or doing nothing"
-----------------------------------
this is a typical ignorant democratic response...how about not voting on a imperfect bill and pulling your head out of your liberal a@@ and do something to make it better.

Posted by: JWx2 | March 17, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Another GOP coup. Most people probably think its "demon pass."

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 17, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

If the Republicans allowed an up-or-down vote in the Senate, rather than filibuster, the House wouldn't have to leap through imaginary hurdles. Yet somehow the Republicans want to remain blameless, as tho they are on the high road. My guess is that the public is going to continue to warm up to this reform package and it won't be the albatross the Republicans claim it to be.

Posted by: barbarian_horde | March 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I thought my cynicism towards conservatives had reached its limit, but that there are people arguing for a "straight up-or-down vote" in the House while Republicans are denying a "straight up-or-down vote" in the Senate is baffling to me.

Posted by: MosBen | March 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who thinks that Republican politicians aren't the only problem here?

Isn't the bigger problem several million "citizens" who barely graduated from high school, couldn't pick out Iraq or Afghanistan on a map to save their lives, and haven't even read the healthcare bill to which they think they're so opposed?

Wealthy or not, this is America's self-perceived underclass, in the sense that they feel put upon all the time, because they are the minority. They didn't get to go to good schools. If they have money, they feel like they had to work overly hard for it. They aren't the kind of people that the typical Hollywood sit-com celebrates; indeed, they feel like most mainstream culture belittles them -- their religion, music, accents, etc. (and they're mostly right).

Is it any wonder that such a group of uneducated and insecure people should fall prey (and I do mean "prey" in the predatory sense) to a broadcast network like Fox and politicians like McConnell who use such people to make money and garner power?

The irony is that it is mostly this group of people who Obama and the Democrats are trying to help.

Posted by: paul65 | March 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

This whole process is just a farce.....if anyone in control of the process really cared about saving us tax payers money they would consider tort reform, they would not outlaw buying drugs in Canada but would require parity in pricing in USA and would recognize that by putting more non-tax payers on the government dole that it is just more people without skin in the game that doesn't care what it costs because they are not paying....i care because i pay for my employees and i pay taxes...i only wish i could get on the government welfare.........

Posted by: dmetzler | March 17, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who thinks that Republican politicians aren't the only problem here?

Isn't the bigger problem several million "citizens" who barely graduated from high school, couldn't pick out Iraq or Afghanistan on a map to save their lives, and haven't even read the healthcare bill to which they think they're so opposed?

Wealthy or not, this is America's self-perceived underclass, in the sense that they feel put upon all the time, because they are the minority. They didn't get to go to good schools. If they have money, they feel like they had to work overly hard for it. They aren't the kind of people that the typical Hollywood sit-com celebrates; indeed, they feel like most mainstream culture belittles them -- their religion, music, accents, etc. (and they're mostly right).

Is it any wonder that such a group of uneducated and insecure people should fall prey (and I do mean "prey" in the predatory sense) to a broadcast network like Fox and politicians like McConnell who use such people to make money and garner power?

The irony is that it is mostly this group of people who Obama and the Democrats are trying to help.

Posted by: paul65 | March 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

---------------------------------------

I thank ye fer yer concern about us dum publicans. we rally preciate when ya tell us how ignant we be and how much yer gonna help us. using dem der sterotypes demostrates yer soupiar nowladge - wuld you like to just vote fer me next time?

Posted by: Holla26 | March 17, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Sour grapes. "Do as I say, not as I do." The Republican mantra.

Posted by: steve_j | March 17, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Klein: "Deem and pass -- more technically known as a "self-executing rule" -- is a common congressional procedure, as you can see from the graph atop this post. Republicans used it dozens of times when they were in power."
--------------
Ah, some new Constitutional Law here: two wrongs make a right! Did you bother clearing this new principle of jurisprudence with the "Constitutional scholar" in the White House?

