Diary

DeMint’s Bold Objection Forces Pelosi, Reid and Obama to Scurry Behind Closed Doors on Health Care Reform (Again)

Aside from a handful of mentions, not much has been made thus far of Republican Senator Jim DeMint’s courageous objection to the appointment of conferees on the health care bill.

Most people know that the House passed one version of a health care bill at 11 pm on a Saturday, while the Senate passed a very different version at 7am on Christmas Eve. Before any bill can go to the President for signature, those differences are normally resolved in what is known as a conference report, negotiated by representatives, called “conferees,” appointed by the House and the Senate.

But Senator DeMint led a behind-the-scenes effort by Senate Republicans to object to the appointment of conferees. The objection means the House will take up the Senate bill, and if any changes are made, the bill has to work its way back through the entire legislative process in the Senate again. And changing the bill means another tough vote for nervous House Democrats, and even more disconcerting for Senator Reid, the bill will have to go through the whole Senate procedure again, working to collect another 60 votes. Further, the process will potentially expose the bill to new amendments from those in Congress who saw the deal Senator Nelson negotiated in exchange for his support.

This is signifcant! Let’s not forget how expensive it was for Reid to get 60 votes the first time. Pelosi and Reid must now huddle behind closed doors, unofficially, and try to hammer out yet another secret bill that is capable of winning the votes of 60 Senators.

Of course, working behind closed doors is nothing new for them. For the past year, Pelosi, Reid and the White House have shrouded their so-called “reform” efforts in secrecy. Beginning in the spring, transparency has been non-existent, first at invitation-only meetings with health insurers and health care providers, when the White House was trying to project a “listening” frame of mind. If only they had listened to the American people.

But the closed door meetings didn’t end there. Throughout the summer, in private chambers on Capitol Hill, Senators like Max Baucus and Christopher Dodd, and Representatives like Charlie Rangel and Pete Stark held private meetings to negotiate a bill away from the bright lights of public scrutiny.

All of this is in direct opposition to a promise made by then-Senator Obama, three months before he was elected President, when he told a crowd in New Hampshire, “…what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.”

Obviously, the President, the Speaker, and the Majority Leader decided it’s better if the American people don’t know who is or isn’t making arguments on their behalf. Of course, the reason for this lack of candor and openness has been painfully obvious – much of what the Democrats have put in the bill is highly controversial, including, but not limited to a government-run public option plan, drastic reduction in Medicare funding for Seniors, unfunded Medicaid expansion which will bankgrupt our states and a Byzantine network of Federal agencies staffed by bureaucrats that will make health care decisions on our behalf. All of which runs counter to the very simple thing that Americans are demanding from Congress – lower health care costs.

As the President’s first official State of the Union address looms, expect the White House to be heavily involved in trying to salvage political points from whatever results from the back groom horse-trading that is sure to go on during the early weeks of the new year.