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A reconciliation primer

It is amazing how few reporters understand what the budget reconciliation process is: Either how it works, or what it's traditionally been used for, or what Democrats are proposing to use it for. That confusion creates comical exchanges like this one, where Bob Schieffer and Politico listened to Kent Conrad argue for a reconciliation strategy and walked away believing he'd thrown cold water on the idea.

I don't really want to write up a whole new reconciliation primer, so let me link to the one I've already done. For a much longer look at the process, this CRS report (pdf) has tons of information.

The very short version is that the budget reconciliation process -- which limits debate and thus defuses the filibuster -- was created in the Balanced Budget Act of 1974. It was later modified by the Byrd rule, which confined it to provisions that directly affect federal spending. That constraint is what makes reconciliation complicated: Insurance regulations, for instance, have only an indirect effect on federal spending, which means they're not eligible for reconciliation. Subsidies, however, have a direct effect, so they are eligible. Policies falling into the gray area are decided by the Senate parliamentarian, who listens to arguments from both sides and then makes a ruling.

Reconciliation has, in general, been a Republican endeavor. Political scientist Joshua Tucker looked at the 19 times reconciliation was used between 1981 and 2005, and found that 14 of them were Republican initiatives. If you extend that analysis out to 2008, then 16 of 21 reconciliation bills were Republican.

That brings us up to the present. But now, Republicans are arguing that reconciliation has never been used for major legislation, and so any attempts to use the process to modify the health-care reform bill would be a sharp break with precedent. That's wrong on two counts.

First, reconciliation has been used for major legislation almost constantly, particularly on health-care reform. An NPR analysis concluded that "over the past three decades, the number of major health financing measures that were not passed via budget reconciliation can be counted on one hand."

In fact, if you named a recent legislative accomplishment at random, you'd probably find it went through reconciliation. Both Bush tax cuts, at a total cost of $1.8 trillion, used the reconciliation process. So did welfare reform, and the Balanced Budget Acta of 1995 and 1997. The Children's Health Insurance Program was created in reconciliation, and so too was COBRA. The law stating that hospitals who take Medicare and Medicaid money have to see all patients who walk into their emergency room was also passed in reconciliation, as was the 1983 tax increase that reversed many of the Kemp-Roth tax cuts.

Second, Democrats are not proposing to create the health-care reform bill in reconciliation. Rather, they're using the process for a much more limited purpose: passing the 11 pages of modifications that President Obama proposed to reconcile the House and Senate bills with each other. This is not a particularly ambitious use of the reconciliation process, and it's certainly not unprecedented. Republicans are arguing otherwise, of course, but the record belies their rhetoric.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 1, 2010; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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"Rather, they're using the process for a much more limited purpose: passing the 11 pages of modifications that President Obama proposed to reconcile the House and Senate bills with each other."

Predicated on the House passing the Senate bill first?

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 1, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

bgmma50, yes.

Ezra, thanks for this post! Now just repeat that last paragraph any time Republicans talk about reconciliation.

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

As bg says the house must pass the senate bill. It is still unclear (and will be until the senate parliamentarian rules) if the house needs to pass the senate bill first or if a reconciliation FIX TO WHAT HAS ALREADY PASSED THE SENATE, can be passed first.

Ezra, every time you use a word like loophole, you support the right wing meme that reconciliation is somehow not appropriate to making revenue changes in bills that have passed one or both of the chambers. This is what reconciliation was designed for. I think an argument could be made for expanding medicare using reconciliation as that would directly affect revenues, but right now, that along with adding a public option are not in the president's 11 pages of changes.

Posted by: srw3 | March 1, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse


I'll email you about this, but one additional point is that there ultimately isn't a real constraint from reconciliation. The president of the Senate, Biden, can reject the parliamentarian's advice and move ahead with whatever is proposed under reconciliation. This may be politically idiotic, of course, but isn't it the case that there really is no stopping the Senate from doing anything under reconciliation, other than political realities and a bunch of Dem senators saying no way?

Posted by: gocowboys | March 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, I just thought of a quick question. With all this renewed talk of the public option there seems to be an assumption that it would go through reconciliation. I remember lots of discussions from last summer, however, about whether or not the public option could survive through reconciliation because it's possibly not related to the budget closely enough.

As anything changed since then that gives a clearer picture on this, or are people just forgetting all the debates about whether it was appropriate for reconciliation?

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"Predicated on the House passing the Senate bill first?"

Predicated on the House passing the Senate bill.

