Washington, D.C.: Mychal Massie, chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network, is condemning President Barack Obama’s decision to urge Senate leaders to employ controversial reconciliation rules to force a government takeover of health care.
"The people have spoken, and they have said no to Obama's radical brand of health care reform," said Project 21's Massie. "Putting his seal of approval on usurping regular Senate procedure showcases not just an extraordinary arrogance and a willingness to abuse legislative power, but it also unambiguously indicates his contempt and disregard for the will of the American people."
In an address from the White House today, Obama expressed a willingness to work with Republicans to pass health care reform. But Obama also suggested that the Senate leadership might instead employ reconciliation rules to limit debate and lower the vote threshold normally needed to pass legislation in that chamber. This would allow the plan's more unpopular provisions to be enacted.
"During the judicial battles of the Bush years, when there was talk of the employing the 'nuclear option' to overcome filibusters, there was great respect among liberals for Senate the procedure of cloture," noted Massie. "Ultimately, conservative legislators agreed with them and the option was never used. Now, with the shoe on the other foot, liberals are quick to do the very thing that once horrified them. They are refusing to hear the pleas from their colleagues and the American people to scrap their plan and start over."
Massie continued: "The question to be answered is why are these senators willing to risk their careers and Obama his legacy to force such a miserable piece of legislation? Trying to obfuscate and confuse the use of reconciliation to pass a fundamental overhaul of such a substantial portion of the American economy is dishonest on a level likely never before imagined in the history of the legislative branch. Misrepresenting it as cost-cutting is morally opprobrious and fraudulent. But this is apparently not out of character for those determined to make a free citizenry dependent upon government from cradle to the grave."
In a February 25 Wall Street Journal commentary, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) called the use of reconciliation to pass Obamacare "a total affront to the legislative process." He noted that the process had previously been used only for incremental budget issues or those with wide bipartisan support.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy Research (www.nationalcenter.org).
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