Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news story burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

House Democrats are set to "deem" the Senate healthcare bill passed. Is this an appropriate maneuver? Is it any different from Republican tactics?


Damon N. Spiegel, entrepreneur and writer, said:

Appropriate!!!!!! This has to be one of the most insane maneuvers in congressional history.  We’re talking about a plan that could bankrupt a country already on the verge of losing its long standing AAA status.

Yes, this has been used in the past, and so has reconciliation, but not to the magnitude of 1 trillion dollars.  Can’t the democrats just realize that this is set for an embarrassing failure?  This is not about winning the battle nor the fight; this is clearly an emotional win and one that will be very costly to the taxpayer.

Seriously, the democrats don’t have the votes or this would be done. They are shamelessly embarrassing themselves and more importantly they’re threatening a system that has governed for 200+ years.  Please carefully read this:  GET RID OF THE EMOTIONAL PROCESS.  TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE TRUE ECONOMICS OF WHERE THE UNITED STATES STANDS TODAY AND BE SMART.  TAKE THE TIME TO START OVER.

Focus on a few problems that can start the process of reform in this country.  Focus on what is really hurting American’s and American physicians –preexisting condition and Payment to Physicians by insurance companies.  If you really don’t get this, please call me right now and I’ll give you a little 101 on the problem and how much money can be saved across the board for patients, physicians, insurance companies and yes the good old government that is so capable of running a profitable. I take that back; this is not even close to a breakeven business.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said:
Obama and Pelosi made a big deal about how they were going to govern in a transparent and honorable way.  This promise makes the reality of Obama/Reid/Pelosi government all the more depressing and discouraging.
Bills written by labor lobbyists in the White House.  Earmarks galore.  No transparency.  No C-SPAN coverage of the negotiations for health care. Lots of lobbyists in the administration. Higher taxes on middle income people. Limits on amendments in the House and Senate—worse than the Republican’s did and this by the folks who whined about past practices that look good in comparison.
If you are going to govern with Chicago values it is best not to promise clean, open and honest government during the campaign.

Hal Lewis,
professor at UC Santa Barbara, said:

it is so appalling that I am at a loss for words. Many a presidency in banana republics has been turned into a dictatorship by tricks with words. It is an order of magnitude different from anything either party has done before, because it directly challenges the principle that the Congress is a voting organization. This is not the reconciliation trick, it is government by decree, and the final stage of that process is well known.


Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:

It is certainly as appropriate as having 41 senators block every piece of legislation by filibustering everything in sight. The bill will pass by a majority vote of both houses. Those who have trouble with democracy will be upset, the rest of the country is not going to care about the specific parliamentary procedure, they will care about the outcome.

Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit Blogger, said:

A recent Rasmussen poll showed that only 21% of Americans believe that the federal government currently enjoys the consent of the governed. That's already a dangerous situation, but gimmicks like this will make things more dangerous. We have the worst political class in the history of the Republic, and their fecklessness seems only to grow. I don't see that ending well.

Justin Raimondo
, editorial director of, said:

"The problem is," says Speaker Nancy Pelosi', that "no one wants to vote for the Senate bill." The reason is the numerous stink-to-high-heaven deals that infest the "package," such as the infamous "Louisiana Purchase." So the issue is: how do they vote for the bill without REALLY voting for the bill? Pelosi has cooked up a bit of legislative legerdemain that makes this technically possible, but the Speaker's imperious attitude is going to drag down the Democrats — because it's the attitude, not just the healthcare legislation in and of itself, that has ordinary Americans angry. And it's not just the "tea partiers."

So let's see if I get this straight: Democratic members of Congress, most of whom owe their seats to gerrymandering, want to do an end run around the democratic process by making a bill the law of the land without actually voting it up or down. While this may seem a trifle, uh, undemocratic, this is par for the course for Pelosi — whose contempt for the democratic process is longstanding.

Here, after all, is a woman who has NEVER debated her electoral opponents, and to this day refuses to do so. When I ran against her as the Republican candidate for Congress in her district, which is "liberal" San  Francisco, it was like running against Fidel Castro — she would not agree to give the voters of her district (a district that regularly votes Democratic by 80 percent-plus) a single exchange of views with her opponents. The give-and-take of a vital democracy is just not part of her worldview: instead, with her, it's all about entitlement, i.e. she is entitled to office, and the voters are lucky to get her. Informed voters, a fair presentation of the issues, a healthy debate — none of these important aspects of a healthy democracy are part of her worldview. So it's not entirely surprising — to me — that her contempt for democracy comes to the fore in the midst of one of the most important legislative struggles in our lifetime. Contempt for the democratic process, and for the voters, is a habit with her.

Brad Delong, professor of economics at the UC-Berkeley, said:
Seems to me that procedures are helping the Republican partisans here — not the Republican policymakers (who by and large like the Romneycare bill the House looks about to pass), and not Democrats.

I agree that Congressional procedures could use a lot of reform. But why focus on this particular aspect right now rather than looking at the impact of congressional procedures on reform as a whole?

Craig Newmark,, said:

Out here in the real world, people want and need healthcare reform passed pretty bad. Looks like the deeming thing is a kind of routine tactic, after looking at the last twenty years or so of Washington, no big deal.

David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, said:

The process has been messy and ugly from the beginning and that impression has hurt Democrats in the mind of the voters. But that damage has been done and additional procedural sleights of hand at the end of the process is not going to matter. What is important at this stage is a substantive result; if “deeming” the bill passed through the rule is what it takes, it is certainly worth it.

Peter Navarro, professor of economics and public policy at UC-Irvine, said:

According to Jay Leno, President Obama is threatening to go out and campaign for any Democrat that refuses to vote for his healthcare bill. 'Nuff said.