Thursday, March 25, 2010


Daniel Foster has an excellent roundup of the "vote-a-rama" in the Senate last night, which included items like Tom Coburn's Bars Sex Offenders from Receiving E.D. Drugs amendment.
Now, our friends on the Left will say this is time-wasting gamesmanship, and they’re mostly right. The Democrats have displayed a level of discipline of late unseen in years. The Republican amendments stand absolutely no chance of stopping this forced march toward passage of the reconciliation measure.

But for every Coburn Amendment (no sex pills for pervs, bless the senator’s heart), designed as much to embarrass Democrats as address an issue, there are a half-dozen amendments aimed at striking down the most noxious parts of the bill and, perhaps more relevantly, asking Democrats to go on record to keep their promises.

The Burr amendment would guarantee that our soldiers’ and veterans’ health-plans are protected under Obamacare (it is an open question whether they in fact are). The Inhofe amendment would strike unfair and innovation-killing taxes on medical devices for children and the disabled. The Collins amendment would strike a job-killing tax on businesses that hire unemployed workers. The Hutchinson amendment would allow states to opt out of most of the bill’s odious provisions.


These are important amendments, and this process is a dress rehearsal for what repeal — if it comes — will likely end up looking like. Senator Cornyn took a beating (in my inbox at least) for telling the HuffPo that Republicans likely won’t (or can’t) repeal the bill tout court. And while I think the goal should be to do just that, the more realistic scenario is a step by step dismantling of the worst parts of the bill and a replacement of others (yes, like the preexisting conditions ban) with more free market- and taxpayer- friendly alternatives.

So while this wee hour vote-a-rama is as much a dog-and-pony show as anything else, pay attention. It is a debate we will have again in 2011 or 2013, and by then, the outcome could be much different.

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