Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Start the debate

The NY Times has a forum today titled "Is the health care law unconstitutional?" with varying viewpoints on display. Randy Barnett has his entry on the Volokh Conspiracy and here's the concluding paragraph about the individual insurance mandate:

Does the text of the Constitution authorize this exercise of power? No, it doesn’t. Has the Court ever before upheld this claim of power? No, it hasn’t. Can the challengers get this mandate invalidated? Yes, they can.
Obama will probably take another cue from FDR and try to pack the Supreme Court. Anything goes!
Have I told you lately that we're broke?

Here's Robert Samuelson in "Planting the seeds of disaster":

Suppose the CBO estimate is correct. So? The $138 billion saving is about 1 percent of the projected $12.7 trillion deficit from 2009 to 2020. If the administration has $1 trillion or so of spending cuts and tax increases over a decade, all these monies should first cover existing deficits -- not finance new spending. Obama's behavior resembles a highly indebted family's taking an expensive round-the-world trip because it claims to have found ways to pay for it. It's self-indulgent and reckless.
The trajectory of entitlement spending alone will swallow all projected tax revenues by 2052 and this was before adding Obama's $2.5 trillion new program. The federal government is already spending nearly two dollars for every dollar raised. But because borrowing is cheap right now, Washington is charging like a college kid with his new "introductory rate!" credit card. Eventually, the bill comes due.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Damn, this is a slow news night - It's funny but I saw "Oliver!" last night and "Gigi" was on TCM tonight. So it's poverty in London and high society in Paris this weekend.

In other news, I doubled the RAM in my laptop and now it runs like a dream. Coolio. I can't believe that Staples and the "Geek Squad" try to charge $40 for a job that takes like five minutes.
Red ink rising - Victor Davis Hanson: "In the end, there is only the debt."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Here comes the VAT - Charles Krauthammer predicts that a European-style government will soon require European-style funding, so get ready for a value-added tax.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The right to be left alone – WashPost has another review on the health insurance mandate: "Is health reform unconstitutional?"

So far the best legal review I've found is from Jonathan Adler who notes that while the arguments against the mandate are "anything but frivolous" he also believes the mandate will survive judicial review.

My non-legal gut instinct is that the individual mandate just feels wrong. I don't dispute the power of the government to tax and spend and regulate but forcing Americans to purchase something – even something as necessary as health insurance – smacks of coercion. Furthermore, it seems like the start of a slippery slope where the government can justify just about anything under the umbrella of "regulating commerce."
I question the timing

My but this was a shocker this morning. NY Times: "Social Security to see payout exceed pay-in this year"

The bursting of the real estate bubble and the ensuing recession have hurt jobs, home prices and now Social Security.
This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Stephen C. Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, said that while the Congressional projection would probably be borne out, the change would have no effect on benefits in 2010 and retirees would keep receiving their checks as usual.
The problem, he said, is that payments have risen more than expected during the downturn, because jobs disappeared and people applied for benefits sooner than they had planned. At the same time, the program’s revenue has fallen sharply, because there are fewer paychecks to tax.
Let me get this straight: one of America's largest entitlement programs dips into the red six years ahead of schedule and nobody in the Obama White House saw it coming? Because it's curious how the Democrats had to rush through a brand new, expensive entitlement less than a week before we found out an old one is broke. Maybe they were concerned that some Americans would recoil at another new government program to feed as the old ones fall apart.

Hmmm...curious indeed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Commerce clause delenda est - Reason: "The crazy constitutional logic of the individual insurance mandate."

Extra - Americans don't like it. Really.
Feeding the beast - George Will "A victory for Obama's agenda of spreading dependency": "Forbidding insurance companies to deny coverage to persons with pre-existing conditions, thereby making the risk pool more risky, will increase the cost of premiums. Public complaints will be smothered with more subsidies. So dependency will grow."

Of course, government spending can only continue as long as we can keep finding suckers to purchase U.S. debt. Hey, what's this from CNBC today? "Why the bond auction fizzled: Fears of a 'fiscal train wreck.'"

