Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Healthcare Follies Continue

The House has now endorsed the Slaughter solution, also known as DemonPass (if nothing else, the healthcare debate has been fantastic for revealing the creativity of conservatives in coming up with shorthand ways to refer to dumb Democratic ideas, such as the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase). Glad to see that hopenchange meant "congressman who seek to hide from their voting records".

I don't think Democrats get what they are doing -- they think this debate over process is just some hypocritical blather from the GOP. It may well be hypocritical -- but the way this debate is playing out is that the Democrats will pull every dirty trick possible to get legislation passed that the public does not want.  Forget the fact that the bill will be tied up by lawsuits related to constituionality and process now -- the Landmark Legal Fund already has the complaint drafted -- in addition to the lawsuits related to the individual mandate and other substantive provisions.  No, the political value in this thing is now gone -- saying you voted for a rule and not the Senate bill means nothing when it reiterates how fundamentally screwed up the process is.

I'm not even going to bother linking to whip counts now.  The CBO numbers are out, but already in disputeDan Foster does a nice job breaking down some issues...
Consider that $53 billion of the $118 billion in supposed savings over the first ten years of the latest bill (which is still a moving target) comes from increases in Social Security payroll tax revenues resulting from expected increases in wages (the idea being that employers will pay better in an Obamacare world). But even if it materializes, pegging that money to deficit reduction instead of to the continued solvency of Social Security is either naive, disingenuous or both. Likewise, the report counts as savings the estimated $70 billion in premiums to be colllected as part of a new government-run, long-term care program for the elderly. But just like premiums in the private sector, these funds will be used to pay out future benefits, not reduce the deficit.

Oh, and did we mention that the new bill borrows $19.1 billion in savings from the socialization of the student loan industry?

...Of course, most of this is small fry compared to the biggest con of all: the front-loaded taxes that push most of the bill's costs outside the CBO's ten-year budget window. Consider: the bill spends $17 billion in its first four years, and $923 billion in its next six.
You have to love the multi-tasking inclusion of student loans just to make the fake budget numbers work. It's even given us a new dirty provision: The Bismarck Bribe....
The legislation contains provisions apparently designed to ensure votes from wavering Democrats. As outlined in the House version, the compromise plan would give nonprofit loan providers in several states the right to participate, along with for-profit loan companies selected through a competitive process, in helping the Education Department distribute loan money to students.

A new element, included in the plan issued on Thursday, would give a specific right to the Bank of North Dakota to issue federally subsidized student loans, meaning that it would be the only lender remaining outside of the Education Department's direct-lending system.

The Bank of North Dakota is a state-owned lender that Democratic aides described as representing the type of nonprofit entity they want to encourage. Critics of the loan bill suggested the provision was designed to win the support of a key Democrat, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
Seriously, I think the Democrats think they operate in a world of shadows or something, that the public won't see. There's also rumors about Dem Congressmen getting promises of federal jobs if they retire or are defeated. Tom Coburn, who's fast becoming one of my favorite politicians ever, is already firing a warning shot on this one. I think he's trying to tell the President and his supporters that they will toxify D.C. to the point where we very well may see cats and dogs living together.  This has more practical meaning than one can imagine -- the Dems can try to run against GOP obnstructionism all they want, but being a pain in the ass on executive appointments next spring is not exactly something that will rally voters.

As to the votes, there's so many counts out now that it's worthless.  Put it simply, there are probably 25-30 votes in play, almost certainly all Democrats.  It's close, so I think it will pass, because I can't see the Dems losing by a vote or two (in fact, I can see Pelosi delaying the vote even longer to get the last vote or two). But there's no way to know for sure until the vote is scheduled (probably for Sunday).  After that, expect hell to break loose.  Althoug I am a longstanding proponent of chaos, even I'm a little apprehensive about what voters might do if the Democrats do this.

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