Playing defense on healthcare

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on July 23, 2009

House Democrats have taken the unusual step of barring their GOP counterparts from sending out informative mailers to their constituents with this chart outlining the Democrats’ healthcare plan. [Click picture for full-size PDF document]

I get these mailers from time to time and I must confess I usually spend a grand total of 60 seconds flipping through the usual 4-page document before it goes in the trash. The content is usually little more than Web sites, e-mails, phone numbers and addresses for contacting the particular politician along with a bunch of self-laudatory tripe about what federal funding they’ve managed to wrangle for the district.

From a purely informational standpoint, this would be much more interesting. However, House rules don’t allow for government money to be spent for “partisan, politicized or personalized” mailings – which this undoubtedly is.

But Democrats apparently aren’t objecting to the chart on those grounds. According to Roll Call, Democrats instead are complaining that the chart is inaccurate.

In a memo sent Monday to Republicans on the House franking commission, Democrats argue that sending the chart to constituents as official mail would violate House rules because the information is misleading.

In their eight-point memo, which was obtained by Roll Call, Democrats identify a litany of areas where they believe the chart is incorrect.

For example, Democrats argue that the chart depicts a “Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund” that is “simply a recipient of IRS funds, with no outflow. ... This is false.”

So, the main point that the Republicans are trying to make with this chart – that the proposed bureaucracy would be a nightmare – the Democrats object to because there aren’t enough arrows pointing to various boxes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to say that she has the votes to pass this health care plan through the House. Don’t believe her. If she had the votes, she wouldn’t allow the this to be put off until after the August recess and she certainly wouldn’t bother with a powerless GOP sending out a chart to their constituents.

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