It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Sunday night. I’m in a king-size hotel room bed in Athens, GA with a snoozing wife and a three-year-old who is still singing “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” despite the long, fun-filled day she had. It’s late. And, yet, on one side of my sister-in-law’s fancy MacBook Pro is a live stream from the floor of the United States Senate.
It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Sunday night. And Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is speaking, right now, on the floor about the Senate’s health care reform bill, which will be voted on in a little less than two hours from now. He’s talking about how private insurance companies will be forced to spend 85 cents out of every dollar on patient health care costs. Where, may I ask, does our federal government have the authority to mandate the capital structure of private companies? Where?
Why else would the lights even be on in the Capitol building unless our government is up to no good? This is legislation which will not even come into effect until 2014, two years after the next presidential election, and yet the Democrats feel it so essential to work through the night as the last weekend before Christmas comes to a close?
Most of America is fast asleep. Most of the people whom these senators represent, even if they wanted to pay attention, are sawing logs (probably not literally, though I’m sure there are a strange few) and catching winks in advance of a working Monday tomorrow. These people have no business whatsoever working right now. It might be different if they were burning the midnight oil in an attempt to save the nation with legislation that would have an immediate impact, but they are not — instead, they’re planning the destruction of our economy and health care system through legislation which will not take effect (other than the spending aspect of it) for another four years. If this is a great bill, if it is so necessary, and if the 60 percent or so of Americans who vigorously oppose it just don’t have their facts straight, then they should be debating it during the day, when most of America is awake and attentive.
Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander made an excellent point — the reason they’re working now is because Harry Reid dropped a 400-page amendment on Friday, something that has been written and kept under the cover of darkness, and that they want to have it passed as part of the bill before Americans can figure out what’s in it.
I can count on the fingers of one hand when I’ve read 400 pages of anything in one day. One was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, which I read in the course of one night as a kid. Another was Bernie Goldberg’s Bias, which may not be 400 pages long, but was finished in the course of a single afternoon. Reading, digesting and researching 400 pages of legislative language in one day is nearly impossible.
Other things Alexander noted:
- $470 billion over the next ten years will be cut out of Medicare, and about $1 trillion in total.
- $548 billion in new taxes starting next year. So much for reducing joblessness. And the taxes on medical devices will be passed along to consumers, as will the increased regulation on private insurers, which will be passed along in the form of increased premiums. So much for reducing health care costs.
- The CBO said that 9 million will lose employer-based insurance. So much for insuring everyone.
- Changes the bi-partisan agreement not to federally fund abortion.
A political kamikaze mission toward an unfortunate mistake. Damaging to the Democrats, but worse for our country. Nicely put.
John McCain. Joking about last year’s campaign. If he needs a campaign-related joke, somebody hand him a mirror. I’m convinced this is probably the latest he’s been awake in at least a decade.
Granted, he’s using Obama’s own words during the campaign against him. And I do love it when McCain gets feisty, so long as he’s sitting on the right side of the debate (and the aisle) for a change.
Talking about special interests, and taking care of “special senators.” The Louisiana Purchase. The Cornhusker Kickback. The Florida Flim-Flam.
“60 votes represents 60 percent of the Senate, but it doesn’t represent 60 percent of the people. 61 percent, according to a CNN poll, oppose it.” He’s right, but the Democrats don’t care. And, you know what, once the GOP gets back into power, they’d better remember what they said here, and actually listen to the people.
Now, he’s talking about an early sea battle in the American Revolution. John Paul Jones not yet beginning to fight. Gosh, McCain is showing more fire right now than he did throughout all of last year.
Who’s next? It’s Tom Harkin, the Democrat from Iowa. Talking about attacks and obstructionism from the Republicans. Talking about a lack of bipartisanship. Talking about a lack of ideas from the GOP.
The Republicans haven’t offered a bill, he says. Well, Tom, actually they have. If you want to see the House GOP bill, look HERE. The CBO scored its counterpart from the Democrats at $1.055 trillion, and admitted that it would actually increase health care costs for Americans — the GOP bill was scored at $61 billion over ten years, and the CBO said it would decrease costs.
This is a battle of “yes” versus “no.” I say no to the expansion of government. I say no to saddling my grandchildren with the cost of the liberal agenda gone wild. I say no to political expediency. And I say no to lies which will destroy our health care system.
Everything you hear from the other side is “be afraid,” Harkin says. And the Republicans are right. We should be afraid. We should be afraid of rationing. We should be afraid of the economic impact of increased taxes. We should be afraid of the single-biggest entitlement program since the New Deal. We should be afraid. We should be very, very afraid.
He talks about classifying Americans as “children” up until the age of 26. He talks about eliminating pre-existing condition clauses. And this won’t come with increased costs? Please. When has increased government ever reduced costs?
A moral disgrace? What is a true moral disgrace is that these people don Christmas-y sweatervests and put debt in my child’s stocking. Harkin is right — this is one of the most significant days in the Senate’s history. It’s a day where those of us who don’t buy into revisionist history will be able to point to and say: “Golly, that’s the day that started the decline of the United States of America. That’s the day which began our slide into becoming France.”
