"Steamroll": to crush or dismiss anyone or anything that might stand in the way; to move something forward in an aggressive way that does not tolerate opposition.
To push through their health care agenda, the Congressional Democratic leadership has resorted to extraordinarily aggressive tactics. Despite the American people’s overwhelming opposition, President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have chosen to steamroll their agenda through by any means necessary.
The Democratic leadership is resorting to parliamentary tricks to push through the massive and disastrous health care bill. In the House, Speaker Pelosi used a legislative maneuver to avoid putting the health care bill to a direct vote in the House because they were afraid they would lose if their members had to vote on-the-record. Instead they dredged up a tactic that even the Washington Post called "a procedural sleight of hand" known as a "deem and pass." Speaker Pelosi said she preferred this option so Democratic Congressmen who are being forced to go against their constituents, in her words, "don’t have to vote on the Senate bill."
In the Senate, Majority Leader Reid is using the ‘reconciliation’ process to fast-track this legislation to limit amendments. It is ironic that the Democratic leadership is using every parliamentary trick in the book to push this health care bill through. In the Senate, they are demanding a so-called "up-and-down" vote, while in the House, they are using every means possible to prevent an "up-or-down" vote. There is a complete disregard for the wishes of the American people.
These types of parliamentary shenanigans will not fool the American people who want this disastrous bill stopped. Americans want transparency and accountability in the process, not legislation crafted behind closed doors and passed by smoke and mirrors. They want open debate, not evasiveness. The American people deserve better than what President Obama and the Congressional Democratic leadership are forcing upon them. Americans want real health care reform that allows greater access and more affordability. Neither are part of this health care bill being railroaded through Congress.
The Democrats’ bill will cost more than $2 trillion and raises taxes almost immediately. And this bill includes 10 years of tax increases and 10 years of Medicare cuts to pay for only six years of their spending. You don’t have to be ‘smarter than a fifth grader’ to figure out this is a bad deal for American taxpayers.
This bill penalizes and taxes nearly everyone. Families will see their premiums and taxes rise. The potential $3,000 per employee penalty against employers will deal a tremendous blow to small businesses that create the majority of jobs in America. Seniors will also be disproportionally hurt by this legislation. The $500 billion cut to Medicare, including $135 billion to hospitals that treat Medicare patients, will push more doctors, hospitals and other providers to stop seeing Medicare patients. Our seniors will be paying for this legislation through decreased access to care. That’s just not right.
The American people do not want a government takeover of healthcare. What Americans want are more choices and greater access at an affordable cost. We need to start fresh and have true reform that includes allowing small businesses to pool together to purchase health coverage; to enact true tort reform; and by offering tax incentives to encourage the purchase of health insurance that is truly portable and not tied to an employer. These goals are achievable if the Democratic leadership would abandon their steamroller and work with Republicans to achieve true reform.
Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas and is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.