June 25, 2018
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Health care bill’s secret deals first symptom of its ills

By Bob Mercer, Special to the BDN

Let’s look at the health care bill in relation to how it was accomplished. Never mind the consequences of the debt that our children and grandchildren will incur to support it. Nor the lack of tort reform, etc., which could actually lower the cost of health care — the real problem.

The real menace of this is the destruction of the balance of power in the Congress. The way things are supposed to work is that each branch, the House and the Senate, pass a bill. Then there is a conference to sort out the differences. The House requires only a simple majority as does the Senate, unless members of the Senate, usually the minority, object. Then they can filibuster to force compromise. It takes 60 votes to override a filibuster.

The rules are set up this way specifically to keep one-sided bills from becoming law and to force compromise. If the two bills are similar except for monetary matters the process of reconciliation is used. Let’s say that one bill calls for $100 million in spending and the other $110 million. Reconciliation allows the fix to be voted on by a simple majority in both chambers. Recently both parties have perverted the reconciliation rule to force through legislation not related to money.

That is what is so onerous about this health care bill. The majority had a filibusterproof majority so there was no need for compromise, the result was they left the minority completely out of the process. Instead of both sides hashing the bill out on C-SPAN, as promised, the majority went behind closed doors and developed the bill in secret. It was so poorly done that they had to bribe and intimidate members of their own party to get the bill passed.

Then along came Scott Brown and out went the filibusterproof majority. Now, in order to pass the bill and keep from engaging the minority in compromise, they used the reconciliation process. By so doing on such a major bill, from this point forward the majority will never use the proper process on a major controversial bill. The idea of compromise on bills may well be lost and gone forever.

Not only will this bill not lower health care costs nor do most of the other things it claims to do, it destroyed the system of checks and balances in the legislative process. I am so upset that not only did our representatives vote to do that, they also believe we voters are so stupid we do not know the difference. They only thought of the party bosses and making a “historic vote,” and not what was best for the country and the sanctity of the process.

This makes every member of the Congress who voted for this bill as corrupt as the process that was used to pass it. By paying attention to what they did, as opposed to what they said they did, I have to conclude that everyone who favored this bill and its process from the president on down is corrupt and therefore has to go. They are guilty of bribery and dereliction of duty for not protecting the sanctity of the Congress.

Bob Mercer of Bucksport is a retired schoolteacher.

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