Sausage, law, ObamaCare?

Sausage, law, ObamaCare?

March 18th, 2010 in Opinion Free Press

Otto von Bismarck, who was prime minister of the kingdom of Prussia in the late 19th century and who is credited with unifying Germany, is remembered, among other things, for his accurate description of the process of "legislating."

He said, "Laws are like sausage; it is better not to see them being made."

Well, there's a noteworthy current example of that as Democrats in Congress are making efforts to pass ObamaCare -- by hook or crook.

Will they be able to impose a trillion-dollar-plus socialized medicine plan upon the American people?

Can ObamaCare pass the Senate and the House of Representatives by proper, constitutional procedure?

Or will there be a resort to unconstitutional trickery?

Those are big current questions.

The Constitution of the United States says in Article I that all legislative powers are vested in Congress. Section 7 says, "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

So how is this pertinent to ObamaCare?

Constitutional scholar and former U.S. Circuit Court Judge Michael W. McConnell, director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, explained in a valuable article a few days ago in The Wall Street Journal:

"Last Christmas Eve, the Senate approved a health-care bill by 60 votes, overcoming a Republican filibuster. This is the bill that contains the so-called Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, taxes on high-cost health insurance plans and coverage for abortions. Virtually no one now supports that version of the bill, but Senate Democrats no longer have enough votes to pass an alternative bill under ordinary procedures."

That's why questionable procedures are being discussed.

Judge McConnell continued:

"That is where reconciliation fits in. If the House passes the Senate bill and the president then signs it into law, reconciliation would permit Congress to pass new legislation making changes to that law. Reconciliation might not solve the abortion coverage problem or other nonbudgetary issues, but it would allow Democrats to correct most of the Senate bill's offensive issues.

"The rub," Judge McConnell explained, "is that, according to the Senate parliamentarian, reconciliation is permitted only for bills that amend existing law, not for amendments to bills that have yet to be enacted. This means that, for the Senate to be able to avoid a filibuster, House Democrats first have to vote for the identical bill that passed the Senate last Christmas Eve. That means voting aye on the special deals, aye on abortion coverage, and aye on high taxes on expensive health insurance plans ... ."

So in an attempt to avoid that challenge, "the Slaughter solution" (an ironic label, indeed, named for Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.) has been proposed.

Judge McConnell said, "It may be clever, but it is not constitutional."

He reminded that the Constitution says, "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

But "the Slaughter solution" is an effort to pass ObamaCare without having both houses of Congress pass a bill with the same exact text.

So what we have is a revolutionary ObamaCare medical bill, with a trillion-dollar-plus cost, being presented in an other-than-straightforward legislative procedure.

We should not want to enact a bad, expensive bill even if it were approved by regular legislative means. Do you want a bad, trillion-dollar-plus bill passed by "the Slaughter solution"?

Judge McConnell concluded: "But the very purpose of it is to enable members of the House to vote for something without appearing to do so. The Constitution was drafted to prevent that."

Should anything as important as a multi-trillion-dollar health care bill affecting all Americans, and our entire nation for years to come, be enacted that way?

Do you want ObamaCare made unconstitutionally -- like "sausage" -- under a "solution" named "Slaughter"?