Did either of you bother to consider the novelty of using "deem and pass" for final passage of a bill? Did you consider the certainty that this will be challenged because of the controversial nature of the subject matter? Did you even look at the recent precedent CLINTON v. CITY OF NEW YORK (97-1374) 985 F. Supp. 168?

And beyond the Constitutional law, do you think how this looks to the American people that this legislation is so wonderful that Congressmen have to be bribed/threatened and then can't even stand up in the light of day and vote "yes"?

Posted by: CincinnatiRIck | March 17, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
About what I expect from your wordprocessor. Nice job with the Dem talking points. "Sometimes you have to burn the village", you say? Think about this:
“When we were young, we all learned to look out for people who can’t….or won’t…..lift themselves up through character, intelligence, and hard work, but instead try to get what they want by tearing others down.”
Chris W. Cox

So Ezra, nice job pal. I hope you get your commisar appointment as sooner as possible after the Senate Health Care Bill is "deemed" approved, because November, amigo, is only a few months away.

By the way, do you think the Obama Administration should apply your "Sometimes you have to burn the village" idea to its policy on Israel? Perhaps they already have.

Posted by: rtpetrick | March 17, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Ezra:

Why do you repeat the same mis-information over and over, I.E. That people's coverage will be dropped when they get sick. This is both (A) Incorrect and (B) Illegal.

In 36 years as a broker, and THOUSANDS of clients, I have never had one client or company that tried to terminate someone's coverage after they got sick or were injured!

This is simply scare mongering, and it is wrong.

The present Senate and house bills are a joke, and would be funny, it it were not for the fact that it is a bad joke on the American people, and our children. The premise of making healthcare more "Affordable" while paying for this fiasco, is a ludicrous proposition, totally unsupported by the math. I am sorry to be sarcastic, but to borrow a phrase,"Are you smarter then a 5th Grader?" Because any 5th grader can do the simple math, to see that this is an absurd premise from the get-go!

Posted by: richardhaight | March 17, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

All of this is just a lot of political drama. We keep talking about Democrats and Republicans and not about what the people want. The majority of people in this country do not have a problem with healthcare reform, they have just determined this is not reform and they don't want it jammed down their throat. This is not about reconcilliation or any other method that is attempted to pass this, it is pure and simple about a bill that does not fit the bill. The writer seems to think that this 2000+ behemoth is a good start. Look we have had this problem for a lot of years. Starting over and taking another year to do it should not be a problem. While this bill may address access it does not address costs. With all the government programs and institutions verging on bankruptcy and our country deep in debt (due strictly to the politicians) we are as a nation and a people committing financial suicide to think the government is best to handle healthcare. So in conclusion it is not about all of the strategies to pass it or to block it, that's where we are getting off track. The people of this country do not want this bill. They need to stop and listen. This is a republic, not a democracy. Simple majority does not rule. This bill should not pass, they need to start over. Better a good bill that takes longer, than a bad bill that has never seen the light of day.

Posted by: tdressler | March 17, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Well one sure recipe for antagonism is sleight of hand manuevers and subterfuges to pass legislation that very clearly the American people as a whole (and overwhelmingly in the districts represented by centrist blue dogs) do NOT want. You can rationalize all you want about insurance lobbies and crazed teapartiers wrongly influencing voters. You can try as you will to equate Obamacare with "reform." The dogs are not eating the dog food and even with overwhelming majorities, you can't pass this crap. Sure the Republicans are playing politics...it's winning politics to oppose what the people don't want. You couldn't wish for a better scenario if you are the "out" party...why should they join hands with the Administration and jump off the bridge?

And as for this latest bit of chicanery that Pelosi has cooked up. The 1998 SCOTUS decision (CLINTON v. CITY OF NEW YORK (97-1374) 985 F. Supp. 168, affirmed) clearly indicates that you cannot change so much as a comma between what the House and Senate pass and the President signs. The "Constitutional scholar" in the White House needs to give Pelosi a call and bring her up to speed on the fact that they can expect no friendly ruling from their friends on the SCOTUS on this.

