Reconciliation Solves The Stupak Problem


"There is no way on God's green Earth that the Stupak amendment would pass muster in a budget reconciliation bill," says Bill Hoagland, an insurance lobbyist who was the top GOP aide on the Senate Budget Committee for two decades and served as then-Majority Leader Bill Frist's budget guru. Democratic budget experts in Congress and the administration who asked not to be quoted on the record agree with Hoagland's assessment.

[. . .] If Reid chooses to go the reconciliation route, he can rely on the rules to quash Stupak's amendment, budget experts say. Under the arcane rules of the process, every provision must meet a strict, multi-pronged test -- known as the Byrd Rule -- or it can be dispensed with on a point of order that takes 60 votes to overcome. [. . .] While the Byrd Rule would sharply limit which parts of their health care plan could survive in a reconciliation bill, Stupak's language would be a victim, too, experts say. "It would violate (the) Byrd Rule, period," Hoagland said.

Another reason to favor reconciliation for health care reform.

Speaking for me only

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    So, that's nice and all (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by s5 on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 12:06:07 PM EST
    and as much as I'm a fan of using reconciliation (and majority rule in general), are there ANY signs that Reid is going to take this route? All I hear is stuff like "I'm confident we can reach an agreement with Nelson / Lieberman".

    Maybe Nelson and Lieberman (none / 0) (#6)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 12:55:58 PM EST
    will be the ones to encourage Reid to use reconcillation--it would allow them to vote no and not sink the Democratic health care plan, the president, and, importantly, themselves.  Lieberman keeps his Homeland Security chair and Nelson continues to be Nelson.

    Maybe Lieberman gives Reid an out (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 01:19:57 PM EST
    on the public option.

    Harry gets to say I tried and it was Lieberman not me who killed the public option. Now that the Senate has failed to get 60 votes, we will just have to pass a watered down version of the Senate Finance bill. After all anything (no matter how bad) is better than nothing. Just bite the bullet so that Obama can have a win.

    Lieberman keeps his Homeland Security chair and support for his reelection in 2012.


    Well, Reid is working all the angles. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:22:57 PM EST
    And nothing is quite what is appears to be. Even with Reid's consideration of an increase in the Medicare component of the payroll tax (from l.45% to l.95%) on incomes over $250,000 to pay for about half of the new program, a revelatory justification was made by "health policy analysts", according to the NYT, in that this payroll tax had the additional advantage of shoring up the Medicare trust fund which is expected to run out of money in 2017--just as the new program really gets up and running. The revelatory part, to me, is the acknowledgement of what some of us have worried about all along. Namely, how do we "shore up" a troubled Medicare, provide for the costs of medical advances, AND fund the other half of the health care expansion to those under 65. The answer given in past, was by some mysterious, if not miraculous,"savings" in Medicare, with no cuts in benefits.  But maybe, just maybe, someone has wielded a sharp pencil to that illusion.

    Lieberman & Reid (none / 0) (#21)
    by norris morris on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:14:36 PM EST
    Nothing isn't better than nothing.

    I have no confidence in their confidence ... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Ellie on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 12:26:48 PM EST
    ... or their promises.

    After we've been there, done that for 35 years and seen women's health and lives still continually used as a bargaining chip, this latest arcana is no assurance that:

    • Dems will better hang together the rest of the way;
    • They'll be out front in aggressively protecting what's worth keeping, or recovering what they bargained away for little in return;
    • They'll negotiate more intelligently;
    • That parties that have historically proved untrustworthy will suddenly become honest;

    Speaking for me only -- ;-) -- I'm sick of political chess. (Oh me of little faith.)

    That's fine, but it's not going to be (5.00 / 7) (#5)
    by Anne on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 12:28:53 PM EST
    much of a victory if, by the time the leadership decide that's how they're going to proceed, they will have bartered and bargained and conceded and compromised and pandered for votes they wouldn't need with reconciliation.

    You know I think this reform effort is not even close to being the Democratic Caucus' finest moment, but I shudder to think just how much worse it will be if they don't try to keep some muscle in the legislation and stand strong on it and take the position up front, and not as a last resort, that they can get what they want with reconciliation.

    I know in my heart, and in my gut, that this is not what will happen.  They have yet to approach this - or pretty much any - issue from a position of strength, so I do not expect them to start now; they are incapable.

    Well, about -- ummm -- incapability, Anne (5.00 / 7) (#14)
    by Cream City on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:39:29 PM EST
    did you read Digby?  Too funny:

    I have a moral objection to paying for any kind of erectile dysfunction medicine in the new health reform bill and I think men who want to use it should just pay for it out of pocket. After all, I won't ever need such a pill. And anyway, it's no biggie. Just because most of them can get it under their insurance today doesn't mean they shouldn't have it stripped from their coverage in the future because of my moral objections.