Uh-oh. Also, let's ignore these American rubes: "Most American voters believe it's possible the nation's economy could collapse, and majorities don't think elected officials in Washington have ideas for fixing it." Crazy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TV theme songs

I'm totally burnt out on HCR and "Lost" is on tonight, so here's a video I lifted from AoSHQ. Enjoy!

I like the "The End" at the, um, completion of their medley.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jackie Wilson said - It was "reet petite!" - whatever that means. Jackie Wilson is one of my all-time favorite musicians and NPR had a wonderful story on the consummate showman on "All Things Considered" this afternoon.
HCR wrap-up

Opinion Journal: "The Doctors of the House."
National Review: "Obamacare isn't inevitable."
Victor Davis Hanson: "We've crossed the Rubicon."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Final thoughts on health care bill

I can't stay up for the final vote because I have to go to work tomorrow to...pay for the health care bill. But I want to make one final comment for what this legislation means for America, as I see it. YMMV.

There used to be a country I knew that believed in freedom. And part of that freedom was the belief that if you wanted to smoke four packs of Marlboros a day and eat Big Macs and drink Jack Daniels every night, well, that's your business. It was no concern of mine. Oh, sure, you could argue that in a roundabout way I paid for police enforcement I never used or higher life insurance premiums to defray the cost of high-risk behavior, but that was part of the daily nickel-and-diming that's part of doing business. Some kids at Harvard are getting scholarships and others are paying top dollar. This is all part of the implicit nature of society.

Now Congress is saying that we have an explicit duty to pay for the health care of everyone. In particular, young and healthy Americans will be compelled to purchase insurance to subsidize the health care of mostly older Americans who are already eating up half of the entire U.S. budget with Medicare and Social Security payments. The new rules for insurance companies will distort their core activity of assessing risk and setting insurance rates based on that risk. The inevitable result will be an indirect subsidy from those who play by the rules to those who roll the dice.

What's the logical endgame to this situation? A nation of scolds. Now that everybody is paying for everybody else's health care, we're going to clamp down on the smokers, and the drinkers, and the trans-fat eaters until there's nothing left but carrot juice and aerobics.

We'll give up our "liberty" and "pursuit of happiness" for "life." Oh, and with a new entitlement, we'll go broke in the process. What a great plan.
Things will never be the same - Mark Steyn: "Happy Dependence Day!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Faux-mentum - House GOP whip Eric Cantor says: "Dems are bluffing, don't have the votes." Keep hope alive!

Update - Oh, Larry Sabato, you're depressing me. Boo.
There is no going back

Do quote Megan McArdle a lot? It's because I usually injure my neck nodding to everything she writes:

But there is one thing of which I am nearly perfectly certain: If we pass this thing, no American politician, left or right, is going to cut any of these programs, or raise the broad-based taxes necessary to pay for them, without any compensating goodies to offer the public . . . until the crisis is almost upon us. I can think of no situation, other than impending crisis, in which such a thing has been done--and usually, as with Social Security, they have done just little enough to kick the problem down the road. The idea that you pass a program of dubious sustainability because you can always make it sustainable later, seems borderline insane. I can't think of a single major entitlement that has become more sustainable over time. Why is this one supposed to be different?
This country's inability to address runaway entitlement spending has left us with nearly $108 trillion in unfunded liabilities. These are promises the government cannot possibly meet but there is no political will to tell Americans they can't have their ice cream. Now we're about to dramatically expand the role of government at the very moment in time when we should be shrinking it.

It's mortifying.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nuts

I don't know what it will take to turn the Democrats away from the abyss. After a year of non-stop debate, Americans hate health care reform more than ever with the latest Fox News poll showing a 20% gap (!). The approval rating for Congress couldn't buy a six-pack of beer. And Obama's approval rating has now tipped into the red.

