Cramming Obamacare Down Our Throats
March 26, 2010 by Chip Wood
Well, they finally did it. By a vote of 219 to 212, the House of Representatives approved Obamacare Sunday night. By the time you read this, President Obama will have signed this monstrosity into law.
The only thing “bipartisan” about the measure was the opposition to it. Thirty-four Democrats joined every Republican in the House in voting against it. But even this doesn’t capture the nationwide opposition to the bill. Every single survey taken in the past two months showed massive public opposition to the measure.
“So what?” was the Democrats rejoinder. “Once this sucker becomes law, people will learn to like it.”
The Left thinks they have won the most important victory yet in the political wars. But they’re about to discover that, like John Paul Jones before us, we have just begun to fight.
Let’s hope that this November plenty of voters will remember what our leaders just did to us.
I’ll spare you a litany of all the “dirty deals, open threats, broken promises and disregard for democracy” that were used to shove this 2,400-page monstrosity down our throats. Even with all the last-minute vote-buying and arm-twisting, I hoped the measure would come up short. And it almost did.
In the week before the vote, Barack Obama held private meetings or telephone conversations with 64 different congressmen. At least one of them, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), bragged publicly that he used his face time with the president to demand some “special consideration” for his Central Valley district. On March 16, the Interior Department came through, announcing that the water allocation there would be increased from 5 percent to 25 percent. On Saturday, Costa—a former no vote—said he had flipped to yes. But deal-doing had nothing to do with it, of course.
The president also hopped aboard Air Force One and flew to rallies in states where wavering House Democrats resided. He showed up in Pennsylvania (home to five uncommitted votes), Missouri (three wavering Democrats), Ohio (eight undeclared congressmen) and Virginia (four).
The president’s advance men made sure Obama would be talking to friendly crowds. And of course the local media was out in droves. So the Left could be assured of plenty of favorable coverage.
One person who would be missing from the show was the local congressman. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t about to allow members of the House to go home until a vote was taken. No Spring Break for those guys and gals! The speaker knew she didn’t dare risk letting representatives go home then. Otherwise, too many would see first-hand just how opposed most of their constituents were to the measure.
While the president used the honey of his rhetoric and the promise of government largesse to win votes, political heavies such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Moveon.org used threats. Their message was short and simple: Vote no on Obamacare and we’ll find someone else to take your place in Congress.
But all of the bullying, bluffs and bluster wasn’t enough. Kimberley Strassel, who writes the Potomac Watch column for the Wall Street Journal, had been following this story for months. The day after that fateful vote, she reported, “By the weekend, all the pressure and threats and bribes had left the speaker three to five votes short.”
As it happened, there were half-a-dozen votes just waiting to be plucked. All the House leadership had to do to get them was agree to include a line in the legislation saying that no Federal funds would be used to provide abortions. The danger was that if they agreed they’d lose more than six votes among the pro-abortion crowd in the House.
I don’t know who came up with the compromise, but it was a dandy. The language of the legislation wouldn’t be changed—but the president promised to issue an executive order afterwards, stating that no Federal funds provided by the bill could be used for abortions.
That was all it took for Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) to fold like an accordion. On Sunday afternoon he announced that he and five other colleagues would now support the legislation.
Pro-abortion supporters chortled that such an executive order wouldn’t change a thing. Bart and his buddies had been duped. One pro-life congressman was so upset that he shouted out “baby killer!” during the debate on the House floor.
But, no matter. The dirty deed was done. And within hours, the most radical healthcare legislation in history had been approved by the House of Representatives.
Because the powers-that-be decided to use a sneaky parliamentary procedure called “reconciliation” to pass the measure, that was all it took. There would be no chance for opponents to stop it in the Senate, despite the victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. (Click here to see my tirade two weeks ago, called Hey Washington—Reconcile This)
During and after the debate I collected a basketful of quotes by people on both sides of the issue. I’ll spare you all of the gleeful smugness of the victors and most of the dire warnings from the losers. But let me share with you my favorite, which comes from Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas):
“It was truly a sad weekend on the House floor as we witnessed the further dismantling of the Constitution, disregard of the will of the people, explosive expansion of the reach of government, unprecedented corporate favoritism, and the impending end of quality healthcare as we know it….
“Of course, the most troubling aspect of this bill is that it is so blatantly unconstitutional and contrary to the ideals of liberty. Nowhere in the Constitution is there anything approaching authority for the Federal government to do any of this.”
In the aftermath of the bill’s passage, attorneys general in 13 states joined together and filed suit in Florida Tuesday to have the bill declared unconstitutional. Virginia sued separately. Officials in at least 15 other states said they are preparing legal and constitutional challenges to the legislation. We’ll see how far they get. I’m not optimistic, since most Federal judges pay absolutely no attention to constitutional limitations on the reach and power of the Federal government.
No, the only way we’re going to win back our lost freedoms is at the ballot box.
I believe that those of us who work for a living still outnumber those who vote for a living. It’s just that the other side has spent far more time and money getting their side elected.
Are we willing to do what it will take to change things? As I said at the beginning of this column, we’ll find out this November.
Until next Friday, keep some powder dry.