No foolin’. It has, my friends, come to this.
You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.
But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.
This is a nifty illustration of why Pelosi, and not The One, will play the role of boogeyman in GOP attack ads this fall. Accusing the public of being too ignorant to grasp the genius of an unpopular liberal program is what a rank-and-file lefty would do; using that alleged ignorance as a reason not to slow down on the legislation but to ram it through is the mark of an arrogant, power-hungry, sneering full-blown liberal cartoon. What she’s arguing here, put simply, is that the left has a mandate because you’re too goshdamned stupid to understand what’s going on. Well done, Madam Speaker. You’re parody-proof.
Speaking of arrogance, here’s the latest dubious jury-rigged contraption they’re designing to try to get Stupak and his pro-life bloc to vote for Reid’s bill:
Party leaders have discussed the possibility of using the House Rules Committee to avoid an actual vote on the Senate’s bill, according to leadership aides. They would do this by writing what’s called a “self-executing rule,” meaning the Senate bill would be attached to a package of fixes being negotiated between the two chambers — without an actual vote on the Senate’s legislation.
Under this scenario, the Senate bill would be automatically attached to the reconciliation package, if the House passes reconciliation. In other words, Bill A would just become part of Bill B if the House passes Bill B, and the Senate could then vote on a reconciliation package before sending it to the president. This allows House members to approve the broader measure without actually voting on it.
In other words, instead of having the House pass the Senate bill and then Obama signing it into law, with only Reid’s promise as an assurance that reconciliation will follow, they’re going to try to essentially merge the Senate bill with the reconciliation “fix” in the House first. Then Reid would have no choice but to pass the reconciliation “fix” in the Senate so that there would be a single identical bill passed by both chambers that Obama could sign. The obvious question: Why doesn’t the House just pass a new bill that incorporates the Senate bill and the reconciliation fix instead of this “Bill A” and “Bill B” crap? Answer: Because reconciliation only works for budgetary provisions, and most of the provisions of a giant new bill would be non-budgetary. They’d need 60 votes to re-pass it, not 50. (Although with Slow Joe ready to nuke the GOP’s opposition by any means necessary, you never know.) This whole headache could be avoided, of course, if Blue Dog Dems had an iota of confidence that Reid and Obama would keep their promise to pass a fix once the Senate bill passed the House, but they don’t. Every last bit of this excruciating procedural negotiation at this point stems from the fact that Democrats don’t trust other Democrats. Remember that.
Perhaps there’s a simpler way:
In reading the excellent article by Timothy Noah, the solution for the Stupak issue becomes obvious. Stupak’s main concern is that the Hyde language fully extends to the subsidized policies available in the exchanges. However, the Hyde language is not permanent law – it is an amendment in the HHS appropriations bill that expires every fiscal year. That is the basic challenge – Stupak wants to make a permanent law that mimics a temporary law that is annually renewed during an annual appropriations process.
The solution is to get the Appropriations Committee to promise to include language extending Hyde to the exchanges as part of the HHS Appropriations bill later this year. It will be part of the bill (just like the current Hyde language), and while it can be taken out of the bill by amendment on the floor, there are not the votes to do that. If there is an amendment to repeal the Hyde language on the House Floor this summer, Stupak will probably welcome that. Stupak and all his supporters will have their unambiguous vote against abortion coverage in HCR, and they will win. Pro-choice voters will be disappointed in the HHS fight, but there will be no reason to vote against HCR now. Stupak will get his language exactly the way the Hyde language exists now, and we will all get HCR. It is a win-win for everyone.
Yes, win-win for everyone — assuming Stupak trusts Pelosi and Reid to include that amendment in the appropriations bill. Does he? If so … why?
Update: If you’re looking for tea leaves on the numbers, Harkin says they’ll be done with this by March 27 (although Hoyer sounds less sure) and betting on InTrade that they’re going to pass something has suddenly spiked inside the D.C. area. Maybe a surge of confidence in light of Stupak’s newfound optimism? Could be, but that confidence might be misplaced: A reader reminded me last night that Stupak was sounding optimistic a few days ago too, and yet here we are, still with no movement in the House.