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September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson Gets Results

Over the past few months, the President repeatedly stated that illegal aliens wouldn't be covered by Obamacare. The problem is that no one believed him. Repeating the same old lie didn't float because a spontaneous grassroots movement had combed through the various bills and noticed that every one contained a provision which prevented anyone from verifying the citizenship of participants.

If the President had really wanted to exclude illegal aliens from Obamacare, it would have been no problem to include a provision providing for citizenship verification. Because of Joe Wilson's startling lack of decorum, the Senate Finance Committee is now considering one:

Members of the group said they thought they'd settled the question of illegal immigration, but it came to the fore this week when Republican Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "You lie" at Obama during his speech Wednesday. Obama had said illegal immigrants wouldn't be covered under his health plan.

Senators said that's forced the committee to work on provisions verifying legal status before an individual can get coverage.

"We've always been there, but we have to make sure to get the right process and language," said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, one member of the so-called Gang of Six of three Republicans and three Democrats whom Baucus is leading.

Such verification can be tricky. Many Democrats fear that verification procedures keep legal residents from getting insurance, and in the House, they rejected Republican attempts to add verification requirements to the House health care bill.

I'm not holding my breath. The real reason "many Democrats" oppose a verification requirement is that it might keep illegal residents from getting insurance. Their excuse is a variation on the idea that we shouldn't ask for voter identification because it discourages voters.

That claim, however, is premised on the idea that voting is so fundamental, so precious, and so constitutionally guaranteed, that we cannot do anything that makes it even the slightest bit harder to do. That excuse does not fly with healthcare. Health insurance is not a right. And no one is entitled to government-subsidized health insurance.

The real reason Democrats are aflutter about this is that it would treat illegal aliens as if they were unlawfully present in the United States...like, um, they are. Just check out the headline to the linked Huffpo piece: "Baucus, Conrad Cave to Joe Wilson on Health Care Bill." If it weren't a problem for Democrats, it would have been done by now.

And that is the takeaway. Remember, Democrats could have passed these bills at any time...if they actually had the Democratic votes. They didn't then and they're probably in even worse shape now. Pundits are treating this as a done deal. It's not. There's plenty of time for people willing to speak up—like Joe Wilson—to change the outcome.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 03:13 PM

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