EDITORIAL: Democrats deemed dead

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The government takeover of health care was completed Sunday in a dramatic up-or-down deeming. It will go down in history as the worst piece of legislation to emerge from a Congress held in general disdain by the American people.

Usually autopsies are reserved for after the patient has died, but in this case, it is useful to get ahead of the matter. The malformed health legislation is not the only reason Democrats are facing political extinction in November, but it is one of the most dramatic. The legislative process in this country has never been so unseemly. Arm twisting, backroom deals, special privileges and potentially criminal “government jobs for votes” agreements became a normal way of doing business. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fixated on the mantra that the deeming was “historic,” but so was the Black Plague.

Sufficient numbers of Democrats were hoodwinked into believing they won’t pay a political price for their actions, but they will soon discover they miscalculated. The new system will suffer a tsunami of bad publicity when doctors and pharmacies begin to opt out of the system, when states sue the federal government over unfunded mandates, when the IRS begins enforcing the aspects of the bill that voters never knew existed, when small businesses start firing employees because they cannot afford the higher costs of the new system, when new and unforeseen costs blow out the already record federal budget deficit, and when seniors begin to feel the impact of Medicare cuts.

All of this is what President Obama euphemistically calls “bending the curve,” but seniors will find out it is better termed “denial of care.” Whether the formal “death panels” will convene before the November elections is still to be determined.

Many congressional deemers probably didn’t know exactly what they were deeming. The 2,300 pages of “fixes” to the Senate bill presented last week were just a draft, and no member can be certain what was slipped in moments before the deem was done. A frantic Democratic Party memo sent out Thursday instructed members - twice, in italics - not to “get into a discussion of details of the [Congressional Budget Office] scores and the textual narrative” with the bill’s opponents. But the devil was in those details. Mrs. Pelosi’s offhand statement that members would learn what was in the bill after it was passed should have been a warning.

Democrats have chosen to ignore the building firestorm over the “deem and pass” strategy. The aptly named “Slaughter Rule” has become its own issue, a dodge so transparent and constitutionally offensive that they will be held responsible for supporting it. Mr. Obama’s rationalization that a “deeming” is the same as a vote on the bill begs the question: If they are the same thing, why not just vote on the bill? This scandalous tactic hands the Republicans an issue and plan of action, a pledge to stand up for Article I Section 7 of the Constitution and outlaw any future deeming.

Democrats in Congress refuse to believe the contempt with which the American people hold them. Gallup shows congressional approval ratings in the teens and headed downward. Other polls show near record levels of disapproval. Democrats are in much worse shape than in 1994, when they lost power, and the opposition is far more energized today. Once voters have a chance to tell the most irresponsible government in American history that enough is enough, the Democrats’ brief reign will expire, and that will be deemed death by suicide.

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