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Reid to McConnell: Reconcile this.


Harry Reid just sent Mitch McConnell a letter expressing his intention to move forward with reconciliation, and telling the Republicans to, well, read for yourself:

Though we have tried to engage in a serious discussion, our efforts have been met by repeatedly debunked myths and outright lies. At the same time, Republicans have resorted to extraordinary legislative maneuvers in an effort not to improve the bill, but to delay and kill it. After watching these tactics for nearly a year, there is only one conclusion an objective observer could make: these Republican maneuvers are rooted less in substantive policy concerns and more in a partisan desire to discredit Democrats, bolster Republicans, and protect the status quo on behalf of the insurance industry.[...]

60 Senators voted to pass historic reform that will make health insurance more affordable, make health insurance companies more accountable and reduce our deficit by roughly a trillion dollars. The House passed a similar bill. However, many Republicans now are demanding that we simply ignore the progress we’ve made, the extensive debate and negotiations we’ve held, the amendments we’ve added (including more than 100 from Republicans) and the votes of a supermajority in favor of a bill whose contents the American people unambiguously support. We will not. We will finish the job. We will do so by revising individual elements of the bills both Houses of Congress passed last year, and we plan to use the regular budget reconciliation process that the Republican caucus has used many times.

I know that many Republicans have expressed concerns with our use of the existing Senate rules, but their argument is unjustified. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the use of reconciliation. As one of the most senior Senators in your caucus, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said in explaining the use of this very same option, “Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so.” Similarly, as non-partisan congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein said in this Sunday’s New York Times, our proposal is “compatible with the law, Senate rules and the framers’ intent.”

Reconciliation is designed to deal with budget-related matters, and some have expressed doubt that it could be used for comprehensive health care reform that includes many policies with no budget implications. But the reconciliation bill now under consideration would not be the vehicle for comprehensive reform – that bill already passed outside of reconciliation with 60 votes. Instead, reconciliation would be used to make a modest number of changes to the original legislation, all of which would be budget-related. There is nothing inappropriate about this. Reconciliation has been used many times for a variety of health-related matters, including the establishment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA benefits, and many changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

As you know, the vast majority of bills developed through reconciliation were passed by Republican Congresses and signed into law by Republican Presidents – including President Bush’s massive, budget-busting tax breaks for multi-millionaires. Given this history, one might conclude that Republicans believe a majority vote is sufficient to increase the deficit and benefit the super-rich, but not to reduce the deficit and benefit the middle class. Alternatively, perhaps Republicans believe a majority vote is appropriate only when Republicans are in the majority. Either way, we disagree. Keep in mind that reconciliation will not exclude Republicans from the legislative process. You will continue to have an opportunity to offer amendments and change the shape of the legislation. In addition, at the end of the process, the bill can pass only if it wins a democratic, up-or-down majority vote. If Republicans want to vote against a bill that reduces health care costs, fills the prescription drug “donut hole” for seniors and reduces the deficit, you will have every right to do so.

Read the rest here. I wonder if this makes any House Democrats feel more certain about Reid's intentions?

Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

By Ezra Klein  |  March 11, 2010; 2:01 PM ET
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Next: Senate parliamentarian rules that bill must pass before reconciliation can be used



Word down. And love this, too:

"President Bush’s massive, budget-busting tax breaks for multi-millionaires."

Eat it, Rs.

Posted by: AZProgressive | March 11, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Shorter Reid to Mitch: "Suck. On. This."

Posted by: rt42 | March 11, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

This is the first time in several years I feel proud of Reid.

This is a strong step in the right direction, finally!

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 11, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

It so rarely happens that prominent Democrats publicly and passionately make that case that "we're right and they're wrong," to quote Carville, that it's both a joy and a great relief to see something like this in print.

Thank you, Harry Reid.

And, please, more of the same. Lots more.

Posted by: rt42 | March 11, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

And the more partisan Harry gets, the more he ensures his departure after November. So, yes, this letter is a good thing.

