Whistling Past the Fiscal Graveyard, Piper Must Still be Paid

By March 18, 2010Briefly Legal

In a discussion with  member companies earlier this week, National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler criticized the pending health care legislation for its lack of costs saving, dismissing the claims it helps reduce the budget deficit.

There isn’t a person on this call, there isn’t a person I come across, whose balance sheet wouldn’t look pretty good if they could take 10 years of revenue and set against that only six years of expenses. That’s how this is being handled in the Congress, when they say we’re making money and reducing the deficit.

Who wouldn’t? Ten years of revenue, six years of expenses – of course you look good. But the piper will have to be paid.

The remarks remain on point with the release of new Congressional Budget Office scoring on the latest version of health care legislation, presumably the one that the House will vote on this weekend. Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com reacts to the budget gimmickry, citing the $940 billion in gross payouts:

This is why they’re delaying the start of the program, of course. If it kicked in right away, the decade-long estimate would obviously be well into the trillions. So they simply stalled it for four years, incurring just $17 billion in costs — or 1.8 percent of the total 10-year estimate — through 2013 so that wavering Democrats could go back to their districts and tell baldfaced lies to their constituents about the pricetag. A perfect ending to this travesty.

As for the process gimmickry, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Stanford Law School professor and former Appeals Court Judge Michael McConnell explains why the “Slaughter” legislative approach of “deem and pass” cannot be squared with the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 7. As McConnell wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

It may be clever, but it is not constitutional. To become law—hence eligible for amendment via reconciliation—the Senate health-care bill must actually be signed into law. The Constitution speaks directly to how that is done. According to Article I, Section 7, in order for a “Bill” to “become a Law,” it “shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate” and be “presented to the President of the United States” for signature or veto. Unless a bill actually has “passed” both Houses, it cannot be presented to the president and cannot become a law. 

Unconstitutional and built on budgetary deceit: The health care legislation certainly doesn’t deserve the term “reform.”

Leave a Reply