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Shed a tear for the lobbyists

One of the oddities of the conversation about the reconciliation process is that I'd bet most Americans would actually prefer reconciliation in theory. For one thing, the length of debate is limited, so the two parties don't wage war for a year. For another, it's 51 votes, which means the Senate can actually do things again. And, as Roll Call points out, it's harder for lobbyists to influence:

Industry stakeholders that have spent the past year working overtime to influence almost every aspect of the massive health care reform bill are now struggling to put their imprint on a final product that likely will be shaped by the arcane budget reconciliation process. Lobbyists said that reconciliation does not lend itself well to outside pressure because rules limit the substance of the bill to issues directly tied to the budget. Furthermore, they say now that President Barack Obama has outlined what he wants to see in the measure, there is less leeway for input from industry groups.

I continue to think the degree to which Americans hate watching the legislative process is a bigger issue than either side realizes.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 8, 2010; 11:07 AM ET
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They hate watching the process, but they don't remember the process in the medium and long-terms. Before the flurry of blog posts about reconciliation in the past few weeks, what person outside the beltway could remember what legislative pathways important pieces of legislation like Social Security and Medicare took to becoming law? Nobody. I think Democrats should hurry up and "ram it through" so that people can begin to forget about them ramming it through.

Posted by: Owen_Truesdell | March 8, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

At bottom the Democrats are advancing a majoritarian rationale for advancing a bill that a clear majority of Americans oppose. Everything else is just rhetoric.

Posted by: tbass1 | March 8, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Heck yes.

I like wonkery, I like politics, and I like health care policy. But I've been wanting to claw my eyes out about this since September.

Posted by: adamiani | March 8, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, more than anything in the bill, watching this agonizing and messy process unfold over a year is what has soured people on the bill. Most people still support most of the ideas in the proposed legislation. They oppose "the bill" because they're tired of hearing people argue about it.

Posted by: MosBen | March 8, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Ezra, MosBen, and Owen_Truesdell.

The expansion of coverage that this bill provides will be an immensely popular social achievement, once the painfully difficult and overly long and complex process of passage begins to recede into memory.

It is kind of like a woman going into labor and having a child. Very unpopular while taking place, but a very happy event once complete.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 8, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I think the GOP understands it very well, and use it to their advantage. They know that dragging out debate on a bill makes it more likely the public will get annoyed and support for the bill will decline. The Dems don't seem to get this at all; Obama's decision to let Max Baucus endlessly negotiate with Senate Republicans who had no intention of bargaining in good faith was a complete disaster, and the bill may still not pass at least in part because of this.

Posted by: beckya57 | March 8, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

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