Tuesday, March 16, 2010

'A republic…if you can keep it'

Sometime later this week, it’s likely Congress will vote on one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation in the history of the United States: the health insurance reform bill (aka: “ObamaCare”).

The GOP is doing everything it can to stop the 2,400-plus page law from being approved, but the Dems are trying anything and everything to get the bill over the hump…including a host of parliamentary tricks and unconstitutional measures.

When asked why it’s OK to circumvent our nation’s legal foundation and tradition, the answers are myriad. From the noted blog, Red State: “Lefties (Daily Kos, TPMDC, and Huffington Post) are defending against allegations that the ‘Slaughter Rule’ proposed strategy to pass ObamaCare without a vote is unprecedented and unconstitutional. The Slaughter Rule has the support of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and is the Democrats preferred strategy to pass ObamaCare. Liberals are peddling a talking point that self-executing rules like the Slaughter Rule have been done before and it was the Republicans that used this tool in the past. The fact of the matter is that there is no precedent for the House to pass a bill without a direct vote by using a budget reconciliation measure as a trigger and a means to pass ObamaCare. Nancy Pelosi’s potentially unconstitutional strategy to pass unconstitutional ObamaCare is without precedent or justification.”

The leaders of the pack...

So the question arises: why does the Constitution only seem to matter with the pro-ObamaCare forces when it applies to granting rights to terrorists, unlawful combatants, terror detainees and their abettors? Why doesn’t the Constitution matter now?

Two reasons:
  • First, this is about an agenda. The Rule of Law be damned.
  • Second, this is about cowardice. Even Speaker Pelosi admits as much.

From a Washington Post story by staffers Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane – “After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate's health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it.

Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers "deem" the health-care bill to be passed.

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.

"It's more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know," the speaker said in a roundtable discussion with bloggers Monday. "But I like it," she said, "because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill."

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.

"It's very painful and troubling to see the gymnastics through which they are going to avoid accountability," Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), the senior Republican on the House Rules Committee, told reporters. "And I hope very much that, at the end of the day, that if we are going to have a vote, we will have a clean up-or-down vote that will allow the American people to see who is supporting this Senate bill and who is not supporting this Senate bill."

In closing, a bit of history: At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was buttonholed as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation, “Well, doctor, what have we got – a republic or a monarchy?’ Franklin replied, “A republic…if you can keep it.”

After all is said and done, what will we have?

The Constitutional Convention...

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