Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Fight Over a Health Care Reform Bill is not Done

Vocal opposition to the “Health Care Reform” efforts in Washington, D.C. is cooling. In part, this is because most citizens who become politically active only do so for a short period of time, before returning to their immediate needs in their daily lives. Others have been fooled by the Baucus Senate Finance Committee “health care reform” bill which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation have calculated will not raise the deficit.

  1. There is no “Baucus bill” as it is only a conceptual framework without actual legislative language. See Jubilation over the “Health Care Reform” Bill that Isn’t a Bill and Isn’t Going To Be the Bill and Max's Adventures in Wonderland.
  2. The calculations include increased revenues and “savings” over ten years but the cost of benefits over only 8 years.
  3. The increased revenues are obtained by tax increases.
  4. The “savings” are achieved by benefit reductions, primarily to seniors, and vaporous “cutting fraud and waste”.
  5. The bill is estimated to still leave 25 million Americans uninsured.
  6. The Democrats are likely to ram a bill through the Senate using either

a. 60 votes to invoke the cloture rule to close debate (either by having all Democrats vote for cloture or bring along one or two Republican Senators, such as Snow) or

b. Using Congress’s budget reconciliation process which requires only a simple majority vote, which is outside the normal Senate procedure, which requires 60 votes to end debate on a bill; thus taking away the filibuster, letting some Democrat Senators off the hook to vote for a controversial bill and passing the bill without the need for any Republican votes.

c. And, carving out a bill such as use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a ‘shell’ for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill (to evade the Constitutional requirement that such a bill originate in the House of Representatives) The House Democrats are very reluctant to take “unnecessary” hard votes on a bill which may not have the votes in the Senate, due to the first term Democrat Representatives being very nervous about their ability to get re-elected next year.

d. And, passing the bill with little time for the public to read and react to “the final agreed upon” bill, despite cries for the proposed minimal 3 day period that a bill be posted prior to passage. Oops, it appears House and Senate Democrats recently blocked amendments that would have required health care bills to be posted online for 72 hours before a committee vote. Hmm, I guess citizens really wouldn’t be interested anyway, you think?

In short, a bill may be passed using a very unusual closed door procedure to craft the bill with no input from the American people. Such a bill will NOT be bi-partisan, and it will not achieve the dual objectives of containing costs and universal coverage that were the original reasons for many Americans initially supporting the concept of health care reform. This is NOT the change we need!

Comments? Arguments?

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