Reconciling Reconciliation

Reconciliation has been used with increasing frequency. That was bad enough. But at least for the Bush tax cuts or the prescription drug bill, there was significant bipartisan support. Now we have pure reconciliation mixed with pure partisanship.

via Op-Ed Columnist – The Spirit of Sympathy – NYTimes.com.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't one of the Bush tax cuts only passed when Dick Cheney broke a tie in the Senate?

We're going to hear an awful lot of hand-wringing in the next few weeks if the health care bill sneaks through the House and ends up passing in the Senate via reconciliation — as though using reconciliation were somehow immoral, or cheating.

I'm not sure I get what the issue is here. No Republican Senator is ever going to vote for the health care bill under any circumstances. It could have a rider in it mandating biblical readings up through the junior college level and you still couldn't get even a very God-fearing Republican like Tom Coburn to vote for an Obama health care bill. Chuck Grassley wouldn't vote for it if you moved the U.S. Naval Shipyard to an Iowa cornfield. They've locked arms on this bitch like soccer players on a free kick.

From the start, the only way this was going to pass was with 100% Democratic votes. So if there are 60 Democrats, you can do it without reconciliation. If there are 59, you have to use reconciliation. "Sympathy" has nothing to do with this; it's math.

I also don't get how anyone could have watched the Senate over the last year or so and not concluded that this thing is better passed with 50 votes than 60. With 50 votes, you have ten fewer Senators to bribe, which according to my calculations should bring the overall cost of the bill down by about at least fifty trillion dollars.

I hate this bill and have since the beginning — to me it seems like a radical and dangerous step to start forcing people to become customers of a seriously overpriced, inefficient product, thereby removing the last incentive for an already antitrust-exempted, horrifically-performing industry to improve itself in any way.

But I'm beginning to come around to the idea that if we do pass this thing, sooner or later Congress is going to get around to complaining about subsidizing the profits of WellPoint and Aetna and all the rest of them. Naturally the first place they'll cut in future budget crises is the "affordability credits" for low-income earners, but there's a slim chance they'll get around to chiseling the fat from the insurance companies, too, which might in turn lead ultimately to a sane revamping of this ridiculous system.

Or maybe not. I'm trying to find a way to feel good about this thing. Is there a way this thing doesn't suck? Input is welcomed here.

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