How do you amend a law before it exists?

Lawrence O’Donnell, on Morning Joe, gives an every man’s explanation of how the parliamentary procedure of Reconciliation works, where the current health care legislation stands now, and why Reconciliation can’t be used to pass it.

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Is this really how we want our government to work?

Or how we want health care or any piece of major legislation to be passed for Americans?

With politicians creating new rules because they don’t like where the old procedures were taking them. When Congress abandons bills they already passed, so they can amend a bill that doesn’t even exist yet. Then pass a bill that hasn’t been written (and is only a 11 page ghost of its true +1,000 page legislative self) in order to enact a bill that a majority of the American people don’t want. And all in an effort to prove to the American people that they have the political will to govern.

What kind of twisted logic is that? America was founded on a how, not an if. It is how you govern that matters in a democracy. How honest. How effective. How transparent. How responsive. How fair. How trustworthy.

Apparently the Senate parliamentarian thinks process does matter.

Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin notified leaders from both parties Thursday that the process Democrats are using to pass health care reform, known as reconciliation, must be tied to something already signed into law, according to staff for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional sources.

Practically, this could force House Democratic leaders to ask members who oppose the Senate bill as it stands now to vote the measure into law and have faith that the Senate will agree to a package of changes….

The parliamentarian’s decision leaves open one other option: Democrats could try to tie the changes they want in the Senate health care bill to other laws currently on the books. But it’s not clear if that is feasible, especially because some key issues in the health care bill are not found in existing laws, such as how to pay for reform.

And what kind of precedence would these maneuvers set for future disputes and negotiations in Congress?

The American people need to trust their elected officials and have confidence in the democratic process of governing. As Former Democratic pollsters Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen point out Democrats are going to be haunted by the ghost of Health Care with costly midterms.

Bluntly put, this is the political reality:

First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate’s reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.

We are now all living with the results of bad government decisions – and those bad decisions are piling up and burying us in a landslide. It’s only natural to distrust the process and the decision makers. Especially when it confirms our worst fears of garbage in equals garbage out.

Four-fifths of those who oppose the plan strongly oppose it, according to Rasmussen polling this week, while only half of those who support the plan do so strongly. Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit

… the bottom line is that the American public is overwhelmingly against this bill in its totality even if they like some of its parts.

Second, the country is moving away from big government, with distrust growing more generally toward the role of government in our lives. Scott Rasmussen asked last month whose decisions people feared more in health care: that of the federal government or of insurance companies. By 51 percent to 39 percent, respondents feared the decisions of federal government more. This is astounding given the generally negative perception of insurance companies.

CNN found last month that 56 percent of Americans believe that the government has become so powerful it constitutes an immediate threat to the freedom and rights of citizens When 21 percent of Americans say that Washington operates with the consent of the governed, as was also reported last month, we face an alarming crisis.

No one expects governance to be all sunshine and happiness, but citizens give their faith and trust to their representative to do the peoples business. After years of ignoring what goes on in Washington we are seeing just how dysfunctional and corrupt our system of government has become and “we the people” are haunted not by a single November election, but by the ghosts of generations to come.

More discussion on this topic at memeorandum

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