James Taranto sees it too: "Dems pushing ObamaCare look increasingly desperate and creepy"

And the Atlantic's economic columnist Megan McArdle finds nothing good in the CBO report yet despairs that it won't matter:
Ultimately, this rests on the question: are we really going to cut Medicare? If we're not, this gargantuan new entitlement is going to end up costing us about $200 billion a year next decade, which even in government terms is an awful lot of money. There are offsetting taxes, but they're either trivial or likely to be unpopular--look forward to a 4% rent increase when your landlord has to stump over the same amount for the new tax on rents. Then look forward to repeal of same.

I think this is a fiscal disaster waiting to happen. But no one on the other side cares, so I'm not sure how much point there is in saying that any more.
Who cares? Barack wants his legacy.

Extra - Hennessey untangles this mess.

More - Maggie's Farm on the real score.

And this - David Brooks: "In my view, this is no longer about health care. It's just Democrats wanting to pass a bill, any bill, and shredding anything they have in order to get it done."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And now for something completely different: a "Lost" interpretation

I’m a fan of the ABC series "Lost" but – to be honest – I can't wait for the series to be over. I think they've run out of good ideas and they're just shining us on with side-stories and back-stories and good vs. evil narratives. But after last night's episode, I had a revelation and it relates back to an old Twilight Zone episode titled "The Howling Man."

In this tale, an American stumbles into a European castle populated by monks who are keeping an articulate but disheveled man prisoner. This man pleads with the American to release him from his jail cell, claiming the monks are zealots. The brothers of the order, in response, tell the man that the prisoner is the devil himself, Satan in the flesh.

Here's the twist (spoiler alert)! The devil's prison cell is held closed merely by a long staff of wood which any man could reach down and remove. The point here is that the Devil cannot remove the staff; only a man can free the Devil. Sure enough, the American lifts the "Staff of Truth" off the door latch and the Devil is let loose upon the world.

Now back to "Lost." So far this final season has taken on a strong religous "God" vs. "The Devil" vibe with the angelic and white-clad Jacob pitted against the black smoke monster now known as John Locke. But since Jacob was "killed" by Ben Linus, we still see "John Locke" vanquishing all enemies before him in the Temple before moving on to (apparently) Charles Widmore and his crew. But in all these efforts and in spite of his unique powers, "John Locke" constantly needs to enlist the help of mortals. He convinced Sayid to kill Dogen and then he recruits Sawyer to spy on the Widmore camp. Heck, he even got Ben to kill Jacob. But why? Why can't he perform all these things with the powers he already has?

I think "John Locke" can only escape from the island for the same reason the Devil needed that gullible American: they derive power by playing upon the frailties of man. Thus, I speculate that the rest of the series plays out as "John Locke" continues to manipulate the Losties for his own purposes but also to see how far he can corrupt mankind. We've already seen the beginning of this corruption in Sayid who sat by passively as Claire almost killed Kate. Also: take note that "Locke" had to knock out and restrain Richard Alpert who knows something about the history behind Jacob and the Man in Black; the fact that he's (probably) incorruptible may also explain why he does not age.

All of this leads to a man-versus-Devil showdown, where Locke/Satan is thwarted by a virtuous character, almost certainly Jack. The good-evil climax will be reminiscent of Mr. Eko's faceoff with the Smoke Monster way back in season two. Somebody will hold their ground, the Devil will fall, Jacob will rise, and everybody will be rescued by Charles Widmore.

Or it could all be a dream by Hurley who is living in the insane asylum. Good night!
Demon Pass rules - This is some serious inside legal baseball but over at Volokh, former federal judge Jonathan Adler explains the pending "Slaughter rule" to vote, but not vote, on HCR: "It may be clever but it is not Constitutional."
In the land of "Napoleon Dynamite" - AP: "Idaho first to sign law against health care reform." As in Virginia, the sticking point is the controversial mandate that people must purchase insurance.
Dennis Kucinich is a cheap date.
AP headline this morning: 'Fact Check - Premiums would rise under Obama plan'

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Math is hard - Yo, CBO! What's taking so long?
Quote of the day - I deem that today's best quote goes to Nancy Pelosi: "Nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill." There's some breathtaking honesty.

