I was up with a touch of insomnia last night — this morning, technically — and realized the time was approaching for the Senate’s “historic” 1 a.m. vote to expand government control of the health care system. So I tuned in to C-SPAN and caught the tail end of the run-up to the 60-40 vote that everyone knew was coming.
Clad in my jammies after a long full day of morning church, afternoon snow shoveling and evening blogging, I watched Senators in their suits and neckties make their post-midnight pitches, and I was impressed once again by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Here are some excerpts, laboriously transcribed by moi (McConnell’s remarks begin about 39 minutes into the video):
The bill we’re voting on tonight will impact every American. It will shape the future of our country. It will determine whether our children can afford the nation they will inherit. It is one of the most consequential votes any of us will ever take, and none of us take it lightly.
But make no mistake – if the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn’t be forcing this vote in the dead of night.
He touched on the “cheap deals” that were cut to win the crucial 60th vote from Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska:
One state out of 50 – one state out of 50 – gets to expand Medicaid at no cost to itself, while taxpayers in the other 49 states pick up the tab. The same Senator that cut that deal secured another one that benefits a single insurance company – just one insurance company, in his state.
He reviewed the long history of bipartisan support for groundbreaking social welfare acts — Social Security, Medicare, Americans with Disabilities Act, all passed with large majorities.
“Americans believe that on issues of this importance, one party should never be allowed to force its will on the other half of the nation. The proponents of this bill felt differently. In a departure from history, Democratic leaders put together a bill so heavy with tax hikes, Medicare cuts and government intrusion, that in the end their biggest problem wasn’t convincing Republicans to support it, it was convincing the Democrats.
In the end, the price of passing this bill wasn’t achieving the reforms Americans were promised. It was a blind call to make history, even if it was a historical mistake. Which is exactly what this bill will be if it is passed. Because in the end, this debate isn’t about differences between two parties. It’s about a $2.3 trillion dollar, 2,733-page health care reform bill that does not reform health care, and in fact makes the price of it go up.
The impact of this vote will long outlive this long, frantic, snowy weekend in Washington. Mark my words, this legislation will reshape our nation. And Americans have already issued their verdict – they don’t want it! They don’t like this bill! And they don’t like lawmakers playing games with their health care to obtain the votes they need to pass it.
Majority Leader Harry Reid followed McConnell, and on the theory that people will believe a lie if it is repeated often enough, stated “Everyone knows we’re here at one in the morning because of my friends on the other side of the aisle.” Byron York stayed up late after the vote to debunk that:
But the fact is, there is no reason the Reid Amendment vote could not have been held at a more reasonable hour. One a.m. Monday was the earliest moment that Senate rules allowed a vote, but there is no rule keeping the Senate from voting at some time after 1 a.m. If Reid had scheduled the vote for, say, 11 a.m. Monday, that would have been fine. If he scheduled it for 4 p.m. Monday, or 10 a.m. Tuesday, that would have been fine, too. But Reid is determined to pass the national health care bill by Christmas, and to do so he has to get the cloture vote on his amendment done at the earliest moment. The timeline is Reid’s and Reid’s alone.
The final vote is now scheduled for 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, when the Web Goddess and I will be dining with friends at their home and preparing for church. As with Porkulus, the Democrats are pushing for action now now now now now because they know that the more people learn about the bill, the less popular it will be.
Democrats will likely pay a heavy price in the 2010 election — Harry Reid is particularly vulnerable. Why would they choose that reality to pass a highly unpopular health care bill? Kim Strassel had the answer the other day:
So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.
The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.