There has been some discussion that passage of the Senate bill may not have to precede passage of reconciliation, but Rep. Hoyer stated over the weekend that the House would go first to approve the Sentae bill.

However, it is also local to assume that the House vote on the Senate bill would not take place until the language of the reconciliation bill is complete, so House members can see where the changes will be. And House members will likely want some assurances that a Whip count in the Senate assures that the reconciliation package will pass.

So I think the sequence will be:

1. Reconciliation bill is drafted, and assurances are made to the House of majority support for the sidecar in the Senate.

2. House passes Senate bill.

3. Senate approves reconciliation sidecar bill.

4. Obama signs both into law.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 1, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

The NPR website had also a very good primer on this, and called out something that I wonder how the Dems will be able to deal with: This is the fact that the Congressional Budget Resolution, with which reconciliation is intended to bring the competing bills into conformance, is based on a 5 yr projection, whereas HCR is often talked about in terms of a 10 yr time horizon. Notably, the article states, there's the chance that certain provisions of HCR, if passed under reconciliation, may be subject to a 5 yr sunset clause and thus need to be reauthorized by Congress. Since some provisions don't go into effect till 2013, imagine having to go through this again in 2016!

Stated differently, did the fact that the GWB tax cuts had to sunset this year have anything to do with the fact that they were passed under reconciliation?

Posted by: Lonepine | March 1, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"Stated differently, did the fact that the GWB tax cuts had to sunset this year have anything to do with the fact that they were passed under reconciliation?"


Posted by: bgmma50 | March 1, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Patrick_M, does the sidecar count as separate legislation? Does the House have to vote on it?

I would think it'd be like this:
1) Reconciliation bill drafted. Majorities in both Houses sign off to both the Senate bill and the sidecar.

2) Senate votes to pass sidecar.

3) House votes simultaneously to pass Senate bill and sidecar.

4) President signs both.

That way the House is reassured about the sidecar passing *and* that the parliamentarian allows all the pieces to proceed through the process.

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if anyone has a pool on the length of the actual reconciliation proposal. We have the length of the debated Senate Finance Committee proposal and compare it to the length of the actual legislative proposal, so there should be basis for an estimate on what the 11 page Presidential wish list might turn out to be.

The page count is of no substantial concern; however, using the brevity of the President's wish list as a selling point may be as imprudent as using the length of the legislative bill as a point of detraction.

Posted by: rmgregory | March 1, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Isn't Politico really mis-interpreting what Kent Conrad said on purpose since they're against HCR and for the Republican agenda in general -- as much as some beltway types pretend otherwise? They probably knew exactly what he was saying but spun it to the way it would help their cause. Why not call Politico out on this as opposed to saying they don't understand reconciliation?

Posted by: saratogian | March 1, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"It is still unclear (and will be until the senate parliamentarian rules) if the house needs to pass the senate bill first or if a reconciliation FIX TO WHAT HAS ALREADY PASSED THE SENATE, can be passed first."

Thank you srw3. That is the issue I'm trying to work out. Miz Nancy has refused to pass the Senate bill until the Senate first passes a "reconciliation". But I believe that the "reconciliation" is for modification of legislation, not modification of a Senate bill that has never become legislation.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 1, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

rmgregory, Ezra calculated how long the Senate bill would be if you formatted it like normal books are formatted, and it decreased the length to around 38% of the original length. So by my calculations, the 11 page bill becomes something like ~30 pages.

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

This makes absolutely no sense. The easiest way to pass HCR is for the House to insist on its version and go to a House-Senate conference committee. Look up the Senate rules and you will see senators cannot filibuster a House-Senate conference committee report. Therefore they only need 51 votes. So why are Democrats insisting on reconciliation? Because they don't want to risk the chance that some Republican amendment would be adopted by the House-Senate conference. They have greater control over the process this way. I am not really surprised that reporters don't understand this process because they don't read the Senate rules.

Posted by: edwardallen54 | March 1, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Public education on this is surprisingly simple. People may not know about CHIP or emergency room laws, but COBRA is one of the few things that just about everyone with a job knows about- even if you've never used it, you get a COBRA benefits notice every time you leave a job. (Yes, COBRA covers lots of other things, but health insurance is the best known.) So any time a Republican says reconciliation isn't used for health care, the correct response is, "What do you think the R in COBRA stands for?"

