KUHNER: Impeach the president?
The Democrats are assaulting the very pillars of our democracy. As the debate on Obamacare reaches the long, painful end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confronting a political nightmare. She may not have the 216 votes necessary to pass the Senate's health care bill in the House.
Hence, Mrs. Pelosi and her congressional Democratic allies are seriously considering using a procedural ruse to circumvent the traditional constitutional process. Led by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Rules Committee, the new plan - called the "Slaughter Solution" - is not to pass the Senate version on an up-or-down vote. Rather, it is to have the House "deem" that the legislation was passed and then have members vote directly on a series of "sidecar" amendments to fix the things it does not like.
This would enable House Democrats to avoid going on the record voting for provisions in the Senate bill - the "Cornhusker Kickback," the "Louisiana Purchase," the tax on high-cost so-called "Cadillac" insurance plans - that are reviled by the public or labor-union bosses. If the reconciliation fixes pass, the House can send the Senate bill to President Obama for his signature without ever having had a formal up-or-down vote on the underlying legislation.
Many Democrats could claim they opposed the Senate bill while allowing it to pass. This would be an unprecedented violation of our democratic norms and procedures, established since the inception of the republic. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution stipulates that for any bill to become a law, it must pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate. That is, not be "deemed" to have passed, but actually be voted on with the support of the required majority. The bill must contain the exact same language in both chambers - and in the version signed by the president - to be a legitimate law. This is why the House and Senate have a conference committee to iron out differences of competing versions. This is Civics 101.
The Slaughter Solution is a dagger aimed at the heart of our system of checks and balances. It would enable the Democrats to establish an ominous precedent: The lawmaking process can be rigged to ensure the passage of any legislation without democratic accountability or even a congressional majority. It is the road to a soft tyranny. James Madison must be turning in his grave.
Mr. Obama is imposing a leftist revolution. Since coming to office, he has behaved without any constitutional restraints. The power of the federal government has exploded. He has de facto nationalized key sectors of American life - the big banks, financial institutions, the automakers, large tracts of energy-rich land from Montana to New Mexico. His cap-and-trade proposal, along with a newly empowered Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to impose massive new taxes and regulations upon industry. It is a form of green socialism: Much of the economy would fall under a command-and-control bureaucratic corporatist state. Mr. Obama even wants the government to take over student loans.