As Ezra Klein points out, the sausage making of legislation is not that interesting nor memorable to most of the country. Results are much more important than process.
Here are some things that happened on the night the GOP pushed the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit through the House of Representatives:
A 15-minute vote was scheduled, and at the end of 15 minutes, the Democrats had won. The Republican leadership froze the clock for three hours while they desperately whipped defectors. This had never been done before. The closest was a 15-minute extension in 1987 that then-congressman Dick Cheney called “the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I’ve ever seen in the 10 years that I’ve been here.”
Tom DeLay bribed Rep. Nick Smith to vote for the legislation, using the political future of Smith’s son for leverage. DeLay was later reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee.
The leadership told Rep. Jim DeMint that they would cut off funding for his Senate race in South Carolina if he didn’t vote for the bill.
The chief actuary of Medicare, Rick Foster, had scored the legislation as costing more than $500 billion. The Bush administration suppressed his report, in a move the Government Accounting Office later judged “illegal.”
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a “no” vote, spent the night “hiding on the Democratic side of the floor, crouching down to avoid eye contact with the Republican search team.”
Rep. Butch Otter, who provided one of the final votes after hours of arm-twisting from the Republican leadership, said, “I thought there was a chance I would get sick on the floor.”
Remember all this? Probably not. There wasn’t much reporting on it at the time. It wasn’t a major controversy, despite resulting in multiple official investigations.
[Click to continue reading Ezra Klein – Lessons from the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit vote ]
Bottom line, Democrats currently have a majority in both House and Senate, so they should use this majority to pass health care reform. By 2012, hardly anyone will care how the bill got passed, just that it became law1.Footnotes:
- or it didn’t. The Democratic leadership has shown, time and time again, they lack the ruthlessness of the Republican leaders [↩]