The bad news is that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other Democratic Party leaders in Washington D.C. are absolutely determined to pass their destructive ObamaCare legislation with all of the negative consequences that nationalized healthcare will bring.
BUT THE GOOD NEWS is that beginning with the “Tea Party” grass roots, conservatives have put up a formidable fight against the government takeover of our health care system. And this conservative opposition – evident at protest rallies and town hall meetings across the country – has become nothing less than a deeply inspiring chapter in the history of our nation. In addition, given the strength of our fight, we just might win this battle!
An Outrageous Tale of Changing the Rules in the Middle of the Game
When he was a United States Senator back in 2005 and Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, President Obama stated on multiple occasions that consistent with Senate rules and the intent of our nation’s founders, judicial appointments, executive appointments and significant legislation should all be passed with 60 vote super majorities in the Senate. Indeed this is the well established legal procedure taught in schools and utilized year after year in Washington to prevent what liberal Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) has called the “tyranny of the majority.”
Consistent with legal precedent and all of these high minded statements, Democrats pursued majority votes in the House and super majority votes in the Senate throughout 2009 to pass their health care plans. And with a massive majority in the House of Representatives and a 60 vote super majority in the Senate, the Obama Administration approached health care and other issues thinking they would be able to pass extremely liberal (“left wing” or “socialist”) legislation with only Democratic Party votes.
But then their problems began. First, many normal Americans actually read drafts of the legislation and found many highly disturbing elements that were very far from the mainstream of American thought and practice. When Americans read the fine print (that many in Congress never bothered to read) they found hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to Medicare, tax payer funding of abortions, special deals for favored constituencies, and new taxes that would strongly encourage businesses to dump tens of millions of Americans off of private insurance and into government provided Medicaid. When regular Americans tried to voice their concerns at Tea Party rallies and town hall meetings, we were called “extremists,” “evil mongers” and even “Nazis” by people like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Soon, Republican Party opposition hardened to the point where no Republicans in the House or Senate were willing to support the legislation and even some moderate Democrats voiced concerns. And so, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid failed to fulfill their original goal of passing their health care nationalization into law by the August 2009 Congressional recess.
Despite the initial setback, in the late summer of 2009, even with numerous polls showing a clear majority of Americans in opposition to their health care plans, President Obama and other Democratic Party leaders decided to ram their nationalization project through Congress using only Democratic Party votes – clearly Chris Dodd’s “tyranny of the majority” had “come home to roost.” And that is when the Democrats started to change the rules of the game in mid stream.
Did you ever play a game or sport in the school yard with a bully who cheated to win – a kid who could not face losing, so tried to use physical intimidation to change the rules in the middle of the game? I remember very well standing up to a sixteen year old boy when I was just twelve over just such an injustice. Well, knowledgeable psychologists often say that you cannot understand adult politics unless you understand the interpersonal dynamics of the playground and what we have had over the past seven months is a classic case. When Senator Ted Kennedy died last August, Democratic leaders instantly lost their 60 vote strangle hold over the U.S. Senate. Before Kennedy died, Massachusetts law stated that if a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts died in office, a new Senator had to be elected in a special election and that the seat would remain empty for the approximately 90 days it would take to hold a special election and seat a new Senator. But, this law and the resulting timetable were disruptive to President Obama and the Democrats schedule for passing their health care nationalization. So, did they work within the law and moderate the bill in order to garner the support of at least one or two Republicans? Or, did they wait until a new Senator was legally elected before moving on with their plans? Did they respect the rule of law in America? No, the Democratic Party bullies in the White House and on Capital Hill were determined to win at all costs and for them the end (nationalized health care) justified the means, including sacrificing the integrity of our laws (the very essence of our constitutional democracy). Thank goodness George Washington and our Founding Fathers were much better people and much better leaders who could see through the trees to the big picture of what was really important. If our founders had had the values of modern Democratic Party leaders like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, America would have descended into despotism generations ago.
Anyway, with strong encouragement from the White House, the Democrats who controlled the Massachusetts legislature rushed to change Massachusetts state law so an interim Senator could immediately be appointed by Democratic Party Governor Deval Patrick. The Massachusetts State legislature passed this cynical change and Governor Patrick signed it into law while the late Senator Kennedy’s grave was still fresh. But unfortunately for the Democratic Party leadership, another problem emerged. You see, under the Massachusetts State Constitution, any law change cannot go into effect for at least 90 days. So did Governor Deval Patrick respect his state’s constitution and put the law above his own ego and power? Heck no, because the Democratic Party does not want Massachusetts and the United States to be ruled by laws – not when they have strong majorities. No, they want us to be ruled by their charismatic men and women in charge. So, Governor Patrick bypassed the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as originally written by John Adams and voted into law over two hundred years ago and declared a “state of emergency” in order to appoint leftist Paul Kirk immediately to the U.S. Senate, and allow Democrats to keep their 60 vote majority. Apparently, the fact that President Barack Obama wanted his health care legislation passed seven months ago constituted “an emergency.”
