Late this evening news broke that the State of Indiana is now set to become the 16th US state to file a lawsuit against the federal government regarding Obamacare. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller made the announcement:
Indiana followed 13 other states Monday in planning to file a lawsuit against the recently passed health care bill.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller said an amended lawsuit will be filed soon in a federal court in Florida, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuit will have a cost of $50,000 and will be divided among the 14 states.
Sen. Richard Lugar requested a report from Zoeller on Jan. 5, seeking a review on the bill that had been passed by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 24.
In his report, Zoeller listed conflicts he found with the health care law, such as the requirement for U.S. residents to purchase a health care plan and fully funding the expansion of Medicaid only in Nebraska.
In the days and weeks to come, it will be interesting to see how the state-level partisan battles now occurring in many of the remaining 34 states that have not yet filed suit against the US government regarding the constitutionality of Obamacare turn out. If opponents manage to push the number of states even higher than the present 16, public opinion could move even more strongly against the far-flung, gigantic package of trillions in government spending and new taxes known as Obamacare.
In a nod to the strange new world of online activism, Americans who oppose President Barack Obama’s health care reform package, known as Obamacare, formed a Facebook page entitled:
I bet we can find 1,000,000+ people who disapprove of the Health Care Bill
The page was started on March 15, 2010, and just 11 days later at approximately 11:45PM eastern time, the 1,000,000 person signed on as an opponent of Obamacare. This kind of flash online activism by everyday Americans who oppose the massive government health care program just passed by Congress and the President could pose a major obstacle to Obama’s efforts to “sell” his health care package to the country in the next week with multiple rallies at various places in the United States. Here’s how organizers described their page:
This Group was started on March 15, 2010 to send a substantial message to those in Washington who are not listening to their constituents.
The purpose of this Group is to serve as an outlet and organizational platform for those that believe in health care reform, but believe that such should be bipartisan, fiscally responsible, minimize role of government and be approved through a legislative process true to the intent of our Constitution. We welcome people of all party affiliations.
Since the bill was passed, this group has had phenomenal – record setting growth of 200-300 new members per minute. Our title says 1,000,000+ and we well expect millions to join us in this fight.
We will continue to serve as a basis for information, ideas and a platform to mobilize action to repeal this law. Our fight will remain focused, civilized and non violent and will continue until our goal is achieved.
Here is their brief message announcing the crossing of 1,000,000 Obamacare opponents signed up:
CONGRATULATIONS ON FIRST 1,000,000 at 11:45 PM Fri March 26, 2010.
The ability to add 100,000 people a day on average to a Facebook page animated solely by its opposition to the massive Obamacare package is an indication of the high level of grassroots energy in America that is presently mobilizing against the President’s signature initiative. Many Democrats and establishment media types have been claiming that Obamacare is rising in popularity with the public since its passage last weekend, but sites like this one provide some evidence of the opposite effect: a rising tide of activism objecting to the passage of the massive bill.
In an editorial that the Obama Administration surely wishes had not been written, American communist newspaper People’s World issued a ringing endorsement of President Obama and the Democrats’ actions in muscling Obamacare through Congress over bipartisan opposition, with the editorial board of the communist newspaper claiming that the “enactment of this bill is an enormous victory for the broad progressive movement in our country” while oddly claiming that “almost every sector of American society” and “ordinary people from throughout the country applauded President Obama” and Pelosi for passing Obamacare. As President Obama has also claimed that the “people” were strongly in support of his health care policies and further he has been labeled a progressive, the praise of his actions by the People’s World editors is sure to stir some interest in tomorrow’s media cycle and conservative talk radio.
Beyond that, its passage is a major defeat for the far right – the Republican Party, sections of Corporate America, and their fascist-like tea party shock troops. The enactment of this bill is an enormous victory for the broad progressive movement in our country. It will give energy and enthusiasm to that movement as it mobilizes and builds for the struggles ahead to advance a pro-worker, pro-people agenda.
The fight isn’t over. The corporate-backed far right will continue to use racism, lies and anti-government conspiracy theories to try to scare and confuse people. We got some ugly glimpses of this just as Congress was on the eve of passing the health care bill.
Tea party protesters in Ohio yelled at and abused a man with Parkinson’s disease because he was courageous enough to show his support for health care reform. In Washington, others yelled racist and homophobic epithets at members of Congress.
