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Reid: Democrats will use reconciliation to finish health-care reform

PH2010021104886.jpgBig, encouraging news on health-care reform today: Harry Reid says that Senate Democrats will use the reconciliation process to finish the bill within the next 60 days.

I've noticed some confusion about what this means, so some quick context: Reid is not talking about rewriting the bill or passing the whole thing through reconciliation. He's talking about passing a small package of fixes through reconciliation so that the House and Senate bills come into alignment.

This is actually the sort of situation reconciliation was designed to address, as Brookings' Henry Aaron explains here (pdf). Budget reconciliation is called "reconciliation" because it's supposed to speed the, well, reconciliation of the differences between two budget bills. That's exactly what's left to do with the health-care reform bills, which were indeed part of the 2010 budget and whose passage is expected in the 2011 budget.

Because this is what the process is actually meant to do, it doesn't present the manifold problems of using reconciliation for the entire bill. Things like the insurance market reforms have passed with 60 votes in the Senate and 220 in the House. They're done. What's left are some tweaks to the way the bill spends and raises money (that is to say, tweaks to its budget implications) that are needed to, yes, reconcile the two bills. Reconciliation works for this because reconciliation was designed to do this.

Photo credit: Bloomberg

By Ezra Klein  |  February 20, 2010; 8:46 PM ET
 
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Comments

Great explanation of what a lot of us have predicted for a while would be the way forward.

Now would you please forward this to Chris Matthews because even though he worked on the Hill, no one who has been on Hardball has been able to pound this idea through his thick skull. He continues to deny it's possible.

Posted by: Rick00 | February 20, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

We have an odd political set up that requires two distinct bodies to write one bill to be signed into law. This requires that the two distinct versions be "reconciled" into one. There is more than one way to do this, but Ezra is absolutely correct, this process was exists exactly for situations like this.

Nonetheless, it is pure political folly to suggest that the GOP won't insist that this is proof that the Democratic party circumvented some more "fair" process.

This is patently ridiculous as both versions already past their respective bodies against an absolutely hostile minority. To smooth out the difference between the two before it becomes a unified bill is just the logical next step. Nothing "unfair" or undemocratic will be done. This is the system working as it is intended to. I just hope full well that every democratic institution from the House to the Senate, hopefully spearheaded by the White House is already prepared to make this case to the public during the inevitable claims by the GOP that something shady or wrong is taking place.

Hopefully by now, Obama has realized that his dreams of post-partisanship cannot exist with such a hostile majority that has absolutely no interest in acting in good faith. And hopefully the electorate is educated (or can be educated) enough to understand the truth of the situation.

We live under majority rule and the majority of democratically elected officials are crafting a law with a majority of votes.

Posted by: nylund | February 20, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Oops. That should be "hostile minority" in my previous comment.

Posted by: nylund | February 20, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Great news. If this works, and man do I hope it does, will the White House AND Congressional Dems be ready for what Jon Chait calls the "coming freakout" over the use of reconciliation? Because if they aren't then health-care will be tagged as a partisan abuse of power. So that means that everyone on the Dems' side needs to be ready with the script for how to communicate to the public that the GOP left the Dems with no choice, that they have litterally tried to shut Congress down with the fillibuster, and that health-care reform was a vitally important part of Obama's effort to create a new, more fair economy. The script needs to be tight and persuasive. Can the Dems do it or are they going to have this pass and have it turned on them my the GOPs impressive message mass communication machine? C'mon guys, yes we can!

Posted by: phillycomment | February 20, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the final nail in the coffin. It's quite impressive how quickly the Dem's were able to shoot themselves in the foot!

