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The real story on health-care 'reconciliation'

Chuck Todd of NBC made a superb point on "Hardball" last night that everyone should pay attention to. He noted that absolutely no one is proposing to pass a health-care bill under the "reconciliation process," that is, with a majority rather than 60 votes in the Senate.

Does that surprise you? Chuck's point is that the health care bill already passed the Senate with 60 votes last December. Democrats would use reconciliation only for a series of rather modest amendments to the overall bill. And he pointed out that some of those amendments (notably broadening the "Nebraska deal" on Medicaid relief for all states) are actually things the Republicans have called for. My hunch, judging from some of the things Rep. George Miller (D) of California said at the summit, is that Democrats may consider adding a few other Republican ideas to the reconciliation package.

I do not expect what I will call the Todd Clarification to stop Republicans from condemning the Democrats if they get a bill through with the reconciliation amendments. But shouldn't all of us be referring to them just that way -- as "amendments" rather than as "a bill"? Todd’s point also brings home the fact that both houses have used a thoroughly conventional legislative process to get the bill this far. We might then begin to ask the obvious question: Why should we take it for granted that one election result in one state (Massachusetts) ought to be allowed to derail a year's worth of legislative work? In any event, my conservative friends have told me for years that my dear native state of Massachusetts is unrepresentative of the country. I don't hear them saying that now.

Kudos to Todd for stating a truth that just about all of us have missed.

By E.J. Dionne  | February 26, 2010; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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How is it possible that reporters and columnists who cover politics could have missed this? How can we put any stock in any of the "analysis" that we read here if this basic fact of the process is not routinely understood by those who seek to influence opinion. Journalistic malpractice? Or simple laziness?

Posted by: wylerusa | February 26, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Thanks EJ. I've been thinking the same thing myself--that reconciliation is just for cleaning up minor issues with the much larger bill already passed by the Senate--every time I hear some conservative nabob talk about passing health care reform via reconciliation aka the nuclear option aka whatever other nonsense they come up with. But who has the time to beat back every little bit of winger disinformation? It's a full-time job battling their lies.

Posted by: steveandshelley | February 26, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Wow. What a great point. How has this simple point escaped notice?

With this, and the health care summit concluded, all the Dems need is one or two vertebrae, and health care reform will become law.

Posted by: skeptic9 | February 26, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

This point did not escape everyone. What is really going on is that the Repukeliscum have, since the election of Obama, been desperately trying every lie, falsehood, fib, lie, and obstruction tactic that they can come up with. They are determined to stop Obama, simply because if they stop Obama, he will have a failed presidency. That is the whole deal.

So, why was this missed? Because the Repukeliscum, in their endless lies, have told yet more lies here. When they speak, when their lips move, they are lying. And this is the result - confusion, again part of the Repukeliscum plan.

They have no plan for health care reform. They have a plan to destroy the Democrats' health care fix. They have no plan for jobs, for bank failures, for anything. Their entire agenda is stopping Obama.

That is why I call them Repukeliscum. They are traitors to the country.

Posted by: snortz_the_cat | February 26, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The normal process for a bill would be for the House to pass a bill, the Senate to pass a slightly different bill, and then the bill to go to conference. In conference the two chambers would work out a compromise bill which would go back to the House and Senate for final approval.

The health care bill can not take that path because the Senate, now with 41 R senators might not vote for final passage. So instead of resolving the differences between the two bills in conference, the democrats are signaling that they will have the House pass a bill they would not support as the final bill, and then use reconciliation to fix it.

To you point Mr. Dionne, it is not exactly accurate to say the health care bill will be passed by reconciliation, but it is equally inaccurate to say this bill will be passed according to traditional House and Senate procedures. The former inaccuracy is used to draw attention to the latter, and more significant procedural changes.

Keep in mind, as far as I am aware, this path is a novel path for legislation not used before and as such sets precedent. It is important to consider if we want this path used and available in the future, and please consider this question irrespective of the particular legislation at hand.

Posted by: brianbefano | February 26, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: demtse | February 26, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: demtse | February 26, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to both Chuck Todd and E.J. Dionne -- both of whom I've learned to trust over the years because they're always solid with the facts, not to mention fair and calm -- for the clarification! It's an excellent point. They need to use reconciliation only for amendments to the Senate bill, which is commonly done. Yay! Go for it! Americans are suffering under the heavy corporate hand of monopolies who care only about their profits. We elected this administration partly because of they promised to deliver health care reforms. Let's do it.

Posted by: cturtle1 | February 26, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, what difference does it make? Didn't the American people elect a majority of Democrats in both Houses with the idea that they would govern the nation? Where was the outrage when President Bush and the Congress used reconciliation to pass tax cuts or create Medicare drug benefits?

E.J., you should know better than to buy into all this phony Republican hand-wringing over the "process." It is absolutely ridiculous and means nothing to the American people living outside of the Beltway.