Posted by: CincinnatiRIck | March 17, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

This legislation should scare the bejesus out of any Congressional constituent. You're wildly naive if you believe it'll cut a trillion dollars from the deficit over two decades. Congressional Democrats have no stomach for bending the cost curve here and manufacture expense by delaying any goodies while building a nest egg. Adding 30 million presently uncovered will not lower health care costs.

Posted by: ecrutle | March 17, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I suspect the House instructed the Washington Post to confuse the public on what the "self executing rule" is capable of legally doing. There are a multitude of inaccuracies be published on this topic at the WP today.

If you follow the link to the Monkey Cage, one may be left believing that this process is outside of being challenged because it has been used this way before. At that Cage, they list out Q&A's as if the natter is settled. The best one to read is;

"4. Have self-executing rules been used on major bills before?"

Their answer does not answer their question, it merely skates around the answer. They even added a link there to help out, but that source does the same thing.

The closest you'll find to it being used to pass a BILL was House Resolution 420, which is not an amendment being used to pass a BILL.

The "better on cost controls" is a claim absent details necessary to make it accurate, so I'll await that information to be shared with the readers, hopefully before they believe it just because a WP reporter said so.

I next see it stated that "[t]he bill covers more than 30 million people". It actually covers closer to 300 million, the entire population of the USA (with exceptions for few). The "30 million" is the number we will pay for all or part of the health insurance coverage on through the tax increases and various fees.

If you trust the scorekeeper that Republicans trust whenever they're in power, it cuts the deficit by almost a trillion dollars over the next two decades.

As you move on down, you'll find "If you trust the scorekeeper that Republicans trust whenever they're in power, it cuts the deficit by almost a trillion dollars over the next two decades".

That is inaccurate if it is referring to the Congressional Budget Office, as they only forecast out 19 years. I'm open to being corrected or having a source for this "scorekeeper that Republicans trust" shared with us.

A Question To Consider;
If that health care bill is of such a benefit to ALL the citizens of this nation - what some are classifying as a right of the people - why would anyone jeopardize it by adding provisions and using procedures that could nullify it?

Posted by: kbp69 | March 17, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

But as the years 2001-2008 showed so clearly, the GOPers don't really care about governance. They just want the power to distribute the spoils to their supporters (donors). That's why the Dems' task is always harder. Plus the Dems seem to feel less comfortable with wholesale lying.

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 17, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse


Mimi,

Oh Dems are FINE with lying. Charlie Rangel ring a bell? Daschle, Geithner? Patterson? Spitzer? Should I go on?

The difference that irks you I expect is that they're just different "donors" as you call them. SEIU et al gain the spoils of Dems riches now. Oh and the middle class (who are now about to become the beneficiary of a bait and switch tax on healthcare). We'll give you subsidies for healthcare that you'll now pay a higher price for because we can't stand up to Pharma (PAID FOR REFORM) and doctors and insurers.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 17, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I apologize for my error above, it should read;

As you move on down, you'll find "If you trust the scorekeeper that Republicans trust whenever they're in power, it cuts the deficit by almost a trillion dollars over the next two decades".

That is inaccurate if it is referring to the Congressional Budget Office, as they only forecast out 10 years. I'm open to being corrected or having a source for this "scorekeeper that Republicans trust" shared with us


That is TEN years, not the NINETEEN from my key error nor the TWENTY listed in the article.

Posted by: kbp69 | March 17, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you a stool of the Obama and progressive regime. Your "articles" have more tripe than a bowl of Menu-do. The voters will burn down the DC village in November and 2012. Obama is a lame duck and the only question is will November see enough of a switch in the House and Senate to over turn this monstrosity.

By 2012 the spending, debt and no jobs will be so serious even deaf elitists like yourself will hear the cries of the villages. Does, "let them eat cake" ring a bell for you?

Posted by: Bubbette1 | March 17, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

The big reason for "deem and pass" is to save time. Republicans are looking for ways to prevent Democrats from doing anything. Taking one vote (which "deem and pass" requires) will take less time than having 2 separate votes.

