- The Washington Times - Monday, March 15, 2010

Desperate Democrats will try anything to ram their government takeover of health care through Congress, even if that means upending traditional parliamentary practice in the Senate. Threatening to misuse the reconciliation process to sneak through the health care bill apparently isn’t enough to get the job done. Despite growing public anger over Democrats running roughshod over existing rules, the Senate is set to escalate the mayhem by trying to suppress the filibuster.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, plans his first hearing on the filibuster on March 24. Proposals to eliminate the filibuster have been offered by Sens. Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat, and Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, among others. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, is helping lead the charge against filibusters. He’s also jockeying with Mr. Schumer for the top Democratic job in the Senate if Majority Leader Harry Reid is thrown out of office in November, which is looking increasingly likely.

When the Republican leadership tried to end Democratic filibusters on judicial nominees in 2005, seven Republicans joined with seven Democrats - collectively known as the “Gang of 14” - to protect the parliamentary tactic. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, Politico reports that moderate Democrats have “scoffed” at the idea of joining Republicans to safeguard the filibuster. Sen. Ben “Cornhusker Kickback” Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, smugly asks, “Who are [the Republicans] going to get [to help them]?”

Filibusters always have been frustrating to those in the majority. While today’s Democrats are frustrated that their plans could get stymied by the minority, just four years ago, Democrats were jubilant that they could employ the weapon to frustrate the Republican majority.

Filibusters have long served an important role, primarily by preventing extreme legislation from getting passed. Filibusters also help slow the legislative process when leaders of the majority party attempt to whip through an unpopular bill. This benefits members of the House of Representatives, who rarely get time to read bills passed in the upper chamber on which they must vote. Without the filibuster, Americans never would have been given the chance to read the Senate health care bill before it finally passed on Christmas Eve.

With the presidency, an 80-seat majority in the House of Representatives and, until recently a 20-seat majority in the Senate, Democrats could have done anything had they been able to agree among themselves. But, egged on by an increasingly liberal President Obama, Democratic congressional leaders took a gamble and went far to the left of the American public on major policies, especially health care and purported global warming.

With constituents in revolt and midterm elections on the horizon, Democrats increasingly are unable to hold their own party together. The only bipartisanship on Capitol Hill today is opposition to Democratic extremism. In the House, 39 Democrats voted against their party’s government health care takeover in November.

Perhaps Democratic strategists - if indeed there is any strategy behind their actions - hope Americans aren’t paying attention to their heavy-handed tactics. After all, Democrats have ramped up efforts to force through their health care takeover despite polls that show most Americans want the whole process redone or scrapped. If Democrats don’t get the message now, they will when voters use the ballot box in November.