A Craven and Cowardly Congress

The Democrats in the House of Representatives apparently are carefully considering using various procedural machinations that would allow them to avoid casting a direct vote on the Senate version of the “health care reform” legislation.  Instead, the approach under exploration would allow the Senate bill to be “deemed passed” if the House adopts a rule on the consideration of the reconciliation bill or passes some other procedural proposal.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team reportedly are looking at other, similarly spineless options, like approving the bill through a voice vote rather than a recorded roll call vote.

With this kind of gutlessness, is it any wonder that people are fed up with Congress and despair at its ability to make tough decisions on issues like deficit reduction?  Our elected representatives are happy to get personal attention when it comes to campaign contributions, or congressional junkets, or being treated like a big deal at the Labor Day parade or the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.  But when it comes to actually casting a vote on one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress has considered in years — legislation that has been the focus of more than a year of debate, speeches, and foul political maneuvering — Members of the House shrink into the woodwork and want to be let off easy.

I strongly disagree with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown on the merits of the Senate bill, but I appreciate his willingness to publicly state his position and be held accountable for it.  My advice to the Representatives in the House is this:  if you are unwilling to publicly vote for the Senate bill, then you should not attempt to obtain the bill’s passage through some subterfuge that you believe will give you “plausible deniability” come Election Day. You may, deep down, hold your constituents in contempt and believe that they can be misled about anything by some slick TV ads, but in this case you are wrong.  People are paying attention, they will remember, and they will vote.

Vacation in Arizona pt. 5

On the way back to Ohio, I happened to stop for gas at the exit for Meteor Crater park in Arizona. I asked the woman working at the gas station whether the crater was worth seeing, and she seemed pretty enthusiastic about it, so I went. The brochure said it was created 50,000 years ago and that it is five miles around and five hundred feet deep. It also said it is the largest meteor crater in the world, which my research on the internet suggests is untrue. It was still pretty cool, though.

I took a few pictures and created this panorama with Panorama Factory:

Arm Twisting, Deal Making, And Story Telling

We’ve been assured before that the legislative process of “health care reform” had reached its “end game.”  This week, that description might finally be accurate.  The focus has shifted to the House of Representatives, which must pass the Senate version of the “health care reform” legislation — complete with its corrupt deals, accounting gimmicks, and other indicia of crass horse trading — and then join with the Senate to try to modify the Senate form of the legislation through a process called “reconciliation.”

Every night the news shows purport to give counts of the yes and no votes in the House, with the current story being that, as of now, the “yes” votes are falling short.  In such a scenario, the rank scent of deal making and arm twisting must be heavy in the air — leading to a political process that likely is even more crude and corrupt that was found in the Senate as the hours counted down to a final Senate vote.  If health care reform passes, we should not be surprised to learn of promises made for funding of new initiatives in a wavering Congressman’s district or a quick path to a floor vote on his pet legislation, of deals cut for political patronage, or of threats of blocked initiatives or other forms of legislative punishment for potential naysayers.

In the meantime, President Obama stumps the country.  Lately, he has been focused on the story of one ill Ohio woman as exemplifying the need for “health care reform.”  As I’ve mentioned previously, I despise efforts to reduce extraordinarily complex issues to one person’s story.  The tale of Natoma Canfield is no more instructive or broadly meaningful than the weird story, told by one Representative at the recent Blair House “health care summit,” about a woman who supposedly was forced to wear her dead sister’s dentures due to lack of health care coverage.

It is absurd to argue that we should fundamentally change our approach to a multi-billion industry that provides excellent health care to millions and millions of Americans on the basis of one woman’s experience.  If Americans fall for such blatant manipulative efforts to pull on our heart strings and overwhelm our reason, we have only ourselves to blame, and our elected representatives to hold accountable come November.