The idea that an expansion of government through an enormous entitlement program will drastically reduce the deficit and debt is novel, to say the least. The poster person for this mathematical improbability is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She had promised a “fiscally sound” healthcare bill that would save $100 billion in the first 10 years and $1 trillion in the second. And by golly has she kept her promise!
Who would have imagined that a colossal spending bill is actually a deficit reduction bill in disguise? Such a chimerical legislative creature was delivered unto Nancy today by the CBOafs (The Congressional Budget Oafs). Initially projected to cost $950 billion over 10 years, the reconciliation healthcare bill midwived by the CBOafs is now expected to reduce the deficit by about $138 billion in the first decade and by $1.2 trillion in the next, while simultaneously expanding coverage to 32 million Americans and slashing the debt by $118 billion ─ $1 billion dollars saved for every new administrative board, bureaucracy, and commission created; one of the pending Reconciliation Act’s cost-curbing measures is the creation of 118 new government entities.
The Bill can now proceed to the House, where it will not be subjected to a vote. The health-care overhaul passed by the Senate on December 24 of last year, along with a package of changes to that bill [WSJ] will be passed without a vote. Using what the Washington Post called “a procedural sleight of hand,” the hulking bill will be deemed to have passed in the House by virtue of its prior passage in the Senate in December. A package of “fixes” or “reconciliation corrections” to the Senate bill is all the House weasels will be required to openly “yea” or “nay.” By putting their faces to the ostensibly redeemable aspects of the bill only, the cowards are hoping to hang onto their jobs. The Democrats require 216 roach votes.
Speaker Pelosi endorsed this “parliamentary maneuver”: “Nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill,” she blurted out to reporters ─ acknowledging indirectly that the planned trickery would go a long way to alleviate the pressure Pelosi-whipped politicians were experiencing. Another of her Orwellian admissions: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Yes, the text has yet to be unveiled.
Politico.com points out that, “While this procedure has been used before [naturally by Republicans too], the Supreme Court has said in past cases that repetition of an unconstitutional process does not make it constitutional.” A constitutional challenge is entirely possible. For to become law, under Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution, a Bill must have been passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, after which it is presented to the President of the United States.
The she-devil shenanigans are far from over. Next, Pelosi’s people will send the amendments back to the Senate, where, instead of passing with the mandated 60 votes, it’ll breeze through with a simple majority by invoking a procedure called budget reconciliation. Unfortunately, and as House Democratic leader Representative Steny Hoyer has reiterated, the outside-the-box use of the budget reconciliation procedure is very much “in the Republican tradition” too. Indeed, although Republicans have of late been voting their newly discovered consciences, they have no moral suasion. Their conduct while in power has guaranteed and certainly warrants a neutered status for years to come.
However, a Democrat who is owed a great deal of respect ─ and who authored the reconciliation process ─ has warned against abusing it. “I oppose using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform and climate change legislation,” said the elderly, ailing Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) last year.
“As one of the authors of the reconciliation process, I can tell you that the ironclad parliamentary procedures it authorizes were never intended for this purpose.” Possessing nothing of the West Virginian’s integrity, the president has simply avoided using the controversial term, calling instead for a simple “up or down vote.”
Ultimately, the CBOafs’ forecast is only as good as their premise, which is faulty. In logic, a conclusion can be correct and untrue at once. Bush’s respective oafs drew the correct conclusions from faulty assumptions about Iraq: Had Iraqis been a homogeneous, westernized society with a yen for democracy ─ it is quite possible that the Bush war would have cost a mere $65 billion and would have been covered by Iraqi oil revenues, as originally prognosticated by Bush’s oafs. Reality, and centuries of history, intervened.
So too will Pelosi’s alternate reality be punctured. If a glut of new monopoly agencies ─ backed by the power of the state, and unchecked by market forces ─ is capable of eliminating waste, fraud, and assorted inefficiencies, while at the same time resuscitating an insolvent Medicare, as well as improving the quality of healthcare for all ─ then CBOafs might fly.
©2010 By ILANA MERCER