If Democrats want healthcare reform, why deem it? Vote!

A House plan to 'deem' the Senate version of healthcare reform is very convenient, especially for those who want to support the bill without admitting it to voters.

Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gestured during at a health care overhaul news conference on Capitol Hill Thursday. Why are Democrats trying to deem healthcare reform rather than voting on it outright?

US Congressional Democrat leaders are looking desperate to save Obama's healthcare plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even seems to have worked out a way to pass the measure without bothering with the inconvenience of a vote (and the threat of a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

Under this cunning plan, the House simply 'deems' the Senate version of Obamacare to have been passed by the House. Representatives would simply be voting for a procedural motion – so they can't be pinned down as voting one way or the other on the Obamacare measure itself.

Much easier all round. Indeed, the Congressional Record would not even have to show who voted which way. All very convenient, especially to those who want to support Obamacare without admitting it to their electors. Citizens can hardly get annoyed at how you voted, if you didn't actually get to vote.

Of course, the Republicans are not shy of using procedural tricks themselves, and used precisely this tactic in order to raise America's debt limit. The Democrats then took them to court for subverting the legislative process. (But no doubt they think it's different this time.) Alas, the court action was unsuccessful, so now the Republicans can hardly take the moral high ground.

The result is that, without anyone in the House of Representatives voting for it, Obamacare will be signed into law with great flourish and fanfare, and about a sixth of the US national income will be diverted into socialised medicine – exactly the sort of bureaucratic monopoly that we in the UK are trying to unravel.

Is this sleight-of-hand all a betrayal of the constitution by a self-obsessed political class that is estranged from life beyond the Beltway? Interesting question: let's take a vote on it.

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