Posted by: johnsonc2 | February 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The biggest problem with the summit yesterday was the transparency of the Republicans. For just a moment please disregard whether you are pro reform or anti-reform. The overwhelming theme of the Republican side yesterday was to scrap the plan and start over piece by piece. Problem with that rhetoric is what the true translation of that is. Translation to that rhetoric is kill the bill (start over) and then stall until November (piece by piece) and hope that you win more seats. The Democrats saw right through this instantly as the their true objective wasn't exactly hard to figure out. Unfortunately, for Americans this garbage means political gridlock. It is exactly this type of political game that produces a lack of results in Washington. I myself am so sick and tired of politicians and cronies on the far left and far right delighting in their ability to thwart the agendas of the other side. The end result is gridlock and we suffer. As everyone in attendance agreed with yesterday (with the exception of Cantor) we must do something about individuals with pre-existing conditions who are denied health care either overtly (through denial of coverage) or covertly (through price gouging). We also must do something about the practice of capping coverage to the sick. The only thing these people are guilty of is getting sick. It's simply immoral how the health insurance companies treat these people and it can't continue.

Posted by: blackandred777 | February 26, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The real story is that the dems had a once in a lifetime opportunity to ram through bills to transform America from a democrat republic to a socialist one. The health care bill is one of those and they now, because they lost MA., must go to a process other than the normal one to reconcile differing bills from the house and senate. They intend to do so in spite of the fact the people do not want this bill. Many project that the dems will lose big in 2010. If that happens, I expect the new congress will take action to undo this HC bill if the dems pass it this year. I also think that if the dems pass this bill, they will significantly increase their chances of losing in 2010 and 2012. It is clear from the summit that there are common sense steps that can be taken to "fix" the current health care system in terms of costs and coverage.

Posted by: awunsch | February 26, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: brianbefano:
"Keep in mind, as far as I am aware, this path is a novel path for legislation not used before and as such sets precedent. It is important to consider if we want this path used and available in the future, and please consider this question irrespective of the particular legislation at hand."

Uh, no. What does the "R" in COBRA stand for? Add to that Bush tax cuts, welfare reform, S-CHIP, etc. A recent CRS study found that the vast majority of reconciliation-passed bills in the last 24 yrs were signed by Republican Presidents; during the same period (1981-2005) Republican Presidents vetoed none of them.

Reconciliation, it ain't no thang. Unless you're a GOP politician in 2010.

Posted by: Lonepine | February 26, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Was Bob Dole a Socialist for a brief time in 1993? The present Senate Bill is essentially (a little less actually) what was proposed in the Dole-Chaffee bill.

Don't remember it? You can find it on google books tucked between Das Kapital and The Sayings of Mao Tse-tung.

Posted by: Lonepine | February 26, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

E.J., I see that you still have your head in the should have stressed the fact that the democrats have had the super majority in both branches of Congress and have failed to pass the HCR legislation because the moderate democrats would not go along with this monstrosity of a bill!
Legislation will not be derailed with any action by the republicans. It can only be derailed by the moderate democrats.
It is going to be an interesting election time when November comes.
My guess is that there will be a mass exodus of incumbent legislators which will lessen the chance of a second term for this president!

Posted by: SeniorVet | February 26, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

A good point yes. Nevertheless, one that's more then just a clarification. I think it's a bit disingenuous for Reid and other's who clearly understand the process to pull this on the American people. I believe Americans are tired of politians, like Reid, who say one thing, even when technically correct, but know there words are being taken to mean something else. This bill if passed - despite "amendments" from reconcilation - will be the most expensive in our history. Now is not the time for represenatives, like Reid, to play games with the American taxpayer's lack of understanding for political gain. That's sleezy in my book, but apparently in Reid's book it's just business as usual. I hope he is voted out of office.

Posted by: aj12364 | February 26, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

'Uh, no. What does the "R" in COBRA stand for? Add to that Bush tax cuts, welfare reform, S-CHIP, etc. A recent CRS study found that the vast majority of reconciliation-passed bills in the last 24 yrs were signed by Republican Presidents; during the same period (1981-2005) Republican Presidents vetoed none of them.'

My point may have been too muted. This is the first case I am aware of where the intend of both houses was to pass a bill they would not want to actually become law with the intent of making changes by using reconciliation.

The bills you reference above, COBRA, tax cuts, etc. were not cases where the House and Senate both passed bills with the intent of changing them with reconciliation. I am not arguing that reconciliation has never been used before, just that this is a novel path.

I suppose my concern is this. A future House and Senate negotiate an important bipartisan bill that gets 65 votes in the Senate and passes the House. But the majority party has agreed behind closed doors to modify the bill after passage using reconciliation to strip most of the bipartisan language out of it. This precedent opens up the path I outlined above and is cause for concern regards of your opinion on the current legislation. the ends do not justify the means.

In addition, the language I have seen from the more conservative writers is similar to 'by signaling a willingness to use reconciliation in passing a Democrat-only bill' from Gerson in today's Post. This statement is accurate, the democratics are contemplating using reconciliation in passing, not to pass. To say 'in passing' does not make the process any less controversial.

Posted by: brianbefano | February 26, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

This would be all well and good if the Democrats had the votes in the House to pass the Senate's bill.

They don't.

