Commentary Magazine


Topic: House Rules Committee

Flotsam and Jetsam

JTA makes a fine suggestion to the Beagle Blogger after yet another factual error in his Israel ranting: “Get an editor, dude.”

Congress is telling the Obami to knock off the Israel-bashing: “Two prominent US senators call on the US administration to resolve differences with Israel ‘amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies’ in the preamble to a letter thousands of American Israel Public Affairs Committee activists will be urging lawmakers to sign this week. The letter, written by Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with its House companion will be centerpieces of Israel advocates’ lobbying as part of the AIPAC annual conference.”

Ben Smith explains the AIPAC agenda: “The group is throwing its weight behind ‘crippling sanctions’ against Iran — with or without U.N. action — according to the talking points, and behind a letter from legislators to Secretary of State Clinton calling on the U.S. to climb down from public confrontation with Benjamin Netanyahu. … Those causes do seem to be gathering steam on the Hill.” Now what about the not-so-public strong-arming and bullying of Israel?

Obama says ObamaCare is just like the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Bill Kristol points out, all that’s missing is the huge bipartisan majority (not to mention the civil rights part). “This is what allows historic legislation to become historic — it achieves broad support, is passed without parliamentary tricks, and becomes the broadly accepted law of the land.”

And speaking of civil rights, ObamaCare has some pernicious racial preferences in it.

ObamaCare takes its toll on the president’s approval, according to Rasmussen: “Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That also matches the lowest level yet recorded for this President. Fifty-six percent (56%) disapprove.”

Matthew Continetti: “One cannot judge the full consequences of health care reform. What can be judged is the manner by which Democrats have governed over the last year. They have been partisan and ideological, derisive and dismissive. They try to legislate massive changes to American society and the American economy by the tiniest of margins and the most arcane of methods. The process has taken on a substance all its own. And it’s repellent.”

If you had any doubt, this was  Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., in the House Rules Committee on Saturday: “There ain’t no rules here, we’re trying to accomplish something. … All this talk about rules… when the deal goes down… We make ‘em up as we go along.” No legislative rules (or grammatical ones, for that matter). This is the talk of tyranny.

JTA makes a fine suggestion to the Beagle Blogger after yet another factual error in his Israel ranting: “Get an editor, dude.”

Congress is telling the Obami to knock off the Israel-bashing: “Two prominent US senators call on the US administration to resolve differences with Israel ‘amicably and in a manner that befits longstanding strategic allies’ in the preamble to a letter thousands of American Israel Public Affairs Committee activists will be urging lawmakers to sign this week. The letter, written by Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with its House companion will be centerpieces of Israel advocates’ lobbying as part of the AIPAC annual conference.”

Ben Smith explains the AIPAC agenda: “The group is throwing its weight behind ‘crippling sanctions’ against Iran — with or without U.N. action — according to the talking points, and behind a letter from legislators to Secretary of State Clinton calling on the U.S. to climb down from public confrontation with Benjamin Netanyahu. … Those causes do seem to be gathering steam on the Hill.” Now what about the not-so-public strong-arming and bullying of Israel?

Obama says ObamaCare is just like the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As Bill Kristol points out, all that’s missing is the huge bipartisan majority (not to mention the civil rights part). “This is what allows historic legislation to become historic — it achieves broad support, is passed without parliamentary tricks, and becomes the broadly accepted law of the land.”

And speaking of civil rights, ObamaCare has some pernicious racial preferences in it.

ObamaCare takes its toll on the president’s approval, according to Rasmussen: “Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That also matches the lowest level yet recorded for this President. Fifty-six percent (56%) disapprove.”

Matthew Continetti: “One cannot judge the full consequences of health care reform. What can be judged is the manner by which Democrats have governed over the last year. They have been partisan and ideological, derisive and dismissive. They try to legislate massive changes to American society and the American economy by the tiniest of margins and the most arcane of methods. The process has taken on a substance all its own. And it’s repellent.”