Posted by: island1 | February 20, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

The more I read about Harry Reid and Senate Democrats, the more I think they are stupid. And I am a Democrat, for Pete's sake!
This is the dumbest idea. NOW! Senate Dems have been sniveling for months that they want the White House to lead on the health care debate. For over a year, the Senate hems, haws, dithers and whines. They have had months to pass two bills and work it out through reconciliation from a position of strength. They could have sent a message to Republicans that they deal in good faith or loose out. When they had the power, they were too timid to use it.
Now Reid decides he has to step all over the WH Bipartisan Health Care summit and pass it along party lines? What an idiot! He deserves to lose his seat. He doesn't have any political skills at all. He is going to enrage Progressive Dems because when he had the power to push true reform with expanded Medicare or a public option, he wouldn't do because he wanted to get Republican participation. Then he will lose moderates, because instead of reaching a bipartisan agreement he is going to push this tepid bill through. Third, he is going to anger the White House because he makes them look like ineffectual side-liners that can't control their own members, much less do anything with the opposition party.
I can't remember where I heard it, but it is true. Democrats could sell a joint in Jamaica.

Posted by: cminmd1 | February 20, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

ironic that out of one mouth they're speaking bipartisanship and out of the other they're talking about moving the senate bill further left to match the house. Well i guess its not all that ironic.

I'm guessing the most ironic thing is that this will signal the end of Democratic power as it'll be painted (as it has in the past) as a governemnt takeover which it really isn't and that'll end Democratic reign about 38+ years earlier than James Carville thought. There are way too many taxes though and way too little cost control but hey who cares when you can do this. I can't wait to see what the Parlementarian has to say. At very least it'll keep this interesting for Ezra and friends for the next several months and keep up his guest spots on Olbermann (while he still has a job). Word is that Nancy Grace beat him out last month and now with Tiger Woods i'm sure she'll keep that up.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 20, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Jane Hamsher says this is all a big show, it's all totally dead, everyone knows it's all totally dead, though some maybe haven't entirely processed it yet, and that the only way forward is piecemeal reforms. Care to respond?

Posted by: michaeljamesdrew | February 20, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

@cminmd1 the Republicans have had *plenty* of time to "deal in good faith". They don't need to wait for a summit if they've got an idea on how to fix this, they could just go ahead and share it with everyone. But they haven't, which means that all their whining about bipartisanship is probably just an attempt to keep everyone from noticing that they don't have a better plan.

Frankly, I'm glad to see that this is finally going to happen. It's about time.

Posted by: MercuryChaos | February 20, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Health care reform is dead friends. Has anyone checked in with the Stupak lobby, whose changes to the bill cant be fixed in reconciliation because its not money stuff, if they're going to just dump all that aside and vote for this? I doubt it.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | February 20, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

"Now Reid decides he has to step all over the WH Bipartisan Health Care summit and pass it along party lines? What an idiot!"

I think you are missing the point of how this all works.

On Monday night, as promised, the White House will post the Democratic plan, for all to see. The plan will be the Senate bill + the reconciliation "sidecar" package that Reid is describing here.

On Thursday, Obamaa brings everyone into the room as the cameras roll, and the Republicans get to offer their long-rumored ideas. If, by some miracle, they have any useful ideas, Obama can explore weaving them into the sidecar to demonstrate how darned bipartisan he is, even at this late date.

If, as expected, the Republicans instead come in demandng that the bills already passed in both chambers of Congress now be scrapped completely, rather than reconciled and signed into law, than Obama publicly proves his point about Republican obstructionism.

Either way, the bills that Congress has passed are then harmonized, and Obama signs HCR into law.

There is no conflict between Reid's indication of the way forward and Obama's summit strategy. The Democrats had to have a plan to show before the meeting, now we know that they will have something that Congressional leaders have ready to go.

This is how the Democratic ducks get into a row in advance of the summit. Reid is not undermining Obama, he is doing exactly the opposite.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

This is the stick. The summit is the carrot. If Obama doesn't have a plan B, he can forget about getting any Republican cooperation. Look at the record - the Stim included massive tax cuts - barely a single Rep vote - the Bipartisan commission to reduce the deficit - six Rep sponsors vote against it. Health care - two BIG Rep ideas - tort reform and selling across state lines - are IN THE BILL. Public Option is out. Single payer was never on the table. And Reps are trying to sell it as a Government takeover of 12% of the economy? Nonsense.

This isn't last minute bipartisanship. It's the umpteenth attempt - but finally one that says "if you want to influence this legislation, here's your chance - if not, we'll go with our version." Only way to get a Rep party more interested in their electoral strategy (stop everything, then declare Dems failures) than in governing.

