Congress, Perceptions, and Reality

Last week, the issue of Sen. Bunning singlehandedly holding up a bill that would extend jobless benefits and “hurt millions of Americans” was all over the news.  The Senator was refusing to budge because Congress had just passed a paygo rule, which would require that any new spending be offset by cuts elsewhere.  The very individuals taking credit for passing the rule weren’t supporting Bunning’s stance, and apparently aren’t willing to apply it to any spending programs they happen to like.

According to Senator Bunning, “When 100 senators are for a bill, and we can’t find $10 billion to pay for it, there’s something the matter, seriously the matter, with this body.”  Could it be that they aren’t at all interested in actually finding a way to pay for their “gifts” to the American people (taken directly from other Americans, by the way)?  Could it be that this paygo rule was just an opportunity for photo ops, creating the illusion of fiscal responsibility while spitting in its face?

In fact, in the midst of the opposition to Senator Bunning’s position, President Obama held a reception at the White House to celebrate paygo.  Huh?

Today, the news is out that Louise Slaughter, House Rules Chairwoman, is considering a move to usher the Senate healthcare bill through the House without requiring an actual vote on the bill itself.  She knows that the current Senate bill is so unpopular with the American people that there’s a good possibility that even using reconciliation, it may be dead.

The move under consideration would require only a vote on changes to the Senate bill and would presume the Senate version passed if this rule change bill passes, without actually voting on it.  This is an absolute end-run around reconciliation, (as well as the Constitution) which requires that any bill using reconciliation be passed in its original form.  Once that is done, changes can be made and voted on by both houses of Congress.

Just as with the paygo rule, too many in Congress want to have it both ways.  They know the American people are overwhelming against the Senate healthcare proposal.  No one in the House wants to be maligned for voting yes on a piece of legislation so poorly pieced together and so widely known to contain outright payoffs to Senators in exchange for their votes.

The supposed solution:  Vote for the bill without voting for the bill.  This way, as with paygo and jobless benefits, you can pose for the cameras saying one thing while actually doing another.  Brilliant way to manipulate, obfuscate, and possibly save your job.  Horrendous way to “serve” the American people and our republic.

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