Conservative Wanderer

“A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.” — Ronald Wilson Reagan

Merry Christmas!

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:8-12, New King James Version)

More On The Hard Road Ahead For ObamaCare

A couple of stories have been pointed out by NRO’s Doctor! Doctor! blog, but no one there has posted on the connection between the two, so permit me to do so.

First off, as I said yesterday, one of the big problems is going to be getting the House to either accept the Senate’s language or getting the Senate to accept a conference bill.

Now, according to Senate Budget Commitee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), if the final bill isn’t close to the Senate version, they won’t be able to break a filibuster. One of the big hurdles will be the public option, since the House bill has one and the Senate doesn’t.

However, an even bigger hurdle could be the Stupak Amendment (technically, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) that’s in the House version. They tried using that language in the Senate, as an amendment, and it failed.

Now, add to that the admission from House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) that the Stupak amendment got them 10 votes in the House, and that without it they would have gotten 212 to 214 votes for their bill, and the problem becomes clear: the bill won’t clear the House with only 214 “aye” votes, you need 218.

In short, if the conference bill doesn’t contain the Stupak language, it probably doesn’t get past the House. If it does, it might not make it out of the Senate.

Update: Welcome, Doctor! Doctor! readers, and thanks to Mr. Costa for the link.

The End Game On ObamaCare

It seems that Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has caved in the face of Harry Reid’s bribes. As I stated earlier, this could cause real problems for Nelson if he chooses to run again (he will be 71 in 2012, he may decide to retire).

However, it does look for the moment like Harry Reid has his 58 Democrats and 2 Independents ready to vote for cloture on his bill.

But, as a famous baseball sage said once, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Here’s a quick blueprint for what’s coming:

  • First, Reid has to get all his Senators in DC to cast their vote. This is an issue because Joe Lieberman left DC on Friday to celebrate Hanukkah with his wife, and now there’s a huge blizzard hitting DC and surrounding areas. Depending on how the storm and subsequent cleanup goes, it’s possible Lieberman may not be in the Senate chambers when the first cloture vote is scheduled, at around 1am Monday 21 December. If he’s not, Reid doesn’t have 60 votes, because the rules for cloture require 3/5 of all senators “duly chosen and sworn,” not just those “present and voting.”
  • Assuming Lieberman makes it back in time (and as desperate as Reid is, he might even send out the Army to bring Lieberman back) and Reid gets his 60 votes on each of the three (yes, three) cloture votes on this bill before Christmas, it then goes to the House.
  • At that point, Nancy Pelosi has two choices. She can either bring up the Senate bill in the House and try to get it passed (technically, it’s a “motion to concur” with the Senate bill). This is not the slam-dunk it might appear at first glance, because the Senate bill allegedly–there seems to be some disagreement on this–doesn’t have a public option, trigger, or opt-out provision, something the lefties in the House are demanding, and demanding loudly. If they stick with the bill, the lack of strong wording barring Federal funds from being used for abortion may cause pro-life Representatives of both parties to refuse to vote for it. Losing either camp is likely to doom the bill in the House.
  • Pelosi’s second option is to send the bill to a “conference committee” made up of members of both houses. Obviously, since Pelosi and Reid will be making the selections, they’ll almost certainly be True Believers in government control of healthcare. However, there are significant problems here too. After the conference committee refashions the bill, both houses have to pass it again. That means running the same gauntlet that’s already been run with the pro-public-option and pro-life groups in the House, and the anti-public-option forces in the Senate, among others that may object to other portions of the conference bill. Conference bills in the Senate are subject to cloture and therefore can be filibustered, meaning that Reid needs his 60 votes again.

Either option means that debate on this bill could go well into 2010, meaning that the public will keep getting reminders that the Democrats are determined to push this highly unpopular–some might even say toxic–bill down our throats.

In other words, Reid getting his 60th vote is hardly “game over.” It may be the bottom of the 7th, but there have been comebacks later in the game, and in this case our opponents’ bullpen is weak. We can still win this one for the Gipper (okay, I know that referred to football, allow me a little poetic license here).

AP: ObamaCare Is Dead In The Senate

And they quote no less a lefty than the only self-described socialist in the Senate, Bernie Sanders:

Sanders acknowledged the proposal lacked the votes to pass, and he chose to withdraw it after Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., exercised his prerogative and required Senate clerks to begin reading the 767-page proposal aloud to a nearly empty chamber. After three hours, they were 139 pages into it.

It may be resurrected, so let’s remain vigilant.

Senator Nelson’s Problem

PhyCon, you have some very good points there. I’d just like to add one more thought.

Senator Ben Nelson, by virtue of not being up for election in 2010, may actually be in worse shape than those Democrat Senators who stand for election in 2010 if–I said if–this passes.