Posted by: 57Imperial | February 21, 2010 3:44 AM | Report abuse

Reid and Pelosi don't have the votes to try and ram this through using reconciliation. Too many Dems who want to try and keep their seats in the fall are not going to vote for these monstrosities.

Posted by: WanderingHawkeye | February 21, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

I think zeppelin and WanderingHawkeye raise a valid point: does Pelosi have the votes in the House to pass the Senate bill? EK has long neglected the Stupak lobby -- understandably, Stupak's a buffoon -- but he also assumed that Coakley would win the Massachusetts election in a walk. In other words, the threat may be real.

With Murtha now gone and Cao probably out, it's highly possible Pelosi doesn't have the numbers. Hence the death of healthcare reform. Time for EK to do a little reporting?

Posted by: scarlota | February 21, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

When we hear that Bart Stupak and the pro-life Democrats he speaks for are on board then I'll back off being totally pessimistic about HCR making it to the President's desk. Until then, my sense is all of this is ignoring reality, and that there arent 218 votes in the House and thus healthcare reform is dead.

We may be at a point if the Senate is willing to make changes to the "money stuff"(subsidy levels, funding mechanism, et al), via reconciliation they probably can get that by the Senate parliamentarian, but abortion language is just that, language. The language of an underlying piece of legislation on abortion isnt changeable through budget reconciliation, you'd have to bust the Senate rules(which isnt a terrible idea, but they'd have to do it) and I'm skeptical there are even 50 votes for what the media will call the "nuclear option"

Wishing here doesnt make it so.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | February 21, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

michaeljamesdrew - Hamsher may be right, but she's heavily invested in defeating the bill. As an activist, she's almost certain to predict defeat.

Ez probably tilts a little bit the other direction, which explains this column. Harry Reid predicted the bill would be done in 60 days? What is this, Groundhog Day? How many other deadlines have we already blown through? I'd accept that it means something - more commitment than if he kept silent - but not so very much.

Truth seems to be that a lot of people still want this done, but nobody knows if it'll get a majority.

Posted by: Sophomore | February 21, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

But any procedural rule that allows the majority party to actually legislate is obviously Illegitimate and, y'know, probably Communist or whatever! Until the majority party is Republican again...

Posted by: NS12345 | February 21, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Eh, you can get around the Stupak group by pulling on more liberals through changes on the excise tax or (especially) committing to passing the public option through reconciliation.

Posted by: NS12345 | February 21, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Step away from the crackpipe.

Reconciliation requires 218 votes in the House. Of the 220 that passed the House bill in November, Ezra, you yourself have estimated that 15 or more of those have been lost over abortion and may not be coming back. Due to attrition, at least 3 more of the original 220 supporters are no longer available.

To pass the bill, Pelosi needs to win back every supporter she's lost (mostly blue dogs), and then she's got to win over three or four blue dogs who actually voted *against* her original bill when it was more popular (and before Democrats started losing their jobs over this nonsense).

Reed can say whatever he wants about reconciliation. But like you said, Ezra, it's the House that's going to have a problem with it -- and they'd have to pass two very public votes to finish this.

And if those votes ever take place, by the way, who wants to bet whether they happen in the middle of the night, and over the weekend? Because they're all such hardworkers, right? Not because they don't want us to all see what they're doing, huh?

Posted by: cpurick | February 21, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

It's not clear to me that saying the government can't subsidize insurance plans that cover abortion is really not a money issue and can't be done through reconciliation It presumably impacts spending. Also, if it's in the reconciliation bill, the parliamentarian can reject it and it takes 60 votes to override which could happen. Would Republicans not cast that vote?

In normal legislative practice, if I want something and am willing to dump the bill over it, there are really two obstinate parties, myself and those who oppose me.
Thus, I can be willing to kill a good health care bill over abortion but the reality is the opposition values more liberal abortion views over health care reform. Thus, it can be morally good to hold out to get your way on abortion. You are no more killing the bill than your opponents. (this get quickly complicated as to what purpose is served by the hold out, etc).

