This is an opinion piece I wrote for the current issue of the Michigan Review. Which has a nifty new website, by the way.
To anyone more concerned with what’s going on in Washington D.C. than Wolverines football and college life, the drama that played out on Capitol Hill this past Saturday isn’t exactly news. To the rest of you who lead more normal lives, I say congratulations—but you might be interested to learn that while you were out getting plastered, the Senate (in another move almost universally lauded as “historic”) moved one step closer to implementing the Obama Administration’s disastrous health care reforms.
No, this move on the part of Senator Reid doesn’t signal the end of the American medical system as we know it. We will not be waking up to a socialized, single-payer system tomorrow, next week, or, if we get lucky, at any point in the future. This was only a cloture vote; it does nothing more than open debate on the Senate health care bill.
The Senate will have to vote again to end debate, and then vote again for or against the bill that was debated. There’s no guarantee any of that will happen.
I can’t add much to the debate raging over this monstrosity of a bill that hasn’t been said, so I won’t try. I’d instead like to call attention to the frightening lack of transparency displayed by the current Administration as they go about railroading bill after controversial bill through in the dead of night.
Those of you who are astute political observers may recall a photo taken at some point in the last year featuring the same Harry Reid who rushed this cloture vote through. In the picture, our intrepid Majority Leader is standing behind a podium, clutching his chest and sneering (heartburn, perhaps?) while flanked by some of the superstars of the current Administration.
He gives me this weird "American Gothic" vibe that I can't quite come to terms with.
Obama is there, of course; so is Nancy Pelosi, showing off her freshly Botoxed smile. Henry Waxman’s glistening pate shines brightly in the background, as if signifying the flame of kind-hearted, big government ambition burning inside all of those present.
Yet what really ties the scene together is the placard affixed to Reid’s podium, reading, simply, “Honest Leadership, Open Government.” This image is, fittingly, most commonly seen on conservative blogs (where it is used for ironic effect)—no doubt due to that placard and its message. The picture alone should have been a red flag to everyone on the left and the right: no honest leader in favor of open government should feel the need to proclaim loudly what should be a matter of course.
Like true politicians, Reid and the Gang have gone forth and broken their solemn, sacred vow to the voting public with gusto. Pelosi conjured just enough votes to ram the “historic” American Clean Energy and Security Act, better known as “cap and trade,” through the House. Was this done in the middle of the news week, surrounded by the media? Or course not. It happened on a Friday evening in June, while most of the country was too busy mourning the late Michael Jackson to pay attention to this Administration’s economy-crushing machinations.
The Senate has been wise enough to table any unpopular climate legislation until at least next year—but even if cap and trade dies in the Senate, the Administration can sleep soundly knowing that the EPA will fulfill their dreams of carbon regulation, achieving through executive power what couldn’t be done through legislation. That’s not exactly representative democracy in action.
And just a few weeks ago, Pelosi managed to wrangle enough votes to pass the “historic” House heath care reform bill. It was done again on a Saturday evening, while normal citizens with better things to do were not sitting next to their phones ready to heckle their elected representatives.
This tendency to pass “historic” (not to mention incredibly controversial and rather unpopular) pieces of legislation while nobody is watching is becoming something of a pattern—a pattern that would seem to indicate that those in power realize that they are not working in concert with the will of the American people but don’t seem to care about that trifling fact.
Those of us who value limited government can make this administration’s sneaky business a bit more difficult by shedding light on it whenever possible.