Posted by: Bjartur | February 26, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Reconciliation can only be used on items with fiscal impact, to bring the bill in on conformance with the budget resolution. Items in the bill with no bearing on fiscal impact can't be altered. It's normal to bring both bills together for any legislation. Is this substantively different from other types of reconciliation used in the past? Is this some kind of end-run that's not happened in the past?

The problem is the GOP is basically sitting this out.

Your concerns could be said about the egregious use, in recent times, of the *filibuster threat* (not even going through with it). Think of the problems caused by the supermajority requirement for passing a budget in California. In 18 of the past 22 years, CA hasn't been able to pass its budget on time. This is just doing the regular business of the legislature, not a major overhaul of legislation. Many things seem to begin in California and, for better or worse, spread eastward.

Posted by: Lonepine | February 26, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

If true, then this is the confirmation to see that Democrats could use reconciliation to pass single-payer Medicare for all. But won't. That is, Democrats don't need a single Republican vote to get it done. And still won't get it done, but will blame Republicans anyway.

Posted by: infuse | February 26, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

This would be all well and good if the Democrats had the votes in the House to pass the Senate's bill.

They don't.

Posted by: Bjartur | February 26, 2010 1:36 PM

I wouldn't bet the bank on this one. Party politics can get very powerful. There are things that can be done behind the scenes to strong arm the Democrats that want to hold out. This practice is common in both parties and historically has had a significant degree of success.

Posted by: blackandred777 | February 26, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

EJ - that is a GREAT point! The bad bill that the Senate rammed through with a multitude of bribes to buy votes and that the vast majority of Americans do not want and would make me pay for abortion coverage just needs a few little tweaks and it will be PERFECT! (If you don't actually look at what is in the bill or care that is will not improve actual healthcare or reduce heathcare expenses and will most likely push us over the deft cliff we are facing.) Good job EJ

Posted by: lynnman1 | February 26, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

In fact, I agree with every one who commented, how this simple fact was missed by the all knowing pundits. It's a shame that nobody understands how those two houses work and how much power we invested in them, matter of factly, more than the presidency.

Additionally, it's very difficult to comprehend how certain segments of the population reject a basic right for such a wealthy country. It's all about stupid politics and it's good time to create a third party, someone already suggested a Coffee Party or Capuccino Party--that may convince a lot of wavering self interested politicians.

Posted by: skennd | February 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

EJ - keep up with the semantics....TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK. The american people will not but into that argument...and will prove it come November ala NJ-VA-MA.....Times is running out for this party....But hey - lets add another 2.5 trillion dollar entitlement while the other two are going broke. It's always easy to spend someone else's money.

Posted by: short1 | February 26, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Well yes and no, really.

As others point out, the real junk yard dogs have been a rag tag bunch of democrats. Some had principled opposition to various drafts in both houses, others just used their vote as blackmail to get favors for their state or their district (read: contributors).

This has not changed, just because the Senate has passed a bill.

The Senate bill would not pass if voted on by the House today. The purpose of the Reconciliation bill to make enough changes that the Senate Bill can get a majority in the House.

It is really important to keep in mind that the House will not vote on the Senate bill until AFTER they pass and the Senate approves the reconciliation bill.

Its all fine with me, because I disagree with requiring a super majority for cloture. That is unsupportable by any reading of the constitution. As certain exceptions were called out requiring super-majorities, by inference, super majority requirements are prohibited for all other votes.

The Senate, by its very nature, created an implicit "super minorities" with smaller states getting voting power beyond all reason to begin with. Adding a super-majority requirement on top of that is an absolute disgrace and power grab.

The Senate has outlived its usefullness, assuming it ever had any usefulness besides sucking small states into the union. It was just another one of those things that "looked good on paper", but has been an National Embarassment from day one.

Abolish the Senate, and merge the small states with their larger neighbors.

This country doesn't need any more that five states: North Atlantic, South Atlantic, The Heartland , North Pacific and South Pacific.

IMHO, The Heartland should have an absolute veto over any action, to counter the water damaged brains of the coasties. But that is just me...

Posted by: DrVelocity | February 26, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

EJ is still on strategy and spin to get this pig passed. EJ, it's still a pig, a crappy bill. Over 60 op-eds on Health Care and not one on content of the bill(s).
There are noble causes, but not all solutions are noble. Canada's Health Care bill was seven pages. This two bills are over 4000 pages of taxes, fines, penalties, and control. We need a new start on this issue, not a new way to justify the worst in government actions.

Posted by: flyover22 | February 26, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

In order for it to be news to anyone that a bill has passed in the house and a bill has passed in the senate, that person must have paid little or no attention to this whole process. I thought everyone knew that. A lot of liberals here haven't - figures. We're at the phase where the two bills are made one. But the democrats now don't have the 60 votes to make changes so they'll try to get around the normal process by making modifications under reconciliation.

Posted by: josettes | February 26, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

EJ forgets that the health bill passed by the senate would also have to pass the House untouched for it to become law. From what I remember, both bills must be combined by a conference committee, which produces a conference report that must be voted on by both the House and Senate. So yes, it must go back through the House and Senate.

Also, you can find it on Youtube, Harry Reid says he will use the "Nuclear option" if necessary and they will have a bill passed ASAP.