Posted by: _SP_ | March 1, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"Look up the Senate rules and you will see senators cannot filibuster a House-Senate conference committee report."
I don't think this is true, Ezra has mentioned this before. It can't be amended, but it can be filibustered.

Posted by: _SP_ | March 1, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

thank you for your consistently, persistently excellent work.
mindfulness, clarity, steadiness and integrity.

Posted by: jkaren | March 1, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I wish we could get this post in front of every journalist in MSM. You must be bored to tears repeating it, but until the rest of the Media starts to educate the public, I think it is a good idea to keep up the repitition.

Posted by: robinshuster | March 1, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Miz Nancy has refused to pass the Senate bill until the Senate first passes a "reconciliation". But I believe that the "reconciliation" is for modification of legislation, not modification of a Senate bill that has never become legislation."

yada yada yada...

Speaker Pelosi has made no such ultimatum on the sequence of passage of legislation, and the path forward was made very clear by Steny Hoyer yesterday in his interview on Face The Nation:

"Whether we're willing or not, we have to go first if we are going to correct thing that the House disagrees with."

Full story here:

So bgmma50's false controversy about the precise sequence is a red herring. The House leadership plans to pass the Senate bill as the first step. As I have stated before, I think a House vote will happen once the House has seen the reconciliation language and received reasonable assurances that the sidecar will receive Senate approval.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 1, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

All well and fine. But without the public-option this legislation will be a disaster. Does Obama really want to create a disaster just so he can have a win? How selfish is this guy?

With Obama's plan the health insurance stocks are on a roll. That cannot be good for consumers. No way!

Posted by: Maddogg | March 1, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein's comments on healthcare reform have consistently enlightend me more than those of any other commentator. He explains the bills more lucidly and is a better advocate for reform than anyone in the Obama administration, except Obama himself when he is face-to-face with obstructionist and lying Republican congressmen.

Posted by: DWSouthern | March 1, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I am not worried about the 5 or 10 year sunset provision because there are fixes that no one wants to vote against, like changing the cornhusker kickback. What politician is going to say that they voted to allow special preferences to nebraska or raised taxes (the cadillac tax fix) on insurance? The other fixes are also common sense proposals that no one will want to vote against IHMO>

Posted by: srw3 | March 1, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, Ezra, Reconciliation is a Republican tool. The nerve of those Democrats for threatening to use it.

Posted by: kellgo | March 1, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for posting this. It drives me mad when reporters keep saying that Democrats want to use reconciliation to pass the health care bill. Cokie Roberts did the same thing on NPR this morning. Maddening!

Posted by: jmpeters33 | March 1, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse


Interesting entry. Of the bills you mentioned that have gone through the reconciliation process, how many were being filibustered at the time?

Posted by: geneg2 | March 1, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The way things look now, the plan is for the House to simply pass the bill now, in the form that it passed the Senate. The tweaks will come later, through a reconciliation bill. This means that the basic will will pass without any resort to reconciliation. Once HCR is the law of the land, reconciliation will become a non-issue. It would be idiotic for Republicans to attempt to frustrate relatively minor adjustments that will be made in the reconicliation bill. Even if they do, HCR will go into effect anyway. This explains why Republicans are making such a stink about reconciliation now. At the end of the day, the reconciliation issue will be totally irrelevant.

Posted by: snsinger | March 1, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

From your article, Patrick, (which I had already seen)

"Whether we're willing or not, we have to go first if we are going to correct thing that the House disagrees with," Hoyer said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"Hoyer said that Democrats have not yet started counting votes and have not yet nailed down all the details for what they plan to pass. Both of those will be finalized soon, he said."

So, not only is Hoyer NOT committing to pass the Senate bill, he's saying he doesn't even have details on what they'll pass or even if they have the votes for "it", whatever "it" is. But he does know they'll have to "go first" on "it".

Yeah. Think I'll keep trying to figure out what happens if the House doesn't pass the Senate bill.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 1, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"Democrats are not proposing to create the health-care reform bill in reconciliation."

Another lie. Progressive Democrats are calling for the Public Option through reconciliation.

You guys can't keep your stories straight.

Posted by: mitchflorida | March 1, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Correction. Hoyer does know they'll have to "go first" on "it", "whether we're willing or not".

I'm thinking, not.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 1, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"So, not only is Hoyer NOT committing to pass the Senate bill, he's saying he doesn't even have details on what they'll pass or even if they have the votes for "it", whatever "it" is. But he does know they'll have to "go first" on "it"."