Some call it the tea-partiers’ Bull Connor moment. Connor was the racist, pro-segregation “public safety” commissioner in Birmingham, Ala., who used dogs and fire hoses against African American children standing up against Jim Crow in the 1960s.
Just as the American people rejected the Bull Connor segregationists after seeing the fire-hosing of children in Birmingham, the American people will reject the vicious racism and hate-filled attacks of today’s Bull Connors.
After almost a year of lobbying, demonstrations, petitions, rallies, health care story collections, town hall meetings, this is a moment to savor a hard-fought victory. And it’s a moment to celebrate the persistence and tenacity of the people’s movement for progressive change – a good thing since there are many more battles ahead.
Even if the sensational, and unproven, allegations against the tea partiers regarding offensive slurs and conduct are true, that alleged conduct in no way compares to the truly horrific conduct of the likes of Bull Conner, notwithstanding the American communist newspaper’s odd claims above. People’s World’s claim that Obamacare’s passage is “a moment to celebrate the persistence and tenacity of the people’s movement for progressive change”, is uncomfortably close to the President’s own rhetoric in this email to supporters late Sunday night:
My gratitude tonight is profound. I am thankful for those in past generations whose heroic efforts brought this great goal within reach for our times. I am thankful for the members of Congress whose months of effort and brave votes made it possible to take this final step. But most of all, I am thankful for you.
This day is not the end of this journey. Much hard work remains, and we have a solemn responsibility to do it right. But we can face that work together with the confidence of those who have moved mountains.
Our journey began three years ago, driven by a shared belief that fundamental change is indeed still possible. We have worked hard together every day since to deliver on that belief.
We have shared moments of tremendous hope, and we’ve faced setbacks and doubt. We have all been forced to ask if our politics had simply become too polarized and too short-sighted to meet the pressing challenges of our time. This struggle became a test of whether the American people could still rally together when the cause was right — and actually create the change we believe in.
Indeed, opponents of Obamacare are very intense about their disapproval while supporters are mainly lukewarm, at best. This is proven, in part, by the fact that 62% of Americans want the GOP to continue to fight Obama and the Democrats regarding Obamacare – hardly a ringing endorsement by the American people.
Further, the American communist newspaper and Obama’s email also share the claim that the much remains to be done by the “people” in the near future. There is something disquieting about the President of the United States using similar metaphors and language to describe the passage of Obamacare as the editors of one of the leading American communist newspapers. Obama’s email on Tuesday, signing day, also refers to the great historical victory of the people:
As I’ve said many times, and as I know to be true, this astounding victory could not have been achieved without your tireless efforts.
So as we celebrate this great day, I want to invite you to add your name where it belongs: alongside mine as a co-signer of this historic legislation. Organizing for America will record the names of co-signers as a permanent commemoration of those who came together to make this moment possible — all of you who refused to give up until the dream of many generations for affordable, quality care for all Americans was finally fulfilled.
Please accept my thanks for your voice, for your courage, and for your indispensable partnership in the great work of creating change.
I think The Republicans have a level of energy but inside that energy they have their own problem and fissures. They’re basically at the behest of a fringe group that’s taken control of their own party and their own leaders are scared of it.
Considering the editors of the American communist newspaper the People’s World use similar rhetoric as President Obama to describe the great “progressive” popular victory of the “people” in obtaining Obamacare passage, and further that Rahm Emanuel and People’s World share views regarding the tea party, centrists and independent Americans are left to wonder about what exactly the Democrats intended to accomplish with their 2407-page Obamacare package. Comments by Senior Dem. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) that the Democrats need time to prepare for the next few years to allow full enactment of Obamacare “to control the people” and VP Biden’s comment that via Obamacare “we’re going to control the insurance companies” add further concern and uncertainty for centrist and independent Americans assessing the newly-passed Obamacare package. In sum, the fact that a leading American communist organization is praising the President of the United States for passing his signature initiative, Obamacare, is a bright red flag for the many Americans reviewing the Obamacare package this week.
While national politics continue to churn after the historic passage of Obamacare on Sunday and President Barack Obama’s signature on same yesterday, some states are showing signs of exploding into partisan warfare over Obamacare, notably including the State of Georgia. In Georgia, Attorney General Thurbert Baker has tonight officially refused to join in with over a dozen other states that have filed federal lawsuits against President Obama regarding the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate in Obamacare:
ATLANTA – Georgia’s attorney general won’t sue the federal government over the controversial health care bill President Obama signed into law yesterday.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, announced his decision in a letter to Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, who had urged the state’s top lawyer to file the lawsuit. Nationally, more than a dozen states are questioning the Constitutionality of the law, which requires all citizens to have health insurance.
