O Brave New World

It’s becoming apparent that Democrats have decided that they really will do anything to pass Obamacare – including seemingly violating the Constitution. This is likely to guarantee that their health care plan will enjoy an express ride to a Supreme Court challenge, but it also opens up a whole new range of possibilities for enactment of a bold conservative agenda.

Right now, it seems highly likely that Republicans will control one or more houses of Congress in the near future. The House could easily fall to Republican control in 2010, and the Senate is a distinct possibility. Voters contemplating an individual health care mandate, and an unprecedented power grab might be even more likely to throw out endangered Democrats. Control of both chambers could come this year. Even if they do not, they could easily win back both Houses of Congress and the White House in 2012 – when far more Democrat-held Senate seats are up than GOP seats.

And consider what they can accomplish by following the precedent about to be established by the Democrats. If and when they have control of both chambers, it may no longer be necessary to muster majorities in favor of controversial bills. Instead, they will be able to pass priority measures by a majority vote for resolutions ‘deeming’ a bill to have passed. And why should there be any concern given to the actual level of support for a measure in question? If Democrats now ‘deem passed’ a health care bill that might only get 205 votes or so in the House, perhaps Republicans could ‘deem passed’ a bill that might only have the actual support of 200, or 190 – or even 180. In fact, there’s probably no real floor. If attached to a sufficiently popular piece of legislation, almost anything might be done.

And why limit themselves to using the maneuver only in the House? There’s no reason the Senate should be barred from passing resolutions that ‘deem’ a bill to have passed. A shrewd Senate leader would identify ‘must-pass’ legislation to which deeming resolutions could be attached. More votes could be gained by ‘deeming’ some highly popular measures along with the controversial ones – complicating the arguments of opponents.

Further, if Congress can deem a bill to have passed without actually voting on it, what is to prevent them from specifying the margin by which it passed? If Congressional Republicans can get a majority to vote for a bill specifying for example, that a veto override measure passed by more than two-thirds majority, President Obama’s initiatives could be overturned by a bare majority in both House and Senate. Certainly such a measure might seem ripe for a Constitutional challenge, but if our Democrat friends are going to pave the way, we would be remiss not to push the envelope.

In short, conservatives ought not fear the Slaughter solution: we ought to cheer the Democrats on, and then take advantage of their willingness to do the formerly-unthinkable.