Runner-up - Massachusetts state treasurer Timothy Cahill: "If President Obama and the Democrats repeat the mistake of health insurance reform here in Massachusetts on a national level, they will threaten to wipe out the American economy within four years."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another big new entitlement

Hennessey "Obamacare vs. the Fiscal Responsibility Commission": "If the pending health care bills are enacted, I anticipate their repeal will be Topic A for the Fiscal Responsibility Commission."

Meanwhile, and with apologies to W.B. Yeats:
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Washington to cash in trillions of IOUs
It's Entitlement Jr. - Social Security - looking for the cash the federal government promised years and years ago. Just wait until Entitlement Megatron arrives, less than a decade from now. Boy howdy.
Somebody's deluded and, man, I hope it isn't me - The Intrade prediction market for health care reform keeps climbing even though, by many accounts, the Dems don't have the votes yet. But over a Critical Condition, Jeffrey Anderson lists "Three reasons why Obamacare isn't likely to pass."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mission: Impossible star - Dang it, Peter Graves has passed on. I was a huge fan of the late 60s/early 70s TV series where IMF chief Jim Phelps would get his assignment and then retire to his stylish bachelor pad to consider how to overcome his impossible mission. If I remember correctly, nearly every job required Radio Shack guy Greg Morris and strongman Peter Lupus.
Walking the plank - Opinion Journal: "Swing districts oppose health reform - Sobering news for 35 key House members."
You've got to live your life while there's life to live!

Insert catchphrase and/or inspirational speech here.
Jobs? Who needs jobs? - Weekly Standard on Obamacare: "The anti-jobs bill."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Constitutional chaos - Some Constitutional attorneys discuss the "Slaughter rule" over at Director Blue (h/t P&P).

As for me, I can't stop thinking about Sir Thomas More's speech from "A Man for All Seasons." In this scene, an advocate for More is arguing that he should arrest a man whose perjury could lead to his execution. More refuses because the man has not broken the law and the other argues that More should not give the devil the "benefit of the law."
"What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"
With the Slaughter rule change and the "sidecar" options and the reconciliation tricks and other unconstitutional benders, the Democrats are cutting a path through the laws to get their legislation passed by any means necessary. What does it mean for the country when one party, working against the will of the people, decides to change the rules as they go along? It's the seed of tyranny.

Extra - Big Government: "Schoolhouse Barack."
Good to know - WSJ: "Engineering jobs earn the most." According to the article, biomedical engineering is where it's at.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Let's go crazy, Senate-style - Roll Call "Senate liberals dissed on health bill": "Senate Democratic leaders are concerned about the amount of mischief their own Members could create if or when a health care reconciliation bill comes up for debate." Public option, Medicare cuts, donut holes - it could be nuts!
The Senate Parliamentarian just nixed Obamacare. Ruled that law must exist before it can be fixed in reconciliation. The 'Slaughter solution is a no-go.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Virginia pushes back against HCR - It's largely symbolic move but a lopsided vote in the Virginia House of Delegates today stipulated that the federal government can't force Virginians to purchase health insurance. Thirty-four other states are planning similar legislation.

Extra - Some interesting additional from Slate.
Piling on deficits - Megan McArdle (and Greg Mankiw) makes an important point here: the unfunded liabilities of Medicare require less government health care spending over time, not more. "If the cost controls fail, we aren't just right back where we started: we're much, much worse off." In other words, deficit neutrality just keeps us running in place.
Democracy, Democrat-style

Voting for stuff? That's sooooo old-school.

Having determined that they lack the votes in the House to pass the Senate bills as-is, House Democrats are attempting one of the most breathtakingly unconstitutional power grabs ever witnessed - a maneuver to deem the Senate bill ALREADY PASSED by the House by rule, despite the fact that it clearly has not.
Anything goes!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Stupak holds firm - Weekly Standard: "I won't agree to a promise to fix the bill in the future": "That's not acceptable because 'later' never comes."