“While I understand that the new law is the subject of ongoing debate here in Georgia and around the nation, I do not believe that Georgia has a viable legal claim against the United States,” Baker said in his letter to Perdue. “Considering our state’s current severe budgetary crisis, with vital services like education and law enforcement being cut deeply, I cannot justify a decision to initiate expensive and time-consuming litigation that I believe has no legal merit.”
But, Baker’s decision not to sue doesn’t mean Georgia won’t file a lawsuit. Perdue could decide to proceed with a lawsuit without Baker’s cooperation, a number of media reports indicate.
“His refusal to participate doesn’t preclude us from moving forward,” Perdue’s spokesman Bert Brantley said, according to a report on WXIA-TV’s Web site. “We’ll make a decision on how to move forward and whether that means Georgia filing a lawsuit on its own, going by itself, or whether we join other states that have already filed.”
Most immediately, Perdue is planning on holding a news conference with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich tomorrow morning to explain why Georgia Republicans feel it is important for the State of Georgia to join in the multi-state litigation challenging Obamacare’s constitutionality. Additionally, state House GOP members are looking at Articles of Impeachment for Baker as “there is a movement inside the House to suspend the rules and introduce Articles of Impeachment against Baker for failing to uphold his oath of office.” PeachPundit has the details late this evening of the hardball being played by the GOP over Baker’s defiance of Governor Perdue’s request:
The resolution had around 30 signatures and things were moving forward. Apparently, the sponsor agreed hold off until legislators meet with Gov. Perdue in the morning to further discuss options.
The basis of the Articles of Impeachment are that Baker has violated Article V, Section 3, Paragraph IV of the state Constitution and OCGA §45-15-35, both of which direct the Attorney General to take on matters of the state in court at the direction of the Governor.
Impeachment of a public official would take a simple majority in the House, but a 2/3 majority in the Senate.
Complicating matters somewhat is the fact that Thurbert Baker is also engaged in the contested Democratic primary for Governor with former Governor Roy Barnes. Baker is presently a heavy underdog in the Democratic primary against Barnes, while GOP Gubernatorial candidates Karen Handel and Nathan Deal are slightly ahead of Barnes by 3 points each in recent polling while GOP Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is tied with Barnes and GOP State Senate President Eric Johnson is behind Barnes by 2 points. Baker trails all GOP candidates by a large margin and is far behind Barnes in the Democratic primary race. Accordingly, Baker needs to shake things up to have any chance to become Georgia’s next governor, and he may have chosen Obamacare to make his move considering the dramatic rejection of Perdue’s request this evening.
Republican candidate for governor Nathan Deal, freed from his Washington job, has passed the office number, fax number, and e-mail address of Attorney General Thurbert Baker to supporters, urging them to call and demand that Baker join a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care law.
Baker, of course, is a Democratic candidate for governor. It’s fine sport to bait a rival.
Deal, of course, has recently come under an ethical cloud for his involvement in state contracts for his salvage business, and Deal also started a mini-firestorm in national GOP politics in early March by attempting to resign from the House of Representatives before the all-important House Obamacare vote on Sunday, with the Wall Street Journal suggesting that Deal was resigning to avoid further developments in the House Ethics Committee probe into his salvage company. After that, GOP House leader John Boehner (R-OH) personally appealed to Deal to stay on to cast a vote against Obamacare, and Deal quickly reversed himself and voted against Obamacare and then immediately resigned Sunday night. Accordingly, the aggressive push by Deal may be in part an attempt to exorcise those earlier missteps on the Obamacare issue.
For his part, AG Baker told the AJC Monday night there is no Constitutional violation emanating from Obamacare as the supremacy clause clearly authorizes the statutory language, foreshadowing tonight’s formal rejection of Perdue’s request:
“We’re not interested in political gamesmanship in the office of the attorney general. We’re not interested in making political points. The role of the attorney general is to follow the law, and where we feel there have been violations, we need to address it….
“There’s a little thing called the supremacy clause. Federal law supercedes state law. And so I’m very interested in knowing, at least from those who think there’s a basis is, at least what they think the basis is.
And Democrats, just like in the old days, suddenly find themselves worrying about being tied too closely to a president and a ruling Washington regime.
