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Robert Dove on reconciliation

What do you make of former Senate parliamentarian Robert Dove's comments to TIME's Jay Newton-Small, "I've never seen a two-bill strategy" where reconciliation is used to fix another piece of legislation, he says. "It's permissible, I've just never seen it." Is he saying the main Senate health care bill need not first be passed by the House in order for a reconciliation fix to be considered?

Ezra Klein writes:

That looks to be what he's saying, though at the same time, it seems that the House has agreed to go first so long as the Senate agrees to pass reconciliation second. So it might be a moot point.

Stupak Amendment

If the Stupak amendment cannot be passed through reconciliation since it doesn't affect the budget, couldn't the democrats pass the Stupak amendment alone separately as a regular bill? It's really hard to see how the Republicans in house or the senate would vote against a bill that says in plain language that it will disallow federal subsidies for abortion. Thanks, Vin

Ezra Klein writes:

They absolutely could. But the votes aren't there in the Senate to pass Stupak.

A question of the bill sequence

Okay, so I know the format for passing it is House passes senate bill, and then changes are passed in house, and passed in senate through reconciliation. Here is my question: After the House passes the original senate bill, does that bill go to the President's desk for his signature? In other words, does the original senate bill become law if it passes the House, even if the rest of the process goes off the train tracks?

Ezra Klein writes:

In theory, it could. In practice, I don't think the president would cross the House like that.

"The Dean"

Ezra: Do you work out of the WaPo's main office? If so, can you clue us in to any reaction there has been about "The Dean" taking one of the younglings to task?

Ezra Klein writes:

I do work out of the office, though I don't happen to be there right now. That said, one thing I've really appreciated about being at the Post is that they're really very accustomed to -- and encouraging of -- arguments among their opinion writers.

No one has ever given me trouble for disagreeing with Samuelson or Lane or Will, and similarly, the op-ed writers have felt free to disagree with my work. This is part of that trend, not a sudden break from precedent. And I hope Milbank responds, too. I think this sort disagreement makes for a vibrant opinion section.

Palena!

Took your advice I'd seen a couple of times (most memorable in a tweet) and went to Palena last weekend. Split the fry plate, cheeseburger, and roast chicken with my dining partner. The fry plate was great, although I wish there were one more variation. The cheeseburger was amazing. But you already know this. I wasn't overwhelmed by the chicken like everyone else seems to be. Very moist and succulent, but besides the skin... just boring. Did I catch a bad night or should I stick to fry plate and burgers from now on/

Ezra Klein writes:

I was watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations from San Francisco and he said of a restaurant, "I would not be ashamed to die in here." That's pretty much how I feel about Palena's roast chicken. If you asked me the best dish in DC, that would be my answer.

Which is all to say that I love the dish. But I can't say whether you had a bad night or it's not to your taste. Try the Caesar salad there, though, which is also quite good.

Zombie healthcare

Shouldn't zombies get behind universal healthcare? After all, a healthy human brain is much tastier (and more nutritious) than one that's been rotted by disease.

Ezra Klein writes:

It cuts both ways, though. A healthy human can run faster than a bloated, inflamed, sick human.

Rep. Ryan

Rep. Ryan has posted a thoughtful response to you recent critique of his statements at the healthcare summit about the true cost of HCR on his facebook page. I'm personally finding the back and forth between you two very illuminating, and quite frankly, refreshing. Are you planning a response to his latest counterpoints?

Ezra Klein writes:

Yep. This chat interrupted me, but I'm currently typing the transcript of a conversation we had this morning. It'll be up soon.

But in the meantime, let me say how much respect I have for Ryan's willingness to engage with substantive critiques. And the reason he is willing engage like this is that he's confident that he knows his stuff. I've not been convinced by his position, but I always walk away from our talks with more respect for his position. Congress needs more like him.

Whining

Does it bother me as much as you when every article about whether the House has enough votes to pass health care includes quotes from members whining about one little thing or another? Every Rep. says things like "Oh, I'm not sure I could support it" because of such and such provision. Where is the sense of "we're all in this together?"


Ezra Klein writes:

This is actually a serious problem for anyone trying to pass a bill. Every member has the incentive to act undecided in order to extract maximal concessions at the end. But in acting undecided, they have to talk down the bill. So they end up getting their concession on legislation that's not popular and difficult to vote for. It would be much better if they just offered their demands up front in some sort of credible way and then kept their mouth shut.