And this: "For every voters who strongly favors the plan, two are strongly opposed." Message to Congress: elections are a'comin'.
Prepare for a future of cardboard and cat food - I find this headline from CNN/Money to be shocking: "43% have less than $10K for retirement." Holy cow. I really hope these people aren't depending on Social Security.
Nancy in Wonderland health care accounting

I'm not going to lie to you dear reader: this David Brooks column – in the New York Times (!) – gave me a Chris Matthews-style tingle up my leg.

They’re going through the motions. They’ve stuffed the legislation with gimmicks and dodges designed to get a good score from the Congressional Budget Office but don’t genuinely control runaway spending.
Then, in painstaking detail, he details the opacity of the smoke and the reflection of the mirrors:

There is the doc fix dodge. The legislation pretends that Congress is about to cut Medicare reimbursements by 21 percent. Everyone knows that will never happen, so over the next decade actual spending will be $300 billion higher than paper projections.
There is the long-term care dodge. The bill creates a $72 billion trust fund to pay for a new long-term care program. The sponsors count that money as cost-saving, even though it will eventually be paid back out when the program comes on line.
There is the subsidy dodge. Workers making $60,000 and in the health exchanges would receive $4,500 more in subsidies in 2016 than workers making $60,000 and not in the exchanges. There is no way future Congresses will allow that disparity to persist. Soon, everybody will get the subsidy.
There is the excise tax dodge. The primary cost-control mechanism and long-term revenue source for the program is the tax on high-cost plans. But Democrats aren’t willing to levy this tax for eight years. The fiscal sustainability of the whole bill rests on the na├»ve hope that a future Congress will have the guts to accept a trillion-dollar tax when the current Congress wouldn’t accept an increase of a few billion.
There is the 10-6 dodge. One of the reasons the bill appears deficit-neutral in the first decade is that it begins collecting revenue right away but doesn’t have to pay for most benefits until 2014. That’s 10 years of revenues to pay for 6 years of benefits, something unlikely to happen again unless the country agrees to go without health care for four years every decade.
There is the Social Security dodge. The bill uses $52 billion in higher Social Security taxes to pay for health care expansion. But if Social Security taxes pay for health care, what pays for Social Security?
There is the pilot program dodge. Admirably, the bill includes pilot programs designed to help find ways to control costs. But it’s not clear that the bill includes mechanisms to actually implement the results. This is exactly what happened to undermine previous pilot program efforts.
The Democrats have not been completely irresponsible. It’s just that as the health fight has gone on, their passion for coverage has swamped their less visceral commitment to reducing debt. The result is a bill that is fundamentally imbalanced.
"Imbalanced" in the sense that no reasonable American could possibly believe that health care reform could be paid for by "somebody else" eight years hence by some future Congress that will choose to raise taxes by $1 trillion. Guess what: nobody very few Americans believe it.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Senate pinky-swear makes the House sweat – Two articles from the WSJ: "Democrats voice health bill doubts." Why? Because there is absolutely no guarantee that the Senate will pass the changes the House wants once the House vote is cast. Cornhusker Kickback, forever!
Cost control? What cost control?

A year ago, when this whole health care debate started, we were told over and over that if we didn't do something about runaway health care costs – especially with regard to Medicare – they will swamp the ship of state. Today, Obama essentially said: "Forget all that jazz."

"You had 10 years. What happened?" Obama asked at a Glenside, Pa., rally. "We've been talking about health care for nearly a century. ... We talked about it during Democratic administrations and Republican administrations. I've got all my Republican colleagues out there saying, 'Well, no, no, no. We want to focus on things like cost.'"
Um, yea-ah. Wasn't that the point of this whole exercise? Or at least a major driving force? Here's President Obama, nine months ago:

When it comes to the cost of health care, this much is clear: the status quo is unsustainable for families, businesses, and government. America spends nearly 50 percent more per person on health care than any other country. Health care premiums have doubled over the last decade, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed, and many with preexisting conditions are denied coverage. More and more, Americans are being priced out of the care they need.