Gov. Sonny Perdue has been eager to help. “It is imperative that current candidates for elected office publicly state their plans to either support the Obama-Pelosi legislation or fight for the people of Georgia,” the Republican governor declared, shortly after the Sunday night vote.
Perdue has loudly pressed Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democratic candidate for governor, to challenge the constitutionality of the health care law.
But so far, Baker and other Democrats haven’t risen to the bait.
Every GOP candidate in Georgia, down to your half-hearted handshaker for county land surveyor, has generated at least one press release vowing not to rest until the health care law is undone.
But Democrats — particularly those seeking a place on the November ballot — have been much more cautious. Many have been here before, and understand the game.
In health care, as Perdue recognizes, Republicans have an issue that could nationalize every statewide race in Georgia.
Baker, the attorney general, rejected the governor’s lawsuit challenge on Wednesday. “This litigation is likely to fail and will consume significant amounts of taxpayers’ hard-earned money in the process,” he wrote in reply.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes was the most critical. “This health care bill is a failure of leadership on both sides. It’s what’s wrong with Washington and it’s what’s wrong with the state Capitol,” Barnes said. “My greatest disappointment is that the insurance companies were not regulated further — which means the special interests won.”
It may be that Baker considers a highly publicized fight over Obamacare with Perdue the best move he can make in his effort to make up ground in the Democratic primary against heavy favorite Barnes, especially as Barnes is lukewarm at best regarding the Obamacare package. A high profile fight with Perdue over Obamacare would also surely please President Obama, and Baker may be counting on drawing Obama into the Democratic primary by eliciting a statement of support from Obama for Baker’s refusal to file suit, as well as perhaps garnering a surge in donations from Obama’s liberal base. Indeed, Baker may believe his expressions of public backing for Obamacare will move some of the liberal base of the Democratic Party in Georgia into his column in his contest against Barnes.
The Gingrich-Perdue press conference tomorrow morning on why the State of Georgia should challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare in federal court may be the start of the Georgia GOP’s “nationalizing” strategy regarding Obamacare and state races. Additionally, the presence of national political heavyweight Gingrich, who may be attempting to build support nationally for a possible 2012 campaign by becoming engaged in the Perdue-Baker fight over Obamacare, is sure to add to the focus on Georgia as perhaps the first state in the union to reflect the new hardened, partisan atmosphere existing nationally after the passage of Obamacare. We may also be observing the first major state-level skirmish of many to come in the states where the GOP has decided to pursue a strategy to “nationalize” state-level races around the issue of Obamacare.
All told, it appears that the statewide political scene in Georgia is about to break out into all-out partisan battle over Obamacare. Talks between the state House GOP and Perdue before the press conference tomorrow morning with Gingrich and Perdue may determine whether impeachment proceedings move forward against AG Baker in the Georgia House of Representatives or other legislation related to the AG’s powers. Starting tomorrow, in the wake of tonight’s official rejection by AG Baker of Perdue’s request to sue, Georgia may become the first state to truly experience the same sort of brass-knuckles partisan warfare that has dominated national politics for over a year regarding the Obamacare initiative.
About a half an hour ago, MSNBC reported that anti-abortion House Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) had reached an agreement with President Obama regarding a promise to issue an executive order to eliminate all federal abortion funding in Obamacare and accordingly is now a yes vote. NBC’s tweet:
Anti-abortion leader Rep. Bart Stupak to vote for health care bill, increasing chances for passage – NBC
The wisdom of an ardently pro-life Democrat trusting the most pro-choice President in American history to rigidly enforce a ban on all federal funding of abortion via executive order is an open question. However, about 10 minutes later, CNN reported that Stupak himself had told a CNN producer that he is “still a no vote” for now and that negotiations were ongoing. CNN’s tweet:
Urgent — Rep. Stupak to CNN producer Lesa Jansen: “I’m still a no…There is no deal yet. Its a work in progress.”
As Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be a few votes short of her goal of 216 to pass Obamacare later today, the decision of Bart Stupak, which undoubtedly be followed by his 6 to 12 like-minded anti-abortion House Democrats, appears to be the determination that the entire Obamacare package will either rise or fall on. Another interesting tidbit was reported by the Drudge Report about an hour ago, quoting Pelosi, overheard on a cell phone, speaking to Dem. House Maj. Leader Steny Hoyer:
‘Steny, we have to get to 217. None of these members wants to be the deciding vote’
The day of Obamacare drama will continue to unfold in the hours to come, with a final up or down vote in the House likely sometime this evening, with no one really sure right now which way the vote will go. Here’s the likely schedule for today:
2 p.m.: The House will debate for one hour the rules of debate for the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill.