[Sorry to be writing so much on this, but I believe it is critical to point out this total disdain for constitutional democracy especially at a time when another prominent liberal Democrat, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, is now publicly arguing that Chinese Authoritarian rule is superior to American constitutional democracy because the Chinese government can make "enlightened decisions" without political opposition. Tom, go tell that to the 30 million Chinese people killed by the Chinese Government because the government under Mao wanted a "cultural revolution" in the 1960s. Or go tell it to the parents of the children killed in shoddily built government schools during the 2008 earth quake in China -- the parents who are now being forcibly persecuted because they dared to publicly criticize the government. Tom Friedman and many other liberals should spend a few weeks reading some basic history and psychology to understand the wisdom and incredible staying power of American constitutional democracy.]
Back to our story! American citizens in general and Massachusetts citizens in particular were justifiably outraged by the Democratic Party’s naked power grab in Massachusetts, and discontent was brewing nationwide over this sort of behavior coupled with out of control government spending, irrational energy policy, the threat of health care nationalization, and increasing unemployment. The national outrage against the Democrats was evident in both the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections held last November, when conservative candidates defeated liberal incumbent Democrats by huge margins. But in spite of these defeats, the Democrats continued their push to pass ObamaCare.
Then, in reaction to all the abuse of power and all the left-wing socialist overreaching, a miracle happened. Yes, hell must have frozen over during the cold winter of 2010 because on January 19, 2010, the citizens of Massachusetts reminded us where the original American Tea Party occurred and where the original sons of liberty lived by electing conservative Republican Scott Brown in the special Senate election. During the campaign, Scott Brown ran as the “41st vote” against ObamaCare, and his victory in what is usually the most liberal of liberal Democratic Party controlled states was won by a significant margin.
By now, President Obama and his cohorts had gotten two different health care plans passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate in Washington, but there were significant differences between the two, including scandals over the “Louisiana Purchase,” the “Corn Husker Kickback” and a series of other unsavory deals used to obtain Democratic Party votes in the U.S. Senate. The normal, legal process for passing a law – the process that the Democratic Party leadership had been following and that we all learned in civics class in school is that the two bills would have to be brought together into one compromise bill through a conference committee between the House and Senate and then approved in final form by a majority vote in the House of Representatives and a super majority vote (60 votes to pass) in the Senate. Remember, that Democratic Party Senator Chris Dodd, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and others are all on the record in 2005 describing this process as the Founder’s intent, constitutional and necessary to prevent “arrogant power grabs” and the “tyranny of the majority.” But now, the rejection of Obamacare in Massachusetts and the seating of Senator Scott Brown would prevent the Democrats from obtaining their super majority in the Senate and effectively kill the bill.
What would leaders who actually respected our constitution have done in this situation? They would have recognized that the difficult process our constitution (and subsequent laws and rules) requires was designed so that major legislative changes could only occur if very large majorities of the American people support the change. Effective, humble leaders who are willing to listen to feedback would have recognized the need to step back, broaden the discussion and try another approach. Instead of this “small d” democratic approach, the “capital D” Democrats in the White House and Congress decided to try to bully their way to national health care by once again changing the rules in the middle of the game.
Are you as angry as I am yet?
Anyway, after losing their filibuster proof majority in the Senate, Democrats changed their tune and began demanding a simple up or down vote on health care. Of course, under our constitution, the House could legally approve the Senate bill with just a simple majority. But many Democrat Party members in the House of Representatives do not like provisions in the Senate bill, including tax payer funding for abortions (the Senate bill has been condemned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops), $500 billion of cuts to Medicare reimbursements, huge new taxes on private health care plans, as well as all the unseemly special interest deals. (Wasn’t this supposed to be the most ethical and transparent White House and Congress in history? Oh well, I guess that was just more campaign rhetoric. Easy come easy go.) But what did the House Democratic Party leadership do when they could not go to a normal conference committee, negotiate changes and then go back to the House and Senate for votes under the normal law making process? Easy, just change the rules again by using the “budget reconciliation process” which requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate, to pass major new legislation. Forget that this is a direct and incredibly hypocritical contradiction of everything the Democratic Party leadership said back in 2005. Remember in 2005, when the Republicans even discussed using “reconciliation” to approve a judicial nominee back in 2005, Democratic Party leaders called it the “nuclear option” — a threat to our constitutional democracy. But, now that they want to use it to pass major legislation in 2010 that will effect 20% of our economy and impact every individual American, it is just “a simple majority vote” and the majority in the Congress should have absolute power. This is outrageous, breathtaking hypocrisy!