Posted by: paul89 | March 17, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Wronger? Is that like worser?

Posted by: pepperjade | March 17, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Republicans may yet get away with it because so many Americans have chosen ignorance over education.

Posted by: jbowen431 | March 17, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"to save time"

What a brilliant move. That may be the best argument for Democrats to make when the process goes to court.

Posted by: kbp69 | March 17, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

The right's noise machine has drowned even voices of sanity, to the extent that I have no idea what is actually good legislation anymore. And I almost don't care.

I am sick to death of the b.s. on both sides, but most especially the Republicans. They have lied so much, so often, about even the most minor subject, that if a Republican said the sky was blue, I'd have to look outside to check.

Posted by: julir7 | March 17, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Providing insurance to poor people is elitist now?

Posted by: etdean1 | March 17, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

If Ezra saw Obama shoot Mother Teresa, he`d claim it was the Nun`s fault cause she didn`t duck.

Posted by: CDNassif | March 17, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Holla26: "Just ask yourself Ezra - Why are they doing 'deem and pass' rather than simply amending the bill and sending it back to the Senate?"

It should be obvious: sending an amended Senate bill back to the Senate subjects it to another filibuster. That's the whole reason for this logjam to begin with: that it takes 60 votes to get most things done in the Senate. If that procedural rule wasn't being used to block a vote on the merits, then we wouldn't be having these procedural machinations.

Posted by: dasimon | March 17, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

CincinnatiRick "The 1998 SCOTUS decision (CLINTON v. CITY OF NEW YORK (97-1374) 985 F. Supp. 168, affirmed) clearly indicates that you cannot change so much as a comma between what the House and Senate pass and the President signs."

I'm not so sure about that, and neither are some federal courts. There's a 2006 DC district court decision (Public Citizen v. Clerk, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 451 F.Supp.2d 109) which upheld the self-executing procedure and was affirmed on appeal (Public Citizen v. Clerk, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 486 F.3d 1342), though it didn't get to the Supreme Court. So it looks to me like it's still an open question.

And if it's deemed unconstitutional, it will also undo many laws passed when Republicans controlled Congress too. Hope that those touting this "unconstitutional" process are ready for that, because at least this House could fix any procedural problems with health care reform before year's end, but prior Congresses are long gone.

By the way, the proper cite for Clinton v. City of New York is 524 U.S. 417. An "F. Supp." cite is to the district court decision.

Posted by: dasimon | March 17, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I deem the Congress to be headed for irrelevance. When we can't pay our taxes, we won't -- and all the laws in the world won't be able to squeeze more blood out of us. We may have to look to other sources for blood. Where is that guillotine when we need it?
To paraphrase, "The enemy of the Constitution is... my enemy."

Posted by: aerocentral01 | March 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Dasimon,

I'll openlt await your explantion on how Clinton v. City of New York, a case relating to the "line item veto", is relevant in showing how it is legal to pass a BILL for law without the House voting on it.

Posted by: kbp69 | March 17, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ezra:
Stop blaming the wrong guys. Blame the Democrats!
Also, are you a partisan hack? If yes, stop pretending to be objective with WP readers, who would nevertheless enjoy a vigorous debate between all sides. Why do you have to voluntarily take a leaf from Obama rhetoric and frame the debate about ObamaCare as between Democrats vs. Republicans while Democrats have the majority, or super majority once, in both Houses but could not gather enough Democrat votes now to pass the Senate Bill? You never say that Republican votes matter in the Congress while Obama said “That what’s elections are for!” Same as Obama, you are practically calling the other side stupid, “just plain wrong” (Obama’s words), not knowing what is good for them and the country, etc.
Why did you gloss over the facts that:
1) Democrats were about to achieve their goals by X-mas 2009, naturally without Republican votes (except Joseph Cao’s).
2) With only one Republican vote, Democrats passed the last House Bill. Then, Mr. Klein could possibly not say that the Republican’s opposition mattered then and now.
3) Pelosi now can not gather enough Democratic votes. Otherwise, she has already brought the Senate Bill to the floor, again, passed it in no time and without a single vote of those Republicans.
4) Obama had declared that the year long debate is over and there should be an up-and-down vote. Where is that up-and-down vote and why is it so hard to have? Is it because the Republican opposition or is it because of the Democrats?