3 p.m.: The House will vote to end debate and vote on the rules of the debate.
3:15 p.m.: The House will debate the reconciliation package for two hours.
5:15 p.m.: The House will vote on the reconciliation package.
5:30 p.m.: The House will debate for 15 minutes on a Republican substitute and then vote on the substitute.
6 p.m.: The House will vote on the final reconciliation package.
6:15 p.m.: If the reconciliation bill passes, the House will immediately vote on the Senate bill, without debate.
UPDATE: Washington daily The Hill reports about 20 minutes ago that the Democrats do not yet have the votes, and in fact The Hill is reporting a total of 39 “NO” votes from Democrats on their whip count, enough to sink Obamacare. High drama with Stupak and others is sure to continue as Pelosi and Obama work feverishly to find the 3 or 4 votes they need:
Hours before a scheduled vote on healthcare reform, Democratic leaders don’t have the votes.
The decisions of two Tennessee Democrats, Reps. John Tanner and Lincoln Davis, to vote no has put President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her lieutenants in a major bind.
If every member votes, Democratic leaders can only afford 37 defections. According to The Hill’s whip list, there are 39 Democrats planning to vote no.
Furthermore, The Hill also has eight Democrats in the undecided/unclear column: Reps Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Paul Kanjorski (Pa.), Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), Earl Pomeroy (N.D.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Bobby Rush (Ill.) and Loretta Sanchez (Calif.).
There have been various reports on Sunday that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and other anti-abortion lawmakers have agreed to an abortion deal involving an executive order from the Obama administration. However, Stupak’s office are strongly denying those reports.
UPDATE #2: Bart Stupak just held a news conference on Capitol Hill and announced that he has reached a deal with President Obama to vote yes on the bill, despite Stupak’s condemnation of the very bill he is set to vote for because of the language in the Senate bill which allows federal funding of elective abortions. Of course, the President cannot override the very Senate language that Stupak is opposed to, making this “deal” with Stupak to create an executive order more about political cover and show than an actual policy change away from the present Senate language will clearly allows federal funding of abortions.
With Stupak’s reversal, the decks are now cleared for a gigantic Democratic victory today and the passage of perhaps the most significant legislation in decades – Obamacare – and a fundamental remaking of 20% of the United States’ economy.
In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larsen stated with specificity that the proponents of Obamacare now have the 216 votes they need to pass Obamacare later today through the House of Representatives.
Here’s the NBC News twitter feed reporting Larsen’s comment:
‘We have the votes now — as we speak’ to pass Obama’s health care bill, chairman of Democratic caucus says on ABC’s ‘This Week’
It could be a bluff, but this news certainly is a bad sign for the majority of Americans who oppose the Obamacare package while it is great news for President Obama, who, if Larsen is correct, will undoubtedly receive glowing media coverage and perhaps a bounce in the polls should his health care package receive 216 votes later today.
In an amazing reversal that happened just moments ago, Congressional Democrats now appear to be reversing their plan to use the “Slaughter Solution” to “deem” the Senate bill “passed” without an up or down vote. Republicans had been pressuring congressional Democratic leaders for the past few weeks to do exactly that, and the Washington Post now confirms “deem and pass” is dead:
House leaders have decided to take a separate vote on the Senate health-care bill, rejecting an earlier, much-criticized strategy that would have permitted them to “deem” the unpopular measure passed without an explicit vote.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Saturday that the House would take three votes Sunday: first, on a resolution that will set the terms of debate; second, on a package of amendments to the Senate bill that have been demanded by House members; and third, on the Senate bill itself.
The abandonment of the “Slaughter Solution” by Democrats, under pressure from GOP leaders, is a welcome development in the health care reform debate which likely heads off a potential constitutional crisis if such a strategy was used. Now, all eyes will focus on the up or down vote on the Senate bill itself tomorrow.
As noted a few days ago by CentristNet, the establishment media had been scrupulously avoiding any discussion of the Democratic plans to use the “Slaughter Solution” in the House of Representatives to completely avoid an up or down vote on the Senate bill and instead have the bill “deemed passed” by the rules of debate created by House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Obamaphile “news” organizations like Newsweek even went so far as to condemn Republicans just days ago for even making this argument because it was unthinkable to Newsweek, apparently, that the Democrats would actually go down this “deemed passed” path.