Posted by: axxionx12 | February 26, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Any poll, NBC News, ABC News, WAshington Post, CNN, Pew Research, any of them show a majority of Americans AGAINST this healthcare proposal. Government is a rotten, last resort manager of anything it oversees. To allow them to manage healthcare insurance would be lunacy.

Medicare has a purported $60 billion in waste and fraud each year, according to the CBO. Why would any rational person want the government to suddenly manage all healthcare?

But if Democrats push to pass this unpopular healthcare bill through the simple majority process known as reconciliation, they will be doing so against the wishes of the majoirty of Americans. Consult the polls.

And they will have hell to pay at the polls next November, when Americans will impose a reconciliation of their own on the Democratic party. The so called healthcare summit that Obama called this week revealed, if nothing else that Americans want a bipartisan consensus on this very imfluential legislation, not just a Democrat sponsored law.

If Democrats can't convince Republicans and Independents to go along with their healthcare proposal, they need to start over, this time with bipartisan participation from the start. Americans want to know that this major healthcare bill that affects 1/6 of our economy is arrived at with deliberation and agreement, not back room deals and party politics.

Posted by: bbwk80a1 | February 26, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

When did majority vote become "ramming through"?? and why aren't the Dems better at this manipulation of language??? Obama really could have used an editor (drama coach) for his summary yesterday: too long and too boring.

Posted by: esthermiriam | February 26, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse


This Brand New, 5-Star Hilarious and Shocking Video provides a Fast-Paced Look at the No-Lie-Too-Big, Socialist Ideologues Who Now Run Our Country.


Posted by: CommieBlaster | February 26, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

How can politically and economically tackling growing health care costs be bad for the US.

I hope even in the US south and lower midwest voters are getting wise to republican hot air about nothing.

As for the democrats I hope they grow some you know whats, and do something that benefits all Americans.

Posted by: ArchieHaase | February 26, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Great point E.J., and I haven't seen this stated anywhere else (yet). But as others here are saying...who cares? Republicans want to use the "reconciliation" argument to try to paint the Dems as somehow "undemocratic" when in fact the wingnuts have done everything except stage a coup to undermine the Obama administration. We just want healthcare reform started. Now!

Posted by: gposner | February 26, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Todd's wrong. He's right that the senate has passed a bill. but that bill hasn't been signed into law.

the house and senate have to pass the same language. then the senate can amend existing law through the reconciliation process if they want. the problem is the house has to first sign off on the senate-passed language and trust the senate to fix the issues later. a lot of them don't trust the senate to do that.

"From what I remember, both bills must be combined by a conference committee, which produces a conference report that must be voted on by both the House and Senate. So yes, it must go back through the House and Senate."

This is true, expect the appointment of conferees is subject to a filibuster in the senate. and demint objected and reid doesn't have the votes. so they have to ping-pong the bill back and forth.

Maybe the Post would like to talk to someone who knows something about congressional procedure. CRS has a entire staff devoted to it. GW has a few courses on it. i guess it's easier for a columnist to interview a journalist. that's just lazy. and a shame, because congressional procedure can be fascinating. so at least call up Walter J. Oleszek -- he's written several books/desk references on the subject

but essentially -- if you take "policy" and I take "procedure" I'll win every time, just as paper beats rock.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 26, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

This simple point has been widely known. I am glad that journalists are finally waking up to it, at long last.

I hope they do it. America is a "majority rules" nation, after all.

Posted by: chi-town | February 26, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein mentioned this in his chat today (only need reconciliation for the subsequent modifying bills, not the whole shebang).
Mr. Dionne- I love your statement about how Mass. is suddenly representative of the entire country!

Posted by: acpinono | February 26, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Wow. The insignificance of this article is staggering. Hey folks, the Dems had the super majority. They passed a bill with that majority. They can use reconciliation whenever they want. A better article would be to explore why they have chosen not to do so. I'll save you some time E.J., it’s because the majority of us see this as a grab for power, and a change in which pigs are chowing down at the public trough, not a process (healthcare) improvement.

Posted by: luvpool | February 26, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I actually wondered about this and did some research a few weeks ago because I thought, "Didn't this bill already pass? Why aren't they just going to reconcile the House and Senate bills?"

When I started hearing the Republicans call for "starting over," I realized they know it's over and their call to scrap the bill is a blatant "hail mary."

Posted by: jvlem | February 26, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"IMHO, The Heartland should have an absolute veto over any action, to counter the water damaged brains of the coasties. But that is just me...Posted by: DrVelocity"

Tee hee, your HO doesn't mean much. If it wasn't for the electoral college, it would mean less.

Posted by: jvlem | February 26, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

A solid majority of our representatives in Congress should and will pass Pres Obama's healthcare reform legislation. If it takes reconciliation, so what? The democratic process in our Republic means that a majority yes vote of representatives means YES. Don't like it? Vote for something different in the next election. My bet is that by November, Obama's health care legislation will be recognized for what it is: a significant benefit that provides benefits and reduces costs for millions of Americans.

Posted by: dudh | February 26, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

The reason no one saw this before is that they just changed the meaning of the words at MSNBC, it takes a little time for the rest of us to catch up. So it ain't really reconciliation anymore, get use to it.