Yes, bgmma50. As I have said more than once already, the House membership will want to see the reconciliation language and have assurances that the Senate will pass the sidecar, before they proceed to pass the Senate bill. And there will not be a meaningful vote count in the House, until that happens. The Senate bill + sidecar are going to be an integral package, and will need to be crafted together by House and Senate leaders for the two pieces to stand a chance of passage.

"Yeah. Think I'll keep trying to figure out what happens if the House doesn't pass the Senate bill."

Well, yeah, ok then. But it might be better to try and figure that out if and when Plan A falls apart. For now the Congressional Democrats are not trying to figure that out at all, and it is kind of pointless to wonder about plans they are not making.

My own speculation, already mentioned in another thread, is that if they fail to get the votes needed for the Senate Bill + Sidecar, that will be the end of the HCR effort, for at least the rest of 2010.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 1, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@ mitchflorida:
1. Sure there is noise about this, but the only proposal on the table is the Obama 11 page fix list, which doesn't include the public option. When the public option is voted through the house, get back to me.
2. If the public option can be couched in terms of its direct effect on the budget, then it can be passed under reconciliation. Look at welfare reform, passed under reconciliation when repiglicans controlled congress.
3. The easy reconciliation way to get one kind of public option is to expand medicare, which directly affects the budget.

Posted by: srw3 | March 1, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"Democrats are not proposing to create the health-care reform bill in reconciliation."

Another lie. Progressive Democrats are calling for the Public Option through reconciliation.

You guys can't keep your stories straight."

Mitch, Mitch, Mitch...

Let us try and comprehend.

Even in the highly unlikely scenario that the Democrats added a public option to the reconciliation package, that would not mean that the Democrats are trying to pass the comprehensive HCR bill in reconciliation.


The reconciliation package will consist only of a limited number of amendments to the Senate bill. Those amendments will be the ONLY parts of HCR that will be passed under reconciliation.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 1, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"But it might be better to try and figure that out if and when Plan A falls apart."

Considering that Miz Nancy is on record as saying that the Senate must pass a fix before the House passes the Senate bill, and considering that Hoyer's statement, even putting the best possible spin on it is noncommittal, I'd say that you'd better hope somebody is trying to figure that out. More than likely, somebody probably already has figured it out,figured that dog won't hunt, and thus Plan A is the only option. But Miz Nancy isn't going for it or she doesn't have the votes.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 1, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

This is done with the budget not for legislation that would change one sixth of our economy. These are incredibly evil men to use this to pass this health care takeover by the Feds that no one wants. Shame on these arrogant selfish deaf politicians to push this phony reform filled with special deals, bribes, double talk, and lies. If they think the American people with stand for this, they are loony tunes. The Democrats are doomed if they push this and they are going to be creamed in November and in 2012. They will deserve all they are about to get pushing this sham of a bill that has no cost reform or tort reform. Our family is livid with these evil of all men.

Posted by: greatgran1 | March 1, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

How are those who vote in favor of reconciliation going to explain GATOR AID, LOUISIANA PURCHASE, MASSACHUSETTS MONEY MAYHEM, VERMONT VOTE ORGY,???

Most of those voting for this got nothing for their constituents. They will have to explain why seniors in Florida are grandfathered but seniors in 47 other states are not.

The commercials are being made. More people will be uninsured in November 2010 if this passes. Explain that to the voters.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | March 1, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Weiner Identifies 55 Republicans Congressmen On Medicare Who...

‘Steadfastly Oppose’ The Public Option

Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) office today released an internal study showing that 151 members of Congress “currently receive government-funded; government-administered single-payer health care — Medicare.” Of those 151 members, 55 are Republicans who also happen to be “steadfastly opposed [to] other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen.”

Included on [Weiner’s List] are anti-public option crusaders Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

This morning on C-Span, Weiner explained the idea behind the project:

WEINER: It’s more another way of looking at this debate, this discussion about the public option, to put it in focus. We went, just out of curiosity, looked at how many members of Congress get the public option. And I know a lot of people have said, “Well under the new bill, how many of you members of Congress would choose the public option?”

Well there already is one; it’s called Medicare. And we found 55 Republicans and 151 members of Congress are on Medicare right now. So they’re already getting the same type of public option that we’d like people who are without insurance to be able to get. And I guess the purpose of this list was to kind of point out some of the hypocrisy of this debate.