Health Care Reform

What will the final bill look like? I know the difference between the House and Senate. But, what specifically will the FINAL bill look like and how will it be paid for?

Ezra Klein writes:

A lot, but not exactly, like the Senate bill plus the president's fixes.

Whatever happened to Tom Daschle anyway?

I was wondering the other day if the HCR drama would have been more or less dramatic if Tom Daschle had survived the nomination process. Would he have understood the Senate any better, and thus avoided the pitfalls that we've seen?

Ezra Klein writes:

I think it's very hard to say. But I am very mistrustful of the indispensable man theory of policymaking. I think you could have known very basic facts about this process -- 60 dems to start, then 59 midway -- and been able to predict with fair auccracy what happened.

Fifty Bucks A Month

What do you think are the worst parts of the bill that would affect a middle class steel worker like me? Hell, a big part of my check goes to ins. premiums. I had hernia surgery, gall bladder surgery in the past two months. You ought to see my out of the pocket costs. I'll have to kill myself working over time. Fifty bucks a month, thats all I can afford and I make decent money. My Sen. Sherrod Brown needs to lend his balls to a lot of those wimps on our side and just say no to the repubs get out of the way! We want insurance companies put in their place soon.

Ezra Klein writes:

Well, I don't know the exact cost of your insurance plan. It's possible that it could get hit by the excise tax. But then, maybe not. But the bill will probably do a lot more to help you. For instance, if your plant closes, no insurer can say that they're not going to give you coverage -- or your coverage will cost more -- because of your preexisting conditions or past surgeries. And there'll be subsidies to help you afford it.

But the likeliest outcome, for you and for most people, is that the plan doesn't touch you really at all.

Public Option letter

Hi Ezra, I was just wondering what the chances are that the public option could gain momentum again? It seem unlikely but then why are more and more senators signing this letter? And what happens if the letter gets 50 votes?

Ezra Klein writes:

I'm really caught on how to cover this. As you say, the letter really has a lot of signatures now. 39, if I remember correctly. But in my reporting, I can't get the people I trust to say, yes, take this seriously. The White House has pretty much said it doesn't want to do this. Pelosi has said it's unlikely. So these offices have a low-cost way to please the left by signing this letter, but they don't actually expect to have to do the work of getting the public option passed. If that tips at any point, I'll let you know, but as of now, the whole thing reads a little deceitfully to me.

Health care

Hey Ezra! I was wondering why the national exchanges were dropped from Obama's set of fixes to the senate bill. It would seem to me that that would be more effective at lowering costs than having 50 different reinventions of the wheel and thus be something to pass through reconciliation. If there is anyone who could best answer this it would probably be you. Thanks and keep it up! -Josh

Ezra Klein writes:

The answer I've heard is that they made the bill more expensive. I have not been able to figure out how that could be true, though.

media duplicity--Romney

Ezra, I listened to Romney spout outright lies about the stimulus, health care reform, and Afghanistan on NPR yesterday. The hosts Neil Conan and Ken Rudin simply sat there are allowed these lies to go unchallenged. Why does this happen and what can listeners do to counteract such blatant lying? I have already stopped giving to NPR over similar one-sided and poor quality reporting episodes.

Ezra Klein writes:

I didn't hear this interview, but it's certainly the case that a lot of interviewers feel the purpose of letting a public official speak is to expose viewers to his arguments, not subject his arguments to scrutiny. I think that's a real mistake.

Trying to start Meatless Mondays

I am trying to reduce the consumption of meat in my family's diet. Do you have any suggestions for resources, especially websites, that can get me started?

Ezra Klein writes:

Any web site with recipes!

Pending Zombie Legislation

Politicians in DC are out of touch with their constituents when it comes to our ceaseless battles with the undead. Jobs bills and healthcare would have been fine in the before times, but now that I have to regularly fight for my life with undead creatures as they attempt to eat my brains, I'm waiting for our representatives to tackle the zombie problem. A fat lot of good better healthcare coverage is going to do me, if I'm infected and turned into a brain-munching soldier in the army of the undead. At the very least, we need a Zombie Commission to be empaneled immediately. What do you think?