They still need 217 votes in the House.

Posted by: droberts57 | February 26, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

The strategy they are using to pass the bill (House passes the Senate bill followed closely by a reconciliation bill to address the House's concerns, which are major) was developed the day after the humiliating defeat in MA. On that day everyone knew what Brown's victory meant: the people have spoken, healthcare reform is dead. The WH mishandled the issue so badly, Democrats were in full panic mode. Going back to the drawing board to develop a compromise bill was not a viable option. Best alternative, jam it through. Could turn out to be a great strategy, but it still isn't clear if they have the votes to pull it off. In November, voters won't remember the WH used parliamentary gimmicks to pass unpopular legislation. But if nothing passes, they'll sure wonder what the President has been doing for the past 2 years.

Posted by: Bailey6 | February 26, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Baily,
Reconciliation was used for years by the Republican Congress and Mr. Bush. Why should the Dem's be any different?
I'd also look for Obama to make recess appointments, the same as Bush did.
Your side lost the election.
Get over it.

FYI - If you didn't notice, Mr.Brown gave Obama the jobs bill. I guess he didn't gt the fax from Fox News.

Posted by: GWBequalsWPE | February 26, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse


This Brand New, 5-Star Hilarious and Shocking Video provides a Fast-Paced Look at the No-Lie-Too-Big, Socialist Ideologues Who Now Run Our Country.


Posted by: CommieBlaster
Do you guys just recycle the same old tired and totally false accusations because you're lazy or because you aren't smart enough to come up with new lies?

Posted by: Observer001 | February 26, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

As a typical leftist wing-nut, Dionne, you are one complete imbecile. This bill is a fraud and a strong majority of Americans are stacked against it. If the Dems pass it, they are toast come November. Our so-called president -- a manchild at best -- will be sent packing back to the Chicago ghetto in 2012.

Posted by: DCer1 | February 26, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse


AIG, the giant insurer whose bailout almost brought the banking system to a collapse a little over a year ago, is reportedly asking for another bailout.

Oh yeah? Well, here's what you do for AIG:

You tell the giant insurer that five more votes -- five more Republican votes -- are needed to get national health care legislation passed. And you tell them that unless those five votes are delivered within a month, no bailout.

Because no bailout for AIG means that everyone AIG owes money to, including big banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, will also go down.

And there are a lot of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase constituents in many, many conservative Republican districts.

No health care legislatikon, no AIG bailout. It's that simple. It's hardball. And it's what LBJ or FDR would have done, and did do, to get other controversial legislation through the past hundred years.

Posted by: sthomas1957 | February 26, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Barry & Dems in ‘05: 51 Vote ‘Nuclear Option’ Is ‘Arrogant’ Power Grab Against the Founders’ Intent


Posted by: jas7751 | February 26, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama rounds out bipartisan debt commission appointing...

Andrew Stern, president of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union and a vocal advocate of Obama's health-care initiative.

LOL !!

Nothing was more revealing about this Administration than to recently witness Union THUGS exiting the White House after Barry (S.E.I.U./ACORN) Soetoro forcefully bent America over and allowed those disgusting Socialist Swine have their way with Her.

Barry is a deceitful hypocrite who is in bed, quite literally, with the most corrupt Lobby in this Nation. S.E.I.U. gives $60M to his campaign of Hoax and Charade and Barry gladly sacrifices America to their demands.

Elections of 2010 & 12 Cannot Come Soon Enough !!

Posted by: jas7751 | February 26, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

EJ -- yes. I had the same reaction when I heard Chuck Todd make the comment last night. It's amazing how we all get caught up in the emotions of the issue and wind up ignoring the simple facts.

Posted by: rlkinny | February 26, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Mr Dionne,
You point out the adept insight of Mr. Todd. I am not at all understanding how two different bills passed separately are now determined to be a unified packet simply awaiting a 51 vote reconcilation tactic. The dominant party must determine the likely winnning entry. For all practical purpose that is deemed the senate version that must now be accepted by the house. Of course the senate version is riddled with favored legislation that will not be acceptable as presently stated. My own Democratic congressman in Indiana has pointed out several specific reasons why he would not vote this bill in the affirmative. So now Pelosi will state to these members that changes will come through reconciliation. Her word has no honor. Her promises are empty. She will demand her remaining supporters to fall on their sword with the purpose that we voters are seeking action not the current stalemate. Her error is not that we want action but failure to recognize that the solution so proposed lacks clarity, serves as another power driven opportunity to self served ends. You don't pull enormous monies from the medicare community and say you are improving health care. You do not make any attempt to rid any government sponsored agency of fraud and abuse and tell us this is an improvment. You say nothing of promoting the supply of American qualified entrants into the medical field and tell us this improves health care. You remain silent when opponents suggest market driven cost reduction venues and tell us we will see improved healthcare. You live in a world that harbors ill towards incremental proven gains and simply seek full complete arrogant management of complexities with an apparent confidance that you have all the answers. You are so failing your American electorate.

Posted by: Richard64 | February 26, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Wonder why the WP is no longer using the term "nuclear option" to describe "Reconciliation"

Through out the Bush administration the term "nuclear option" was always used by the Post.

