John Fund reports on the latest numbers in his WSJ column, today:
When Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander opened the Republican response to President Obama’s remarks at yesterday’s health care summit, he asked Democrats to renounce the idea of using parliamentary maneuvers such as reconciliation to pass health care with a simple majority vote.
Mr. Obama tried to swat him down by claiming Americans wanted a straight up-or-down vote on his health care bill and don’t care about what methods are used to get it. “You know, this issue of reconciliation has been brought up. Again I think the American people aren’t always all that interested in procedures inside the Senate. I do think they want a vote on how we’re going to move this forward,” he told the 40-plus summit participants.
The “Americans want a straight up-or-down vote” line is apparently a talking point being pushed by the White House, as Axelrod said the same exact thing, yesterday. But polling is showing otherwise:
The only problem is the latest polls provide no support for his position. A new Gallup Poll finds that, by 52% to 39%, those surveyed oppose attempts by Democrats to circumvent a filibuster by passing health care by a simple majority vote. A separate poll by CNN found that only 25% of voters want Congress to pass a bill similar to the ones already voted on by the House and Senate. A full 48% want Congress to start over, and 25% want lawmakers to stop working on health care altogether.
That voters don’t understand “procedures inside the Senate” is also belied by the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, who attracted even Democrats to vote for him by promising to be the 41st vote to uphold a Senate filibuster of ObamaCare.
Frank Luntz’s Thursday focus group (divided equally between McCain and Obama voters) showed unanimous opposition to the use of reconciliation to pass the bill. A “Scrap the Bill” Facebook page has sprung up, which has already garnered 16,693 fans. You can sign an online petition calling on Democrats to scrap the bill and start over, here.
John Boehner made the case to scrap the bill during the health care summit:
Senator Tom Colburn said in the Republican weekly radio address:
“While we listened to one another, I’m concerned that the majority in Congress is still not listening to the American people on the subject of health care reform. By an overwhelming margin, the American people are telling us to scrap the current bills, which will lead to a government takeover of health care, and we should start over.
“Unfortunately, even before the summit took place the majority in Congress signaled its intent to reject our offers to work together. Instead they want to use procedural tricks and backroom deals to ram through a new bill that combines the worst aspects of the bills the Senate and House passed last year.
“The American people have rejected the majority’s plan for good reason. Their plan includes half a trillion dollars in new tax increases, a half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare, job-killing penalties for employers, taxpayer funded abortion and new boards that will ration care to American citizens. At its core, their plan continues a government-centered approach that has made health care more expensive. Federal and state governments already control 60 percent of health care. If more government spending and control was the answer we could have fixed health care long ago.
Democrats don’t care what the American people think, though. This isn’t really about us. It’s about them. This is a naked grab for power, and they know that their opportunity to control another large portion of the economy is within their grasp. The radicals who are leading the Dem party right now have no compunction about losing control of Congress in the short term. Andrew McCarthy explains their thinking:
The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitablility of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary. Since the Dems know they will have to ram this monstrosity through, they figure it might as well be as monstrous as they can get wavering Democrats to go along with. Clipping the leadership’s statist ambitions in order to peel off a few Republicans is not going to work. I’m glad Republicans have held firm, but let’s not be under any illusions about what that means. In the Democrat leadership, we are not dealing with conventional politicians for whom the goal of being reelected is paramount and will rein in their radicalism. They want socialized medicine and all it entails about government control even more than they want to win elections. After all, if the party of government transforms the relationship between the citizen and the state, its power over our lives will be vast even in those cycles when it is not in the majority. This is about power, and there is more to power than winning elections, especially if you’ve calculated that your opposition does not have the gumption to dismantle your ballooning welfare state.
Consequently, the next six weeks, like the next ten months, are going to be worse than we think. We’re wired to think that everyone plays by the ususal rules of politics — i.e., if the tide starts to change, the side against whom it has turned modifies its positions in order to stay viable in the next election. But what will happen here will be the opposite. You have a party with the numbers to do anything it puts its mind to, led by movement Leftitsts who see their window of opportunity is closing. We seem to expect them to moderate because that’s what everybody in their position does. But they won’t. They will put their heads down and go for as much transformation as they can get, figuring that once they get it, it will never be rolled back. The only question is whether there are enough Democrats who are conventional politicians and who care about being reelected, such that they will deny the leadership the numbers it needs. But I don’t think we should take much heart in this possibility. Those Democrats may well come to think they are going to lose anyway — that’s why so many of them are abandoning ship now. If that’s the case, their incentive will be to vote with the leadership.
And Dennis Prager on the same wavelength:
Most people on the Left are True Believers. This is critical to understand. They are willing to lose Congress; Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are prepared to lose both houses to get this through. Why? Because losing an election cycle means nothing compared to taking over more of the American economy.
I can give you an example from our side. There are many folks on our side who, if they could pass an amendment against abortion, would happily sacrifice both houses for a period of time. Understand that just as strongly as some are pro-life or religiously Christian or Jewish, that is how strongly many leftists believe in leftism. Leftism is a substitute religion. For the Left, the “health care” bill transcends politics. You are fighting people who will go down with the ship in order to transform this country to a leftist one. And an ever-expanding state is the Left’s central credo.
So the question becomes…what can the Republicans, and Americans who want to hang on to their freedom do to stop the Dems?
Republicans can use some “parliamentary maneuvers” of their own:
Republicans say they have found a loophole in the budget reconciliation process that could allow them to offer an indefinite number of amendments.
Though it has never been done, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says he’s prepared to test the Senate’s stamina to block the Democrats from using the process to expedite changes to the healthcare bill.n
Experts on Senate procedural rules, from both parties, note that such a filibuster is possible. While reconciliation rules limit debate to 20 hours, senators lack similiarconstraints on amendments and could conceivably continue offering them until 60 members agree to cut the process off.
As for the American people…I say we keep doing what we’ve been doing. I predict that there will be some massive tea parties in our very near future.
Hat tip to Ed Morressey for McCarthy and Prager articles.