Ezra Klein writes:

Congress is out of touch. That's been true for a long time, but it became much worse when Ben Nelson was infected and managed to spread the zombie plague to most of the body. Now they just sit around all day shuffling around and moaning. It's not that different than it used to be, but it's still discouraging.

Douthat's wish for bloggers in Congress

Ezra, I agree with both Douthat (surpise!) and his critics about bloggers running for office, that bloggers have said many many things, some of which can be used against them. What's the first thing you've written, here or at American Prospect, that you'd not want to have mentioned in a Congressional campaign?

Ezra Klein writes:

This does not seem like a wise question for me to answer.

Reconciliation for cap+trade

Ezra - since you run a domestic policy blog, can we quickly dive into climate/energy policy, but tie it into reconciliation? What is your quick take on whether reconciliation could be used for a cap+trade or carbon tax program. I know we are at the point where there is talk of cap+dividend and other alternatives, but broadly speaking, would it have the votes and would be something that could qualify for the reconciliation process?

Ezra Klein writes:

It could be, but a critical mass of Democrats said they wouldn't allow it.

"Plain vanilla health plan"

During the debate over the CFPA in the House, one thing that was dropped was the requirement that institutions all offer "plain vanilla" financial products so that their "non-plain" policies could be compared with a benchmark. Could the public option advocates be satisfied if a similar requirement were included for plans in the exchange? Didn't the Clinton health plan from '93 also require each insurer to offer a basic plan at the same rate? And did you ever figure out what happened to the national exchange?

Ezra Klein writes:

The exchange actually does something along those lines, forcing standardization of information.

Use of Reconciliation by Republican Majorities

Is it true that reconciliation was used to pass welfare reform, CHIP, and the two Bush tax cuts? Was it needed, or would they have won on just plain majority votes anyway? And what were the votes on each on passage and on the Conference Reports?


Ezra Klein writes:

It's always hard to say if something is needed or not. For the Bush tax cuts, though, it certainly was. The second round, in particular, would not have had a chance without reconciliation.


Host Ezra Klein writes:

Since I answered one Palena question already, let me just suggest that while people are at Palena, they walk down the bock to Vace italian deli and buy lots of bagged fresh pasta and freeze it. I've started doing this and it's a delicious, delicious quick dinner. You just throw the frozen pasta into boiling water for four minutes.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 4, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

It looks like Stupak has eleven votes in his corner. As I've predicted for weeks, he and his confreres are planning to kill Pelosi's math.

I know you've been upbeat this week, Ezra, but once again I wonder if you've been dancing in the end zone a tad prematurely. Any thoughts?

Posted by: scarlota | March 4, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

If I were going to look for skeletons in your bloggy closet, Ezra, I'd be looking back at the early days of Pandagon, with Jesse Taylor. I enjoyed that blog a lot, but you've definitely come a long way since then.

Posted by: vancemaverick | March 4, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Meatless Mondays -- A web site called Smitten Kitchen has some great vegetarian recipes. Try the portabello stew -- it's wonderful. The kidney bean ramjah is also a favorite of mine now.

Posted by: tracy2 | March 4, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, in response to a question about the Senate double-crossing the House (and the country) by abandoning reconciliation after the House passes the Senate bill, you answered about the possibility of this happening:

"In theory, it could. In practice, I don't think the president would cross the House like that."

Ezra, that CANNOT be good enough. The White House has not been a good-faith player in this process when it comes to certain things, most notably its preference for the Senate bill (at least its framework).

For health care standing alone, the Senate bill is better than nothing. But seriously, this would be a gut-kick to the base, and moving forward, this would solidify the precedent that reconciliation can only be used by Republicans. I don’t think people are clearly thinking through how horrible that could be in both the short-term and long-term.

Holding the bill hostage for the public option seems ridiculous at this point. But I haven’t heard a decent rationale why House Dems need to cave on the order of things.

What do you think??

Posted by: Ryan21 | March 4, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The votes aren't there in the Senate for the House's language on abortion. The votes aren't there in the House for the Senate language.
Who should compromise? How about the one furthest away from current federal law and popular opinion? Okay, then, goodbye Senate language.

Posted by: cprferry | March 5, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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