“You have members of Congress thumping their chest how they’re against government health care,” Weiner noted, adding, “and yet when it’s time for them to accept Medicare, they’re like, ‘Sign me up!’” Watch it:

Back in July, Weiner offered an amendment that would eliminate Medicare, saying at the time that it was “put-up or shut-up time for the phonies who deride the so-called ‘public option.’” Of course, no one voted for the measure.

“Even in a town known for hypocrisy,” Weiner said in a statement today releasing his study, “this list of 55 Members of Congress deserve some sort of prize. They apparently think the public option is ok for them, but not anyone else.”

Posted by: omaarsblade | March 1, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

It seemed strange that Politico was so wrong/confused about Conrad's remarks. Question for you: Do you expect the WH to add any additional items (discussed at the summit) to the list proposed for reconciliation: (1) getting rid of special carve outs for FL and LA; (2) enhancing tort reform efforts; (3) beefing up cost reduction measures; (4) adding a lower cost insurance plan option to exchange (such as 60% valuation)? Also, in terms of the criticisms expressed at the summit of the Medicaid program on qualitative issues (lack of access to doctors that accept reimbursement rates, etc), if it is the case that Medicaid participants are not receiving adequate care, are you aware of any independent analysis/statistics with respect to the Medicaid program's issues and does the healthcare bill address any of such deficiencies (i.e., expanding care through community health centers or increasing supply of providers)?

Posted by: wswest | March 1, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Wreck-conciliation n. 1. a process used by a small group of powerful politicians to impose their will on an increasingly angry American public. 2. the act of not reconciling; wreckless abandon.

Posted by: mtpeaks | March 1, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

That's a good project for Weiner, but I wish he wouldn't talk about the Public Option as being the same as Medicare. If anything, I'd rather have an expansion of Medicare than a Public Option. The PO was the weak sauce conservative compromise we came up with try avoid seeming too partisan or whatever.

Cornell, you know, I consider myself to have a better than average understanding of the way this debate has played out, and I have no idea what some of those catch phrases refer to. Are people to assume that just because you came up with a bad name for something that we should be mad at it?

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Weiner's problem is that the folks on Medicare believe, and in most cases rightly so, that they've been contributing for 40 years and so they're entitled to more than people who have not only never contributed anything, will not in the future contribute anything, but will instead spend their whole lives receiving subsidized health care.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 1, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Problem: 1.3 Trillion dollar budget defifict

Solution: Raise taxes to partially fund new healthcare entitlements.

Grade: Fail

No matter how they attempt to Rahm it through it's still an incredibly misguided policy. If only the "journalists" at this paper were capable of doing some real policy analysis.....

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | March 1, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

*It is amazing how few reporters understand what the budget reconciliation process is:..*

Some reporters do know, but skew quotes of guests' responses according to their own bias (Politico in this case).

But, I think some reporters actually do not know and do not prepare for the interview, relying instead on the guest to enlighten him/her and their viewers.

First, Conrad did a very LOUSY job of explaining the recon process for this particular legislation. It's no wonder his audience was confused. CONRAD was probably confused by his own explanation!

I'm not amazed by a reporter's ignorance of the issue, but I am extremely AMAZED (and constantly frustrated) by the ineptitude and utter lack of communication skills on the part of Senators, Reps, and official WH "spokespersons"!

PS: I second DWSouther's sentiments.

Posted by: onewing1 | March 1, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

We all know that Klein is a stooge for Obama and a sycophant for him. But if these Democrats try to ram this ObamaCare madness down the throats of the US tax-paying, working citizens, they will be committing political suicide. This Klein will see alot of his buddies gone after November.

Posted by: walterndebby | March 1, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

fallsmeadjc, can you cite to a study that shows that the revenue portions of the Senate bill will only partially fund the costs? I've seen a lot of people argue that the HCR bill will increase the deficit, but they never cite to any evidence.

Also, this bill is not a cureall for the deficit. It does begin to address cost containment in healthcare spending, which is important, but it doesn't solve the deficit, and I don't think I've seen anyone say that it is such a "solution".

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

What is with this Klein? He sure behaves as if he is a stooge for Obama and a leftist sycophant. If the Dems try to push this 51 vote thing thru on ObamaCare, they will be committing political suicide.
Many of Kleins's buddies will be gone after November

Posted by: walterndebby | March 1, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

How amazing for journalists to begin to correct fallacies made for political propaganda! This information should be tatooed to every cable news journalist and commentator in the US.