Smokes and mirrors are politicians. Facts and logic, even however sophistic, is what Mr. Ezra Klein can do better with.

Posted by: sun127 | March 17, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

The closer HCR comes to passage, the more hysterical the Republicans are becoming.

How can you have a functioning democracy when one of the two major parties is a bunch of lying, fearmongering hypocrites. The Republicans have no moral substance. None.

And they expect the American people, after they didn't do squat to reform our health care system in all their years in power, to put them back in power?

This is the party that has spent 30 years giving tax cuts to the rich, running up more debt than all presidents combined in over 200 years, started unpaid for and uneccesary wars, passed an unpaid for Medicare drug program, deregulated everything in sight, declared war on the middle class to give their fat cat and corporate overlords more of the nation's wealth, and left the country a smoldering ruin. And the Democrats haven't fixed it in just over a year??

And they want back in with an agenda more extreme now than the extremist agenda they've had for at least 8 and more like 30 years(since Reagan).

If they voters are that f*&!ing dumb, they deserve what they get.

Posted by: tslynch27 | March 17, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Nonsense:

Eli Wallach's most famous remark: 'You talk too much .. Bang."

Or a column that three Talmudic scholars would rather not.

Posted by: 3rd-PartyAdovcate | March 17, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

kbp69: "I'll openlt await your explantion on how Clinton v. City of New York, a case relating to the 'line item veto', is relevant in showing how it is legal to pass a BILL for law without the House voting on it."

That wasn't my claim; it was CincinnatiRick's.

But it does seem that some analysts cite the case as going against self-executing rules. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-executing_rule

Posted by: dasimon | March 18, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein has not shown his readers how PAD meets the test of Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution to become law. His use of the graph by a Sarah Binder post and her commentary omits a few salient thoughts. Ms Binder writes that "self-executing" device is used by a majority party to hide from a "tough vote," to protect the majority party's favored policy outcomes from challenge", and to avoid risking "alterations to the bill." All very noble causes, I'm sure. She suggests the majority party will not be able to hide from the vote on this procedure this time. Game's on. If "reform" passes and is signed, the net effect is the same as if there were a real, up or down vote on the bills at hand. Ms Pelosi and Mr. Reid do not seem to understand this fact; there is no hiding.

Posted by: dougmatt | March 18, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Ezra Klein:
You stated: "Sometimes you have to burn a village to rule it".
Be careful!
Same as "We have to kill a person to save his or her soul", this type of spectacular manifesto was heard again and again throughout history.
Later, or much later, and here and there, you would eventually come to deal with your opponents, or worse, your enemies, coming straight to you, arming with a burning and passionate - many times as red as blood - banner: "The ends justify the means!'

Posted by: sun127 | March 18, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

As an aside from all the politics: Where is the money coming from? There aren't as many decent jobs as there were 30 years ago. More people are being supported by less workers in the form of handouts (like universal health care). Get to the source of the problem, don't just treat the symptoms!

Posted by: megann | March 19, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klien from the Washington post reported 3-18-10, that the proposed bill would cut the deficit by 1.2 trillion dollars between 2020-2029. However on pages 3-4, of the letter the CBO sent to Nancy Pelosi 3-18-10, the summary states that the proposed bill would save only one half of one percent of GDP. The 2008 GDP was 14.3 trillion dollars, 0.5% of that is only 70 billion dollars. Ezra Klien's article overstates the CBO's deficit reduction prediction by 1700%. The letter to Nancy Pelosi also highly qualifies those estimates as imprecise and states that they are based on a draft version of the proposed legislation and not the final draft as the final version was just released 3-18-10.

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/113xx/doc11355/hr4872.pdf

Posted by: Radnet | March 20, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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