He’s up for re-election in 2012, which–again, assuming ObamaCare passes in some form or another–would be after the taxes and regulations of the insurance companies start to kick in, but before the benefits begin (most reports I’ve read state the benefits begin in 2013). Thus, Senator Nelson will face the wrath of those who have experienced the bad effects of the bill without the support of those who’ve experience any good effects–assuming there really are any, of course.

Add to that the fact that Nebraska is historically one of the most conservative states, and if Nelson is “the 60th vote” on cloture, he may be in real political trouble. I wonder if his public and oft-stated reluctance to embrace this bill indicates that he’s figured that out.

Death Throes: AGW and US Healthcare Reform

AGW and ‘US healthcare reform’ (HCR) are siblings today.  ‘Siblings’ in exhibiting signs of well-deserved (for their detractors) and painful (for their supporters) demise.  Though, while I believe AGW is in its death spiral (AGW death throes), HCR seems to have more lives than a litter of kittens (HCR – proof of life).

The parallels of each ’crisis’ are undeniable.  On the AGW side there are the ‘warmists’ who are basically saying ‘if we don’t stop AGW by getting rid of all that contributes to it, the planet is doomed’.  On the HCR side we have President Obama now saying,

If we don’t pass it, here’s the guarantee….your premiums will go up, your employers are going to load up more costs on you,” he said. “Potentially they’re going to drop your coverage, because they just can’t afford an increase of 25 percent, 30 percent in terms of the costs of providing health care to employees each and every year.

The president said that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid are on an “unsustainable” trajectory and if there is no action taken to bring them down, “the federal government will go bankrupt.”

Hence, according to President Obama, you and the nation are doomed. Link

Sen. Reid has done everything he could to get all 60 Senators who caucus with him to vote for cloture on his HCR bill (Sen. Lieberman – I (NH) ).  This has angered those that demand a ‘public option’ such as Sen. Burris - D (IL), as noted by CW below: Democrat Infighting May Doom ObamaCare

With transparency finally coming to the data behind AGW theory, Cope – 15 in disarray, and legal preparation being made, AGW will die.  The question that remains is exactly how long the ‘consensus’ theme will remain.  The UN will do all it can to maintain it even though the theory itself is now scientifically untenable.  That, by itself, should convince anyone who is ‘on the fence’ that AGW is nothing but a global Ponzi scheme.

HCR still has some legs.  If Sen. Nelson – D (NE) falls into the ‘yes for cloture’ pile, Sen. Reid will have his 60.  Then the conference committee will get to work torturing both versions into one that the negotiators (most likely all Democrats) like.  The changes in conference may or may not be considered sufficient enough for another full debate in both houses and the bill could end up on the President’s desk in fairly short order.  If the 60 yes votes don’t materialize, and soon, the signature agenda item President Obama demanded will most likely die on the vine thanks to the 2010 election year, notwithstanding Pelosi’s message linked above.  Whether you are or not a constituent of Sen. Nelson – D (NE), contact him to let him know you support his “no” vote on cloture.

So, two liberal boondoggles in various stages of death.  All that remains is to continue to the fight against both and hope zombification doesn’t take hold.

Democrat Infighting May Doom ObamaCare

AP:

WASHINGTON – The end game in sight, Senate Democrats coped with stubborn internal differences as well as implacable Republican opposition on Monday in a struggle to pass health care legislation by Christmas.

Of course, the AP just has to start with a statement about the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil Wepubwicans and how they’re being impwacabwe in standing in the way of His Obamaness’ foreordained health-care plan! Nevermind that with only 40 members, the GOP couldn’t stop this bill without the help of some Democrats, which is where the real problem lies.

Of course, to their credit, the AP does start talking about that in the second paragraph.

A liberal-backed call to expand Medicare as part of the legislation drew strong opposition from Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. and quieter concerns from a dozen Democrats, raising significant doubts about its ability to survive.

Later in the article, they expand on this…

Despite that optimism, opposition to the Medicare changes blossomed from doctors and hospitals, who are paid less to treat patients under Medicare than those covered by private insurance companies.

Lieberman announced his opposition over the weekend, but he was not the only critic.

“We appreciate the rationale underlying the proposed Medicare expansion but fear that provider shortages in states with low reimbursement rates such as ours will make such a program ineffective, or even worsen the problems states are experiencing,” a dozen Democrats from across the political spectrum wrote Reid.

Democratic officials said late last week that efforts were under way to try and ease the concerns of doctors and hospitals, as well as defray the cost of buy-in coverage for consumers. Under some estimates, the price tag could reach $7,600 annually or more.

Lieberman said on Sunday he was opposed to the Medicare provision, threatening to deny Democrats his vote if it remained in the bill.