Posted by: geo82170 | February 26, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Dionne,

Despite feeling like I read the news on it religiously, there is something I simply don't get about the health care reform debate. Public support for the current bill is tepid, but backing for a public health insurance option is consistently strong: It falls between 53 and 77% in every poll I've seen - with a majority of *Republican* voters (yes) in swing districts agreeing that we need one [1]. And then there's that 73% of our doctors, whose advice is apparently suddenly not worth following [2].



Against that backdrop, are you able to at least tell your readers *why* a president whom every conservative says is a "socialist" cannot even speak the phrase? Does he believe that it's a loser politically (in which case he might want to hire some aides more familiar with "the google"), or is he just philosophically against the idea on policy grounds? I have *never* seen this very fundamental mystery explored by the media. Please break new ground. Coverage of the horse trading and name-calling have been quite adequate, thank you.


A Very Large Segment of the Public

Posted by: B2O2 | February 26, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

geo82170 makes an interesting point.

On another point: There is something culturally unAmerican about a president insisting on being referred to as Mr. P while calling senators by their first name. We are not yet an empire (I hope and assume) or a fiefdom. The guy is the President. Ok, so what?

Posted by: ewsnyder | February 26, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Of course, EJ, both you and Chuck Todd are absolutely correct. This legislation has already passed, and passed in the Senate by 60 votes. It is the height of absurdity to suggest, as the Republicans have, that to now use reconciliation to simply make corrections or amendments to "reconcile" House and Senate legislation, is somehow a travesty of democracy. It is a Senate proeedure that is available for exactly this purpose. It is not the "nuclear option" as I heard so many of them and their toadies in talk radio describe it. The Republicans themselves have used it often in the past (for Bush tax cuts for example), but then again don't do as I do, do as I say. Let's see now- actually passing legislation by a majority vote is somehow a violation of our American principles - HMMM.

Posted by: rcairo | February 26, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

What everybody seems to miss is the current Senate bill has ZERO chance of passing in House. This is where MA election comes in play - House and senate thought they can pass whatever form of bill they can, and resolve differences in "conference" - i.e. behind closed door and pass Final version. What nobody planned for was losing - come on , it's kennedy's seat , permanently in D column- MA election and LOSE the chance to pass the Final version in Senate.

Posted by: girish975 | February 26, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

I personally don't get that worked up about the Democrats jamming their Obmacare bill through by using the reconcilliation process to "fix" the Senate bill. Of course it'll have to survice challenges from the Republicans and the amendment process and rulings by the Senate parlimentarian. But if they can get their "fixes" through that way then more power to them. I would hope though E.J. that if the Democrats do use reconcilliation that you won't object when the Republicans do the same thing to the Democrats when they get the majority back. Hopefully as soon as this fall. The Democrats whined and cried and swore they wouldn't do the same thing when they got power back in the day when they were in the minority. Guess memories are short. Course it's got to get through the House and I don't think it will.

Posted by: RobT1 | February 26, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Why would the GOP be shy about using this misleading talking point, when they've already demonstrated zero shame when it comes to manipulating their flock?

We've been told since Day One that Obama wants to sell our grandmothers to the Soylent Green factory to fund recreational abortions for the Muslim lesbian Mexican swine flu carriers. What's another little lie about a procedural point? All in a day's work for this gang of hoodlums.

Posted by: B2O2 | February 26, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Dionne you are a disgust. WHat crap and you know it. Reconciliation is merging the House and Senate versions into one that conferees can agree will be passed (albeit by simple majority) in each house. The House has already said that it won't pass what it passed before much less the version passed in the Senate. So, go the f ahead Dionne,,,, claim this is already a done deal so we can finally laugh your incredibly arrogant cheap shooting butt off the print media.

Posted by: WmJLePetomane | February 26, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Dionne, here's hoping you are right. So many of us want to retire in a few years to maybe enjoy some time of good health with one's spouse, but can't do it because of the cost of health insurance. It is almost a form of slavery. Let's hope Americans can breathe the free air of not having to worry about going bankrupt because of an illness during a period of unemployment.

Posted by: Martial | February 26, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Go ahead RATS.Republicans will rescind it as Unconstitutional after November the same way you get it if you do get it that way.You will also lose your cushy Gov. job.Step right this way to your American Waterloo beating in November."Fundamental change" has been rejected TRAITORS.

Posted by: Imarkex | February 27, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Keep thinking Americans are stupid, Dems. Keep ignoring their clearly expressed objections to socialized medicine.

It won't be a short time in the political wilderness for you this time around. You were entrusted with an overwhelming majority by people wanting to see economic issues addressed and instead you used the opportunity to ram through pet projects that few care about. Come November, they'll return that contempt to you twenty-fold. The words "liberal" and "progressive", already in disrepute, will be understood to mean "arrogant, power grabbing control freaks" for an entire generation.

Posted by: grohlik | February 27, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

According to a CNN report aired today, the Republican party has used reconciliation tactics more than 75% of the time it has been used, including two Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the prescription drugs bill. In addition, virtually all bills passed previously dealing with medical issues have been passed by reconciliation. I'd like to see more such facts from the Post's writers, as they really bring home the point of the hypocrisy of the Republicans.

