Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Pres. Barack Obama seem absolutely determined to get House Democrats to pass the Senate health-care bill. Arms aren’t all they’re twisting: They are also bending the rules of Congress. The latest gambit is to have the House “deem” the Senate bill to have passed without actually voting on it. Like so much about the Democrats’ health-care initiative, this tactic is both outrageous and senseless: Everyone will know that a vote for this procedure is a vote for the bill, and congressmen will be held to account accordingly.
Pro-life Democrats are coming under particularly heavy pressure. They have long been isolated within their party, but they have been allowed to vote with their consciences and their districts. Now, for the first time, party discipline is being imposed on an abortion-related vote. The Senate health-care legislation facilitates government funding of abortion. It is the most pro-abortion legislation ever to come close to passage in Congress. Those congressmen who succumb to the pressure to vote for it should know that they are forfeiting the pro-life label.
Democrats hope that Obamacare will become more popular once it is enacted and the debate dies down. But the debate will not die down: Republicans have at least two election cycles to go before the legislation goes into effect, and in the interim Democrats will have ownership over every aspect of the health-care system. Do Democrats really believe that their bill will cause public satisfaction with that system to undergo a large increase?
The Democrats might well succeed in getting this legislation passed on a mixture of will, procedural tricks, and deception. (Obama is still insisting that the legislation does not cut Medicare.) If so, Republicans should call for the repeal of the legislation’s major elements and their replacement by sensible, modest, free-market health-care reforms. And they should challenge those Democrats who balked at Obamacare to do the same. Pelosi’s troops want nothing more than for this war to be over. Conservatives have to make it clear that it will merely have moved on to a new front — and that the Left’s fortifications will be no sturdier.