“Reconciling” Repug Health Care Hijinks

I thought this was an interesting little item in the CNN “analysis” from Dana Bash about the first 100 days of the Obama Administration…

Democrats last week, at the behest of Obama’s team, decided to use a rule that ultimately will prevent Republicans from waging a filibuster against the overhaul of health care. At the end of the day, if they can hold their own members in line, Democrats won’t have to make concessions to Republicans to pass health care legislation.

I believe what Bash is talking about here is “reconciliation,” a Senate process designed to prevent filibusters when voting on legislation (there’s probably more to it than that, but the explanation is good enough for now).

I think the following needs to be pointed out also (from here)…

Despite their decision to arm themselves with a partisan weapon to move health reform through the Senate with a simple majority, senior Democrats continue to insist they will pull the trigger only if their hands are forced.

This week, the House and Senate will debate – and probably pass – a $3.5 trillion budget that will include reconciliation provisions that will enable Democrats to pass their health reform legislation with just 51 votes, not the 60 usually needed to pass major bills in the upper chamber.

And (as noted here)…

The reconciliation instruction specifies a date. That date, according to one congressional staffer, is October 15. (The original House reconciliation instruction had a late September deadline.)

In other words, the House and Senate each have until that day to pass health care legislation.

If they haven’t, then both houses will consider health care under the reconciliation process, which is relevant primarily for the way it affects the Senate. There will be a limit on the time of debate. Republicans won’t be able to filibuster it.

So at least the Dems are giving the Repugs a “sporting chance” here, trying to avoid reconciliation until the final quarter of the year if it’s necessary, and given the track record of the minority party, I’d be shocked if that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

And as noted here from Media Matters, the Repugs certainly weren’t shy about using reconciliation when they were in charge, particularly for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (which resulted in about a trillion dollars of tax cuts, contributing mightily to our “race to the bottom” of government debt helping to trigger our economic downturn) the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, and the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005. Media Matters also tells us here that Bash is one of the corporate media journos who continues to let the lie propagate that Obama’s “income tax proposals would increase taxes on a large percentage of small businesses.”

Oh, and by the way, here is another “golden moment” from Dana Bash courtesy of last year’s presidential campaign (think, “Drill, Baby, Drill”).

Update: Yep, I think this is a good reason for reconciliation, all right.

Update 4/28/09: Good point from Media Matters here…


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