If you had any doubt, this was  Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., in the House Rules Committee on Saturday: “There ain’t no rules here, we’re trying to accomplish something. … All this talk about rules… when the deal goes down… We make ‘em up as we go along.” No legislative rules (or grammatical ones, for that matter). This is the talk of tyranny.

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Self-Slaughter

Sometimes in politics the ugliness of the process can become almost as harmful as the damaging substance of the policies themselves. That is what is occurring now, with Speaker Pelosi indicating a preference for a parliamentary tactic that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate’s health care bill without voting directly on the bill itself (as you’ve no doubt seen mentioned in previous posts, this tactic is variously known as the “self-executing rule,” “deem and pass,” and “the Slaughter Solution,” named after Louise Slaughter, chairman of the House Rules Committee).

If you want a sense of how much this whole process is damaging the Obama administration — the apostles of “hope and change,” you’ll recall — take a look at Robert Gibbs trying to answer whether the “Slaughter Solution” constitutes the kind of up-or-down vote the president promised. It’s almost painful to watch. The unmasking of the Obama presidency continues, one day at a time.

Sometimes in politics the ugliness of the process can become almost as harmful as the damaging substance of the policies themselves. That is what is occurring now, with Speaker Pelosi indicating a preference for a parliamentary tactic that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate’s health care bill without voting directly on the bill itself (as you’ve no doubt seen mentioned in previous posts, this tactic is variously known as the “self-executing rule,” “deem and pass,” and “the Slaughter Solution,” named after Louise Slaughter, chairman of the House Rules Committee).

If you want a sense of how much this whole process is damaging the Obama administration — the apostles of “hope and change,” you’ll recall — take a look at Robert Gibbs trying to answer whether the “Slaughter Solution” constitutes the kind of up-or-down vote the president promised. It’s almost painful to watch. The unmasking of the Obama presidency continues, one day at a time.

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Doubling Down on the Tricks

We started with the notion that health care was going to save money, be budget neutral, and be passed through a transparent process. Not one of these things is true about the current incarnation or the process. Indeed, “pass” is now a matter of great controversy. As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors explain:

New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what’s known as a “self-executing rule,” also known as a “hereby rule.” Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill.

But don’t they have to vote on the bill? Oh, pish-posh, let’s not get hung up on constitutional niceties. There’s historic legislation to be passed … er … “hereby ruled” through the House. Yes, it sure is a sign that the bill is so noxious that lawmakers have to pretend they aren’t voting for it in order to, well, vote for it. (“We have entered a political wonderland, where the rules are whatever Democrats say they are. Mrs. Pelosi and the White House are resorting to these abuses because their bill is so unpopular that a majority even of their own party doesn’t want to vote for it.”)

Even Nancy Pelosi is trying to keep things vague, suggesting it may not come to this. But it is coming to this, because a desperate president and the equally desperate Democratic leadership fear losing, so they resort to tricks, backroom deals, and parliamentary sleights of hand. That’s in large part how the bill got to be so unpopular. Nevertheless, the Democrats seem intent on doubling down, so why not load up on the procedural gimmicks? At some point — now would be as good a time as any — saner Democratic heads may prevail and wonder why their leaders must shred the Constitution in order to pass a bill that’s supposedly such an electoral winner for their side.

We started with the notion that health care was going to save money, be budget neutral, and be passed through a transparent process. Not one of these things is true about the current incarnation or the process. Indeed, “pass” is now a matter of great controversy. As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors explain:

New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what’s known as a “self-executing rule,” also known as a “hereby rule.” Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill.

But don’t they have to vote on the bill? Oh, pish-posh, let’s not get hung up on constitutional niceties. There’s historic legislation to be passed … er … “hereby ruled” through the House. Yes, it sure is a sign that the bill is so noxious that lawmakers have to pretend they aren’t voting for it in order to, well, vote for it. (“We have entered a political wonderland, where the rules are whatever Democrats say they are. Mrs. Pelosi and the White House are resorting to these abuses because their bill is so unpopular that a majority even of their own party doesn’t want to vote for it.”)

