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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Misplaced Praise, Fourth in a Series of 562

Hey, Democrats, way to walk a righteous path!

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Of course there is no Constitutional trickery in the budget reconciliation process. It is all written in statute, and has been used dozens of times. It is not the “nuclear option.” The Frist “nuclear option” would have involved the Vice President declaring the filibuster unconstitutional. While there is talk about Senate reform, including holds and the filibuster, all the proposals on the table involve changing the rules at the beginning of the next Congress (ie after the election, when Republicans very well could be the beneficiaries).

The Democrats are talking about reconciling the already-passed House and Senate health care bills under reconciliation rules. It will be done in the same fashion that Reagan passed his sweeping tax code changes in 1981, and Bush passed his in 2001 and 2003, as well as Medicare part D, and COBRA health insurance (which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). Nothing nuclear about it. The Republicans have just moved the goal posts, yet again. What was the normal order of business last year is the “nuclear option” this year.

on Feb 24 2010 @ 10:18 AM

I would, first, say that there is a big difference between the things that you point out and the kind of health care changes that your side is looking for, and, second, say that regardless on how you feel about it being a “nuclear option” or not, I don’t think that any kind of meaningful reform as anyone would define it would possibly survive the reconciliation process.

Of course, my own opinions are closer to Sen. Judd Gregg’s and yours are closer to Ezra Klein’s, so I don’t think we’re going to find much common ground.

I think this was a good view on the process from a practical point of view:

I still find it surprising that the President would think that this would be a good way to get reform passed. Not only do I not think that it will work, but I think that Democrats will pay a huge cost in the voting booths for it. I guaranty you that the GOP will use it as a big, blunt cudgel with which to pound home these messages: the arrogance of the Obama administration, the tax and spend tendencies of the left, out just how out of touch they are with voters who are moving away from wanting this kind of reform and who have told pretty much every pollster I can find that they want the current proposals shelved and a brand new version started.

Of course, the opposition now has people on both sides of the argument.

Disagreements aside, let me ask you these questions:

One, do you believe that the kind of change that you want could possibly survive reconciliation?

Second, do you think that Democrats will lose or gain, politically, from the attempt?

The one thing that I will agree with you on is that the Republican talk about the nuclear option was a step beyond this--and, yes, even more wrong. I’m a big fan of supermajorities and slow changes. Gridlock is my friend.

on Feb 24 2010 @ 11:40 AM

I don’t think the Republicans would vote for a healthcare bill that only consisted of the elements they want. We saw this yesterday with the “jobs” bill that consists entirely of small business tax cuts (though we fortunately did have a few crossovers). Leadership has made the calculation (and I think it’s the right one from a purely tactical perspective, if slash and burn is what they’re going for) that the institution of Congress pays the price for inaction, and Democrats comprise the majority of that institution, so Democrats are going to bear the majority of the damage. So given the de-facto 60 vote rule the Republicans are imposing, it’s the *only* way a reform bill will get passed.

The only parts at issue are parts that the Byrd rule specifically applies to--namely how to pay for it. The House wants the surtax, the Senate wants the excise tax. The rest of the bills are similar enough that they’ll just adopt the Senate bill.

I think the Democrats will be run out on a rail if they *don’t* pass the bill. And rightly so. This was voters’ number one priority when they swept Democrats into office in 2008. It’s the number one driver of deficits, and a huge drag on economic growth. AHIP dropped more money on ads this year against the bill than John McCain spent on his entire presidential campaign. So it’s no surprise people are soured on the process. But polling shows people actually support what’s in the bill, even if they oppose the bill (http://www.newsweek.com/id/233890). If they don’t get it done, they deserve to lose.

on Feb 24 2010 @ 12:02 PM

We can sit and have some drinks after all this is over and discuss who was closer to right. The truth is that we see it differently on almost every level from what kind of reform is desirable to what the cost will be and to whom. And every time I stop back by to think about this and read what you’ve written (and, yes, I honestly do consider it), I get pulled away from work.

I would really like to keep my job for the time being (even though they aren’t providing my health care--which, that’s another story entirely).

on Feb 24 2010 @ 02:36 PM
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