    I am reconciled to Digby's stand.  I share her moral objections to my tax money going to only some private parts and not others -- or as Misterrogers used to say, no rights for fancies on the outside if there will be no rights for fancies on the inside.  

    Everybody's fancy, everybody's fine --
    You've got your fancy, and I've got mine.

    It's great, isn't it, that we're (5.00 / 5) (#20)
    by Anne on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:13:49 PM EST
    ramping up the gender wars?  Lots of simmering resentment bubbling a little harder theses days, I think.

    I'm getting too old to have to keep fighting this battle, and it breaks my heart that these inequities will have to be fought not just by my daughters' generation, but by the generation that comes after them.


    These 1990 pages are complicated (none / 0) (#24)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:27:37 PM EST
    and confusing under the best of circumstances. A search of terms finds nothing in the bill that even refers to erectile dysfunction. Is this particular problem limited to men over 80, or do young men who might lose their wives because of an inability to perform also suffer? It is a dysfunction of the natural purpose of the body.

    It was once funny, but I really want to hear the true merits and problems of this bill discussed. Do infertility issues for women get covered? That's the closest fair comparison.


    If Bush cd go on a 4-mo tour to wreck SocSecurity (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Ellie on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:45:57 PM EST
    ... using that "whopping" 1% mandate to go against strong public sentiment, then why must Obama and leadership of two Dem majorities need to euphemize, scurry behind closed doors and promise that the magic beans will flourish during reconciliation?

    I'm still baffled at where all the hard work to give the Dems these majorities and the White House (by 6% landslide) went if they can't even stand up, unequivocally, for strong legislation.


    It must be hard to stand up (5.00 / 9) (#22)
    by Anne on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:20:27 PM EST
    when one doesn't know one's a$$ from a hole in the ground, don't you think?

    I'm starting to feel like an enabler, and it's going to be tough love (or maybe, tough disgust) time come 2010 and 2012.  I stopped giving them money, so the nezt thing is not to give them my vote - they've done little to earn it.

    Actually, for me, I guess it started in 2008, when I just could not bring myself to cast any vote for president.

    And I'm having a harder and harder time identifying with this Democratic party.


    I finally got up to speed ... (5.00 / 9) (#25)
    by Ellie on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:43:28 PM EST
    ... and the only puzzling thing has been the cowardice.

    What's made more sense for me -- YMMV -- is to be Independent and issues oriented rather than trust Dems to do SFA for me.

    Staying home's my next option too. As one feminist blogger (Kate Harding 11/10/2009 Broadsheet-Salon) put it, "Are Democrats ready to try getting elected without us?"

    So the wise, objective, pragmatic mansplainers can go ahead and tell us little ladies How This All Works one more time, but now we're telling you: We've not only heard it, we've tried it. We've tried electing "moderate" Democrats who would be obvious conservatives in any era marked less by far-right lunacy. We've tried compromising our values in hopes of taking baby steps forward. We've tried sacrificing the rights of women and every minority group under the sun, so as not to look unreasonable or oversensitive to those who resent having to share this country at all with people they find undesirable. And we've seen where it leads: "We choose to play nice, our party trades on our freedoms. We choose to object, our party resents and blames us for failure."

    Really, when those are the options, there's only one logical conclusion: This is not our party. We've known that for too long, and yet the Democrats have known too well that they could bank on our money and our votes as long as the GOP remained even more not our party. But something's changed. Sixty-four Democrats voted to block women's access to legal medical services. That may not be quite as repulsive as some Republican shenanigans, but the difference is only one of degree. If the point of women voting for "moderate" Democrats is to avoid a majority that's actively hostile to women, then those who voted for the Stupak-Pitts amendment just proved that there's no point at all. And progressive women have finally had enough. We are ready to go there. Are Democrats ready to try getting elected without us?

    Or as I put it, you gamble with my @ss you risk your seat.

    I'm open to rewarding good behavior after I see it, rather than pretty words up front and getting flipped off time and time again. No mas.


    That's why they need to keep the 3rd leg erect! (none / 0) (#30)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 04:45:14 PM EST
    It keeps 'em from falling flat on their face especially when:
    they don't know their a$$ from a hole in the ground.

    RECONCILLIATION? A WET DREAM (5.00 / 9) (#19)
    by norris morris on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:00:26 PM EST
    By the time this should ever and I mean ever get to reconcilliation so much will have to be compromised that this already flawed and corrupted bill will be entirely worthless.

    Not forgetting the insolence and insult to Democratic women for whom choice is a linchpin of their right to self determination and reproductive choice already given to them in Roe vs Wade.

