Your 2074 page Christmas present

Despite a lot of wishful thinking on the right, it appears that the health care boondoggle will pass this week. Reid and company managed to literally buy off the sole remaining holdout (Nelson) with an abortion compromise measure.

John McCain says the Republicans will not be able to stop the bill, although he says Bernie Madoff would approve:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says that Republicans will "probably not" be able to stop the passage of health care this week, but that his party will continue to "win the battle of American public opinion."

"We'll fight the good fight, we will fight until the last vote," he said on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. "We must look back and say that we did everything we could to prevent this terrible mistake from taking place."

He said the CBO's scoring of the bill, which projects that it would cut the deficit by $132 billion and cost $871 billion, is based on "gimmickry and we all know it. "

Only Bernie Madoff would approve of this kind of budgeting," he said.

Nor is he impressed by President Obama's "change":
He said that POTUS is not the kind of president he said he would be, and that he would give Obama an "incomplete" grade so far.

"He said there would be a change in climate in Washington, there's been a change," said McCain. "It's more partisan, it's more bitterly divided than it's ever been."

Fortunately for the right, some divisions are starting to appear within the Democratic ranks.

Not enough to derail the health care boondoggle, though. The Blue Dog Democrats have shown that they can be bought. The only principled (in the sense of "not for sale") opposition to the health care bill in the Democratic Party is coming from the left -- the likes of Howard Dean, Keith Olbermann (who is threatening civil disobedience if the bill passes), NOW, and, which is circulating a petition.

But it seems to be a done deal. I only wish the Republicans in the House had not helped.

As to what is in the bill now, God only knows. The purported text is here, and it runs 2074 pages, but that was in November before the more recent amendments, so I don't even know whether there is a final version. Not that it would matter, because no one reads these things, much less understands them. (Especially the people who pass them.)

Democracy disgusts me, but it's still better than the alternative.

MORE: Forgive the title of this post, but the final version of the bill that no one has read is nowhere to be found.

Maybe they're planning on passing it first, then writing it later.

Interestingly, the cloak of secrecy surrounding this bill (and many others) is being likened to totalitarianism:

Citizens cannot see who authored which provisions, who won big federal favors, or who will get new privileges in the Brave New World of Big Brother delivering health care.

No one knows ... yet.

A penchant for secrecy is a style of governing that is well known in many authoritarian countries. We don't have to stretch our imagination to see these governing styles on display in Iran, China, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea.

Thankfully America isn't Venezuela. And Obama has not become Hugo Chavez.

I suspect the face of authoritarianism here may arrive with more benign faces. It may emerge with subtle velvet hands like those used by regulators out of the European Union's faceless bureaucracy. There, regulations are hatched in private among elites, then paternalistically dispensed to their citizens. The EU model is driven by an impenetrable bureaucracy that has little accountability, protects special groups, and informs the public in a genteel way about what it is they can and cannot do.

This may be more in tune with the Obama administration and so-called "progressives." As they stand in awe over Europe for its many "superior" ways, they may be looking at a neo-European governing style as a role model.

Rather than assume their penchant for secrecy with the health care bill is an aberration, this could become their governing norm.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I think at minimum their punishment should take the form of being made to write the entire bill 100 times on a giant blackboard.

MORE: The manipulative nature of Harry Reid's Christmas deadline is no coincidence. It's a blatant but wholly unprecedented tactic.

Take a look at this chart:


The author sees a relationship between the trickery and the Christmas deadline:

If Harry Reid does hold the Senate in session until a Christmas Eve vote on health care can be held it will have been in session 25 consecutive days before this National Holiday! In the previous 31 years we have only exceeded 10 days twice (ending before Christmas) and the majority of the time there is NO December legislative business. As of Saturday Dec 19 (the date of this writing), he has not released the text of the amendment upon which he wants to vote nor provided Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring! Why is he doing this? Is there a critical issue here that must be addressed immediately for the good of the country? Does health care threaten the nation in such an instant and acute way that it that cannot be addressed after the holidays when an important issue such as this can receive the necessary attention that it deserves?

Given that this legislation affects every American and impacts about 1/6 of the nation's economy it is reasonable that a full consideration be given to the final proposals. The 'discussions' that have taken place about health care during the previous months are NOT a substitute for a careful, line-by-line analysis of the cost, effectiveness, and wisdom of every part of a piece of comprehensive legislation such as this. The thoughts, wishes, and desires put forward by many over the months DO NOT equate to a review of an actual piece of legislation. Such a review is effectively impossible based on Harry Reid's authoritarian schedule. Why?

Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama know that if the American people are given time to review and digest the measures in these health care bills they will reject them more strongly by the day. They know it can only be passed out of the view of Americans using any and every parliamentary trick-in-the-book. This is a disgraceful, cowardly, and tyrannical strategy by people undeserving of their leadership positions.

They don't deserve their positions any more than we deserve them.

MORE: Despite the bill's elusive nature, Republicans are nonetheless threatening to read portions of it as a delaying tactic:

Republicans, who have been accused by Rush Limbaugh and others for failing to oppose the legislation vigorously enough, have threatened to force Senate clerks to read the entire text of the proposed changes aloud, a process that could consume eight hours or so.
Eight hours? I think they should read the whole bill. One. Word. At. A. Time.

Obviously, the Democrats don't want anyone to read it, and the possibility that it might be read explains why the legislation is secret. And urgent.

MORE: Here's a statement from Senator McConnell:

...[T]hey want to rush this bill through by Christmas -- one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.

"And here's the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader's conference room has even seen.

"That's right. The final bill we'll vote on isn't even the one we've had on the floor. It's the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private.

"That's what they intend to bring to the floor and force a vote on before Christmas.

"So this entire process is essentially a charade.

A double secret charade. Arbitrary, unaccountable, and without any restraint.

UPDATE: Sean Kinsell links this post and has some excellent observations about "betrayal."

it's frightening to encounter so many adults, free to run about loose on the streets, who seem not to have considered it within the realm of possibility that a politician, once in office, might turn his back on supporters, waffle, do 180s, and talk a lot of self-serving nonsense -- and who therefore have not steeled themselves to deal with it now that it's happening. I hate to choose this time of year to sound uncharitable, but I'm finding them hard to sympathize with.
There's a sucker born every minute, but it's hard for me to feel "betrayed" by people I didn't vote for and never believed in.

And you don't have to be a raging anti-government nut to believe that all bills should be in writing.

posted by Eric on 12.20.09 at 10:02 AM


Of course American politicians are enamored with EU where
income tax is 40 to 55 % of income and VAT takes 17 to 27 % of what is left of the workers paycheck.
This kind of taxation would almost triple the US governments income.

Hugh   ·  December 20, 2009 1:16 PM

No hope and no change from the inexorable march to statism.
I've started reading Atlas Shrugged again. The last time was in 1962. It seems to fit the mood.

Who is John Galt?

Frank   ·  December 21, 2009 3:09 AM

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