Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dems' self-execution

Today's Wahington Post story on the Democrats' use of "deem and pass" or "self-executing rule" to get the health care bill through Congress (without actually voting on it!) is worth reading because it is clear about this weird process, as well as the mischief it is causing Democrats.  I am now of the mind that this gambit will not be used.  The uproar has been too great, even Jack Cafferty of CNN is outraged.  Given the importance of the legislation, "deem and pass" is not defensible; it is actually and irresponsible political act.  Should Nancy Pelosi and the Dems have their way in this--as of today she thinks it is necessary to get the thing passed--I predict a kind of electoral revolution in November that none of us have ever seen in our life time.  I kind'a hope they do it.  But I don't think it will happen.  I think the outrage will be evident by Saturday and enough members will say no to "deems and pass" that they will have to vote on the Senate bill, and the vote will fail.  The other possibility is that Pelosi will insist on using this gambit and even that vote will fail because enough Democratic House Members will remember that it is through elections that they are held accountable.   And even the majority can't put off the elections in November.

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 7 Comments

Isn't this a weird situation--if they thought they could make a good case, wouldn't they enjoy campaigning on the bill? Isn't this a clear example of how Progressivism turns against the consent of the governed--elite wisdom versus allegedly ignorant voters?

Might this Congress, after Nov., pass the Senate bill? It would be less outrageous than the Slaughter House solution but still deadly. The ultimate in Chicago politics: the resurrection of dead House members to pass a law.

Jonathan Adler posted some thoughts on constitutionality of Slaughter at Volokh Conspiracy:

They could only enjoy campaigning on the the bill if they actually believed that real persuasion was an important and essential part of democratic government. It's a very good observation on your part, Ken, to note how quickly Progressivism turns against the consent of the governed. It sells itself as a "people's movement" and appears to push for ever more "democracy" but once the "experts" become entrenched and the "visionaries" are in power, we get arguments from them about how "someday" we'll appreciate all that they've done for us. In other words, we get an argument about their sovereignty on the basis of their "wisdom." If they feel free enough to ignore (when it no longer works to deceive) public opinion instead of working to shape it, it should surprise no one when they feel even less compunction about disregarding the solemn will of the American people in the Constitution. They've already established--in their own minds and through 70+ years of worshipful regard paid to Progressivism--that the Constitution as originally designed is an outmoded relic unworthy of their insight and genius.

The only kind of consent that is going to persuade them or move them is the kind Americans exercise in November at the ballot box. The only thing these people understand about politics is power.

How do you get a party that only respects power (= history) to listen to reason? But that has always been the situation of civilization throughout human history. Now if we can only have some reason!

Peter's headline should have been "Self-Slaughter."

Norman Ornstein claims that this is no big deal--that the Republicans used the self-executing rule time and again in 2006-06. Is he wrong?

Norman Ornstein is not a man with whom I would want to get into a spitting match with when it comes to following the Congress. So I'm sure he's probably (and, regrettably) right about the use of this tactic by Republicans. What he misses, however, is the magnitude of this particular legislation. It's not splitting hairs to note that this is not just another bill or another cowardly device used to prevent certain congressmen from having to take an unpopular stand. This would be a fundamental re-organization of the way that we operate with respect to health care and it is a massive delegation of personal authority to the government. The use of this tactic to push it through is not within the spirit of the Constitution or within the idea of consent rightly understood.

Ornstein does say that he agrees with the critics in their dislike of this process. He is not a fan of what the Dems are doing. He is consistent in his dislike of it when it comes to both Republicans and Democrats. I join him in that consistent dislike--and would have joined him sooner had it been more widely acknowledged when the GOP was doing it. I don't have a problem with calling the hypocrites out and holding them now to a higher standard.

But, as always is the case when it comes to "hypocrisy" . . . the hypocrisy itself does not negate the point if the point is good. This attempted ram-down is bad form and it is unworthy and weasely of the Congress to attempt it or even to hint at it. It has the appearance of thuggishness because it is that. This might not be the best campaigning slogan for David Drier to use . . . but redemption is always a possibility. I hope we'll get a chance to see if Republicans--now chastened by seeing the logical outcome of nasty tactics--can't do better next go round.

Just because you can do something does not mean that you should do it. There is always a price to pay when ignoring public opinion. Republicans seem already to have learned this. It's time for the Dems to learn it too.

I'm inclined to think the Dems will use this tactic if they need to and will justify it to the country, and to themselves, as the necessary means to an ideological imperative. Obama seemed to carry that same belief in today's interview by deflecting the question of questionable tactics to a discussion of the urgent need for action. Ideologues, it seems, always always find an Urgent Need for Action.
Should they use the "deem to pass" tactic, it will be interesting to see if promised lawsuits can stop it, or if some sort of outraged civil unrest breaks out instead.

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