Even Nancy Pelosi is trying to keep things vague, suggesting it may not come to this. But it is coming to this, because a desperate president and the equally desperate Democratic leadership fear losing, so they resort to tricks, backroom deals, and parliamentary sleights of hand. That’s in large part how the bill got to be so unpopular. Nevertheless, the Democrats seem intent on doubling down, so why not load up on the procedural gimmicks? At some point — now would be as good a time as any — saner Democratic heads may prevail and wonder why their leaders must shred the Constitution in order to pass a bill that’s supposedly such an electoral winner for their side.

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Forget Bipartisanship — What About His Own Party?

As Pete has commented, Obama spinners wield the “bipartisanship” sword when convenient and tuck it away when not, or as Nancy Pelosi bizarrely suggested, they redefine bipartisanship as not requiring bipartsian support for the bill. (Sort of like fiscal discipline without the discipline part.) But Obama has a bigger problem — his summit performance seems to have not rallied his own side, but rather to have alienated many Democrats. Bloomberg reports:

Obama plans to announce a way forward this week on the biggest overhaul of the U.S. health system in 45 years in a bid to break an impasse on the bill. Some House Democrats are uneasy over the likely use of a procedure called reconciliation that would sidestep Republican opposition by requiring only a simple majority vote in the Senate. “It looks like we’re trying to cram something through,” said Representative Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat who voted for the original House bill.

Hill said he might not back a measure if it goes through reconciliation, which is intended for budget matters. A “sizeable number” of the 54 fiscally conservative Democrats who call themselves Blue Dogs are also concerned, said South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Even the lawmaker who related the sob story of wearing the dead sister’s dentures has her concerns. (“There is some consternation,” said New York Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who runs the House Rules Committee.) As Representative Alcee Hastings put it, “I see a risk of some people who are vulnerable being made more vulnerable.” And he’s in favor of ObamaCare.

The president could well have made things worse by his performance at the health-care summit — allowing the Republicans to demonstrate their bona fides and revealing a paucity of legitimate responses to their very probing critiques. He certainly didn’t endear himself to the GOP, but — even worse — he provided little comfort to his own side. In the end, the summit may well prove to be decisive, but not in the way the White House had hoped.

As Pete has commented, Obama spinners wield the “bipartisanship” sword when convenient and tuck it away when not, or as Nancy Pelosi bizarrely suggested, they redefine bipartisanship as not requiring bipartsian support for the bill. (Sort of like fiscal discipline without the discipline part.) But Obama has a bigger problem — his summit performance seems to have not rallied his own side, but rather to have alienated many Democrats. Bloomberg reports:

Obama plans to announce a way forward this week on the biggest overhaul of the U.S. health system in 45 years in a bid to break an impasse on the bill. Some House Democrats are uneasy over the likely use of a procedure called reconciliation that would sidestep Republican opposition by requiring only a simple majority vote in the Senate. “It looks like we’re trying to cram something through,” said Representative Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat who voted for the original House bill.

Hill said he might not back a measure if it goes through reconciliation, which is intended for budget matters. A “sizeable number” of the 54 fiscally conservative Democrats who call themselves Blue Dogs are also concerned, said South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Even the lawmaker who related the sob story of wearing the dead sister’s dentures has her concerns. (“There is some consternation,” said New York Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who runs the House Rules Committee.) As Representative Alcee Hastings put it, “I see a risk of some people who are vulnerable being made more vulnerable.” And he’s in favor of ObamaCare.

The president could well have made things worse by his performance at the health-care summit — allowing the Republicans to demonstrate their bona fides and revealing a paucity of legitimate responses to their very probing critiques. He certainly didn’t endear himself to the GOP, but — even worse — he provided little comfort to his own side. In the end, the summit may well prove to be decisive, but not in the way the White House had hoped.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Wow: “Republicans are stepping up their efforts to persuade more House Democrats to switch parties and are zeroing in on a second-term Pennsylvanian who is not ruling out such a move.” And this is when the Democrats have a 258-seat . . . er. . . make that 257-seat  majority.

