republican government

Sanford Levinson SLevinson at
Tue Jan 24 07:38:49 PST 2006

>From today's Washington Post.  Does this conform to anything that can be
called a "republican form of government" (as distinguished from a
Republican form of government)?   Or is it only the states that are
guaranteed a "republican form of government," as distinguished from the
national government?  
Closed-Door Deal Makes $22 Billion Difference
GOP Negotiators Criticized for Change In Measure on HMOs

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 24, 2006; A01

House and Senate GOP negotiators, meeting behind closed doors last month
to complete a major budget-cutting bill, agreed on a change to
Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance
industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan
Congressional Budget Office....

That change was made in mid-December during private negotiations
involving House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), Senate
Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and the staffs
of those committees as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
House and Senate Democrats were excluded from the meeting. The Senate
gave final approval to the budget-cutting measure on Dec. 21, but the
House must give it final consideration early next month.

The change in the Medicare provision underscores a practice that growing
numbers of lawmakers from both parties want addressed. More than ever,
Republican congressional lawmakers and leaders are making vital
decisions, involving far-reaching policies and billions of dollars,
without the public -- or even congressional Democrats -- present.  


And, for that matter, most of the Republicans seem to have little say in
the actual process of legislation. Should we start teaching our students
that there are really three houses of Congress, the House, the Senate,
and, perhaps most important, the Conference Committee?   Can Congress
simply delegate the powers of lawmaking to Conference Committees, at
least so long as there is a token vote (perhaps on legislation that none
of the "voting" legislators has read) by each house at the end of the
process?   This would be yet one more triumph of sheer form over any
real notion of "deliberative democracy."  Is this what our
constitutional system comes down to?  

No doubt this sounds like another "partisan rant."  I do wonder what the
response of my Republican friends would be if the Democrats were engaged
in a similar freezing out not only of a Republican minority but also of
any Democrats who were not wholly in line with the leadership program.
And, of course, I wonder what message this might send Iraqis who are
being beseeched to strive toward consensus government.  Or is the point
that dissidents are not to be taken seriously until they threaten



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