Today, however, Stupak's dilemma is different. There is literally no opposition to passing health care reform with some narrow language on abortion. He has no one he can convince. The opposition to his language is opposition to the bill. If you believe that HCR is a moral good and that the abortion compromise from the Senate is literally written in stone, you may have an obligation to vote for the bill. A hold out serves no purpose except to deny people health care. At least this can be argued.

Posted by: windshouter | February 21, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"You are no more killing the bill than your opponents. (this get quickly complicated as to what purpose is served by the hold out, etc)....Today, however, Stupak's dilemma is different. There is literally no opposition to passing health care reform with some narrow language on abortion. He has no one he can convince. The opposition to his language is opposition to the bill."

This is very well put, windshouter, and mirrors my own thoughts.

Right wing commenters don't have a vote count. Robust public option die hards like Jane Hamsher do not have a vote count. Both are expressing wishful thinking, looking back at previous votes when the circumstances were completely different.

Obama's announcement of the summit with a three week lead time has allowed everyone to reflect upon the political costs of failure. They now have a President who will do what the opinion polls tell us that he is best at ... playing "the reasonable man" in an unprecedented televised "put up or shut up" confrontation with the party of no.

I don't know if the votes will be there after Thursday, but neither do any of us. What is clear is that we have a different dynamic at play now than in the immediate aftermath of Massachusetts, with Obama finally taking the stage front and center. Stupak and the Blue Dogs will be looking at a very different political calculus.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"And if those votes ever take place, by the way, who wants to bet whether they happen in the middle of the night, and over the weekend? Because they're all such hardworkers, right? Not because they don't want us to all see what they're doing, huh?"


cpurick evidently anticipates that the Dems will use the Republican playbook.

Remember the unfunded prescription drugs for seniors legislation, and the way it was rammed through a reluctant House in 2003?


(from Wikipedia, in a rather mild account of events...)

"The bill came to a vote at 3 a.m. on November 22. After 45 minutes, the bill was losing, 219-215, with David Wu (D-OR-1) not voting. Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay sought to convince some of dissenting Republicans to switch their votes, as they had in June. Istook, who had always been a wavering vote, consented quickly, producing a 218-216 tally. In a highly unusual move, the House leadership held the vote open for hours as they sought two more votes. Then-Representative Nick Smith (R-MI) claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from "nay" to "yea." After controversy ensued, Smith clarified no explicit offer of campaign funds was made, but that that he was offered "substantial and aggressive campaign support" which he had assumed included financial support.

About 5:50 a.m., convinced Otter and Trent Franks (AZ-2) to switch their votes. With passage assured, Wu voted yea as well, and Democrats Calvin M. Dooley (CA-20), Jim Marshall (GA-3) and David Scott (GA-13) changed their votes to the affirmative. But Brad Miller (D-NC-13), and then, Republican John Culberson (TX-7), reversed their votes from "yea" to "nay". The bill passed 220-215."


Tom DeLay was doing this hammer-ing in the wee hours because he was such a hard worker, devoted to pressing for the very best public policy, based always on the merits, in the full glare of sunshine.

Uh-huh.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

In case you haven't noticed, Patrick, Jack Murtha's dead. Wexler resigned. Abercrombie's leaving the House next week to run for Governor of Hawaii. And Cao, who probably won't vote for the bill, has already stated that he definitely won't be the deciding vote.

That leaves 216 of the original 220 -- assuming NONE of Stupak's coalition are lost. So when you say "Right wing commenters don't have a vote count," try to remember that left-wing blogger Ezra said just this week that some of the anti-abortion supporters are LOST. Those votes are gone, TOO.

Pelosi will need to keep everyone who's left, and then she'll have to turn to the original "NO" voters to get back to 218. And those are ALL Blue Dogs. Well, all but one -- Parker Griffith's a Republican now.

And every one of those Blue Dogs who wants to be re-elected in November is getting more conservative even if they're not becoming Republicans.

What did you expect? You guys obtained your majority by running conservative campaigns against big-spending Republicans. Constituents rejected spending, not conservatism. This is not a liberal mandate.

Blue Dogs aren't going to help you ram something through on the liberal grounds that their constituents "don't know what's best for them" -- these are people who campaigned against government growth. The bottom line is that Blue Dogs don't actually believe universal healthcare is "what's best" for anyone.