These costs are also hurting business, as some big businesses are at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign counterparts, and some small businesses are forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, or even lay off workers. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid pose one of the greatest threats to our federal deficit, and could leave our children with a mountain of debt that they cannot pay.
Last week, former Obama adviser Warren Buffett came out and said this legislation does almost nothing to control costs. But now tamping down health care costs is just another ploy by those bad-ole Republicans to derail Obama's signature legislation. And I'm starting to get the impression that the legacy is all Obama cares about when it comes to this legislation.

Related - The Boston Globe reports that Virginia is poised to pass the first state legislation stipulating that citizens cannot be forced to purchase health insurance.
Quote of the day

Well, at least the Sunday morning talk shows. Here's George Will laying some serious pwnage on Robert Reich:
There you have the premise of this legislation and the core of today’s liberalism: the American people are such dopes they can’t be counted upon to buy their own insurance.
The insurance companies were the bete noire of Kathleen Sebelius yesterday and President Obama yesterday and they both cited a Goldman Sachs report that the lack of competition helps insurance companies? Should we then let insurance companies compete across state lines and open up the free market? Nope, because it's all about control.

Runner-up! - Pundit & Pundette: "Obama said it again today: 'The time for talk is over.' Ain't it the truth. Please shut up."

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Prof. Reynolds discusses Schlitz beer and our watered-down freedom - Washington Examiner: "Consent of the governed - and the lack thereof."

The main theme of the Instapundit's article is that government has become so unresponsive to the interests of the citizens, that it's brewing a deep distrust of political leaders. Although he doesn't specially note this in the article, it can be found in a Congress that is largely ignoring the #1 topic for most Americans (jobs) and spending its time consumed with another issue (health care.)

Furthermore, on this latter issue, Congress is clearly ignoring the will of the voters and seems poised to push through government-run healthcare before Americans can affirm their deep disapproval through elections. One wonders, Reynolds writes, where the legitimacy of a government goes when the citizens decides it has lost touch with the people.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Too late, I got mine! - CNBC: "Cash-strapped states delay paying income tax refunds." By the way, this is the first year I filed all my taxes electronically and I got all my refunds within two weeks. Snail mail is so 20th century.
Rock 'n roll - It's a slow news night so maybe it's time for a stream of consciousness post. So tonight I've come to praise one of my all-time favorite artists: Graham Parker.

I've seen Graham Parker the three times he's come to the Northampton area for a concert. Once with the Figgs, another time with a mix of backup artists, and the last time was a solo acoustic performance at the Iron Horse. He's a great talent who puts on a fantastic show, so catch him if you can. He deserves much more fame than he's received over his career.

Amazon list right here. Check out "Squeezing out Sparks" and "The Mona Lisa's Sister", fer sure.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Twenty trillion dollars of debt. That's with a "T" - The CBO has scored the Obama administration's budgets and there's nothing but red ink, deep and wide: "Under the President's budget, debt held by the public would grow from $7.5 trillion at the end of 2009 to $20.3 trillion at the end of 2020." That would be 90% of GDP, well into the debt danger zone, not even counting the budgetary disaster that is Obamacare.
You showed him! - Paul Krugman mounts his moral high horse and slaps down the views of...Paul Krugman.
I'm in Boston - I don't know how anybody commutes into or out of Boston. The traffic was insanity.
Numbers you can't believe in

In today's WashPost, Orszag and DeParle insist Obamacare is "Health care that won't break the bank" and with risible, childlike faith note "The President's plan represents an important step towards long-term fiscal sustainability." Yeah, right, you want to take that one Paul Ryan?

The Obama administration is still leaning on the CBO scoring based on six years of benefits paid for with ten years of taxes, as if any American can't figure out what happens when the law has to stand on its own. Finally, the CBO score itself is based on rainbows and unicorns:

Me fail English? That's unpossible! - College students protest at the University of Washington, can't spell.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Baby, I swear I'll respect you in the morning and fix everything in reconciliation

Although it's looking increasingly unlikely that the House will have the votes to pass health care reform, the threat remains that the House could pass the Senate's POS bill complete with the Cornhusker Kickback, the "Cadillac" tax hike, and the abortion language. As far as I understand, this would only occur with the promise from the Senate that they'll fix all the budget items in reconciliation with just 51 votes.