RealClearPolitics average on ObamaCare: 38.4 percent approve and 51 disapprove. So, are Democrats going to run on this in 2010 as their signature achievement? Might explain why there are potential defections.

Voters would rather their representatives be doing something else: “Voters, as they have all year, rate cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term as President Obama’s number one budget priority. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% put deficit cutting in first place, followed by 22% who say health care reform is most important.”

Do we think she means it? “The Senate’s healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate’s bill is so flawed that it’s unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.”

Well, liberal journalists seem nervous: “Yet for all the justifiable celebrations of this achievement, it’s fast becoming clear—as it should have always been—that Democrats are still a long way from home free when it comes to the final enactment of health-care reform into law. That ironing out of the differences between the House and Senate incarnations of the bill is going to be no easy thing.” And the key stumbling block may well be abortion. Can Nancy Pelosi find votes to make up for Re. Bart Stupak and pro-life Democrats unwilling to roll over as Sen. Ben Nelson did? We’ll find out.

The bill is so bad it renders Sen. Chuck Schumer mute: “Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson both slammed the Senate bill Monday, charging it would cost the city more than $500 million and rip a $1 billion-a-year hole in the state budget. Schumer, a veteran streetfighter for federal cash, has been suddenly recast as a defender of Washington—and a deal he helped cut that shafts New York. ‘He’s being uncharacteristically quiet in part because the numbers don’t look that good,’ said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. . . [Schumer] bristled at criticism that he stood by as other states won sweetheart deals.” Well, how come Nebraska got more than New York then?

Seems like there might be some legal challenges to the Cash for Cloture deals.

Not making this up: Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are demanding an investigation into Rahm Emanuel’s dealings with Freddie Mac. See, Obama is bringing people together.

Wow: “Republicans are stepping up their efforts to persuade more House Democrats to switch parties and are zeroing in on a second-term Pennsylvanian who is not ruling out such a move.” And this is when the Democrats have a 258-seat . . . er. . . make that 257-seat  majority.

RealClearPolitics average on ObamaCare: 38.4 percent approve and 51 disapprove. So, are Democrats going to run on this in 2010 as their signature achievement? Might explain why there are potential defections.

Voters would rather their representatives be doing something else: “Voters, as they have all year, rate cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term as President Obama’s number one budget priority. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% put deficit cutting in first place, followed by 22% who say health care reform is most important.”

Do we think she means it? “The Senate’s healthcare bill is fatally flawed, a senior Democrat atop a powerful committee said on Wednesday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said that the Senate’s bill is so flawed that it’s unlikely to be resolved in conference with the bill to have passed the House.”

Well, liberal journalists seem nervous: “Yet for all the justifiable celebrations of this achievement, it’s fast becoming clear—as it should have always been—that Democrats are still a long way from home free when it comes to the final enactment of health-care reform into law. That ironing out of the differences between the House and Senate incarnations of the bill is going to be no easy thing.” And the key stumbling block may well be abortion. Can Nancy Pelosi find votes to make up for Re. Bart Stupak and pro-life Democrats unwilling to roll over as Sen. Ben Nelson did? We’ll find out.

The bill is so bad it renders Sen. Chuck Schumer mute: “Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson both slammed the Senate bill Monday, charging it would cost the city more than $500 million and rip a $1 billion-a-year hole in the state budget. Schumer, a veteran streetfighter for federal cash, has been suddenly recast as a defender of Washington—and a deal he helped cut that shafts New York. ‘He’s being uncharacteristically quiet in part because the numbers don’t look that good,’ said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. . . [Schumer] bristled at criticism that he stood by as other states won sweetheart deals.” Well, how come Nebraska got more than New York then?

Seems like there might be some legal challenges to the Cash for Cloture deals.

Not making this up: Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are demanding an investigation into Rahm Emanuel’s dealings with Freddie Mac. See, Obama is bringing people together.

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