Posted by: ChangeGuy | February 27, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Two points -- first, it is not true that this reconciliation had nothing to do with the actual bill. That has long been known and, in fact, was the object of many discussions of whether the House could accept the Senate Bill as written.

Were it not for the GOP trying to overturn the will of the majority (remember their cries for an "up or down" vote when they tried to impose right-wing biased judges? -- why are they not continually called on this?), there would be no need for such a counter attack.

Second the only reason is that ANYONE thinks the reconcilliation is for the actual health care bill is that they are listening to the GOP spin. Now those politicians and their Right-wing allies in the media know EXACTLY what they are doing. I watched the entire conference Thursday and thought they did not need all of those Republicans. Most of them kept repeating the EXACT same things over and over. I believe the Communists had used the same tactics -- repeat a lie often enough and soon people will believe it. I maintain when people mislead like that, they know they are wrong.

And, as for those that say that this is not what the majority want, they neglect to mention that there are many (like me) who do not like it because the Dems hjave given in too much to the right. Many of us do not like it because it is not a single payer bill. But it IS better than nothing as long as they will continue to work to liberalize it once it get started.

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | February 27, 2010 4:05 AM | Report abuse

Thursday’s health care summit was what it was: an exercise in rhetoric. Republicans reprised their familiar routine of propaganda and political theater. Democrats dug in, sticking mostly to the same talking points they’ve been repeating for over a year now. And the President persistently attempted to bridge the gaps and break the deadlock between them, to no avail.

Unfortunately, it was obvious from Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) opening remarks onward that Republicans never intended to have a real conversation about health care. Rather than focusing on areas of potential agreement, like medical malpractice reform, the senator chose instead to misrepresent the facts about health insurance premiums.

Behind a facade of phony fiscal fortitude, the G.O.P. blindly obstructs legislation essential to our economic recovery, hoping that this cynical strategy will return them to power.

Moreover, by repeatedly refusing to engage in a serious exchange of ideas, Congressional Republicans fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth behind health care reform: that it is an economic and social necessity.

Read more @

Posted by: ArmchairFirebrand | February 27, 2010 5:32 AM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
27 February 2010

Chuck Todd of NBC has raised a very good point there--and I hope he is right.

It is true, yes, that the Senate already passed its version of health-care reform by 60 votes last year. As Mr. Todd suggests, all that's needed now is for it to consider amendments--each of which will pass by a simple majority of one, hopefully, thus obviating the need for Democrats to resort to the "reconcilation" procedure.

The problem with that is that the House also passed last year its own version of health-care reform.

The "normal" congressional procedure is to "reconcile" both the Senate and the House versions "in conference" between members of the Senate and the House.

Then that "reconciled" version is then voted on separately by the Senate and the House. Here, I think, Chuck Todd's suggestion is not going to work. Here Republicans will maintain that they have the right to "filbuster" the reconciled version.

In the event, the Democrats will be left with no other option but to resort to the "reconciliation" procedure to get the bill passed by a simple majority of one.

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | February 27, 2010 5:46 AM | Report abuse

Maybe EJ was hibernating but there were actually 3 elections.Mass. and NJ were stunning rebukes of the Obama agenda in overwhemingly Democrat states, Va was another serious blow to Dems. Are you really claiming that Browns crushing victory while promising to be the 41st vote against Obamcare wasn't clear enough. A Republican won the Kennedy seat. You can't put enough perfume on that pig to hide it EJ

Posted by: mgmargate | February 27, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

MSNBC, Chuck Todd and Chrissy " Tingles" Matthews may still be having a love affair with No-Bama just as you are EJ but most of us can see through this incompetent Administration. We need jobs, a strong economy, deterrents to Iran and N Korea, housing solutions,immigration reform etc...but what does No-Bama concentrate on ??? - ramming his monstrous bill down our throats because it will benefit his backers - not most Americans. Its pay back time - Culture of Corruption flourishing in this Administration. Pass this bill and people will revolt in the streets when they realize what a sham it really is. This Administration has lost all sense of credibility.

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | February 27, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

I am delighted EJ has recognized he is a dummy and is now looking elsewhere to get his ideas. Unfortunately, Chuck Todd is a stone cold moronic ideologue. His wife is a high level democrat operative.

Todd completely and deliberately misrepresenting the reconciliation process. What the demoncrats are doing is unprecedented so let's quit kidding each other.

If they do this then everything is fair game moving forward. If the R's want to roll all this back come January when they are in the majority, all they need is 51 votes in the Senate and a 1 vote majority in the House.

Do you get that you tragically stupid liberals?

Posted by: manbearpig4 | February 27, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

"Kudos to Todd for stating a truth that just about all of us have missed."

Well we missed it because it is really not significant. We need to sort out what we want and 51 votes ought to be enough.

That is Constitutional, by the way.

The Republicans are saying "If you pass this with 51 votes we will really be mad."

I want to say "So what? How will I know the difference from what you are now?"

