Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Health Care Reform, Sex Offenders and Viagra

The antics never end in Washington, D.C.

Republicans were mighty busy Wednesday night, tabling proposed amendments to the health care reconciliation bill that is currently been debated in the Senate. The Democrats have made it known that all amendments will be defeated, as any change to the bill will derail their delicate health care reform agreement with the House.

Since they can't win on health care, the Republicans are taking the opportunity to get some interesting campaign-oriented sound-bites out of the process.

Digby explains:
Yes, they're just trying to improve the bill. You've undoubtedly heard about the important improvement to keep Viagra from sex offenders. Here are just a few more:

Brownback 3653 –“To promote the production of renewable fuel.”
Brownback 3690 -- “To provide for the relocation of the United State Embassy to Jerusalem.”
Vitter 4872 – “To repeal the law that provides automatic pay increases for members of Congress.”
David Dayen at Firedoglake:
Republicans have something of a free shot in the reconciliation bill. Democrats have already signaled that they will whip against any amendments and changes to the bill, in an effort to pass it intact and send it directly to the President, avoiding another vote in the House. So Republicans can write virtually any amendment, forcing Democrats into terrible votes, without much consequence, knowing they will be defeated and providing campaign ad fodder
As the Senate gets closer to voting on a health care reconciliation bill, the Republican strategy to derail the Democrats' plans is getting creative--and dirty. Their strategy is clear: with Democrats determined to pass a clean bill, Republicans will force them to vote down politically juiced-up amendments, and likely turn them into political ads meant to characterize Dems as sympathetic to sex offenders and fraudsters.
The goal is simple. To expedite its passage, Democrats need to keep the changes to the reconciliation bill to a minimum, and so have committed to voting down all amendments, even ones that they like. And Republicans want to turn those votes into negative campaign ads ahead of this November's election.
Once the votes are cast, the ads all but write themselves.
"Senator X voted to preserve sex offenders' right to Viagra."
And so on.

Let the games begin.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

UPDATE: New York Times reports that due to parliamentary concerns regarding peripheral issues in the bill, the reconciliation bill will have to go back to the House for yet another vote, after all.

“The parliamentarian struck two minor provisions tonight from the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act,” the spokeswoman, Kate Cyrul, said. “These changes do not impact the reforms to the student loan programs and the important investments in education. We are confident the House will quickly pass the bill with these minor changes.”


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