Of Rules And Rulers

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Health Care: The Democrats have two problems with their reform plan: One, they have sell it to the public, and two, they have to convince the public that the plan is so good, it's OK to skirt Senate rules to pass it.

So far, Democrats have failed to solve the first problem. The public simply does not like their version of health care reform. Poll after poll, including our own, shows Americans wanting that plan scrapped and work on a new one begun.

A new IBD/TIPP survey even indicates that voters are more likely to vote against lawmakers who back the Democrats' measure.

None of this, however, has stopped Democratic leaders in Congress or the White House who are determined to ram through a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy, presumably because they think they know better.

Having ignored the public's rejection, it's reasonable to believe that the Democrats will opt for "reconciliation," the rule allowing the Senate to forgo the filibuster process and pass budget-related legislation with 51 votes.

As Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., has said, "The issue trumps the process," a clear indication that Democrats are so enamored of their own ideas that they don't believe they should have to follow the rules to pass them into law.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to use "every option available," which, we have to presume, includes the use of shady politics to force on the American people what would be one of the most transformational laws in the nation's history.

The option uppermost on Reid's mind is reconciliation. But the public is thinking about it too — and none too kindly. Our poll taken last week found that Americans oppose the use of such a maneuver by 51% to 36%. A Gallup poll found a similar split, 52%-39%.

Given that degree of resistance, how are Democrats going to convince the country that flouting the rules that govern lawmaking is acceptable?

At this point, it appears that the Democrats may simply have the House vote next week on the Senate's health bill that passed on Christmas Eve. Once that's done, the congressional majority will try to pass several "fixes" to the Senate legislation so that Democratic House members can change the parts of the Senate bill they don't like.

Those who know how Washington works understand how foolish it is for the few Democratic House members who want fixes to actually believe the fixes will be made. The lawmakers who vote for the Senate bill based on such a promise will be used and then discarded by party leaders intent on remaking the country to fit their leftist ideals.

Just as they are having a hard time unloading two other poor products — health care overhaul and reconciliation — on the public, party bosses will also find it difficult to sell the promise of fixes. A few in Congress will go along with the ruse. And there will be pockets of support in the public. But anyone who falls for the promise of fixes wants to be duped.

The Democratic leadership is about to force the country to take a ride it doesn't want to take — a journey from which there is likely no return. Voters may get rid of the offending legislators in the fall elections, but by then it will be too late.

If Americans are as opposed to government-run health care as they've been all along, the pressure that their representatives have felt so far will be nothing compared with what's in store in the days and weeks ahead.

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