Fortunately, millions of Americans are as outraged as I am – not only at how breathtakingly bad this Obamacare health plan would be for our country, but at the complete power hungry, unconstitutional arrogance displayed by the Democratic Party leadership. And millions of Americans from all across our country have been calling, emailing and visiting their Representatives in Congress. The result last week was that even with the “promise” to use reconciliation in the Senate to “fix” the bill, Nancy Pelosi still could not get enough votes to pass the Senate bill with a simple up or down vote in the House of Representatives. So, over the past few days, the Democrats launched the “Slaughter Solution,” a new scheme through which Congressmen would not have to vote on ObamaCare at all, but simply vote on the reconciliation measures which would “deem” the original Senate bill to have passed. This latest attempt at a midstream rule change is clearly unconstitutional, a fact that was stated by the Senate parliamentary when he said that the House must vote on the Senate bill first AND the President must sign it into law before any “fix” could be considered.
But that ruling has not deterred Democrats in Congress from their reconciliation strategy. Democratic leaders have prepared a “shell bill” in the House Budget Committee, and passed it onto the House Rules Committee Monday.
In the mean time, Barack Obama delayed his Asian trip (no doubt disrupting months of planning by foreign heads of state, the U.S. Secret Service and many others) to try to push his health care plan through.
Time will tell, but regardless of your political ideology, the rule breaking actions and attitudes put on display over the past seven months constitute atrocious behavior that demonstrates just how wise our Founding Fathers were to divide power so thoughtfully across so many people in our government and society.
My gut as I write this Monday evening is that the Democrats will fail to pass their health care nationalization bill. I think that moderate Democrats from swing districts are now so worried about both supporting an unpopular bill and being identified with of the bad behavior by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid that they will walk away from their leadership and oppose the bill. I think Obamacare will die the death it deserves.
Oh, and by the way, my experience as a twelve year old playing basketball with the cheating sixteen year old bully after school provides some hope. I took some punches from the older boy that day, but I delivered some as well, and walked away bruised, but with my pride having won the basketball game. We conservatives are still recovering from the lumps we took in recent years, but we are fighting very hard for what is right and just, and I am very hopeful that we will eventually win the day.
I have one final thought on all of this midstream rule changing and rule breaking. After observing this, is it any wonder that so many Democratic Party leaders have been exposed as having cheated on their individual taxes? It seems this arrogant bunch really do believe that the rules apply to everyone but themselves.
ObamaCare Increases Current Healthcare Premiums
Speaking of “up or down,” President Obama declared last week that his healthcare bill would lower annual healthcare premiums for Americans. According to Obama’s “Organizing for America” website, health premiums for the average American would be reduced by $2,500 a year. But Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (from Illinois) disagreed on the Senate floor stating on March 10th that “Anyone who would stand before you and say, ‘well, if you pass healthcare reform, next year’s healthcare premiums are going to go down,’ I don’t think is telling the truth.” And the Congressional Budget Office recently found that the Senate bill will INCREASE a family’s current healthcare premiums by as much as $2,300 a year. Do Democratic Party leaders even know what is in the bill? Nancy Pelosi stated that we need to pass the bill so that we can find out. Amazing!
This week is critical in the fight against ObamaCare. Please visit my website and find the list of Healthcare “Swing Votes” in the House of Representatives. Please make the time to call these Congress people and tell them to vote against this terrible bill.
ON THE ECONOMY
Sara Mohsin, founder and owner of Mohsin Mortgage Company joined me on the program this weekend to discuss the current state of the national and Pittsburgh housing markets. More than ever, this is a time to obtain good sound counsel if you are thinking about buying or refinancing a home. Sara and her team provide terrific service, honest advice, and access to competitive lenders. For more information on Mohsin Mortgage, click here.
