Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Harry Reid as the maestro of the Senate's Kabuki Theater

They make it so hard to teach a class of high school sophomores on how a bill becomes a law. We are supposed to have this committee system where the subcommittees hold hearings on the viability and ramifications of a certain proposal and then it goes up to the committee which votes. Instead we get minimal hearings and a bunch of backroom bargaining and Max Baucus emerges with a health care bill. Eventually, they vote that out onto the Senate floor where they are supposed to be debating the bill, proposing amendments, and eventually voting on the original bill plus amendments or minus the parts that have been voted out. Instead we get some debating and amendments passed, but it all means nothing.

The real work is still being done behind closed doors in no-smoke-filled back rooms. Harry Reid comes up with another amendment, fills it with some language that will never come to pass such as promising extensive cuts in Medicare, then sends it to the CBO, and gets back reports that acknowledge that those cuts will never happen, but the CBO still does an analysis that both sides trumpet as helping them. Of course, the analysis is faulty to begin with because of the assumptions about Medicare cuts that everyone knows won't happen.

Then Harry Reid will write some massive Manager's Amendment. That can hold everything from brand new provisions that have never been debated to provisions that cancel out whatever has already been voted on. For example, Ben Nelson insists that he will vote against whatever health care bill emerges unless it contains Stupak-like language to bar federal payments for abortion. That was voted down on the Senate floor, but everyone assumes that Reid will insert that language into the final Manager's Amendment in order to get Nelson's vote on the final bill. Those who voted against the language on the Senate floor will now vote for the entire bill, but they can tell their constituents that they voted against it before they voted for it.

And, contrary to the entire legislative procedure that has been set up to provide for reasoned and informed analysis of legislation, Reid will come up with something in a few days, written in secret, and then rush, rush to get the entire thing voted on with minimal debate.

Then the rumors are that the House, which has already approved a much more liberal bill, will certainly vote to accept the exact same bill that Harry Reid produced in the Senate.

And we all know that few, if any, of these guys will actually read the final result of the bill. They'll be voting on some bill that will be over a thousand pages long with some massive Reid-Amendment that was thrown together at the last minute, and they'll be voting on it without know all the little provisions that are lurking in paragraph 389, subsection C, clause 4. But it will be left to some unelected bureaucrats to interpret this stuff and decide how health care will be provided for the rest of us.

All the hot air emitted in the debates over this or that amendment or provision will be wasted since it all will come down to whatever Harry Reid has written for him by his staff. All the posturing by liberals that they won't stand for this or that unless they get a public option or pay for abortions won't mean anything because Joe Lieberman's veto vote will outweigh their threats of a veto since no one believes that, when it comes right down to it, that they would vote against the final product. It's all Kabuki Theater. If this version of the play is eventually produced, who would have thought that our entire health care system will have been written by the people working in Harry Reid's office, not all those posturing senators appearing on Sunday shows. It won't be ObamaCare or PelosiCare, but ReidCare. Shudder.