Health care isn’t a right, no matter what Ted Kennedy said. It is a privilege. And gosh darn it, Ted Kennedy had privilege, and he lived extra long because of that privilege. You want to know what is a natural right? Life. And Ted Kennedy snuffed one of those out. And the Democrats will be snuffing out plenty once this bill manifests itself.
Healthcare is NOT an inalienable right. IT IS NOT. I’m not perfect, but I’ve never, ever, ever seen it in the Constitution which people like Tom Harkin have sworn to uphold. The Democrats felt as though homeownership was a right, too. That feeling manifested itself into the forced relaxation of lending practices, and was hailed as a victory of the Clinton administration. It also served as the root cause of our current economic crisis. This, I’m afraid, is going to be a lot worse.
Chris Dodd is up. I can’t even look at him, nonetheless listen to him, without getting irreversibly angry. The only time I want to see Christopher Dodd at 12:32 a.m., or frankly at any time of day, is if he’s wearing handcuffs. And not in a Barney Frank kind-of-way, either — I want to see Dodd being led into prison like Bernie Madoff.
More Ted Kennedy stuff. Good grief. If Ted Kennedy were a normal, everyday American in the aftermath of this legislation, he would have been cold and dead long before he passed with the benefit of the best health care that money can buy, the same health care innovation and ingenuity that the Democrats are poised to stifle, discourage and destroy.
I keep wanting to write “p.m.” and every time I go back and change it, I shake my head.
Mitch McConnell is up. Orrin Hatch is seated behind him, looking tired. McConnell is pointing out that this is being done in the dead of night, and pointing out why. He noted that $100 million is included in the bill for an unnamed health care facility at an unnamed university somewhere in the United States. The bill doesn’t even say where, and no one will step forward to claim it. He noted that one state out of fifty gets to expand Medicaid at no cost to itself, while the rest of America foots the bill. That, of course, is Ben Nelson’s state of Nebraska, and that was his price.
The final product is a mess, McConnell says, and so is the process that brought us here to vote on a bill that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. He points out that other vital pieces of legislation are truly bipartisan. The Social Security Act. Medicare. The Americans With Disabilities Act. Americans believe that in issues of such importance, one party should not be able to force its will on the other; one party here thought differently.
The goal here was only a blind call to make history, he says, even if it is a historical mistake. And that’s exactly what this $2.3 trillion, 2733-page health care reform plan will do. And he’s right. It’s absolutely unconscionable.
“Can all of these Americans be wrong?” Brilliant question.
“All it takes is one,” McConnell says. “One can stop it, or everyone will own it. One can stop it, or every single one will own it. My colleagues, it is not too late.”
My God, I hope someone steps up. Somebody left a comment here noting that nothing good happens in Washington, D.C. after midnight; I’d posit that nothing good happens in Washington, D.C. at all.
And, as if to show evidence of nothing good happening in Washington, D.C. at all, Harry Reid is up.
Every ten minutes, he says, another American dies because they don’t have health insurance. Oh, please. We have emergency rooms ready and able to care for illegal immigrants who have no identification, nonetheless insurance. What’s going to happen is that Americans are going to die because Democrats destroyed the American health care system. What’s going to happen is that Americans are going to die while waiting for six months for a biopsy.
I will dance a jig in my new living room next November when Fox News Channel calls the Nevada election for whomever is running against Reid. And then I’ll switch over to MSNBC–just for a moment–to watch them call it. In fact, I will keep champagne on ice to enjoy during his concession speech.
And, gosh darn it, health care is NOT a fundamental right. Freedom is a fundamental right, and what they are doing right now is destroying freedom in the name of the perpetuation of power.
“For the Republicans to say that we’re here [at 1:00 a.m.] because of us,” Reid says, with a smirk on his face, “is without foundation.” Really? REALLY? By all means, delay it. By all means, leave your lovely not-so-little bill on the Internet for a month for us to pick apart. Please, please do.
What a penis.
Now he’s telling stories about imaginary constituents. It reminds me of the immigration debate, when Reid was ad-libbing about a kid in his state named “Timmy.” Reid wasn’t going to mention his last name, he said, because, uh, uh, uh, we might go look him up. “Timmy” wasn’t real. Neither are these people.
If there are faces to place with the decline of our republic, Reid’s should be among them. Two Americans, he said, have died from lack of health coverage during this very speech! And Republicans are the ones using scare tactics.
I can’t listen to him any more.
Here goes. Cloture on Reid’s amendment, and the vote which sets up a Christmas Eve vote on the destruction of American freedom and prosperity. I mean, seriously? They need to tear these people away from their families, just so Americans from coast to coast will be too busy eating dinner and enjoying their own families to notice?
Bayh is an “aye.” Burris is an “aye.” Byrd has been dusted off and wheeled in; he’s an “aye.” Bob Casey, supposedly a pro-life Democrat, is an “aye” to a bill which federally funds abortions. Susan Collins votes “no.”
Nelson? Aye. Unreal.
Cloture passes by a vote of 60 to 40. At 1:18 a.m. Procedural votes will come at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday and 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. The vote for final passage will come at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday night. That’s Christmas Eve. It seems America will be getting a lump of coal in her stocking this year, and from this year on.