President Obama on Wednesday formally endorsed the strategy of ramming a health care bill through Congress on strictly partisan basis using the strategy of reconciliation.
In yet another speech revealing yet another proposal on health care, President Obama called on “leaders in both of Houses of Congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few weeks.” He demanded an “up-or-down vote” — a code word for using reconciliation to pass health care.
When he served as a Senator as part of the Democratic minority, Obama wasn’t such a fan of using reconciliation to pass major legislation. Senate Republicans have noted that in 2005, Obama opposed using reconciliation to make changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. “Reconciliation is therefore the wrong place for policy changes and the wrong place for the proposed changes to the TANF program,” he said. “In short, the reconciliation process appears to have lost its proper meaning. A vehicle designed for deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility has been hijacked to facilitate reckless deficits and unsustainable debt.”
Breitbart has a video compilation of Obama blasting a “50-plus-one” strategy over the years, several times on the subject of health care specifically.
In terms of the substance of the speech, Obama, flanked by people dressed in white lab coats, repeated a number of the false and misleading claims about the health care legislation. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” he said. But in moments of candor during his January exchange with House Republicans, Obama admitted of the Senate bill that, “some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.” As I wrote last week, Obama’s own proposal would go even further in violating that pledge by imposing new mandates on existing insurance policies that were supposed to be “granfathered in.”
Obama also tried to describe the subsidies for the purchase of health insurance as “the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history.” Yet the plan would force uninsured middle class Americans to either purchase expensive government-approved health insurance, or pay a tax.
He claimed that the bill would bring down costs, but the chief actuary of his own Department of Health and Human Services concluded that the bill would increase national health expenditures.
Ironically, while misleading the public, he tried to write off overwhelming opposition to the bill by arguing that the health care issue “lends itself to demagoguery and political gamesmanship; misrepresentation and misunderstanding.”
The fate of the health care legislation, at this point, hinges on whether Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi can convince enough Democratic members of the House to take suicide votes. “I don’t know how this plays politically, but I know it’s right,” Obama, who isn’t up for reelection until 2012, said to his fellow Democrats.