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EDITORIAL: Stacking the deck for Obamacare

- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2009

President Obama and Democratic leaders say they are counting on a health care victory to buoy their electoral prospects in 2010. Not even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can believe that baloney. That's why they are trying to make it impossible to undo the damage they now are doing.

Democratic actions suggest they know they are in big trouble when Americans go to vote in November. For example, congressional leaders hid the content of the health bills until the last moment so that it would be difficult to read and discuss what was in them. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held votes at 1 a.m. on Dec. 21. Voting in the dead of night is hardly the action of a party proud of what it is foisting on the public.

The hidden fears of Democrats are justified. The latest Rasmussen poll shows that voters oppose the bill by a 14-percentage point margin. Reading through the legislation, some bizarre provisions jump out that indicate Democrats do worry that Americans won't be pleased with their systemic surgery to health care.

One provision actually changes Senate and House rules, making it much more difficult for future Congresses to undo the legislation once it is passed. According to Page 1,020 of the Reid bill, "it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection." Just in case Americans revolt against this mess once they know what's in it, Democrats are ensuring the law itself will be against the law to change.

The Senate requires a two-thirds vote to change its rules, but two-thirds of the Senate would not agree to a change in this case because none of the 40 Republican senators would support it. So, Democrats are trying to include the rule changes they want in the text of the health care legislation itself.

If the health care bill passes, some changes to it will require a three-fifths vote by the Senate to even consider voting on a change. Another separate three-fifths vote will be required to pass it. All this is in addition to the current three-fifths rule to invoke cloture to end debate.

As for the House, the bill will introduce supermajority-voting rules where none currently exist. The current House health care bill couldn't even muster a three-fifths vote, just barely passing by 220 to 215. That's far short of the 261-vote support that would be required to change the bill once it's passed.

As Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, pointed out on the Senate floor on Dec. 21, if such an end run around Senate rules is constitutional, Democrats could put this restriction in every bill they pass from now on and just get rid of the normal majority vote rule.

Possibly the Democrats are even thinking too small. Rather than requiring a three-fifths vote, why not a four-fifths or higher requirement to undo any of the legislation they pass?

Secrecy and dirty tricks don't make it look like Democrats believe Americans will reward them for empowering government even more.