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17 March 2010

Guest Blogger: Congressman Lynn Westmoreland On Health Care Reform

Health care bill full of hidden surprises
By Lynn Westmoreland

There are a lot things in the government takeover of health care that my constituents – and most Americans – don’t like.

But liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave us subtle warning last week that there’s plenty more hidden in there.

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” she said in a speech to county commissioners.

Let me get this straight: We’ve debated health care change for a year, and on the week of the final vote we’re told there are some surprises?

What we do know is bad enough. If we’re appalled by what they’re willing to tell us about, how scary are the policies and backroom deals that they’re hiding from us?

House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), the majority’s top vote-counter, said Sunday on Meet the Press that his caucus didn’t yet have the 216 “yes” votes needed for passage.

I’m not sure what’s worse: knowing they have the votes to pass it or knowing they’re just short of having the votes to pass this monstrosity. That’s because we’ve seen what happens when they need extra votes. They buy them with taxpayer dollars, usually in ways that are shockingly unfair to most Americans.

The bill that the House will consider is the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve, when most voters were safely distracted by travel plans, church services, family dinners and last-minute shopping.

What you may remember from that bill are the huge payoffs for certain states: the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase and Gator Aid for Florida. There are also political payoffs for unions.

If the House passes the Senate bill, all of these deals will become law – even though not one single person will stand up and defend those outrageous items.

How bad is this Senate bill? Speaker Pelosi admitted Monday that she may resort to parliamentary gimmicks that subvert the democratic process because “no one wants to vote for the Senate bill.”

Well, they shouldn’t vote for it. House Democrats are hearing clearly from their constituents that Americans don’t want this bill. Even beyond the unseemly political payoffs, there are many substantive reasons to oppose this bill. It raises taxes by billions of dollars and includes more than $1 trillion in new spending we can’t afford, cuts Medicare benefits by half a billion dollars, kills jobs by placing mandates on employers, puts health care decisions in the hands of the government instead of the patient, ignores lawsuit abuse, and allows for taxpayer funding of abortion.

With all of these unpopular provisions, it’s little wonder that House Democratic leaders are trying to pull every trick in the book, including an effort to pass the bill without actually voting on it. It’s a strategy stunning for its arrogance and lack of regard for the constitutional process.

Just Sunday, White House adviser David Axelrod said, “I think we're going to have a vote, and the American people are entitled to an up or down vote. We don't want to see procedural gimmicks used to try and prevent an up or down vote on this issue.”

I agree Americans deserve and honest up or down vote on the floor of the House, free of gimmicks. If Democrats are going to pass a bill for a government takeover of 17 percent of our economy, they should have the courage and decency to stand up and cast their votes for it.

Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) represents Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.