If “democracy” means a nationally televised speech by the Leader, the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars by pressure groups, and a frenzied process of voting on a short deadline, then this is a Democratic process—with a capital “D” for the Party in power.
The level of spending by advocacy groups is unprecedented. Through mid-July, the Campaign Media and Analysis Group (CMAG), which monitors the airwaves, identified $9.7 million in advertising in support of Obama’s position, $4.7 million opposed, and $19.7 million by groups staking out a position. MoveOn will be sending activists to every town hall, as well as buying ads. Healthy America Now will add $12 million to what it has already spent on ads favoring legislation that “expands health coverage.”
MoveOn is deploying its “strong, practiced field infrastructure.” Spokeswoman Ilyse Hogue said that during August recess, the full force of the progressives’ pressure will be “brought to bear on those who are on the wrong side of history” (Politico 7/26/09).
The “democratic process” does not involve reading the bills. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked what was the point in reading the bill, when it’s 1,000 pages long, and “you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means.”
It does not involve responsiveness to letters, emails, or calls from constituents, reportedly running 15 to 1 against the government takeover.
It does not involve hearings or serious consideration of amendments, much less legislation drafted by the minority party. A representative of the Republican Study Committee reported that 200 amendments had been blocked. House Republican Leader John Boehner listed 31 common-sense amendments that were defeated.
These include what might be called “stop loss” provisions: a $1 trillion deficit cap, delaying spending for “disease prevention” measures such as bicycle trails until the budget deficit drops below the cap; a repeal of the government-run plan if wait times exceed those in private plans; suspending the job-killing employer mandate if unemployment reaches 10%; and waiving the employer mandate if it causes layoffs, pay cuts, or reductions in hiring.
Also killed were freedom amendments, such as: barring bureaucratic interference in treatment decisions; preventing medical professionals from being forced into a government-run plan; preventing tax funding of abortions (which is opposed by 70% of Americans); protecting health savings accounts and their accompanying high-deductible plans; shielding employer-provided coverage from complex, costly new mandates; and repealing the prohibition against new enrollees in individual plans.
An amendment to require members of Congress to immediately enroll in the government-run plan was approved by voice vote in the Education & Labor Committee, but killed in Ways & Means at the behest of Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Rangel.
Also nixed were tort reform; protecting workers who earn less than $200,000 from tax increases, and prohibiting unfair advantages for the government-run plan.
What is really happening, according to high-level inside sources, is back-room deal-making by power brokers unknown to the public.
The process resembles that which passed the “cap and trade” energy bill. It was not passed because Congressmen bought into flawed science or listened to climate Rasputins. “The terrible truth is much worse than that,” writes Arthur Robinson. “The truth is that Congress has become so corrupt that it is incapable of acting on principles—even misguided principles.”
Congressmen do not care whether the bill is a good one or not. “This past month I watched an awful spectacle—chronicled approvingly in the press—while the cap and trade bill moved forward, picking up votes as its sponsors bought one Congressman after another with provisions that would enhance their careers. It was reported that the last major hurdle was cleared by giving farm state Congressmen a few goodies for farmers.”
There was essentially no discussion of science or of the revocation of human freedom in the bill. “The entire process was one of trading favors.” Bribery in the form of handouts to constituents is far less cost-effective than simply handing the legislator a suitcase full of money.