Archive for the ‘Senate’ Category

The Senate Republican’s letter to Harry Reid, & VIDEO

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Here’s the text of the letter that the 41 Senate Republicans sent Harry Reid telling him they will oppose waiving any violations of the “Byrd Rule” in moving parts of the health care bill through reconciliation:

March 4, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221 Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0001

Dear Leader Reid:

We understand from press reports and comments that you and the Speaker have made that the House and Senate will use the budget reconciliation process to overhaul our nation’s health care system, which represents 1/6th of our economy. We urge you to not use reconciliation to pass a partisan bill that is opposed by the majority of Americans.

The American people have been paying close attention to the health reform debate; they understand the issues being discussed and they have expressed broad opposition not only to the substance of the health reform bills, but also to the process by which those bills have been developed. According to a February 24 CNN poll, 73 percent of Americans believe Congress should either start over on an “entirely new bill” or not do health care reform at all this year. A Gallup survey released February 25 showed that the majority of Americans oppose using reconciliation to expedite passage of health reform legislation through the Senate.

Overhauling our health care system will affect every single American and is simply too important to be passed without broad bipartisan support. Yet, it is clear that the only reason you are considering using the budget reconciliation process to pass this unpopular bill is because you have not been able to attract any Republican support for your comprehensive health bill.

We recommend you rethink your plans of expediting such legislation through Congress over the strong objections of the American people. We urge you to listen to the advice of Senator Robert C. Byrd, who was quoted in the Washington Post on March 22, 2009:

I am certain that putting health-care reform and climate change legislation on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted.

Using the reconciliation process to enact major legislation prevents an open debate about critical issues in full view of the public. Health reform and climate change are issues that, in one way or another, touch every American family. Their resolution carries serious economic and emotional consequences.

The misuse of the arcane process of reconciliation — a process intended for deficit reduction — to enact substantive policy changes is an undemocratic disservice to our people and to the Senate’s institutional role.

We agree with this assessment—misusing the Senate rules in this way would be a tremendous “disservice” to the American people and it is “an outrage” that we should resist.

In that regard, to endeavor to ensure that the reconciliation process is not used to fast-track an unpopular bill through Congress, we wish to inform you that we will oppose efforts to waive the so-called Byrd Rule during Senate consideration of any reconciliation bill concerning health reform. The Byrd Rule, as you know, was created by Senator Byrd to ensure that reconciliation bills were not used to enact policy changes, the primary purpose of which is not specifically related to the federal budget. As it takes 60 votes to waive the Byrd Rule, we can ensure that any provision that trips the Byrd Rule will be stripped from the bill, which will require that the bill be sent back to the House for further consideration and additional votes.

We urge you to abandon the use of reconciliation to pass a partisan bill that is opposed by the vast majority of Americans. Instead, we encourage you to work with us on a series of bipartisan bills that provide a step-by-step approach to reducing the cost of health care for Americans.

Senate sources also sent a video of Senators DeMint, Wicker, Coburn, and Thune—all former House members— talking about the Dems being responsible for passing the bill through the reconciliation tactic,

UDPATE
Two from Ace:
Constitutional Slaughter: Democrats Attempting Rule Change in House That Would Pass Senate Bill Without An Actual Vote on the Senate Bill,
and More on the Blatantly Unconstitutionally, Recklessly Illegal Slaughter “Rule:” Citizens Would Have Standing to Challenge, which links to Leon Wolfe at Red State,

Having determined that they lack the votes in the House to pass the Senate bills as-is, House Democrats are attempting one of the most breathtakingly unconstitutional power grabs ever witnessed – a maneuver to deem the Senate bill ALREADY PASSED by the House by rule, despite the fact that it clearly has not. Now, as we have constantly reminded our ahistorical liberal friends who have already forgotten all of 2002-2006, the filibuster is constitutional because it is a Senate rule of debate, which is expressly authorized by Article I’s delegation of power to each house of Congress to set its own rules of debate. Apparently, some Democrats can’t seem to tell the difference between a rule of debate and just declaring by rule that the House has passed a bill that they have not, when the Constitution itself expressly states that “in all [] Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays[.]” What Slaughter and Pelosi here are attempting here is a blatant violation of the principles of bicameralism and presentment.

And unlike other Unconstitutional things Congress does, there’s caselaw here suggesting pretty clearly that when Congress attempts to pass a law in the absence of proper bicameralism and presentment, a person negatively affected by Congress’s action (e.g., a person required to pay a fine for not having health insurance) has standing to challenge the law’s validity in the Courts. This farce is illegal and unconstitutional on its face, and someone has to be advising the Democrats in the House of this fact.

This is extremely troubling.

