- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 4, 2010

As passage of Obamacare recedes into the distance, its varied substantive and procedural abuses deserve scrutiny. Far too lit-

tle attention was paid to how Senate Democrats refused all reasonable attempts to make an atrocious bill just a little less bad.

For example, when congressional leaders attached a federal takeover of the student-loan industry to the health care bill, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, tried to reduce by 1.5 percent the interest rate the government would charge. “The government will borrow money at 2.8 percent and loan it to students at 6.8 percent, then spend the difference on more government,” he said. “Any savings should go to the students, not the government.” Senate Democrats disagreed, thus depriving students of choice and savings.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, tried to block cuts to Medicare Advantage plans if more than a million seniors were projected to lose their health coverage as a result. After all, President Obama repeatedly vowed that nobody would lose coverage they wanted to keep. Never mind, Senate Democrats voted down Mr. Hatch’s proposal.

Republicans tried to eliminate the various parochial sweetheart deals known popularly as the Louisiana Purchase, the Connecticut Con Job, and the like. Democrats insisted on retaining these deals, which were used to buy votes for their government health care takeover.

Republicans also proposed that the bill not go into effect unless projections showed, as per the president’s promise, that it “would not increase premiums more than the premium increases projected under existing law.” They also proposed separate amendments to exempt several groups of patients from paying a new tax on medical devices: First, wounded soldiers; then pediatrics, the disabled and cancer patients. Democrats said no, no, no and no. No matter what the costs, and no matter who would be hurt, the bill would become law without any changes. The list of amendments killed by the Democrats went on and on - at least 42 of them, by our count, all of them aimed at protecting Americans from harmful effects of the new law.

The most high-profile amendment defeated by Senate Democrats ought to have passed unanimously. Its failure is testament to how the Democrats’ brute politics in passing the bill overshadowed concerns about the bill’s actual substance. The amendment would have banned government-funded health plans from paying for drugs for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra, for “individuals convicted of child molestation, rape or other forms of sexual assault.” Perversely, Democrats killed the amendment. Maybe they think child abusers have a natural right to Viagra.

Yet there was one class of people, one favored group, Democrats did choose to protect - themselves. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, offered an amendment “to make sure the President, Cabinet members, all White House senior staff and congressional committee and leadership staff are purchasing health insurance through the health insurance exchanges” established by the new law. Senate Democrats obviously think of themselves above the ordinary Joe, because they killed that amendment as well, so they can continue to be covered by the luxurious Federal Employees Health Benefit Program.

Democrats rejected all these common-sense amendments because they won’t have to live under the law they forced on ordinary Americans.

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