An industry loathed by the political left should cringe at audacious manipulations deployed in service to unpopular legislation for reform of US health care.
At this writing, congressional leaders and the White House were doing everything and anything imaginable to push health-care reform past popular opposition clear in polls and elections.
Under pressure from a president who has staked his reputation on the issue, House leaders wanted to vote on legislation by Mar. 21. Lacking enough support to pass a Senate bill that Americans have found repulsive in substance and style, they were resorting to parliamentary tricks. They would ask representatives to vote on a rule that "deemed" the Senate bill to have passed and on a package of amendments. Then the Senate bill could be forwarded for the president's signature without House members having to take the politically hazardous but constitutionally required step of actually voting on it.
This mockery of democratic procedure received headline cover from a Mar. 18 Congressional Budget Office estimate that the legislation would lower the federal deficit even as it created a massive new entitlement and greatly expanded the bureaucracy.
CBO had to base its findings on fanciful assumptions provided by Democratic leaders about savings and revenue. And it warned that it hadn't seen reconciliation legislation and thus could consider its numbers only preliminary.
For Democratic leaders, though, the CBO report was bedrock truth. "I love numbers," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "They're so precise."
She and her Democratic colleagues are scamming an American public that demonstrably dislikes what the Senate passed and the corrupt way it passed it—with brazen buyoffs of reluctant senators.
Their approach reflects an imperious president and activist Congress willing to do anything and to violate any principle, constitutional and otherwise, in order to advance a very liberal agenda.
If treachery succeeds with health-care reform, the oil and gas industry can expect to encounter it on issues such as a cap-and-trade response to greenhouse gas emissions and regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Under those conditions, the industry can't win. In contests where rules no longer matter, nobody does.
(Online Mar. 19, 2010; author's e-mail: [email protected])