My letter to Congresswoman Halvorson

I called your office yesterday to note my objection to the health care legislation currently being considered by the House.  I am writing today to reiterate my opinion of this legislation.

This legislation will not do anything to reduce the actual costs of medical care, but will only change who is paying the bills.  The president and other supporters of the Senate Bill cite its CBO Score to present this legislation as a cost saving measure, but this score is a result of accounting gimmicks that defy common sense.  It uses 10 years of tax increases and medicare cuts to offset 6 years of spending.  Additionally, I am highly suspicious that the planned Medicare cuts will never happen, just like the cuts passed in the 90’s are being eliminated by the “doc fix”.  We cannot pay for our current entitlement programs, and along with its permanent enshrinement of Pell Grants, this legislation adds 2 new entitlement systems on top of them.  This will bankrupt the country.  Congress should start from scratch on a truly bipartisan bill.

Additionally, the methods being considered to pass this legislation are despicable.  The tactic being referred to as the “Slaughter Rule” or “deem and pass” should not be used to pass any legislation, especially not something of this scope.  Article 1, Section 7 of The Constitution specifically states “in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively.”  Using a rule to “deem” that a bill has passed based on the results of the vote on another bill does not meet this constitutional requirement.  You should vote against any bill or rule that attempts to use this maneuver on constitutional grounds, independent of its content.

Members of your caucus have cited examples of Republicans using this tactic in the past as their justification for using it in this case.  I wouldn’t accept this “They did it first” excuse from a child, and I certainly don’t accept it from a Congressman.  If the Republicans did it in the past they were wrong, too.  Maybe that’s why we voted them out of power.  This isn’t the Change America voted for.

If the Senate bill is too flawed to pass as is, it should be amended and sent back to the Senate for their reconsideration.  You should not pass a flawed bill with the hope to “fix” it later.  Obscuring a vote on the Senate Bill by hiding behind the “fix” doesn’t make sense, because if the Senate Bill is approved by the House, it will be sent to the President and become law, no matter what happens to the Reconciliation Bill.  Just because the House passes a “fix”, there is no guarantee that it will pass the Senate.  Therefore the Senate Bill MUST be judged on its own merits, independent from the fix.  If it doesn’t have the votes, it must die.