Sunday, November 1, 2009

Here's an idea

House Democrats announced their latest version of a healthcare “reform” bill last Thursday at a rather exclusive unveiling ceremony. According to the Washington Times and many other press outlets, “The West Front of the Capitol -- where President Obama was inaugurated -- is traditionally open to the public. But the entrances were blocked off Thursday morning by metal fences, with Capitol Police officers standing next to staff members holding clipboards with lists of approved attendees.” That is, only their handpicked, trusted invitees could attend.

Of course, they were not going to be able to hide the bill forever. Rather, they were interested in avoiding the embarrassing and tough questions that would otherwise be inevitable at a more open event. But Democrats would hide the details of their bill if they could, as has been demonstrated by their repeated votes along party lines to kill Republican attempts to require a 72 hour waiting period with the bill posted on line before it comes to a vote.

In the Senate, with the apparent defection of Joe Lieberman and perhaps some other Democrats, it looks like the Republicans are going to be able to filibuster in the Senate. This got me thinking about recent Democratic filibusters, back when they were trying to keep any Bush court nominees from coming to a vote. They employed a mere procedural mechanism which I call "filibuster for sissies”. That is, by a mere determination that there are not enough votes for cloture and the matter cannot come to a vote, everyone goes home for the night.

That is not the way filibusters used to be done. It used to be that the filibustering party would literally keep debating by engaging in a 24-7 talkathon. I think one of the most famous examples in history was when Strom Thurmond read out of the phone book in an attempt to filibuster the Voting Rights Act. Of course he was on the wrong side of that cause, but then again, that’s when he was a Democrat. But at least it was a real filibuster, not the fake filibusters of today.

I believe Republicans would do a great service to the nation by employing a genuine filibuster against the health care bill. And they could do so not by reading the phone book, but rather by taking turns on the Senate floor reading the healthcare bill itself, all 1990 pages. It would not only keep the bill from coming to a vote, but also provide all one hundred Senators and the entire C-Span audience with the one thing that the Democrats have been trying to avoid all along: an opportunity to know exactly what is in the bill.


JD Curtis said...

And how many new bureaucracies will it create Leo? 111 or something like that? I heard the latest figure is now up to $1.5 trillion when it's all said and done.

JD Curtis said...

Leo, I just posted an entry about the health car bill on my blog.