Posted by: TeddyRoosevelt | March 1, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

the tax cuts ezra are financial or budget concerns and the data on tax cuts have been that they have always resulted in more revenue not less.those numbers are fiction and you know it. if you don't let us pull out the history of the kennedy and reagan tax cuts.
the real issue here is that it is not a budget item but the socialization of medicine.
recently one of canada's provincial heads of state came to the usa to get his heart fixed and opted out of the socialized paradise of canada.this is socialism at may be worse. the obama spending bilge is designed to destroy the economy so that a socialist takeover with total redistribution of wealth to be accomplished. it is the unspoken goal of the left. why don't you admit that?because you know that if people knew your agenda they would not read your untruths.

Posted by: rabbichaimmoshe | March 1, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, voting using majority rules is for thugs, while endless filibustering is a practice of only the most distinguished gentlemen. This Klein seems to not understand that we have the greatest health care system the world, no, the universe, has ever known or will ever know.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 1, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

You are fiddling while Rome burns....

This line of thought (and most of the comments) are not helpful to "what ails us" as a country. Although the thinking around DC and most of the right coast is for more, more, more government control, mandates and bureacracy, I do not believe you are hearing the south coast, north coast, and flyover population.

The heart of the country will not suffer again being ignored. We need fewer policy wonks promoting additional mechanisms and justifications for "doing the wrong thing".

At at time of extreme duress for middle class families and extreme uncertainty for business, the health care debate as it exists will not sell. It may pass via reconciliation, but it will not sell.

Reconciliation on this issue is a formula to assure further division in the country, a change of leadership, and repeal of the legislation.

Instead of dealing with the real problem (future solvency of the country), you are promoting another huge expenditure and entitlement. No doubt, we all want to extend health care access, improve quality, and reduce waste/cost. But NOT with massive legislation, guessing at the cost, and no idea of the unintended consequences.

Let's see some real leadership. Deal with entitlements using sound economics, cut federal employment 30% in 2 years, and align federal benefits with the 50th percentile of the represented.

Then we can afford to improve prospects for the future.

Posted by: logic_reason | March 1, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The Dem's have missed the point of when to use reconciliation, and that is when they are representing the will of the people. I am not a math major, but I think 65%-35% against this legislation is a mandate from the voters not to pass it, reconciliation or not.

Posted by: bruce22 | March 1, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I notice that you failed to note that barak, clinton and hairy have all gone on record as opposing reconciliation calling it the nuclear option, soooo what's different now??

Posted by: mandinka2 | March 1, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

How often has reconciliation been used on a bill of this size and with this one-sided a bill development process? Reconciliation to provide a simple process for merging budget changes between the houses makes sense. With the conflict on this bill and the public disagreement, reconciliation seems to be the wrong way to go.

On the subject of "choosing" medicare, it's not really a choice, it's a requirement if you don't want to face higher costs later. It's hard to call that an "option". Also, it is "means tested", which generally means that those that have contributed to most during their working years have to pay more during their retirement years.

Posted by: RentonComments | March 1, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Why, oh why must we over think the message so much? Simplify, (over)simplify, simplify: there are 2 bills that have passed, they are slightly different, but we have this nifty process for RECONCILING the two bills that makes it so we don't have to rehash all of the other stuff the bills already have in common. That process is called RECONCILIATION, we use it all the time to RECONCILE bills, who knows that the Repubs are all upset about.

We, who are invested it this, are somehow under the impression that (1) most people are actually paying attention and (2) remember enough of their 9th grade civics to get all of the finer points of parliamentarian procedures, as if that was covered in the first place... and that they even understand the bill itself. Yeah, they don't like it, until they are walked through it and then the polling flips, and the same percentage that was against is then for. Unfortunately, a large segment of the population hears just enough in between songs on the radio or TV shows to dislike it. Another that is listening to talk radio and watching Fox, they are rabidly opposed and it wouldn't matter if there were 80 votes in the Senate, it would still be some Maoist-Stalinist-Marxist plot to ruin America.

Posted by: kcar1 | March 1, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

What happened to what the American Citizen's think on this scam? We pay for the obscene salaries and health care plus perks.for everyone in government. We are being completely ignored on this Health Care Scam, there is no money for. Start reducing the size of our government now to help pay for this scam.

The politicians who are pushing this dangerous scam will not be forgotten from the President on down, who are playing Russian Roulette with our lives.

Election time will take care of all these power hungry criminals who help pass Health Care Reform Scam which is not to help the sick and dying, but to make a profit for all the criminals involved.

Posted by: peggydlhk | March 2, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

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