December 24th, 2009 – The Government Took Over Our Healthcare.
Of the 60 Democrat Senators who voted for Obamacare, only 31 remain in office today as 28 Senators who voted for Obamacare either lost their re-election, retired or died.
To do this after passing a bill that originated in the House they took it into what is called reconciliation, where they stripped every word out of the original bill, and inserted Obamacare, which was so massive that Pelosi said that “we had to pass it so we could know what was in it”. The 60 Democratic Senators then pass the ACA without debate and without a single Republican vote.
Updated on 11/17/2014: Comment from Blog of Joseph H. Boyett, Ph.D.
I linked this article to a man I know who followed this very closely at the time. Here’s his reply:
I’ve read the article and the basic facts are correct, but he leaves out the important context that greatly influences how one interprets those facts. The margin of victory for the Democrats was razor thin in both the House and the Senate for their initial versions of the law. In the Senate, they needed every single vote, in fact. In the House, the margin was 5 votes, meaning that if three members had changed their votes, the vote would have gone the other way. The votes for passage in the House were not assured until literally the night of the vote. And, there were substantial differences between the House version and the Senate version. The Senate version did not have enough support to pass in the House, and vice-versa.
So, having passed two different bills, the House and Senate needed to negotiate a compromise that would pass both in both chambers. The politics of that was going to be difficult because Reid could not afford to lose a single vote, and Pelosi could afford to lose only two votes. The politics became impossible when Scott Brown was seated after winning the special election in Massachusetts. At that point most people thought Obamacare was dead. Pelosi did not have the votes to pass the Senate bill without substantial changes, and Reid did not have the votes to pass the amended bill.
That’s where the chicanery came in I mentioned over the phone. Reid and Pelosi made a deal. Pelosi would abandon the House bill, pass the Senate Bill verbatim, and Reid would agree to the changes demanded by the House, and make them in a separate bill to be brought up later. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is that those changes are changes of substantive policy, and could not legitimately be passed as a “budget reconciliation bill”. That Bill, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, is a substantial part of what we now know as Obamacare. Take a look at it yourself and see if you think this bill deals with budgetary issues only, or issues of substantive policy. Reid could not have passed it under ordinary rules. In fact, he passed it with only 56 votes. That should never have happened. Without the promise of that Bill, Pelosi did not have the votes to pass the original Senate bill verbatim, as she did, and Obamacare would never have happened.
I might point out that the blog post is lifted almost word for word without attribution (unless I missed that) from an earlier article from the Fiscal Times. I suppose the plagiarism point is beside the point if the point is to refute the idea that Obamacare was passed “without bending or breaking any rules”.
We will never know what the Democrats would have been able to do if they had played by the rules. Suppose the Democrats looked at the changes demanded by the House Democrats and said, “Nope, can’t do it. We can’t repass the bill in the Senate even as it now stands let alone with these changes because we don’t have the votes now that Brown is in. You are just going to have to accept this bill as it is, no changes.” The conventional wisdom at the time was that this approach was not going to fly, and that the bill was dead. But that is not how it was done. The legitimacy of the way it actually was done hinges on whether you accept HCERA 2010 as a legitimate budget reconciliation act. I read a lot about that at the time, and my take on it was that it was a transparent charade to call that bill a BRA, a necessary, useful, and successful charade from the point of view of the proponents, but one that did not pass the laugh test and was not really believed even by the proponents.