The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

The Politics of Gerrymandering or Vice Versa

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Democrats and Liberals and Progressives (OH MY) are up in arms over a rule change by the House Republicans.

Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate’s clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee — all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote.

This is what we’ve come to in Washington DC politics.  The division between the two major parties has become so large and so corrosive that neither will work with the other.  Rather than even try they simply look for ways to get around whatever impediment the other side puts in their way.  In other words, they gerrymander the system to get what they want when they want it.

It happens on both sides and its wrong in either case.

But we can’t let Liberals squawk about this rule change without reminding them of the underhanded tricks, procedural gimmicks, and gerrymandering that took place when Obamacare was voted into law without a single Republican vote in 2010, even though the Senate did not have the super majority it needed to ram it through.

Here is the story behind that gerrymandering fiasco.

How Obamacare Became the “Law of the Land”.

senator_nancypelosi_obamacareYou may recall the Democrats in the Senate weren’t able to pass their version of the Healthcare law because all revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives.  So the Senate found a bill that met those qualifications: HR3590, a military housing bill.  They took that bill and basically stripped all the language out of it and turned it into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which we now all know as Obamacare.  Dirty trick number one.

Oh but It gets better.

At the time the new fangled HR3590 was passed and moved to the Senate, the Democrats had 60 Senators, just enough to pass this gerrymandered bill.  However, after that bill passed the Senate, Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy died.  In his place, Massachusetts elected a Republican, Scott Brown, to replace him.  Now the Democrats no longer had the super majority needed to rubber stamp the Healthcare law, Obama’s signature legislation.

That meant, if the House made any changes to the bill, the Senate would not have the super majority to push the bill through without Republican help and Republicans were not on board with Obamacare.

So the Senate Democrats made a deal with the Democrats in the House with no input from any Republicans.  The House would agree to pass the Senate bill without any changes, IF the Senate agreed to pass a separate bill by the House that made changes to the Senate version.  This second bill was called the Reconciliation Act of 2010.  It made some detail changes and added some language to the bill.  You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.  Dirty trick number two.

So the House passed the PPACA, the Senate bill, and their Reconciliation Act.  Making the PPACA ready for the President’s signature, but the Senate still needed to pass the Reconciliation Act from the House.

Confused yet?

Now remember the Senate only had 59 votes to pass the Reconciliation Act since a Republican, Scott Brown, replaced Democrat Ted Kennedy.  That meant in order to pass the Reconciliation Act the Democrats in the Senate had to change the rules.

They declared (because they were the majority and could) that they would use the Reconciliation Rule to pass the Reconciliation Act — the Reconciliation Act and Reconciliation Rule are not the same thing but the irony is simply amazing!

Stay with me.

5639556_Obama_Obamacare_Signature_600x515_xlargeThe Reconciliation Rule was only used for budget item approvals to allow budgets to be approved and passed by a simple majority vote of 51 Senators rather than the usual 60 super majority.  The Reconciliation rule had never been used nor was it ever intended to be used to pass legislation of the magnitude of Obamacare, but that wasn’t about to keep the Democrats from getting their way come Hell or high water!  So they used this obscure rule with some very liberal interpretation (pun intended) to pass the bill.  Dirty trick number three.

Both of the “Acts” passed both houses of congress and were then signed by President Obama.  All done by Democrats without a single favorable Republican vote.  To quote Democrat Representative Alcee Hastings of the House Rules Committee during the bill process: “We’re making up the rules as we go along”.  They certainly couldn’t have passed this law without doing so.

I don’t care what party you align yourself with, show me the integrity in that process. Defend the actions of the Democrats and President Obama. Some of you Liberals may have done so at the time the law was passed.  I don’t know how, but maybe you figured out a way that sat well with you. But what about now? Now that we’ve seen what a disaster the implementation of this law has become. Do you still defend the method of its passage? Do you still say Republicans should have been shut out of the process? That it was right to ignore their ideas and input on the law?

And now, as Republicans use the same dirty underhanded tactics to get what they want you scream foul!?!  Really?

What goes around comes around. The Republicans have figured it out.  They’ve finally succumbed to using the same political guerrilla warfare they seen used on them by Democrats for decades.  Principles be damned.  To Hell with integrity, decorum, and fairness.  Win at all costs.

That’s how we got here and it’s only going to get worse.  The power brokers on both sides in DC think they are “winning” while the rest of us are losing.

Big time.

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