Nancy Pelosi should be licking Blue Dog boots to get votes; instead she's been trying to get them thrown out of office at every turn. Unlike her, they can't get re-elected on a liberal record, and they're not going to do it.

And now you think you're gonna turn to 38 remaining Dems who voted against this and convince them to push it through? Why? They voted against it last time, and they're WINNING. Their position's being VINDICATED -- how are you going to persuade them to surrender?

It's DEAD. The House will never put together the votes to pass it. And it'll take more than 51 votes to make the changes in the Senate that would be necessary to get a House majority.

Maybe you should rethink your observations on "Right wing commenters." You need us -- apparently we're the only ones around here who can add.

Posted by: cpurick | February 21, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Now this is an odd comment:

"And if those votes ever take place, by the way, who wants to bet whether they happen in the middle of the night, and over the weekend? Because they're all such hardworkers, right? Not because they don't want us to all see what they're doing, huh?"

The presumption seems to be that if it's done in the middle of the night and over the weekend, there won't be any coverage of it. And that makes no sense whatsoever.

Posted by: mainer2 | February 21, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"It's DEAD. The House will never put together the votes to pass it. And it'll take more than 51 votes to make the changes in the Senate that would be necessary to get a House majority.

Maybe you should rethink your observations on "Right wing commenters." You need us -- apparently we're the only ones around here who can add."


Keep digging your hole, Nostradamus. Everybody can add.

You are using old counts, ad nauseum. In politics, things change. The only counting that matters will begin on Friday morning, after Obama's HCR summit. Ezra does not know what the new math will be, I don't know, and you don't know either.

And you really don't need to remind us in nearly every post that Jack Murtha has died. Reagan is dead too, pal.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"Ezra does not know what the new math will be, I don't know, and you don't know either."

218 was 218 in the old math, and it's still 218 in the new math. And in order to reach 218 again, Pelosi's going to need votes she didn't have before. And those votes are all Blue Dogs and Republicans.

And those facts are the same for Ezra, you and me, even if you're using "new math."

"And you really don't need to remind us in nearly every post that Jack Murtha has died. Reagan is dead too, pal."

I'm sure that would be more grafitying for you if Reagan's death would somehow make passage more likely. You know, the way Murtha's death is making it *less* likely. :)

Posted by: cpurick | February 21, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Remember 39 democrats voted against the house bill. A number of them were liberals , like Dennis Kucinich, Barney Frank and others from the NE and blue areas in the midwest and west coast.

The point is that their is plenty of room for Pelosi to get 218 votes

Posted by: bobmrone | February 21, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The House's public option and the Nelson deal are budgetary?

Posted by: cprferry | February 21, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

*****218 was 218 in the old math, and it's still 218 in the new math. And in order to reach 218 again, Pelosi's going to need votes she didn't have before. And those votes are all Blue Dogs and Republicans.******

Not so -- you're assuming this is the case. It's also possible that the Stupak caucus isn't solid. Indeed, it's even possible Stupak's concerns could be addressed in the sidecar bill. I've heard opinions to the effect that abortion couldn't be death with in a reconciliation bill -- but they're just opinions at this point unless one's job title is "Senate Parliamentarian." (Moreover, the breadth and range of procedures covered by subsidy-eligible health insurance policies will obviously impact the government's bottom line).

And even if, as seems likely, the sidecar bill doesn't deal with abortion, it's not set in stone that all fifteen Stupakers will prove incapable of compromise when it's not merely a House bill's language that's at stake, but rather the fate of HCR itself.

Posted by: Jasper999 | February 21, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

My only question is why 60 days? Why not 30?

Posted by: leoklein | February 21, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"The House's public option and the Nelson deal are budgetary?"

Both provisions have direct fiscal implication for the federal budget, so (in theory, at least) both should pass muster for the budget reconciliation process.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"And even if, as seems likely, the sidecar bill doesn't deal with abortion, it's not set in stone that all fifteen Stupakers will prove incapable of compromise when it's not merely a House bill's language that's at stake, but rather the fate of HCR itself."