But William Jacobson was the first to predict that - no matter what happens in the Senate - Obama can and will sign the bill that passes the House: "Obama will sign Senate bill if reconciliation fails." Then Senator Judd Gregg picked up on the meme: "Gregg suggests Obama may renege on fixing Senate health bill." AoSHQ also has some thoughts.

I don't know all the procedures of Congress but my understanding is that once the House passes the un-amended Senate bill, it could go to Obama right away. It's "passed" legislation. But the House is depending on the Senate to make certain changes that may or may not be done with the reconciliation process. But that process in the Senate is going to be ugly, with unlimited amendments, quorum calls, and appeals to the parliamentarian.

After a couple weeks (or months!) of Senate fighting, it's not only totally believable but likely that Obama will declare the system "broken" and sign the Senate/tricked House bill. The President's mania for this legislation over all others (e.g. jobs, deficit reduction, Iran) is now legendary. He will sign anything at all if it means taking his place in history.

Extra - Talk Left (!) - "I would not trust the Senate Dems on ANYTHING. If I were the House, I would insist on simultaneous passage." One-two-three-vote!

More - The latest at Memeorandum.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

"It will be defeated, soundly" - That's the quote of the day from Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak:
"If that is the one [the Senate bill] they are presenting in reconciliation to the members of the House of Representatives, I'll bet you that won't even come close to passing."
Reconciliation? Who said anything about reconciliation?
This has nothing to do with the health-care cramdown - Rasmussen: "25% say U.S. heading in right direction, lowest since Obama took office."
I have no idea what's going on - Last night it was "Lost" and now tonight I finally got around to the Netflix copy of "Memento" which had been sitting on my desk since before the Olympics.
What's wrong with this picture? - In local news, a PETA protester stood on a street corner in Springfield, nearly naked, with beef cuts marked on her body. Standing nearby is another PETA demonstrator - wearing a leather jacket. Hah!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

He has no choice - Well Obama tried to meet the Republicans halfway on health care reform by letting them choose between those "curly" quote marks or the straight ones in the 2,500-page bill. But that just wasn't good enough for the GOP. So it's time for reconciliation. For the kids.

Extra - Hennessey: "Challenges of the two-bill strategy." There are many.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Obamacare or the abyss

In this post from Critical Condition, Jeffrey Anderson notes that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi want House Democrats to give up their seats for their greater good. Count me as one who is skeptical that the Dems will fall on their sword for the "permanent transformation" of America. Congressmen and women like their cushy, pampered sinecures. They like their perks and three-day workweeks and government-paid healthcare. They all have a large number of loyal staff, straight from Des Moines, whose jobs depend on their bosses getting re-elected.

Politics are local and nothing is more local than a Congressman's own status. Why vote for an unpopular piece of legislation to face oblivion (worst case) or years of constituents yelling at you (best case)? These Capitol Hill critters are no fools. They see the polls:

The truth is, the 39 congressional Democrats who voted "no" on Obamacare are on the road to reelection this November. As with moderate Democrats in 1994, voters will go easy on them for courageously standing up to their party's leaders, resisting a bad bill, and doing what the American people want. Meanwhile, Democrats who voted "yes" on Obamacare better hope that they represent extremely liberal districts or states - preferably more liberal than Massachusetts. Otherwise, when they lose in November, it's unlikely that they will get a call from Clinton or Obama apologizing for having been wrong.
The name of the game right now is creating a false sense of momentum. But there's a reason why you can't find a top Democrat predicting passage of Obamacare. The votes just aren't there and they're more unlikely to materialize each day we tick closer to election season.

Extra - More on the votes from Q&O.
America, hell yeah!