Bipartisanship raspberry: Reid kills Baucus-Grassley jobs bill

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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Harry Reid gives Max Baucus the raspberry:
Reid kills Baucus-Grassley jobs bill

Members of the Senate Finance Committee unveiled a long-awaited bipartisan jobs bill Thursday morning — only to have it scrapped within hours by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid killed the bill after hearing complaints from members of his own caucus who argued that Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had gone too far beyond the core goal of job creation in order to win Republican support.

It was a major rebuke for Baucus, who’d spent weeks working with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on his committee, trying to come up with a bill that Republicans would support.

It doesn’t matter whether the jobs bill would be effective. Harry didn’t want Max to “go too far”.

Harry extends a hand with a middle finger to his own Finance Committee Chairman.

How’s that for bipartisanship?

UPDATE:
Ace:

This guy isn’t even pretending to talk about jobs — he’s just telling the press flat-out the political message he wants to get out by spending a $100 billion. And they don’t even seem to notice.

Are we in a monarchy? UPDATED with VIDEO of the swearing-in

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

While checking to see if Scott Brown has been sworn in yet, was reading Memeorandum just now and came across this headline,
Brown to take Kennedy’s office

What they hey? “Kennedy’s office”?

Did Kennedy have a right to that office forever? Was it his to leave to his descendants?

No, Kennedy had it because he had been in the Senate since shortly after allowing Mary Jo to drown,

Because of his seniority, Kennedy had one of the most coveted office suites in the Senate complex. It is located in the Russell building, down the hall from the Rotunda, and has balconies that overlook the Capitol.

Makes me glad that Brown will occupy that bit of real estate.

UPDATE
Sworn in:

Via Sister Toldjah.

Chris Dodd won’t seek re-election

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Chris Dodd to step aside

Embattled Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd (D) has scheduled a press conference at his home in Connecticut Wednesday at which he is expected to announce he will not seek re-election, according to sources familiar with his plans.

Dodd’s retirement comes after months of speculation about his political future, and amid faltering polling numbers and a growing sense among the Democratic establishment that he could not win a sixth term. It also comes less than 24 hours after Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) announced he would not seek re-election.

Dodd, as you may recall (aside from being Ted Kennedy’s drinking buddy), is

the chap with the “cottage” in Ireland, the sweetheart deals with various mortgage companies that you and I, with no patronage to dispense, could never wrangle, and a reputation for honesty that rivals that of Barney Frank

and has spent

30 years with his lips sewn to the public teat

While Dodd’s resignation points to the grim outlook for Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections, Another Black Conservative correctly reminds us of the short-term effect:

What is being overlooked is that these Democrat House Reps and Senators are free to vote for whatever crappy legislation they please without a worry about answering to their constituents. In essence they are like Dead Men Walking. They have nothing to lose by going against the will of the people for the next eleven months.

So as we all cheer about another Dem biting the dust before 2010, let us take time to realize the threat these retiring Dems pose.

They’re not out – legistatively speaking – until they have actually left.

More on Dodd at Power Line.

The Senate bill that stole Christmas in today’s podcast

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

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Billed by the Washington Post as the bill that stole Christmas, after whoring in Cash for Cloture, senators are stuck in DC,

With the final vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act slated to start after sundown Dec. 24, senators and hundreds of their health policy analysts, press secretaries and other aides — not to mention the universe of police officers, clerks and student pages who keep the place humming — wishing to be with their families will instead spend the holiday in Washington. And there’s a possibility the Senate could be called back next week, to take up debt-limit legislation.

In today’s podcast at 11AM, Rick Moran talks about how REFORM IS A TRIUMPH OF PROCESS OVER PRUDENCE. Join us live, and you can listen to the archived podcast at your convenience.

UPDATE
At Red State, Erick Erickson posts, We Are No Longer a Nation of Laws. Senate Sets Up Requirement for Super-Majority to Ever Repeal Obamacare

The Senate Democrats declare a super-majority of senators will be needed to overrule any regulation imposed by the Death Panels

Upon examination of Senator Harry Reid’s amendment to the health care legislation, Senators discovered section 3403. That section changes the rules of the United States Senate.

To change the rules of the United States Senate, there must be sixty-seven votes.

Section 3403 of Senator Harry Reid’s amendment requires that “it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.” The good news is that this only applies to one section of the Obamacare legislation. The bad news is that it applies to regulations imposed on doctors and patients by the Independent Medicare Advisory Boards a/k/a the Death Panels.

Section 3403 of Senator Reid’s legislation also states, “Notwithstanding rule XV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, a committee amendment described in subparagraph (A) may include matter not within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Finance if that matter is relevant to a proposal contained in the bill submitted under subsection (c)(3).” In short, it sets up a rule to ignore another Senate rule.

Go read Erick’s post.

How’s that hope and change working for you now?