Posted by: FreeMas | March 11, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I hope President Obama was cc'ed.

Posted by: kmani1 | March 11, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

It should not be any surprise that the Republicans engage in obstructionism when they're so deeply in the minority. There is literally nothing else for them to do, except exploit the cloture rules. It's the last tool available to them.

The GOP has constituents who sincerely oppose the Democratic proposal. There must be some, besides insurance companies and those who are fooled by the propaganda of Betsy McCaughey and her ilk.

What could the Republican senators say to those constituents? "We could have used filibuster tactics, but we didn't want to be discourteous." They would be labeled jellyfish. Their careers would be over, and they know it.

Posted by: billkarwin | March 11, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

when did Harry get a spine?

Ironic isn't it that it looks as if Harry's walking out (ie out of the Senate).

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 11, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

This letter wasnt so much written to the Republican minority leader as it was to the House Progressive Caucus, and by extension, the liberal blogosphere.

Having said that, I'm glad that Harry Reid has seemed to have a Damascus Road experience regarding Senate obstructionism.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | March 11, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The more partisan Harry gets, the more he ensures re-election from people who agree with him. After all, it's about time Democrats adjusted to the gratuitously selfish reality of the current Republican party.

Republicans only support the super-wealthy. Everyone else gets lip service.

Democrats have, in fact, been willing to meet Republicans halfway. But guess what, Republicans? That means you have to work with Democrats as well!

Posted by: Unsympathetic | March 11, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm normally not moved by this kind of stuff because I think it's usually unproductive to the process of governing. On the other hand, at this point it seems clear to me that there *is* no process of governing on HCR with Republicans. If this is what it takes to push House Dems to pull the trigger on the Senate bill, so be it.

Posted by: MosBen | March 11, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Terrific letter -- here's hoping it does the job.

Posted by: scarlota | March 11, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Accurate, succinct, and "in your face". Now, if only the Dems could reduce that to a bumper-sticker slogan, or Republican-like, spoon-sized bites of reguritated partisan pablum.... Then, it might resonate with the confused, misled, and uninformed public upon which the GOP preys - and relies.

Posted by: rbrent516 | March 11, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"the more partisan Harry gets, the more he ensures his departure after November"

I think the inverse is true. We voters don't like wimps, and like it or not, Reid has been looking wimpy for months, perhaps years.

I occasionally hear that in the background, Reid is a tough leader...but he needs more public pronouncements like this.

The Republicans have been balls-out lying for a year on HCR, and it is more than time for some blunt push-back. So hurrah and keep at it. Practice makes perfect, Mr. Majority LEADER.

Posted by: RalfW | March 11, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

yep, the letter was good.

but that plum pudding looks pretty good (the reconciled HCR bill passed by the both houses and signed by Obama.

now we see if we get to eat that pudding, or not.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | March 11, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Holy crap is that awesome. Good job, Harry. Now watch the nightly news not even mention it.

Posted by: patrickbyers | March 11, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen the Parliamentarian's comments made after Reid's letter?

Posted by: rmgregory | March 11, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Referring to nightly news, if Reid and other top Dems would ask to be interviewed on nightly news more often, they'd have a better chance at winning the message war.

Look how often McCain and McConnell and other Repubs are on TV.

Even progressive talk hosts complain about not being able to get high-profile Dem leaders on their shows.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 11, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Reid is a jerk and soon will be the former Senator from Nevada.

Posted by: amazd | March 11, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"Referring to nightly news, if Reid and other top Dems would ask to be interviewed on nightly news more often, they'd have a better chance at winning the message war."
Everytime Reid opens his mouth, he drops farther in the polls.

Posted by: amazd | March 11, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans believe a majority vote is sufficient to increase the deficit and benefit the super-rich, but not to reduce the deficit and benefit the middle class."

If Democrats knew anything about "messaging", this would be repeated over and over again on every political talk show by every Democrat ad naseum. Why can't Democrats be as disciplined on messaging as Republicans are?