Precisley. Last year, the Stupak forces were exercising leverage to get concessions in a House bill before a Senate bill was even done. At the time, nobody knew what the final Senate bill would contain, and everyone expected that differences would be resolved in a conference committee, so there were many more innings left to be played in the game.

The decision to be made by Democratic House members now is politically an entirely different and much higher stakes decision than they made before.

Kill health care, be remembered as fulfilling DeMint's dreams of creating Obama's "Waterloo," and enjoy a reputation in the party that will make Lieberman look like a beloved hero by comparison ...or... be part of the biggest legislative victory for Democrats in decades, and then advance one's own special issue agenda in other battles down the road.

I don't find it all that hard to imagine that when faced with the above choice, and with a little of the arm-twisting that always goes on courtesy of the Speaker and the President of the Unied States, the votes needed to pass health care will materialize.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Bobmrone,

Of the 39 Democrats to vote against the house bill, only one can be called liberal. That was Kucinich. Frank and all other liberals voted for it. 32 others are consistent conservatives holding membership with the Blue Dogs (or New Democrat Coalition)

Of the remaining 6:
5 represent districts that voted McCain
3 are first-term representatives
2 are second-term representatives
and at least 1 is a former Republican


There's no more liberals to pick up. If it's to pass, it's the liberals that need to compromise.

Posted by: cprferry | February 21, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

So of the 220 votes, 2 are vacant, at least 1 won't be the deciding factor, a number of others are protective of the Stupak language and many others are reluctant to use heavy-handed political maneuvers, fight for what the public doesn't want and/or put their political careers at risk.
But maybe you can only pick up Kucinich.

Pelosi doesn't have the votes to get reconciliation done.

Posted by: cprferry | February 21, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

And Neil Abercrombie's scheduled to resign 2/28.

The only uncertainty is that any Blue Dogs who voted the first time are still onboard. It's virtually guaranteed that at least some have changed their minds. And not just because of abortion. This has become a much uglier issue to have your name on since the first week of November.

Posted by: cpurick | February 21, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

cpurick,

As Ezra reported, Bayh himself said that "the politics of getting reelected demanded passage of the bill." (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/02/evan_bayh_the_evidence_for_the.html) If health care doesn't pass and Dems stay home, the first ones that will be defeated are Blue Dogs, not safe seat liberals.

So yeah, the political environment for Dems has predictably gotten a little worse since the party was riding high back in November. And yeah, individual Blue Dog representatives may think veering a little to the right makes sense about now. But this is a prisoners dilemma-like thing where if the Blue Dogs all turn their backs on the Dems central policy issue, they'll be the first ones to be defeated in 2010.

Posted by: Chris_ | February 21, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Of the 39 democrats that voted against the bill, Obama carried 8 of these districts.

Some were in the south in which their were majority african americans. Also a republican in a very strong african american district voted for the bill.

Pelosi can get to 218.

Posted by: bobmrone | February 21, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

"this is a prisoners dilemma-like thing where if the Blue Dogs all turn their backs on the Dems central policy issue, they'll be the first ones to be defeated in 2010."

Nonsense.

"...North Carolina freshman Democrat Larry Kissell remains relatively popular in his conservative district and easily leads potential Republican opponents. Mr. Kissell was a no vote on health care. What makes the poll particularly relevant is data that shows that among the 44% of voters who incorrectly believe Mr. Kissell voted for the bill, the matchups are tied. Among the 29% who correctly understand he voted against the legislation, Mr. Kissell wins huge."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575003381136694098.html

Posted by: cpurick | February 21, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

"Things like the insurance market reforms have passed with 60 votes in the Senate and 220 in the House."

Yeah, but not the same insurance market reforms.

Sounds to me like an advanced case of reconciling the irreconcilable. Sort of like saving Tiger Wood's marriage. Good luck with that.

Posted by: bgmma50 | February 21, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

The key word in my original post being "all" ... I understand that the HCR effort isn't super popular after it's been painted as a socialist takeover for so long. This makes individual conservatives nervous, rightfully or wrongfully (Since liberals really don't like the bill, I'd say wrongfully...).

