Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pull the Reconciliation Trigger

In this interesting column, Robert Reich argues that Democrats ought to use the reconciliation process to pass health care reform in the Senate. This would allow them to pass the legislation with only 51 votes instead of the 60 that would be needed to jump procedural hurdles that Republicans have threatened.

It's worth reading. Here, for example, are some facts Reich mentions that you might not be aware of:
George W. Bush used reconciliation to enact his giant tax cut bill in 2003 (he garnered only 50 votes for it in the Senate, forcing Vice President Cheney to cast the deciding vote). Six years before that, Bill Clinton rounded up 51 votes to enact the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage for children in the U.S. since Medicaid began in the 1960s. Through reconciliation, we also got Medicare Advantage. Also through reconciliation came the COBRA act, which gives Americans a bit of healthcare protection after they lose a job ("reconciliaton is the "R" in the COBRA acronym.) These were all big, important pieces of legislation, and all were enacted by 51 votes in the Senate.
Now, people talk about reconciliation as if it is some sort of nuclear option. It's not. Reich deals with other arguments against using reconciliation. The only remaining argument, I think, would be that Democrats simply don't have the guts to make health care reform happen.

Just do it.

The health care summit may be useful as political theater, but we're not likely to accomplish anything there. Just today, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor called the White House health care reform bill a "non-starter," and that bill doesn't even have a public option in it. The Party of No will never say yes.

Just Freaking do it.

Update: Reid: GOP Should 'Stop Crying About Reconciliation'

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