Democrats argue that reconciliation needs to be used to overcome the obstinacy of the Republicans. They accuse the Republicans of hindering “real progress” in the name of politics, which was aided by Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts. However, this is nothing but a straw man. Republicans are only able to use the filibuster and prevent a final vote because their constituents do not support the healthcare bill. The fact of the matter is that it would be political suicide for the Republicans, or any party for that matter, to obstruct legislation simply to ‘stick-it’ to the majority party.
The filibuster is a tool that was designed to limit the power of the majority party in the Senate. In some ways this is inherently undemocratic (and more republican) in terms of institutional structure. However, in other ways it is precisely democratic. As is being shown today, the people’s representatives do not always vote in line with their constituencies’ wishes. Rasmussen’s most recent poll shows that 52% of voters oppose the current package. When ideology steps in the way of responsibility to the voters, the filibuster can serve as a useful check on anti-democratic tendencies.
This clearly explains Republican behavior; namely that they understand the people do not want Obama’s healthcare package. In Republican hands, the filibuster has become a democratic tool waged against the Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate of leftist policies. Republicans would not take such a political risk if they did not believe that the people supported such behavior. As Obama recently pointed out, the voters will decide in November whether these actions are supported.
Additionally, the Republican ‘obstruction’ is a direct result of ideological differences. There is a deep divide between the socialist, European model of the Democrats and the capitalist approach of the Republicans. The Republicans did an outstanding job portraying this at the theatrical Healthcare Summit. Americans are also beginning to realize that there are other options to reform to the Democratic orthodoxy.
Because of these two factors, Republicans have been able to halt the passage of a radical bill that, given the political landscape a year ago, should have been an easy win for the Democrats. The Democrats’ failure was only facilitated by their inability to not hammer out a proposal amongst their supermajority before America realized the ideological flaws on the Left.
However, rather than recognizing this, Team-O is pushing forward at full steam. Their desire to use reconciliation shows not only desperation but a complete disdain for America. It would also be an unprecedented abuse of power as The Wall Street Journal recently opined on. Reconciliation has historically been used on narrow terms and with cross-aisle support.
Democrats often point to welfare reform in 1996 as a reconciliation precedent, yet that bill passed the Senate with 78 votes, including Joe Biden and half of the Democratic caucus. The children's health insurance program in 1997 was steered through Congress with reconciliation, but it, too, was built on strong (if misguided) bipartisan support. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that created Schip passed 85-15, including 43 Republicans. Even President Bush's 2001 tax cuts, another case in reconciliation point, were endorsed by 12 Senate Democrats.The terrifying arrogance of the Left’s leadership is politically unwise. The Democrats will undoubtedly discover this at the polls in November. However, it is also potentially damaging to America. A passage of this bill will have disastrous effects on the healthcare industry, while solving few of the outstanding problems. Even worse, it will encourage further abuse of the parliamentary system for partisan ideological gain.