But AS A WHOLE these blue dogs will be first to go no matter what they're district thinks about this one issue. Yes, people like Kissell can take a stand and get some short-lived political points: these individualized, district-based considerations are important and matter somewhat. The problem is that the 2010 election can easily become *more* about the wave of Democratic defeats, apart from health care reform. If HCR fails, this landslide is more possible and more blue dogs will get crushed. That's what Bayh was worried about.

But, if HCR passes, Democratic voters won't stay home and independents won't think of Dems as "failures." No matter what you think about the merits of the bill, the politics of voting for this and moving on to something else make sense. Helping to alienate the base and failing on your top domestic priority may make some voters in NC happy, but as failures like this stack up, Kissell would be the first to go.

Posted by: Chris_ | February 21, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Bobmrone,

Maybe next year. 1 of those 8 is Kucinich. 3 of the remaining 7 come from districts won by Bush. The other 4 are Blue Dogs.

And I hope you aren't proposing that Democratic leadership campaign against incumbent Democratic congressmen. Especially when many of them represent conservative-leaning districts and/or districts that rarely went to Democrats before America elected its first African-American President, a historical event without qualification to his policy.

That would be a very bad idea for a party leadership seeking to retain its control of Congress and position itself appropriately for future power.

Posted by: cprferry | February 21, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Chris_,

Independents have already soured on Democrats. And not just because things aren't getting done. But how things are getting done (such as secret negotiations, legislative payoffs and partisan threats of reconciliation) and what's getting done (health care, not jobs). Independents have dropped to 19% support from 31% earlier this year. Further partisan maneuvers on unpopular bills is going to lose the independents altogether.

Posted by: cprferry | February 21, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

The White House has announced that the Democratic health care plan will be released tomorrow (Monday) morning at 10 am (Eastern) and Obama will appear to brief the press on the plan just before it is published.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

What DO Republicans want...?


"If the President intends to present any kind of legislative proposal at this discussion, will he make it available to members of Congress and the American people at least 72 hours beforehand? Our ability to move forward in a bipartisan way through this discussion rests on openness and transparency."
-John Boehner & Eric Cantor, February 8, 2010


"If they're going to lay out the plan they want to pass four days in advance, then what are we doing there on Thursday?"
-Mitch McConnell, today

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 21, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

The democrats have nothing to lose so they better pass HCR or they will be buried.

1994 they didn'tpass helthcare and they buried in the election

If the blue dogs think they can vote against the HCR bill and survive, then they are delusional. in this election climate without showing anything getting done will be disastrous for them.

Like I said they have nothing to lose

Posted by: bobmrone | February 21, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Patrick_M,

Smart people read source documents.

The quote from Boehner and Cantor comes from a series of requests that the health care reform summit be based upon. The two requests made just previous to the quote you cited give a clue to the state of confusion you find yourself in.

Here they are. Hopefully you'll find yourself better prepared to address the issues at hand now.

"Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward on health care in a bipartisan way, does that mean he will agree to start over so that we can develop a bill that is truly worthy of the support and confidence of the American people? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today that the President is “absolutely not” resetting the legislative process for health care. If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected, Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate.

Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan way, does that mean he has taken off the table the idea of relying solely on Democratic votes and jamming through health care reform by way of reconciliation? As the President has noted recently, Democrats continue to hold large majorities in the House and Senate, which means they can attempt to pass a health care bill at any time through the reconciliation process. Eliminating the possibility of reconciliation would represent an important show of good faith to Republicans and the American people."

Don't worry. Ezra Klein made the same mistake 5 days ago. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/02/sometimes_i_worry_about_congre.html

Posted by: cprferry | February 21, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Bobmrone,

It's questionable whether some Blue Dogs would even support the bill regardless of their political standing. Much of the bill is bad policy and unethical compromises.

Like or not, Blue Dogs don't want to win one for progressivism on their way out the door.

Posted by: cprferry | February 21, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

"Smart people read source documents."

And smarter people understand them.

The additional language that you quote merely states the absurd Republican demand that the Democrats completely ignore the bills already passed in both chambers, rather than "jamming through" (by a majority vote) a reconciliation package, and start all over again. Blah, blah, blah.

We get that.

