Saturday, April 4, 2009

Reconciliation: The New Sensation That's Sweeping The Nation

Ezra lists the "three serious possibilities" for how to set up budget reconciliation, which allows you to pass health care reform with the standard 50 votes. He hears that the real choice is "between the second and third options" of reconciliation being written to automatically kick in if no bill passes by September, and the budget committee chairmen standing up and saying that budget will be revised to include reconciliation if the process breaks down because Republicans refuse to play ball.

If correct, this sounds like good news, just because Ezra hasn't listed an idiot option 4 that goes like: "Democratic leaders come out and announce that they're not going to use reconciliation, in deference to Republicans who are subsequently going to get up from the table, moon them, and run away."

I guess the reason for this is something like what he says here: "no one is sure of what health reform would look like if Democrats use reconciliation. But everyone is sure of what it looks like if Democrats fail to pass a bill. Democrats are much more afraid of total failure than they are of reconciliation." And that makes sense. Now that we're finally over the hump and there's going to be a major drive for health care reform, it's not touching the issue, but failing to deliver on it, that raises thoughts of everything ending like 1994 where you don't pass a bill and everyone gets executed by Newt Gingrich's firing squads.

Also, Ezra shouldn't listen to commenters who find the reconciliation discussion boring. I find it absolutely thrilling because if you get to use reconciliation, it's basically the equivalent of getting 10 Democratic Senators elected. Okay, 10 Senators who only get to vote once, but it's a more important vote than many Senators will ever cast in their careers. And you can pass an awesome lefty health care bill, not only without Republican obstructionism, but without having to write something Ben Nelson will vote for! I guess that's why people like Nelson are anti-reconciliation -- it's not, or not just, his love of bipartisan comity in the Senate. It's that reconciliation makes him a lot less relevant.
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