Reid’s problem can be summed up very quickly and easily. Anything he does to make the bill more agreeable to the “moderates” in his own party makes it that much less agreeable to the hard-leftists, and vice versa. Because of that, he’s not likely to ever reach 60 votes, regardless of what arm-twisting or bribing or begging he does.

As others have pointed out, if Reid had offered a hand to the GOP, toned down some of his hyper-partisan rhetoric and moved a little bit in the directions the Republicans wanted, he probably could have picked up enough “moderate” Republican votes to make up for whatever hard-left votes he lost from his own party, and he could have passed a bill. Perhaps not a perfect bill from his perspective, but something. However, what Reid did was his level best to alienate the entire Republican party, and now he’s reaping what he sowed, as the Bible says he will.

Is There Really A Reid Compromise?

If Reid’s #2 man in the Senate, Dick Durbin, hasn’t even seen it, I’d say I have to doubt the existence of such a Grand Compromise.

The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, said Friday that he did not know details of the proposal put together by Mr. Reid in an effort to break an impasse over the legislation.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said Republicans were exasperated because they did not know any details of Mr. Reid’s proposal, which could affect one-sixth of the economy.

Responding to Mr. McCain on the Senate floor, Mr. Durbin said, “I would say to the senator from Arizona that I am in the dark almost as much as he is, and I am in the leadership.”

“Most of us know the fundamentals, but we don’t know the important details,” Mr. Durbin added. He said the secrecy was frustrating to Democrats as well as to Republicans.

Look, if Reid really has a plan to save the bill, why doesn’t he at least tell his own team, or his own team’s leadership at the very least?

This is looking more and more like a desperate Hail Mary by Reid, trying to make it sound like the One Thing That Will Ensure Victory is right around the corner, and therefore convince his own wobbling Democrats that there’s nothing to be gained by opposing it.

However, Reid’s little gambit is backfiring in a very big way. The lack of a plan that the Democrats can study seems to be convincing them–and me–that it doesn’t exist at all, which is making some Democrats even wobblier; they figure if Reid is so desperate that he’ll try something like this, the issue is pretty much lost and there’s no reason to endanger their seats over it.

It’s not quite time to plan the victory party, but it’s getting closer with every tactic Reid tries.

I Thought We Needed Health-Care Reform Before Christmas?

If it’s so critical to get ObamaCare (or PelosiCare, or ReidCare, or BaucusCare, or whatever ya choose to name it) done and on the books by Christmas, why the heck is Mr. Reid moving away from working on said bill and instead bringing up an appropriations bill?

The simple fact is, Reid doesn’t have 60 votes… and this week’s Grand Compromise apparently either doesn’t exist or still isn’t able to bring the Aye votes to 60. The logic is inescapable; if Reid had 60 votes, he’d be bringing up a cloture vote post-haste, before any of those Ayes can change their mind to a Nay.

Even Democrats are starting to wonder if they’ll vote on this before Christmas, which is another danger sign for Reid, Pelosi, Obama & Co. Simply put, if they don’t get it done before Christmas, it’s all but certain to flow into next year, and next year is an election year, especially for moderates like Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh. Mr. Reid is also up for re-election next year, and his numbers in Nevada sure aren’t looking good for his chances. The closer to the election the vote comes, the more probable it is that voters will remember it, and express their dissatisfaction at the voting booth.

In short, if they don’t vote on this before Christmas–and it is increasingly look like they won’t–they likely won’t vote on it at all.

Another Nail In ObamaCare’s Coffin

Even the AP isn’t trying to hide bad reports anymore:

A new report from government economic analysts at the Health and Human Services Department found that the nation’s $2.5 trillion annual health care tab won’t shrink under the Democratic blueprint that senators are debating. Instead, it would grow somewhat more rapidly than if Congress does nothing.

More troubling was the report’s assessment that the Democrats’ plan to squeeze Medicare for $493 billion over 10 years in savings relies on specific policy changes that “may be unrealistic” and could lead to cuts in services. The Medicare savings are expected to cover about half the nearly $1 trillion, 10-year cost of expanding coverage to the uninsured.

In still more bad news, the report starkly warned that a new long-term care insurance plan included in the legislation could “face a significant risk of failure” because it would attract people in poor health, leading to higher and higher premiums, and eventually triggering an “insurance death spiral.”

The one bright note: The bill would provide coverage to 93 percent of Americans, reducing the number of uninsured people by about 33 million, the report said.

It’s truly a sad state of affairs (for those who support government-run health care) that the one “bright note” the AP can find is actually somewhat of a failure, because it falls well short of one of the oft-stated goals of “universal (that is, 100%) health care” (nevermind that we already have that since hospitals are required by law to treat anyone that presents for treatment regardless of ability to pay).

Makes one wonder why Harry Reid is still pushing for a vote… you’d think sooner or later he’d get smart and back away from what is looking more and more like an impending disaster for his party.

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