Playing parliamentary games with America via reconciliation 

Well, the not-so-surprising news of the week out of Washington is that President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to schedule a straight vote on the Democrats’ health care reform measure.

The new twist is that Democrats now recognize that their flawed plan can only be passed on a pure party-line vote. So after a one-day, photo-op summit, Obama has decided the time for negotiation has passed.

Now, to the majority of Americans who make their living outside of Washington, this idea of having a straight “up and down vote” sounds straightforward, but in reality it means that Congress will use the controversial “reconciliation” procedure to pass the Senate bill through the House for the Senate to “fix” later, ignoring the wide differences between the two bills which have currently passed.

Today, an amazingly low percentage of Americans actually support passage of these reforms. The RealClearPolitics health care poll average shows a full 50.3 percent of Americans against it, with just 40.8 percent in favor.

What will most assuredly haunt the president over the course of this year and leading into the 2012 election is the fact that this effort is in direct contradiction to the president’s previous campaign promises.

While running for office,  Obama repeatedly said that on the “big ticket” issues, it was vital that policy be made on a consensus basis with at least a 60 percent majority rather than settling for partisan voting blocks.

In Obama’s prepared remarks, he tries to paint himself and members of his party as heroes who push through this “long and wrenching debate” and don’t “give up because the politics are hard.”

Listening to him, you might actually be fooled into thinking that he’s the outsider pushing against the machine rather than the president pushing against the increasingly vocal — and obvious — voice of the people. And the people are shouting, “Stop!”

The president cannot show us he is looking out for our interests and our future by forcing a quick, partisan vote on an issue that will impact not only this time but generations to come.

Michael Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation (www.reaganlegacyfoundation.org).

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