Posted by: KarlJohnson | March 11, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

@AZProgressive: "Eat it, Rs."

Oh, ouch. Republicans have never heard a Democrat say something like: "President Bush’s massive, budget-busting tax breaks for multi-millionaires." Or accuse Republicans of lying. How novel.

A little red meat for the true believers, I suppose, but this only seems a little more belligerent that what they've been doing for the past several months . . . if this is a turning point, I'll be surprised.

The problem with advancing HCR is not Reid's complacency with McConnell, it's Obama's compromise-then-surrender approach with the Republicans. Unless that's a rope-a-dope. Which I suppose it could be.

But given what the Republicans have been trying, with characterizing HCR as a takeover of 1/6th of the economy to making reconciliation out to be a nuclear option, the tired old trope of "tax cuts for the rich" seems like awfully weak tea.

The rest of it is a pretty good rebuttal to the Republicans. Might be too little, too late, though. We shall see.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 11, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

@KarlJohnson: "'Republicans believe a majority vote is sufficient to increase the deficit and benefit the super-rich, but not to reduce the deficit and benefit the middle class.' . . . If Democrats knew anything about 'messaging', this would be repeated over and over again on every political talk show by every Democrat ad naseum. Why can't Democrats be as disciplined on messaging as Republicans are?"

Well, first, the Republicans aren't normally that disciplined. On when there is a Democrat in the Whitehouse can they seem to get their act together.

Second, I don't think they may concerned that such repetetive, talking point messages are risky--that is, they can help. But they can also hurt. So, better to do nothing, maybe.

Third, I think that's not an unreasonable fear. Such messages don't always resonate outside of the party faithful. What preaches well to the choir doesn't always work so well with the public at large.

Fourth, they may worry they lack credibility. Most of them are very rich. Many of them are richer than their Republican counterparts. Many of them, when it comes down to it, depend on money from very, very rich people. Spending too much time in class envy can be self-defeating when it comes time to replenish the campaign coffers.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 11, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I think I just grew a hair on my chest reading that. :)

I think the fact that the Dems gave the Republicans so long to come around on this one adds extra moral heft to Reid's position. I'm not sure the satisfaction of that moral clarity is worth all the heartache of delay, but it's something at least.

Posted by: roquelaure_79 | March 11, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

It . . . looks like a spine. Or something similar to a spine.

But in a Democrat, which had not been previously reported in the literature.


Posted by: Jonnan | March 11, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

We love you Harry - no punches pulled - every word true -

Posted by: winchestereast | March 11, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

OOOHHHH A sternly worded letter...Let's actually see some progress before we bestow sainthood on Reid.

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

** Do they have Alzheimers?

Reid and McConnell look like what they are -- tired old men, bent over from a lifetime of counting lobbyist dollars.

Put an upper age limit or medical health limit on Congress members, or at least on the entire leadership of House and Senate, including committee chairs.

There are mental and physical rigors associated with leadership positions. Neither the parties nor the country get well served by those who otherwise would be retired.

Could either of these guys pass a standard driving test in the District? or Virginia. How good is their eyesight, hearing, muscle strength, lung capacity, general stamina?

Seventy years of age should be the upper bound with testing required at age 60 and every year thereafter.

Posted by: anti_supernaturalist | March 11, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mr. Klein.

The lies and myths are coming from Reid and company. They -- along with the rest of their blind followers - seem to not realize everything brought up against the bill is actually on paper and in the legislation.
Reid is relying on the emotions of many Americans susceptible to that kind of approach to pass this agenda and hanging on to media hype over criticisms of the bill to continue discrediting its opponents.
There are several alternative ideas to this healthcare agenda, but nobody in the Washington Left seems to want to work on actual reform. Calling opponents "liars" and such are simply ways to appeal to the emotions rather than reason.

Posted by: LandoGriffin | March 14, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

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