UPDATE 2
VIDEO via Ed:

A quick roundup of Cash For Cloture posts

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Michelle Malkin has a
Cash for Cloture: Demcare bribe list, Pt. II
. Some of her highlights:

1. Sen. Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback.”
2. New England’s Special Syrup.
3. Corruptocrat Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd’s Christmas wish: Hospital helper.
4. “Some insurers are more equal than others” tax exemption.
5. The Frontier Freebie.
6. More Democrat hospital bennies.
7. Bernie Sanders’ socialized medicine sop.
8. Fla.-Pa.-NY Protectionism.

If you review Michelle’s items, you’ll find that six of the items on her list directly involve Medicare and Medicaid, the existing government healthcare programs … that are broke.

Outside the Beltway correctly points out that

This is how our system works and has worked since time immemorial. Discussions of logrolling and pork barrel politics have been part of introductory American politics courses since, oh, the advent of introductory American politics courses. The terms were coined in 1835 (by Davy Crockett, no less) and 1863 (by Edward Everett Hale). Let’s just say Harry Reid didn’t invent them.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shine a light on these abuses. By all means, we should. But let’s not pretend that they’re a recent invention.

Others posting on Cash for Cloture:
Instapundit
Mark Steyn at The Corner
Gateway Pundit: Cash for Cloture: Harry Reid’s Vote Buying Cost Taxpayers $1.2 Billion
Politico: Payoffs for states get Harry Reid to 60 votes
Common Sense and Wonder
The Fox Nation

More:
Cash For Cloture: Obamacare Bill is So Bad It Has to Be Rammed Through In Middle of The Night
Obamacare Passage: Democratic “Suicide Pact”
Democrats Had Agreed To Work Through Christmas

Franken’s snit against Lieberman

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Material for a Saturday Night Live skit,
Franken shuts down Lieberman on Senate floor

Franken was presiding over the Senate Thursday afternoon as Lieberman spoke about amendments he planned to offer to the bill. Lieberman asked for an additional moment to finish — a routine request — but Franken refused to grant the time.

“In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object,” Franken said.

“Really?” said Lieberman. “OK.”

Red State has it on video:

While Franken’s spokesperson said time limits were strictly enforced due to the urgency of the bill, Michelle Malkin noticed that

Harry Reid is nearly an hour late to the Senate floor to make a motion to adjourn.

After he got there, Harry blamed the Republicans.

Well, at least Harry didn’t blame Lieberman.

Lefties swarm on Lieberman

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

John McCormack has the details:

>From the halls of the Senate to left-wing blogs and the Washington Post, Democrats have been busy the past day viciously attacking Joe Lieberman for saying that he’ll filibuster a bill with a Medicare buy-in provision.

An anonymous senior Senate aide says that Lieberman double-crossed Harry Reid; liberal blogger Jane Hamsher, last seen putting the senator in blackface, is trying to drive Lieberman’s wife from a position on a breast cancer charity; and Washington Post blogger and omniscient child pundit Ezra Klein writes that Lieberman “seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.” (The New Republic‘s Jonathan Chait seconds Klein’s sentiment–“[Lieberman] seems to view the prospect of sticking it to the liberals who supported his Democratic opponent in 2006 as a goal potentially worth sacrificing the lives of tens of thousands of Americans to fulfill”–and adds that he thinks Lieberman is stupid.) All of this from the folks who attack the GOP for its “ideological conformity.”

In a followup post, Klein writes that his contention that Lieberman would cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of out of spite is “not a particularly controversial statement. It relies on data from the Institute of Medicine and the Urban Institute, both of which are credible sources.”

Going by what Klein says, you’d think “the science is settled”, on that.

But it is not.

Michael Cannon explains,

Indeed, health insurance does have a connection to mortality. But I’m pretty sure Klein doesn’t know what it is, mostly because people with more expertise and fewer axes to grind don’t know what it is.

For example, a careful study by health economists Amy Finkelstein and Robin McKnight found that in its first 10 years, Medicare had no discernible impact on elderly mortality rates. The authors hypothesize that prior to Medicare, seniors who lacked coverage largely got the care that they needed either by paying out of pocket or relying on public or private charity. Whether Medicare had any impact on elderly mortality after its first 10 years remains an open question.

Or consider a study by Richard Kronick, a professor of family and preventive medicine at U.C.-San Diego and a former health policy adviser to the Clinton administration. Kronick performed the largest-ever study on the health effects of being uninsured and concludes that the IOM estimate “is almost certainly incorrect.” Kronick concludes that “the best available evidence” suggests “there would not be much change in the number of deaths in the United States as a result of universal coverage.”

How can that be, when Ezra Klein finds his own argument so “intuitive“? Kronick admits “it is not clear” why the data produce such a counterintuitive result, but posits that existing channels “may provide ‘good enough’ access to care for the uninsured to keep their mortality rate similar to that of the insured.”