They are misrepresenting the facts now. Why should I trust them tomorrow?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | February 27, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

You know, I read these comments, and I wonder why those who disagree with Dionne are so incredibly nasty. Would they express themselves this way in person or is it only because their posts are anonymous?

And, on the post, Dionne and Todd are absolutely right. The Senate and House have already passed health care. This is just a legislative fix to reconcile the two versions.

Posted by: mainer2 | February 27, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the lack of serious analysis of real issues by the media pundits and the lack of in depth questioning by the general public is a huge roadblock to getting needed reforms in place. It might be because education in the 20th and 21st centuries teaches us how to memorize and follow rather than to think objectively. One could call this self imposed ignorance.

Posted by: 82Supra | February 27, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The government already pays 3/4 of all medical costs in the country. The most expensive treatments are paid by the taxpayer. Your insurer bumps you out, you can't pay, you get sick, lose your job and end up on medicaid. For profit providers, insurers and pharma have us pay the most per capita only to rank 37th in U.N. rankings. 40,000 a year dead from no coverage, millions bankrupted or owing providers for their entire life should not happen in the largest economy in the world.

Posted by: jameschirico | February 27, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

What I haven't heard mentioned is the loss of revenue from expanding the Nebraska deal to all the states or the delay of the tax on "cadillac" health ins. plans. This certainly makes the scoring of CBO usless. How can the claim be made this be deficit nuetral when you eliminate a large portion of it's funding. Perhaps we should start whatever new taxes are required immediatly and delay the implementation of services for 7-10 years. This would salvage the claim of deficit nuetrality and no one could say Obama just raised taxes.
Pres. Obamas compromises make a bad bill worse.

Posted by: saw1 | February 27, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Look. Republicans--like democrats--are crass politicians. They are going to lie about reconciliation just like they have been lying about the bill itself, because it is in their political interest to do so.

Politicians from both parties have been doing this sort of "hardball" for year. We have always depended on a vigorous free press to inform the public when this happens. But, we no longer have such a free press. The press is beset by all kinds of problems involving profit, ratings and survival. In short, they have become just like any other corporate entity. Indeed they are owned and operated by corporate masters who have no interest in the more noble aspects of the free press.

And that is a major problem for our society in general. I would hazard that this is probably the least informed--or more aptly, the most misinformed--electorate in history. In polls Americans are demonstrating a gullibility and a shameless lack of even a basic civics education unlike we have ever experienced in our history.

The decline in civility is only a part of an overall decline in professionalism among our most basic institutions. What EJ is referring to here is only a small example of a much larger and more frightening development in American culture and society.

If we cannot get back to a more respectful professionalism and a more vigorous pursuit of simple basic truth in our society, then we probably deserve the inevitable consequence that attends such decline--the end of American relevance in the world.

Posted by: jaxas70 | February 27, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Cheez, the Post's own Ezra Klein, along with The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn and Jonathan Chait, have been making this elemental distinction almost on a daily basis since the Mass election. Who is the "all of us" who have missed it? Most citizens, yes. But it should not be news to journalists who turn even occasionally to the health reform struggle.

Posted by: sprung4 | February 27, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

If Bush had considered a stunt like this and tried reconciliation on something as critical and huge as healthcare reform, the NeoBongs, the Left and Democrats would have become incontinent and dropped to the floor, drooling and speaking in tongues.

The Left and President PrissyLips are now imploding like some garish hotel in Vegas, poofing into dust and ruble.

Sit back, and let's enjoy the show...
2/27/2010 3:45:36 PM

Posted by: AlongTheWatchTowers | February 27, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Let's see what the Democratic Bill's identification number is when they ram it up the American's it is not the same.

Posted by: staterighter | February 27, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Well done EJ.

The whole nonsensical outrage from the right on using reconcilliation is just more of their fear mongering and outright distortions. But, it's all they've got.

The 2 page outline they presented as a health care plan doesn't constitute actual health care legislation. Heck, the Frank Luntz talking point memo that all the republicans were reading from was actually longer than their health care proposal.

Reconcilliation is a reasonable route to take - when the truth is known.

Posted by: JilliB | February 28, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Well done EJ.

The whole nonsensical outrage from the right on using reconcilliation is just more of their fear mongering and outright distortions. But, it's all they've got.

The 2 page outline they presented as a health care plan doesn't constitute actual health care legislation. Heck, the Frank Luntz talking point memo that all the republicans were reading from was actually longer than their health care proposal.

Reconcilliation is a reasonable route to take - when the truth is known.


I guess it would be if you are a socialist. since working hard to make a better life for your family is not in your lifestyle. You would rather leech off the rest of us. putting it bluntly liberaltards are nothing but bums.

Posted by: tswank1 | March 1, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I don't think E.J. and others missed this point because of "journalistic malpractice" or "simple laziness" - it's because they allowed the Republicans to frame the issue in their own (deceptive ) manner and did not challenge their statments thoroughly enough. They, along with the rest of the American people, got sucked in by the Repubs mis-statements, just like they intended they should. If you want to get the whole story (and more) on the reconciliation process, read Ezra Klein's blogs (in the WP) on the subject. He's been talking about this for weeks now.

Posted by: misterp | March 2, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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