A few years ago, the Democrats were in the minority in Washington. They took great delight in using the 60-vote filibuster rule to prevent President Bush’s judicial nominations from ever coming to the floor for a vote. The Republicans threatened to change the rules so judicial nominations and presidential appointees could get approved or rejected with a simple majority vote. Democrats went absolutely ballistic. The threat was dubbed “The nuclear option.”
Dianne Feinstein said:
If the nuclear option is successful, it will turn the Senate into a body that could have its rules broken at any time by a majority of senators unhappy with any position taken by the minority. It begins with judicial nominations. Next will be executive appointments. And then, legislation. (Senate chamber May 18, 2005)
Then-Sen. Obama said:
A change in the Senate rules would change the character of the Senate forever. And what I worry about would be that you would essentially still have two chambers in the House and the Senate, but you would have, simply, majoritarian absolute power on either side, and that’s just not what the founders intended. (National Press Club, April 25, 2005)
It’s a different story now that the Democrats are the majority party. Now, however, the issue is not simply whether judicial nominees and presidential appointments should require 51 or 60 votes. The issue now is bypassing the filibuster rule so that the health-care system – 17 percent of the entire economy – can be handed over to the government by a simple majority vote rather than the 60 votes required by the current filibuster rules.
Five years ago, Democrats believed that bypassing the filibuster would destroy the government.
Five years ago, Sen. Schumer believed:
We are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis. The checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option.
Then-Sen. Joe Biden said:
The nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is a fundamental power grab. I say to my friends on the Republican side: You may own the field right now, but you won’t own it forever. And I pray God that when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing. (Senate chamber, May 23, 2005)
What irony. If the Democrats proceed with their version of the nuclear option, it will be none other than Joe Biden who will make it happen. As president of the Senate, he is the only person who can overrule the parliamentarian who will have to recommend the removal of all policy matters from the bill. There’s wisdom in the old adage “Be careful what you pray for.”
This “naked power grab” the Democrats are trying to exercise is far worse than anything the Republicans ever threatened. The so-called “reconciliation” process is a special rule authored by Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd, exclusively for the event that the House and the Senate could not agree on a budget bill.
Democrat Sens. Byrd and Kent Conrad have disavowed the reconciliation process as a means to pass the massive health-care bill.
Then-Senator Hillary Clinton said:
The Senate is being asked to turn itself inside out; to ignore the precedents, to ignore the way our system has worked, the delicate balance we have obtained that has kept this constitutional system going – for the immediate gratification of the present president. (Senate chamber, May 23, 2005)
Hillary was talking about then-President Bush, who only wanted an up or down vote on his judicial nominees. How perfectly appropriate are her comments – now applied to Obama, who wants to “ignore the way our system has worked, the delicate balance we have obtained that has kept this constitutional system going …” and ram through this takeover of the entire health-care system.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments are also appropriate:
No, we’re not going to follow the Senate rule, no, because of the arrogance of power of this Republican (insert Democrat here) administration. (Senate chamber, May 18, 2005)
Perhaps Sen. Baucus’ comments are most appropriate:
This is the way democracy ends. Not with a bomb, but with a gavel. (Senate chamber, May 19, 2005)
The Marxist majority in Washington is determined to take control over health care. They want it all, now. If they can’t get it all, they will take whatever they can get now, and come back and back and back again, until they get the entire economy under government control. This is the obvious goal of this administration and of the Democrat leadership. This end justifies any means for these people.
For the rest of the people, this means an end to the arrogance of Democratic power in November.