- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

FAVOR FACTORY

“The Senate’s health care bill is chock full of favors, payoffs, special deals and exemptions, but Majority Leader Harry Reid is proud of his handiwork, calling it an art form - ‘the art of compromise,’ “ John Fund writes at OpinionJournal.com.

” ‘There are 100 senators here, and I don’t know that there’s a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that isn’t important to them,’ Mr. Reid told reporters. ‘If they don’t have something in it important to them, then it doesn’t speak well of them.’

“But some Democratic senators view such a shameless defense of the bill’s pork elements as throwing them under the bus. Some senators obviously are more equal than others: Not all were able or willing to exploit their leverage to extract crass favors for their states,” Mr. Fund said.

“Take Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who currently trails all of her potential GOP challengers. ‘What did Blanche Lincoln get for the people of Arkansas in exchange for her vote?’ asks state Sen. Gilbert Baker, one of her possible GOP challengers. ‘Looks like she got them nothing more than unfunded mandates and government-controlled health care.’ Mrs. Lincoln’s office responded by noting that she authored language allowing small businesses to receive tax credits if they provide health coverage.

“Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado is also under fire for not pulling his weight on the Reid pork wagon. ‘Only in Washington would someone be attacked for not negotiating a backroom deal,’ Sen. Bennet said in a floor speech. ‘Just because others choose to engage in the same tired Washington rituals doesn’t mean that I have to.’

“Fine sentiments, but with his ‘aye’ vote for the bill, Sen. Bennet ended up endorsing exactly the sordid process he deplores. And it’s his own party’s majority leader who has decided to cast aspersions on senators who failed to place their orders when the Senate’s favor factory was open for business last week.”

BAD BILLS

“What’s the worst bill ever seriously considered for passage by the U.S. Congress? Certainly both the House health reform bill and Sen. Harry Reid’s health bill are leading contenders,” Hans A. von Spakovsky writes at NationalReview.com.

“Both proposals are obscenely expensive. Both limit our freedom to choose our families’ health care. And both would legislate racial and other forms of discrimination - making them not only unconstitutional, but immoral, counterproductive and dangerous,” the writer said.

Within the last three months, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has twice sent letters to the president and the leaders of the House and Senate warning them of discriminatory provisions in both bills. But those warnings have been ignored, and the problems remain.

Take Reid’s bill. It directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to award federal grants worth billions of dollars to educational institutions that train medical-service providers. However, ‘priority’ for federal dollars is to be given only to those institutions offering ‘preferential’ admissions to underrepresented minorities (according to race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and religion, depending on which section of the bill you look at).

“Thus, schools will be unable to compete for essential federal funding unless they adopt admission policies that intentionally and deliberately discriminate. It guarantees the institution of racist and sexist quotas sanctioned and encouraged by the federal government in what Linda Chavez of the Center for Equal Opportunity correctly calls ‘a new racial spoils system.’

“The bill also declares that institutions training social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, behavioral pediatricians, psychiatric nurses, and counselors will be ineligible for federal grants unless they discriminate.”

COMING TSUNAMI

“Here are some thoughts on where things stand in the aftermath of the certain passage of the Senate health care bill,” Peter Wehner writes at CommentaryMagazine.com.

“1. Few Democrats understand the depth and intensity of opposition that exists toward them and their agenda, especially regarding health care. Passage of this bill will only heighten the depth and intensity of the opposition. We’re seeing a political tsunami in the making, and passage of health care legislation would only add to its size and force,” Mr. Wehner said.

“2. This health care bill may well be historic, but not in the way the president thinks. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything quite like it: passage of a mammoth piece of legislation, hugely expensive and unpopular, on a strict party-line vote taken in a rush of panic because Democrats know that the more people see of ObamaCare, the less they like it.

“3. The problem isn’t simply with how substantively awful the bill is, but how deeply dishonest and (legally) corrupt the whole process has been. There’s already a powerful populist, anti-Washington sentiment out there, perhaps as strong as anything we’ve seen. This will add kerosene to that raging fire.

“4. Democrats have sold this bill as a miracle-worker; when people see first-hand how pernicious health care legislation will be, abstract concerns will become concrete. That will magnify the unhappiness of the polity.

“5. The collateral damage to Obama from this bill is enormous. More than any candidate in our lifetime, Obama won based on the aesthetics of politics. It wasn’t because of his record; he barely had one. And it wasn’t because of his command of policy; few people knew what his top three policy priorities were. It was based instead on the sense that he was something novel, the embodiment of a ‘new politics’ - matured, high-minded and gracious, intellectually serious. That was the core of his speeches and his candidacy. In less than a year, that core has been devoured, most of all by this health care process.”

ZINGING STEELE

The White House wasted no time in taking shots at Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele after The Washington Times on Tuesday detailed how Mr. Steele was using his title to personally profit from paid appearances and speeches.

“How much did that interview cost, I wonder,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said in response to a reporter’s question about comments Mr. Steele made accusing Democrats of “flipping the bird” at the American people.

In another instance during the press briefing, a cell phone was heard ringing numerous times before its owner exited the briefing room.

“Is somebody ordering a pizza?” Mr. Gibbs asked.

“It’s Michael Steele,” one reporter joked.

“Let me tell you, it’s $30,000 if you answer that call,” Mr. Gibbs quipped.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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