Dr. Allan Meltzer, Professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, and a nationally renowned expert on economics also joined me on the program. Allan shares the common view that we will have a very slow economic recovery. Usually, big recessions are followed by big recoveries, but this time there is simply too much uncertainty regarding the implementation of the liberal progressive agenda in Washington D.C. People from all walks of life including business decision makers don’t know how high their taxes will be on everything from income to health care (remember the huge Democratic Party tax increase already on the books for January 2011 and current proposals to jack taxes up even higher), how high energy prices will be in the coming years (think Cap and Trade), how strong labor unions will become (think card check), and how far-reaching future federal regulations will be (think proposed regulations on banks, financial markets, energy companies, trucking companies, etc.). Until these uncertainties are resolved we simply cannot move forward economically. Allan also points out that historically, big societal problems are solved by entrepreneurs, not by government bureaucracies.
SOME THOUGHTS ON ISLAM
About one week ago, one of my daughters asked me about the spread of early Islam. She is currently studying early medieval history, including the rise and spread of Islam during that time. I explained that the essential teaching of Islam was a belief in and complete submission to one God (Allah). I will not go into detail here, but this monotheistic doctrine was and is appealing to many people, especially in the Middle East. The prophet, Muhammad, who founded the Islamic faith, also taught that Islam must be spread around the world by a variety of means, including violence. Muhammad himself amassed a huge army and carried out at least 70 different military attacks against non believers. Muhammad was born in the year 570 to a noble Arab clan in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. When he was approximately 40 years old around 610, he began to “receive and speak” the Koran in his native Arabic language. The new faith founded by the Prophet Muhammad and emerging from Arabia inspired and energized the Arab people and spread like wild fire by military conquest through Persia, parts of what is now Turkey, Egypt, Northern Africa, and Spain. The early military spread of Islam was finally stopped by an Army led by Emperor Charlemagne at the Battle of Tours in southern France in the year 732.
The day after my daughter and I were talking, I heard about last week’s massacre in Nigeria. Apparently, a group of Islamic herdsmen in the contested central part of Nigeria targeted three different Christian villages and killed at least 400 Christian people, including pregnant women and children. Some reports say that as many as one thousand Christians were killed. In the pre-planned, coordinated attack, the Muslim militants set up nets and animal traps outside of people’s huts in the middle of the night. At 3 am, they fired AK-47 assault rifles into the air to cause a panic. When the Christians tried to flee their huts and villages, they were caught in the nets and animal traps. Once caught, the Christians – including men, women and children – were hacked to death with machetes.
I have met and know many non-violent Muslim people and there is no doubt that there are many such people in the world. However, we must confront the fact that there are radical Islamists in many countries around the world who are still operating by medieval rules and are attempting to spread their faith and have their way through violence. The 9/11 atrocity was an example and so was this massacre in Nigeria. Non-Muslims have been frequent targets, but even Muslim moderates who are opposed to an Islamic dictatorship form of government or who are members of a different Muslim sect from the terrorists are even more frequently the victims of the violence. Just last week, Islamic terrorists targeted Iraqi citizens who went to the polls to vote freely in democratic elections. But in spite of this violence, which left at least 50 Iraqis dead, 60% of the population exercised their freedom to vote anyway. And in Iran, people continue to protest the Islamic totalitarian regime, even after numerous executions, and murders in the streets of Tehran by government forces.
I really respect all who are courageous enough to stand up to the violence and I really hope that many more moderate Muslim’s will have the courage to stand up and chart a new, modern course for Islam. In addition, we must be realistic about the threat and stand our ground.
ANOTHER TAX-DAY TEA PARTY
Finally, I will be speaking at this year’s Tax Day Tea Party in downtown Pittsburgh on April 15. The event will be held in Mellon Square and will begin at 12 noon. Please join me and speak out against the liberal agenda that is being implemented by the progressives in Washington D.C. A lot has happened during the past year since the Tea Part Movement began. We must keep up the fight! Remember, the great news is that we are having an impact. Thanks for listening and thanks for your support.
Glen Meakem is a successful technology entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and conservative talk radio show host, who offers information and insights on how individuals and our nation can be more successful. Glen’s unique perspective has been shaped by his experiences as founder, chairman and CEO of the B2B internet success Freemarkets Inc – which he founded in 1995, took public in 1999, and sold to Ariba in 2004. In 2005, Glen co-founded Meakem Becker Venture Capital, a firm that invests in early stage start up companies. Concerned about the liberal political agenda that has gripped the United States and his home state of Pennsylvania, Glen launched the Glen Meakem Program in 2008. Glen served as an officer in the United States Army Reserve and is a veteran of the First Gulf War. He also earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. For more information about Glen and the Glen Meakem Radio Program, or to read his blog, please visit http://glenmeakem.com.