Health Care Passes

March 22, 2010 - 4:10 AM
Here's where I think the plan fails: This bill says that I have to purchase health insurance, and that seems to be a government seizure forbidden by the Fourth Amendment.
I am not breaking my arm patting myself on the back. I've been doing this long enough to know that when it comes to predictions, I am correct precisely 50 percent of the time.
 
The end of the fight to defeat this health care bill came at about four o'clock Sunday afternoon when the President promised Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) that he would sign an Executive Order banning the use of Federal money to fund abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
 
When Stupak agreed to the langue in the Executive Order as an acceptable safety net for the pro-life Democrats in the House, the issue was resolved. [A link to the text of the Executive Order is available on the Secret Decoder Ring Page.]
 
There are several steps left to go before this is done.
 
The Speaker and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate have to sign the official copy of the legislation which will then carried to the White House where it will be signed, with justifiable flourish, by President Obama. That satisfies Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution which provides that, "Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it …"
 
But, the bill which the House passed was the exact bill which was adopted by the Senate - including the Cornhusker kick-back and a tax on so-called "Cadillac health care plans" which many in the House don't like.
 
Dear Mr. Mullings:
 
This is where my head begins to hurt. Why did the House go through all this? Why didn't they just pass the bill they wanted and come up with a bill both Chambers would accept in a Conference between them?

 
F.I.L.I.B.U.S.T.E.R.
 
With the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass) in January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) lost his 60-vote filibuster-proof majority. That meant that a bill passed by the House which was not identical to the bill already adopted by the Senate would be effectively killed by Senate Republicans.
 
My head doesn't hurt any less. So, what's with this whole reconciliation thing?
 
I'm on shaky ground here, but the main point is: Budget resolutions and bills which "reconcile" spending to fit within a budget resolution are not subject to filibuster and so need only a majority of those voting (51 Senators if everyone is working that day).
 
Here's what the Senate's glossary page says about the reconciliation process: "A process established in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by which Congress changes existing laws to conform tax and spending levels to the levels set in a budget resolution. Changes recommended by committees pursuant to a reconciliation instruction are incorporated into a reconciliation measure."
 
Which makes my head hurt.
 
Anyway, the Democrats are claiming that the fix-it bill coming back from the House is really a budget reconciliation bill and thus needs only a simple majority.
 
Senate Republicans, as you might imagine, are in hearty disagreement with this theory.
 
The Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the reconciliation bill can't be presented to the Senate until the President has signed the underlying bill - there has to be something to reconcile. So, the Senate will wait to take up the fixes until after the signing ceremony at the White House.
 
Here's where I think the plan fails: If I have to buy insurance to drive a car, that's fine. I don't have to drive. I can walk, ride a bike, take the bus, whatever.
 
If I have to pay an airport tax to help defray the costs of the TSA, that's fine, too. I don't have to get on an airplane. I can walk, ride a bike, take the bus, whatever.
 
This bill says that I have to purchase health insurance. I don't have to drive or fly, but I do have to live, so that that seems to be a government seizure forbidden by the Fourth Amendment.
 
If I was on shaky ground on the reconciliation thing, given the single Con Law class I took from Professor Robert Hill at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750 I might be on quicksand on this one, but there you have it.
 
At about 10:48 last night, the vote was gaveled into history and the bill was adopted 219 - 212 - three votes to spare.
 
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: The text of the President's Executive Order on abortion funding, a link to the Senate's glossary page, and the text of the Fourth Amendment. Also a gentle Mullfoto of the season's first daffodil, and a pretty good Catchy Caption of the Day.