The government our El Presidente has given us — but will we have to keep it?
When Ben Franklin first emerged from the Constitutional Convention, he was asked by a passerby, “What government have you given us?” Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
For 220 years, until last year, we did keep it. America was a democratic constitutional republic, governed by the rule of law, a beacon of liberty to the entire world. But no more. After just one year of Barack Obama’s fundamental change, aided by the far left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco, and the easily confused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, America has been transformed from a Constitutional Republic into a Banana Republic.
We Will Deem It Not Passed
Exhibit A is President Obama’s frenzied government takeover of health care, which fevered Democrats insist they will “pass” by any means necessary, even illegal, unconstitutional means. The economy continues to flounder, unemployment still hovers at nearly 10%, and Iran persists in building nuclear weapons, which they vow to use against our allies and even against us. But Barack Obama is focused like a laser on bringing to America outdated socialized medicine concepts from deep into the last century, all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt, as he said in a recent speech.
The latest Banana Republic style abuse is the so-called Slaughter Strategy, named not for the impending political slaughter of Congressional Democrats it will help engender this fall, but after temporary House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Under that scam, House Democrats will pass a “rule” that “deems” the Senate health care takeover bill to have passed the House. House Democrats will then pass a “reconciliation” bill amending that Senate bill, on a strict party line vote. Whatever you want to call whatever the House and Senate passed will then go to El Presidente for his signature.
The Senate will then be expected to pass the House reconciliation bill, again on a strict party line vote, without a conference committee on the amendments and without the 60 votes required to end debate in the Senate under the filibuster rule. This under the leadership of the President who campaigned starting in 2004 on bringing to America a new era of “post-partisanship.” No one has given any thought to what happens if the Senate is not able to pass the House reconciliation bill. Are the House reconciliation amendments then part of the final law or not?
In any event, Newt Gingrich got it right in saying that last year Democrats were passing bills without reading them. This year, they are passing bills without voting on them.
As constitutional law scholar Michael McConnell explained in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, under Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, “passage of one bill cannot be deemed to be enactment of another.” In other words, passing a reconciliation bill different from the Senate health bill cannot be deemed passage of the Senate health bill. McConnell continued,
The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form. As the Supreme Court wrote in Clinton v. City of New York (1998), a bill containing the “exact text” must be approved by one house; the other house must approve “precisely the same text.”
Moreover, the rules of the House and the Senate provide for reconciliation for “legislation that makes adjustments to spending or revenues to reconcile current law to a budget resolution that has passed Congress,” as McConnell also writes. Republicans have never used reconciliation for legislation that has not met this definition. But this is manifestly not what is involved in the Obamacare health takeover bill, which adopts massive new entitlements, expands existing ones, and enacts sweeping regulation of insurance and health care, with close to 100 new bureaucracies, boards, commissions and programs.
If Democrats claim to have passed Obamacare through this Banana Republic methodology, the new Republican Congressional majorities elected this fall can and will “deem” Obamacare not to have passed. For no actual legislation with identical texts will then have passed both the House and the Senate, as the Constitution requires. The new Speaker of the House and the new Senate Majority Leader can and will instruct Congressional officers to remove the Obamacare provisions from the U.S. Code. The new House and Senate majorities can and will also refuse to fund any of the provisions of Obamacare, including the 100 new bureaucracies, boards, commissions and programs. Naturally, this will leave the state of the law unclear, and disputed, just like in a typical Banana Republic.
Rest assured, Republican members of Congress and state Attorneys General will also sue for declaratory judgments that Obamacare is unconstitutional because it was not passed in accordance with law (and for other reasons). And the new majorities will also move to repeal whatever you want to call whatever the Democrats will claim that they have passed. But even before any of that, next year the new Congress will deem Obamacare not to have passed.
Obamacare and Banana Republic Deficits
Another indicator that America has sunk into Banana Republic status is the runaway deficits and national debt under the Obama budgets. As discussed in this column last week, the federal deficit this year is projected to hit a world record $1.6 trillion, with deficits totaling nearly $10 trillion over the next 10 years. The national debt held by the public will quadruple to $20.3 trillion by 2020, with the total gross federal debt soaring to $27.5 trillion, rivaling Greece.
Contrary to the claims of President Obama, his socialized medicine health care takeover will increase rather than reduce the deficits and debt. The claim that it will reduce the deficit is based on the assumption that the already below market Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals will be reduced by 21% in the first year, falling farther and farther behind market rates in the following years. This would create havoc and chaos in health care for America’s seniors. But if Congress does not allow those cuts to go into effect, Obamacare will further explode the deficit.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online