Economists Helen Levy of the University of Michigan and David Meltzer of the University of Chicago surveyed the entire economics literature on the connection between health insurance and health. They conclude, “The central question of how health insurance affects health, for whom it matters, and how much, remains largely unanswered at the level of detail needed to inform policy decisions.”

However, the personal attacks go on. Sister Toldjah asks,

How can Ezra Klein call Joe Lieberman pro-”death of hundreds of thousands of people”
… when Klein himself, a longtime proponent of socialized healthcare, is in favor of the public option, which in effect will give the existing Medicare panel more power to decide who gets what healthcare – as a form of “cost control”?

Don’t expect the left to leave Lieberman alone – he’s become their version of a global warming “denialist”.

What must really get the left irked, however, is that they know that the Dems need him to pass the bill.

————————————————-

Please note there will be no podcasts today or tomorrow.

Government actuaries: Senate Health Bill Will Raise Costs

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Report: Senate Health Bill Will Raise Costs

The report, compiled by the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, estimated that total health costs in the U.S. would be $234 billion higher than if the bill weren’t passed. President Barack Obama has said Democrats’ health plan would reduce the growth of health-care costs.

The report said 33 million more U.S. citizens and legal residents would be insured under the bill, resulting in 93% of Americans with health-insurance coverage. But it said the new demand for health care caused by the bill could prove “difficult to meet initially” because doctors and hospitals would charge higher fees in response to the new demand. The report also said the bill’s proposed cuts in Medicare spending “may be unrealistic.”

In addition to expanding coverage, the Senate bill creates a long-term-care insurance program that would provide a daily subsidy for those with disabilities and illnesses who require home-based care. The report cited a risk of “adverse selection,” saying people who were more likely to require care would be more likely to use the new insurance. That could cause insurance payouts to exceed premium revenue.

“There is a very serious risk that the problem of adverse selection would make the [long-term-care insurance] program unsustainable,” the report said.

Hardly surprising, Do Nothing, Majority Says
ObamaCare is now almost as unpopular as it is monstrous.

a CNN poll found that an even bigger majority–61%–oppose the Senate’s version of the ObamaCare bill.

2,074 pages: The Senate Health Bill

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Back in the olden days this is what passing a bill in Congress was like:

Back then the bill was read, and sat in Congress while it was debated.

Ah, for the good ole days…

Now a senator can make headlines by simply asking people to Read the Senate health bill yourself

“You’re going to hear a lot about this bill. That’s why I encourage you to read the bill yourself and form your own opinion,” Crapo said. “Take a close look at how the bill is funded and who and what it covers and doesn’t cover and how it may impact you and your family. It’s a real eye-opener!”

Crapo also reiterated plenty of Republican objections to the healthcare bill before encouraging Americans to read it. He said that the bill will increase federal spending, drive up healthcare costs, cut Medicare benefits and engender an intrusive government intervention into people’s healthcare plans.

The vote today is whether to open the debate,

On Wednesday, Nelson hinted he was gearing up to support the procedural motion Saturday. “It’s a motion to commence debate and an opportunity to make changes,” he said in a statement.

As Ed said, Harry Reid is

trying to follow Nancy Pelosi’s footsteps in jamming ObamaCare down the throats of a skeptical chamber before members can hear from their constituents.

This is what we’re in for:

  • Medicare physician fees will get cut by about 20 percent beginning in 2011
  • impose massive tax increases:  a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, and raise the Medicare payroll tax
  • Over 20 years, Senate Democrats are thus planning to raise taxes on the American people by about $2.2 trillion. Even so, this massive tax hike still would not fully cover all of the spending in the Reid plan.
  • Medicare cuts: On paper, the cuts are massive. CBO says they would total nearly $450 billion in Medicare over the first ten years, but then grow to about $1.9 trillion in the next decade.
  • On paper, the Reid plan plus the “doc fix” would increase total federal spending by about $4.9 trillion over 20 years. Senate Democrats would resort to bracket creep and other tax hikes to raise $2.2 trillion over the same period

No wonder they don’t want you to read it.

UPDATE
James Taranto:

Accountability Journalism
An Associated Press dispatch, written by Erica Werner and Richard Alonso-Zaldivar, compares the House and Senate ObamaCare bills. We’d like to compare this dispatch to the AP’s dispatch earlier this week “fact checking” Sarah Palin’s new book. Here goes:

Number of AP reporters assigned to story:
• ObamaCare bills: 2
• Palin book: 11

Number of pages in document being covered:
• ObamaCare bills: 4,064
• Palin book: 432

Number of pages per AP reporter:
• ObamaCare bill: 2,032
• Palin book: 39.3

On a per-page basis, that is, the AP devoted 52 times as much manpower to the memoir of a former Republican officeholder as to a piece of legislation that will cost trillions of dollars and an untold number of lives. That’s what they call accountability journalism.