Talk of Health Care Lost in Mania About Process

By this time, President Obama’s patience had obviously expired. He declared that “the time for talk was over.” (Though the irony of saying this during one of roughly a dozen campaign style stops where he talked about it for hours on end seemed lost on him.) It was, he declared, “time to vote.” And it seemed that finally everyone agreed with him. Everyone, that is, except his own speaker of the House.

When it began to look as if even the required votes for reconciliation were not to be found, Nancy Pelosi came up with what may be the most brilliant plan of all. Rather than mucking about with all of this voting nonsense, she would simply “deem” the plan to have been passed and be done with it. I’m sure you will all agree that, as procedural sleight of hand tricks go, this one was a gem. Not only would she no longer have to worry about finding enough yes votes to pass the bill, but none of its supporters would be held accountable for it during the midterm elections.

Of course, a few old fuddy-duddys began carping about this plan as well. They reasoned that new laws -- particularly those which might summon into existence massive new entitlement programs and wide ranging taxes and fees -- had to have a vote recorded somewhere, didn’t they? Some went so far as to suggest that the Supreme Court should look into the matter. Surely they could set matters to rights.

Well, Mark Tapscott quickly threw cold water all over that idea. It turns out that the Supremes had ruled on a very similar question back in 1892 during Marshall Field & Co. v. Clark. In it, they determined that the judicial branch did not have standing to question the wisdom of either the speaker of the House or the president pro tempore in the Senate when it came to procedural matters such as this. Their word on the subject was, in their finding, unimpeachable when claiming that a bill had been passed.

But when a fresh wave of public outcry arose over the idea of congressional leaders simply wishing imaginary votes into existence, Congress appeared to lumber back toward the idea of drumming up votes on the noxious health care overhaul after all. And that’s where we stand today, our faith in the establishment of government well and truly restored. We may or may not have a virtual takeover of the health care industry by the federal government. It could happen this weekend, later in the summer, or not at all.

But one thing is for sure. We’re all a whole lot smarter about antiquated rules and parliamentary procedures than we were a few months ago. Don’t you feel better already?