On this final week of the Obamacare battle, the Democrats are actually attempting to defend the use of this procedural trickery to avoid an up or down vote in the House on the pork-filled, special interest deal laden Senate bill. Today, after ignoring the entire issue of the “Slaughter Solution” since Chairwoman Slaughter’s announcement of her intent to use same about a week ago, the narrative-setting New York Times actually reported on it, noting that House Democrats intend to avoid an up or down vote via the use of yet more procedural trickery re Obamacare:
WASHINGTON — As lawmakers clashed fiercely over major health care legislation on the House floor, Democrats struggled Tuesday to defend procedural shortcuts they might use to win approval for their proposals in the next few days.
House Democrats are so skittish about the piece of legislation that is now the vehicle for overhauling the health care system — the bill passed by the Senate in December — that they are considering a maneuver that would allow them to pass it without explicitly voting for it.
Under that approach, House Democrats would approve a package of changes to the Senate bill in a budget reconciliation bill. The Senate bill would be “deemed passed” if and when the House adopts rules for debate on the reconciliation bill — or perhaps when the House passes that reconciliation bill.
The idea is to package the changes and the underlying bill together in a way that amounts to an amended bill in a single vote. Many House Democrats dislike some provisions of the Senate bill, including special treatment for a handful of states, like Medicaid money for Nebraska, and therefore want to avoid a direct vote on it.
Of course, the NYT “news” article goes on to condemn Repuoblicans for pointing out this odious procedural trickery by Democrats on a bill that will directly affect 16-17% of the US economy. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post also reports for the first time on the “Slaughter Solution” in much the same way as the New York Times, framing it as just another partisan battle as opposed to an attempt to avoid the very “up or down” vote clamored for by President Obama over the past few weeks:
An obscure parliamentary maneuver favored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suddenly ignited Tuesday as the latest tinder in the year-long partisan strife over reshaping the nation’s health-care system, triggering debate over the strategy’s legitimacy and political wisdom.
Republicans condemned Pelosi’s idea — in which House members would make a final decision on broad health-care changes without voting directly on the Senate version of the bill — as an abuse of the legislative process.
Instead of focusing on the use of this procedure trickery by Democrats in relation to the enormity of the comprehensive health care reform package at issue, WaPo and the NYT misdirect their readers into believing this “Slaughter Solution” issue is just another vapid partisan battle. In fact, the “Slaughter Solution” explicitly rejects President Obama’s rhetoric about an “up or down vote” on the Senate bill by allowing the Senate bill to be “deemed passed” and signed by President Obama without an up or down vote:
The debate centers on a parliamentary technique that is a variant on the “rule” that the House adopts for every bill that comes to a floor vote. Rules define the ground rules for the vote, including amendments, length of the debate and other terms. Under a self-executing rule, the House essentially agrees that a vote on one measure is tantamount to, or “deemed” as, deciding on something related.
In this instance, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate’s version of health-care legislation would be deemed approved if House members adopt a set of changes to that bill. The Senate then would have to approve the changes, but the original bill could go directly to President Obama to be signed into law.
Sadly, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs explicitly lied about this issue on Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation”, claiming that the House would pass two separate bills, one in which the House would vote up or down on the “underlying Senate bill” and another, separate vote on the reconciliation “fix” package. The establishment media gave Gibbs a pass on these intentionally misleading claims made on national television of by senior federal official, and only today are they even reporting on Democratic plans to have only one vote on the “fixes” after the Senate bill is “deemed passed” by the “Slaughter Solution” without an actual up or down vote.
Regardless of which side of the Obamacare debate you fall on, fair-minded centrists and independents, as well as those on the right and left, should demand that the House hold an up or down vote on the Senate bill if the Democrats want to make the Senate bill the law of the land via President Obama’s signature. Passing a massive comprehensive health care reform bill into law without an up or down vote by the House of Representatives, as is now intended by the “Slaughter Solution”, poses grave risks to the future functioning of the American system of governance and such efforts must be resisted, strongly, by all Americans, regardless of their leanings on the bills themselves. If Obamacare is to become the law of the land, it must be passed constitutionally with an up or down vote, not via a procedural trick cooked up by Democrats desperate to avoid an up or down vote on the pork and special interest laden Senate health care bill.
