Consider this: A monumental piece of legislation -- affecting a sector spanning over one-sixth of the economy -- is negotiated behind closed doors by legislators for the purpose of slamming through the finished product before anyone has an opportunity to figure out what's in it.
No... It's the continuing resolution (CR) about to be sprung on Congress by the Democratic and Republican leadership. And the sector is government. So, since the distinction between an "omnibus" appropriations bill and a "continuing resolution" is becoming increasingly blurred -- and since the Washington-speak for the sort of catch-all government funding is a "CR", let's call this new monstrosity ........ "ObamaCR."
Now comes that "secret" negotiations between the congressional Democrat and Republican leadership have produced a framework for a "compromise" budget cut of $33 billion -- roughly 2% of THIS YEAR'S record $1.5 trillion deficit.
We knew this was how Barack Obama did business: Cramming through huge packages down the throats of the American people who, in his opinion, are too stupid to know what's good for them.
But it sure hasn't taken very long for John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell to climb down into the sewer with him.
Let's look at the similarities between the process used to produce ObamaCare and the process which is being used to hatch ObamaCR.
ObamaCare was worked out behind closed doors. The same for the ObamaCR.
ObamaCare gave lip service to the committee structure. But ultimately the leadership called the shots. The same for ObamaCR.
ObamaCare was based on "Madoff accounting." With Obama, by toying with the "baseline," now pretending that the $33 billion deal produces $71 billion in savings, the same is true of ObamaCR.
ObamaCare put the government in charge of the most intimate decisions concerning what insurance you must buy and what treatments it will cover -- and, hence, what treatments you are likely to be able to receive. ObamaCR leaves that structure in place, notwithstanding GOP promises that it would be defunded.
ObamaCare, in the end, gave lip service to the proposition that the American public would have 72 hours to look at its enormous labyrinth. ObamaCR appears to be on the same timetable.
ObamaCare was slammed through with little real opportunity to amend. Ditto, apparently, ObamaCR.
And, finally, ObamaCare led to a grassroots rebellion which cost the jobs of large numbers of sleazy politicians who supported it.
[You complete the syllogism.]
But, protests Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake, $61 billion is "small ball." (Yeah, he really said that!) Flake contends that we need to get over the current controversy and move on to the 2012 budget.
The problem is that the 2012 budget is going to bring us to exactly the same place -- six months from now. On or around September 30, we will face another giant CR -- with the only difference being that Republicans will be weaker because we will be another half-year away from the transformational elections which put many of them in office.
So for those who campaigned on the promise to repeal or defund ObamaCare, do it! ObamaCare is not "small ball."
And for those who don't have the courage to do that, let me say this: It sure hasn't taken long for the animals to look just like the farmers!
by Michael E. Hammond, former General Counsel Senate Steering Committee 1978-89.