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Friday, March 12, 2010

The "All You Can Eat" Reconciliation Buffet

There is something about skirting the normal legislative process which seems so appealing to people (in this case, Democrats) who cannot otherwise pass legislation but seek to expand government.

We are seeing it most clearly in the health care issue, where the end product of Democratic maneuvering, the Senate bill plus fixes, could not pass as a single piece of legislation. The fixes are being treated separately so that the budget reconciliation process could be used to avoid the Senate filibuster and thereby obtain government control over one-sixth of the economy.

But that is not enough. This is an all you can eat buffet, so now Democrats are planning to load a restructuring of the student loan industry onto the health care reconciliation bill.

Under that plan, private lenders would be squeezed out of the student loan business in favor of direct government lending.

Call me a skeptic, given the dismal history of the federal government managing the mortgage industry (are Freddie and Fannie really such distant memories?) and the rampant fraud in so many federal programs (compare Medicare fraud rates to private insurance fraud rates).

If the bill has merit, why not pass it in the normal course? Why not make the case on the merits rather than playing legislative games?

The reason is that there are not enough Senate votes, including at least several Democrats who oppose the bill.

Welcome to the all you can eat buffet, where the appetite of the Democrats to expand government never is satisfied, and reconciliation is far from the last course.

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  1. Reminds me of Robert Conquest's second and third laws of politics. It certainly does seem a cabal of enemies are running the institutions we cherish.

    Look at how many organizations become hijacked by outsiders to pursue interests counter to the original intents. Greenpeace is an example of a non profit taken over by hostile people, why should we be surprised when the organization is in place for lefties, like Obama, use them for their own purposes?

  2. During the mid-19th Century, one of the reforms that took hold in a number of state constitutions was the adoption of a provision that simply held that "every law shall embrace but one object, ...."

    Those constitutional provisions were intended to combat the pernicious practice of log-rolling, or, the inclusion of language incorporating the results of legislative deals cut among legislators, frequently from different areas, and supporting one another’s varying pet projects and measures, all of which were usually lumped together in one bill to thereby ensure its passage.

    Now, the federal constitution contains no such limiting provision.

    Perhaps it should.

    We all know that "riders" on every subject known to man, woman, bird, beast or fish are frequently contained in federal legislation.

    Tacking on an additional subject, such as is being considered here, would be the usual corrupt course for the Congress to take. The only purpose would be to create a poison pill for some Republican, or an added inducement for some Democrat.

    Anyone who has ever tried to research and follow the "legislative intent" of any federal law, such as in the U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News over the years, knows how difficult it is. It nearly always ends up appearing like a spider web of provisions, and you usually need to make a detailed flow chart to make sense of it.

    In fact, a similar limiting provision in the United States Constitution, that "every law shall embrace but one object" might be a far more effective way of getting Congress under control than, say, term limits can be.

    People do sense that there can be a real benefit to having a good and experienced Member of Congress. It certainly doesn’t always happen, but a good argument can be made for it. And, therefore, a good argument can be made against strict term limits.

    But I would challenge anyone to make a persuasive public policy argument for passing bills containing a potpourri of utterly unrelated provisions. Everyone knows that it is an inherently corrupt practice.

    That state constitutinal language I cited above, incidentally, is still contained in the New Jersey Constitution, where it can be found at Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 4.

    On the national level, way back in 1852 even the venerable New York Times inveighed against the practice of log-rolling on the federal level, for example, in this pdf copy of their editorial from March 17th of that year.

    Incidentally, one way the New Jersey Legislature has skirted that limiting provision in modern times has been by including a proviso in the Enactment Clause -- the clause containing the effective date of a bill -- stating that the provisions of this law shall not take effect until the adoption of P.L. ____, now pending before the legislature as Senate (or Assembly) Bill. _____.

    My point is that the Congress will be tempted to try something just as sleazy.

    Therefore, I agree with you, Professor. No one should underestimate these folks. This is the whole ball of wax for some of them and they will do virtually anything to find a way around the Parliamentarian's reconciliation argument.

    Sadly, what you posted before remains absolutely true . . . "It's alive!"

  3. I tend to remember that my student loans originally came from the government before they were bought out by Sallie Mae. The problem with the present situation is that you cannot shop your loans around for a lower interest rate without the owners persmission (Sallie Mae). So while the law was written to protect students from being subject to arbitrary interest rate hikes, it is used by companies like Sallie Mae against the student lendee. So when I wanted to lower my rate to 3% which was being offered by other lenders, Sallie Mae stopped me because they wanted my 9% (they retain right of refusal). This of course is not what I signed up for all those years ago when I went to law school. The law is badly written and needs to be revamped to protect the student lendee for a change. The only recourse I have against Sallie Mae is to totally pay off my loan, which if I could do that the interest rate issue would not be an issue.

  4. Please help support the Americans for Real Healthcare Reform by using Grasshopr.com.


  5. But if the House adds Student Loan program to the Senate bill, doesn't that require everything going back to the Senate again for repassage and for the potential for filibustering the new bill? That is what I was taught in school (obviously before the socialists got full control over the education system). Indeed the democraps major assaults on process continued with their failure to appoint a reconciliation committee to iron out the differences. I can count on the finger of one hand how many times no reconciliation committee has been appointed when the legislation passed in both houses is significantly difference. This blatant disregard of process empowered by a supposed 'constitutional lawyer' as CinC in the WH is perhaps the most troubling aspect of this legislative charade. I give kudos to the tea partiers and republicans who have given no quarter to this bankrupt hideous democrap bill. Whatever happens you will be celebrated by lovers of freedom.