Now deal with the two quotes I gave you. One insists that the Democrats lay out their plan in advance to show transparency and good faith, and the other quote says that if a plan is released in advance, it indicates bad faith.

The first demands advance release of the Democratic plan for the meeting to be worthwhile, and the other says that release in advance proves that the meeting must be a charade (although McConnell also conceded he expects to attend).

I am not at all suprised you say that the two statements are not inconsistent, but if you really believe what you are saying, then your partisanship is "obstructing" your ability to reason.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 22, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Not 'a' plan, but 'the' plan that rejects the two requests made just prior.

McConnell is stating that Democrats are showing bad faith in the attempt at bipartisanship by coming to the summit with a bill ready for an attempt through reconciliation and threatening it in advance.

Posted by: cprferry | February 22, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

The two requests, cpurick? Smart people READ the source documents.

"If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected, Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate."

No request there. Just a statement they will be "reluctant to participate" if the Democrats do not start from scratch.

"Eliminating the possibility of reconciliation would represent an important show of good faith to Republicans and the American people."

No request there either. Just a suggestion that the Democratic majority might wish to eliminate one of their own procedural options.

So the Republicans expressed possible reluctance and they made a suggestion. There were no requests, and nothing that suggested any circumstances under which the advance release of the Democratic plan, which the Republicans demand in the very same doccument, would be unwelcome.

There is nothing in the language you quote that provides any context that makes the two quotes concerning advance publication of the Democratic plan anything other than what the two quotes are: in direct and perfect contradiction with one another.

When you are in a hole, stop digging.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 22, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Patrick_M,

If you can not see how negotiating a plan that attempts to reconcile the House and Senate bill and then producing a website to defend the plan while leaving reconciliation on the table isn't an act of good faith in bipartisanship, then you're far too partisan.

The series of actions suggest that Pres. Obama and Democrats expect Republicans to either rubber stamp the proposal or be bypassed in an attempt through reconciliation. Any hope of hearing Republican concerns or passing a bill that serves the American people, and not just Democrats and Democrat special interests, has been taken off the table by Democrats. That's a fundamental break of the principle of bipartisanship the summit was called to address.

Posted by: cprferry | February 22, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The President and his liberal friends cry that we spend too much on health care in this country. Their answer is to throw another TRILLION dollars at the problems.

The President and his liberal friends argue that everyone is not covered by insurance. Their plan leaves many un-insured.

The President and his liberal friends say congress is inept. Then they argue we must put congress in charge of your family’s health care.

The President and his liberal friends say you can keep your doctor. Many doctors will choose not to treat Medicare patients due to cuts in the health takeover bill.

The President and his liberal friends intimate that their bill will reduce health insurance costs. In actuality, the mandates in the bill will vastly increase the cost of health insurance to US business and individuals.

The President and his liberal friends promised to focus on job creation. Instead they now threaten to impose higher health care costs on business; this is killing jobs in this country and will make America less competitive.

The President and his liberal friends have made many unfounded promises about health care. Perhaps they simply don’t want to communicate their real objective with this takeover.

Against the will of the American people they now work to take over industries like health care and energy so they can make the American people dependant on a bloated and bankrupt federal government. Perhaps they believe this will solidify their power?

Posted by: ELFopportunity | February 22, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

A picture is worth a thousand words...how Ryan debunks the latest Democrat' Ponzi Scheme designed to launch their not-so-covert agenda to federalize the lives of every American.....

http://www.newsweek.com/id/233915

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 22, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

"The series of actions suggest that Pres. Obama and Democrats expect Republicans to either rubber stamp the proposal or be bypassed in an attempt through reconciliation. Any hope of hearing Republican concerns or passing a bill that serves the American people, and not just Democrats and Democrat special interests, has been taken off the table by Democrats. That's a fundamental break of the principle of bipartisanship the summit was called to address."

cprferry,

Nice talking point from the minority party, and of course the Democratic translation is: for Republicans, the only acceptable "bi-partisan" outcome will be for the Democrats to throw out bills that have already been passed by a majority in the House and by a super-majority in the Senate.

But to return to the original subject of my comment:

The Republicans demanded advance publication of the Democratic plan, and then they complained when the plan was being published in advance.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 22, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

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