The health care bill that emerged from the Senate Finance Committee this week will not pass the Senate in its current form if Democrat leadership comply with procedural rules, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told conservative bloggers on a conference call this morning. However, he expects the Democrats to abuse the reconciliation process to get the legislation through.
Hatch’s extensive remarks were pointed and sharply critical of the Senate Democrats’ health care plan and the “shell game” he says they played in creating and passing the bill out of the Senate Finance Committee.
Democrats’ claims of bipartisanship on the basis of Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R-ME) sole Republican vote are a “joke,” Hatch remarked, and he noted that if the opposition had worked with his party, they could have had 70 or 80 votes when the bill landed on the Senate floor. In his view, that bipartisan coalition of one may not hold together.
“I don’t know if [Sen. Snowe] is going to stick with them,” he said. But if she doesn’t, “It would be a tremendous defeat for them.”
And victory in health care is something that Hatch says is crucial for Democrats this year.
“The [Obama] administration and Democrats would be sorely hurt if they can’t pass some form of health care reform, and they’re going to put the screws to every Democrat in Congress” to see that it gets passed, Hatch said. Their motivation? A fear of losing seats in the next election if members return to their districts without a victory.
As to the nuts and bolts of the legislation, Hatch was outright disgusted at the sheer cost of the legislation and the Democrats’ obfuscation as to what its true cost will be.
We’re being asked to increase the deficit by another $250 billion, at a time when Democrats have already tripled our deficit to $1.4 trillion … Now they’re asking us to raise the debt ceiling. When is this spending madness going to stop?
Hatch believes the Democrats have no idea what impact the Baucus bill will have over the long term, that the director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) admits he has no idea what the impact on health care premiums will be, and that the process is moving too fast for the CBO to accurately peg the costs of the plan. Hatch says that the American people deserve better.
“I want the full legislative bill, with the full and final score, to be available to every American,” he said, because the reforms affect every American and every business. “They’ve promised a new era of open government; it’s time they live up to that promise.”
As to other problems with the bill, Hatch believes a public option ultimately will be included in the final bill, but the form it will take remains up in the air. He also sees the question of abortion funding as being unresolved. Questions remain regarding the application of the Hyde Amendment, a limitation that bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, which must be renewed annually in order for the ban to remain in effect.
What message should grassroots conservatives take to the streets to halt the Democrats’ health care plans?
They should be emphasizing too much spending … It’s too much spending, too much government, too much taxes, and no way to pay for it.