Steny Hoyer’s Weasel Words

In Congress, Democrat, health care, House, Obama on March 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm


The ABC headline almost had me. For a second there I thought the headline, “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: ‘We’re Going to Have a Clean Up or Down Vote'” meant that, in the face of the public outcry, Democrats in the House were going to abandon the parliamentarian parlor trick that’s come to be known as “Deem and Pass”. ‘Deem and Pass’, also know as the “Slaughter Rule” after House Rules Committee Chair, Louise Slaughter, is a proposed rule that would “deem” the Senate health care bill passed pending adoption of House amendments to the bill. It’s a sleight of hand maneuver that will allow Democrats to avoid an up or down vote and simply say that they voted for a rule, not the Senate bill. It’s a chicken-shit way to pass major legislation. Similar “self executing” rules have been used in the past (yes, I consider those chicken-shit too) but never for legislation that seeks to (mis)manage 1/6 of the nation’s economy. Despite what the ABC headline and Hoyer’s own words would lead you to believe, however, there will be no “up or down” vote on the Senate bill. On ABC’s Good Morning America Hoyer said:

“We’re going to have a clean up or down vote on the Senate bill, that will be on the rule… “This is not an unusual procedure. We’re going to vote on a rule.”

I suppose if Steny says it fast enough, somebody might only catch the “We’re going to have a clean up or down vote on the Senate Bill” part. There is nothing clean about it, however, and Hoyer’s aim is to intentionally mislead. Interestingly, all this comes during “Sunshine Week” during which congress proposes to pay down debts on office accounts and  “focus on the importance of open government and freedom of information… Congress is taking action to make the government more accountable, transparent and responsive to the American people…”

“Not to take anything away from these proposals, which do little but nibble around the edges, but wouldn’t having members commit to a vote on controversial legislation create more sunshine than paying down debt from office accounts?”  Observes Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. “The very nature of open government in a representative government requires that elected officials have accountability for the laws they pass.  The social contract that binds constituents to these laws depends on that accountability.  If we cannot hold our representatives individually and collectively responsible for passage of laws, then we have ceased being a free people and have entered into an autocratic form of bondage.”

The weasel words regarding ‘Deem and Pass’ aren’t the only instance of Hoyer transgression this week. According to American Spectator, Hoyer also claimed on Good Morning America that:

“Since the President addressed the nation on health care, the support has gone up 18 points and a Wall Street Journal poll that just came out shows a majority of those responding indicate they’re for the bill.”

The fact is that the WSJ poll indicated no such thing. What the WSJ poll actually found, making Hoyer’s statement an outright lie, was:

…that opinions have solidified around the health-care legislation, with 48% calling it a “bad idea” and 36% viewing it as a “good idea” when presented with a choice between those two. That gap is consistent with surveys dating to the fall.

36% is clearly less than 48% but, with Obama promising a 3,000% reduction in health insurance premiums, the problem may simply be that the Democrats are really bad at math.

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