Fox News is reporting, building on prior AP reporting, that the White House has today increased pressure on Democrats in Congress, especially the House Democrats, putting out word that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats must either pass Obamacare through the House of Representatives now, before the Easter recess begins on March 18, 2010, or the entire effort at comprehensive health care reform will die.
Over the past few days, the White House has indicated it wants a vote in the House by March 18, and Congressional Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have resisted agreeing to any deadline. However, with the new, increased pressure today, Congressional Democratic sources say that they are “on the same page” as the White House:
A House Democratic leadership source tells Fox there is something approaching convergence on the White House’s March 18 deadline for a vote on the Senate health care bill.
“Everyone is now on same page,” the leadership source said about the March 18 deadline. “We understand the White House believes that would be optimal timing. But they understand we are not wedding ourselves to any deadlines.”
With today’s developments, it now appears that the year-long health care debate finally has a date certain where either Obamacare will pass or it will not, and that deadline appears to March 18, 2010. The next eight days may decide the historical trajectory of the United States, as strict federal control over the entire health care delivery system, 16% of the US Economy, will surely substantially alter the direction of the American economy and political system for decades to come.
Ironically, after over a year of debate over health care reform, and lots of talk regarding cooperation between President Obama/Democratic Congressional Leadership and the GOP on writing the final version of the bill at the health care summit 10 days ago, Democrats continue to scramble behind closed doors to write a final version to the liking of Democrats in Congress. Of course, no Republicans are involved in any way with these last minute drafting efforts by Obama and the Congressional Democratic leadership, despite the clearpreference of the American people for such joint drafting to occur. Fox News’s Major Garrett describes the frantic backroom drafting occurring now:
In reality, the White House isn’t budging and the House Democratic leadership is trying. But it can’t vote on the Senate bill until it has a fully drafted and CBO (Congressional Budget Office)-scored bill to “fix” the Senate bill’s imperfections.
But the so-called “fix” bill isn’t ready and there is no expectation CBO will deliver preliminary cost estimates Wednesday. That pushes the schedule back because House Democratic leaders cannot begin the final whip process (counting “yes” and “no” votes) until it has a full “fix” bill with a concrete CBO score on costs, revenues and deficit implications.
In other words, there’s a lot of work left to be done and not much time to finish it. What may well be happening is House Democrats and the White House are agreeing to disagree — on the timing, not the objective.
Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) says the House ethics committee is investigating him for inappropriate comments he made to a male staffer on New Year’s Eve — and that he’s the victim of a power play by Democratic leaders who want him out of Congress because he’s a “no” vote on health care reform.
“Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill,” Massa, who on Friday announced his intention to resign, said during a long monologue on radio station WKPQ. “And this administration and this House leadership have said, quote-unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill. And now they’ve gotten rid of me and it will pass. You connect the dots.”
“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn…He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote.”
The “Massa Disasta” is unwelcome news for the Obama Administration, which is already struggling to remedy prior questionable process actions regarding Obamacare, such as the Louisiana Purchase, Obama’s appointment of undecided Dem. Rep. Matheson’s brother to a federal judgeship and Cornhusker Kickback. Now, the “Massa Disasta” will take its place amongst the process scandals surrounding Obamacare as America begins the final days before the all-important House vote on the Senate health care bill.
Some “interesting” quotes from Massa also from the same NY radio station tape, which now is, of course, a dead link, courtesy of the Washington Examiner and Roll Call:
Roll Call reports this morning that on the local radio show he hosts in his district, Massa said he had not been informed of the sexual harassment allegations before they became public. He claimed that Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., spoke falsely when he said he had brought the matter to him previously, Massa said. “Steny Hoyer has never said a single word to me, at all, ever, not once,” Massa said. “Not a word. This is a lie. It’s a blatant, false statement.”
He also railed against Hoyer for discussing Ethics Committee business with the press. “Never before in the history of the House of Representatives has a sitting leader of the Democratic Party discussed allegations of House investigations publicly before findings of fact. Ever.”
Directly calling our your Majority Leader as a liar is a pretty substantial claim by a House member, and these comments are also bringing to the fore the dislike of Rahm Emanuel amongst rank and file House Dem members. Some other choice quotes from Massa this morning regarding Rahm Emanuel, from Realclearpolitics:
Rep. Massa describes a confrontation with Emanuel in a shower: “I am showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me.”