ObamaCare: Is the GOP helping pass it?
posted at 10:02 am on December 7, 2009 by Karl
With Pres. Obama giving a pep talk to Senate Dems Sunday (yet not mentioning the “public option” or abortion), it may be that ObamaCare is less than a done deal. But is the GOP taking pressure off the Dems by allowing votes on amendments, or helping to fix the bill? Senior GOP Senate staffers tell NRO’s Robert Costa:
No way… “The idea is to make Democrats walk through glass everyday until the final vote on this puppy,” says one. “Make them take the kinds of stands that will be tough to explain to the media today — and to their constituents come election time. McCain’s Medicare amendment is the perfect example of that.”
Bloggers at RedState disagree:
Top GOP leaders have mistakenly convinced themselves that the key to defeating the bill is to process a number of Republican “messaging” amendments while letting Democrats offer whatever amendments are necessary to buy 60 votes.
There are three fatal problems with this strategy: 1) leadership insists on pushing its own too-clever-by-half “message” instead of listening to the clear message faxed, e-mailed and phoned to every elected official in Washington (”KILL THE BILL!”), 2) as evidenced by the articles above, the current “messaging strategy” is an abysmal failure, and 3) by allowing amendments to be processed at no cost to the majority party, GOP leaders are merely greasing the skids for government-run health care.
Quite apart from the issue of whether the GOP “messaging” gets picked up in the establishment media, when I look at the current list of 91 amendments (about half of which come from the Dem caucus), it is not clear to me that the GOP is proposing amendments that would make it more difficult to pass the bill. (I cannot be definitive about this, as the texts of these amendments are generally not online yet.) For example, none of the amendments looks to be the “doc fix” that would force Dems to admit that they have not accounted for hundreds of billions of dollars they plan to spend. None of the amendments appear to address the “pay or play” employer mandate that is hated by both Right and Left.
However, obstructing on every amendment is probably not a feasible overall strategy. It would probably result in more of the action moving into Harry Reid’s office, where necessary amendments would get bundled into a “manager’s amendment” with a 60 vote guarantee. The silver lining is that the list of amendments is getting larger all of the time. The aforementioned list of 91 does not include the tort reform offered by Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1995, but rejected by the Senate on Sunday, or Sen. Ben Nelson’s pro-life amendment, which may be considered on Monday. It may be that the GOP is holding more damaging amendments in reserve.