Examiner Editorial: The impudent tyranny of Sen. Harry Reid
December 23, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is proving once again the maxim that darkness hates the light. Buried in his massive amendment to the Senate version of Obamacare is Reid’s anti-democratic poison pill designed to prevent any future Congress from repealing the central feature of this monstrous legislation.
Beginning on page 1,000 of the measure, Section 3403 reads in part: “… it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.” In other words, if President Barack Obama signs this measure into law, no future Senate or House will be able to change a single word of Section 3403, regardless whether future Americans or their representatives in Congress wish otherwise.
Note that the subsection at issue here concerns the regulatory power of the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (IMAB) to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” That is precisely the kind of open-ended grant of regulatory power that effectively establishes the IMAB as the ultimate arbiter of the cost, quality and quantity of health care to be made available to the American people. And Reid wants the decisions of this group of unelected federal bureaucrats to be untouchable for all time.
No wonder the majority leader tossed aside assurances that senators and the public would have at least 72 hours to study the text of the final Senate version of Obamacare before the critical vote on cloture. And no wonder Reid was so desperate to rush his amendment through the Senate, even scheduling the key tally on it at 1 a.m., while America slept. True to form, Reid wanted to keep his Section 3403 poison pill secret for as long as possible, just as he negotiated his bribes for the votes of Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bernie Sanders of Vermont behind closed doors.
The final Orwellian touch in this subversion of democratic procedure is found in the ruling of the Reid-controlled Senate Parliamentarian that the anti-repeal provision is not a change in Senate rules, but rather of Senate “procedures.” Why is that significant? Because for 200 years, changes in the Senate’s standing rules have required approval by two-thirds of those voting, or 67 votes rather than the 60 Reid’s amendment received. Reid has flouted two centuries of standing Senate rules to pass a measure in the dead of night that no senator has read, and part of which can never be changed. If this is not tyranny, then what is?