The s0-called healthcare bill is the most sweeping piece of legislation that has been put before Congress at least in my lifetime. The good news is that people who have never been interested in politics are starting to pay attention. Of course they’re only paying attention to this one issue and it’s impossible to guess how long they’ll stay focused after the vote takes place. Given our somewhat limited national attention span, I’m not overly optimistic that this moment represents a watershed change in people’s focus. By the time the next election rolls around, how many people who are outraged today do you think will even remember that it’s time to go vote? Maybe a few more than average. Maybe
The bad news, of course, is that House leadership would never bring this up for a floor vote unless they thought they had the numbers to carry the day… So I’m guessing that by sometime this afternoon, the healthcare landscape, our future debt, and the amount of taxes we are going to be expected to pay for years to come will look very, very different. I hope I’m wrong about this. I hope that some in the majority party will have a moment of conscience and break with their leadership at the last minute. It wouldn’t quite be miracle status, but it would be a body blow to this administration’s agenda and might serve to slow the machinery of governmental mission-creep a bit.
As a total aside, there’s a great deal of noise being made this weekend about the “deem and pass” and other intricacies of bill-passing that were never discussed in your civics lesson on how a bill becomes a law. The bottom line is that there are many, many different ways that a bill can be passed and they are all perfectly legal. These methods are used by both sides whenever they are in power. The rules of the House are not really about Democrat or Republican. They’re about power – Who has it and how they’re able to use it. That’s the short way of saying, don’t make the mistake of thinking one party is more idealistic or good-hearted than the other. Given the opportunity, both of them will use whatever levers of power are within their grasp to push their agenda through the system.
For now, we watch and we wait. This afternoon should make for some of the best made-for-TV politico-drama we are ever likely to see.