    This is the politics of the ruthless and cynical politicians who need to be thrown out by voters.
    Obama has been disgraceful on this entire issue along with Catholic Church interfering with law, and sanctioned by Catholic Pelosi.  A pox on this group for rolling over women to think it's their way out.


    Especially since reading that Pelosi (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by suzieg on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 07:30:17 PM EST
    was on the phone with Rome and had Catholic Bishops in her office negotiating the health bill.

    http://www.salon.com/news/healthcare_reform/index.html?story=/news/2009/11/11/us_health_overhaul_cat holic_lobby


    Reconciliation (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 01:27:31 PM EST
    Facts not in evidence. (5.00 / 0) (#9)
    by Radix on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 01:39:24 PM EST
    You assuming that Teabaggers and Birthers are moderates and Independents.

    Hahahaha (5.00 / 0) (#18)
    by Steve M on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:49:10 PM EST
    Yes, an entire generation will surely realign based upon the legislative procedure used by Senate Democrats!  Ooh, I'm so scared of those "moderates."

    History review (none / 0) (#32)
    by MyLeftMind on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 12:35:08 PM EST
    The right wing always win when they use anger and fear to get their base to the polls. Moderates get swayed to the right while lefties sit on their butts expecting to win and being quite surprised when they lose. See Nixon, Reagan, GW Bush, Shrub and more recently, the devastating loss of marital equality in Maine.

    No need to be scared, but let's be realistic. It doesn't matter if there are more people on the left than the right if we can't get our side to the polls. This crappy faux-healthcare reform is going to sink us for another twenty years.


    i agree anne, (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:19:49 PM EST
    giving up the package, then going to reconciliation, where you don't actually need the votes you gave up the package for, and getting that now semi-package passed, would be a pyrrhic victory, at best.


    Lieberman keeps his Homeland Security chair and Nelson continues to be Nelson.

    it's time both got treated like exactly what they are, republicans (thinly) masquerading as democrats/"independents". drop-kick their sorry butts out the door, and deny every bit of budget money to their states that's humanly possible, with a note to their constituents telling them why.

    constituents are known for the representatives/senators they keep.

    Seriously. (5.00 / 7) (#16)
    by Anne on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:43:56 PM EST
    Reconciliation solves the Stupak problem, but it doesn't solve the Stupid Problem - the one where "progressives" do not have even the first clue how to strategize an actual victory.

    A Harry Reid who cannot bring himself to drop-kick his "good friend" Joe Lieberman as far across the aisle as his wrinkly a$$ will go is not going to be able to effectively lead on this, or any other issue.

    I'm tired of being a member of a party that seems to exist more and more just to enable corporate dominance of legislative policy to the detriment of the people, and is more and more open to marginalizing women and maximizing the religious influence that makes that marginalization possible.

    I've stopped giving them my money; the next thing to go is my vote.


    My Democratic Vote is Fading Fast (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by norris morris on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:23:37 PM EST
    This bunch of rascals parading as Democrats are unworthy of my support.  I have been watching the Democratic majority fail to govern. Doing exactly the same political minuets that the Republicans do except without any results.

    I'm disgusted with Obama's lack of leadership and the political game playing of the Democrats that  have proved their incompetence once again.

    They need to be voted out as treacherous and hypocritical inepts who will kiss anyone's ass before even making a real try for courageous imaginative positions.


    Regarding the Stupack "problem" (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by jes on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 04:32:17 PM EST
    Shanikka has a rather compelling diary on the subject. It is quite long, but hits a real nerve.

    Ah, she gets at--at the end-- (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Cream City on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 06:14:49 PM EST
    ye olde dichotomy in the women's movement (and others) between justice and expediency.  And as too many movements have had to learn the hard way, give those who argue for primacy of political expediency an inch, and they'll take a mile . . . and then another mile and another mile . . . and then, oh oh, there's little left (i.e., Roe v. Wade today, and the suffrage movement a century ago; for those interested, see Aileen Kraditor's work on the shifting arguments/philosophies of the movement).

    So, as Shanikka writes, some just woke up to find how many miles down the road we are already.  But will they figure out that just pushing back on Stupak-Pitts may only regain an inch, and -- to continue the metaphor by paraphrasing the great poet -- we have miles to go now before the recently awakened dare go back to sleep again?


    I've said it a million times, (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by NYShooter on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 12:38:19 AM EST
    I might as well say it again.

    I just can't get my head around how the women of our country can live even one more day under the humiliation foisted on them by us males.

    Our sexism is so entrenched, so pervasive, that it seems the only way to deal with it is to make it invisible. A mocking, self-inflicted Stockholm Syndrome has replaced the now quaint term, "equality."  And what depresses me the most is that so many women are in the vanguard leading this degradation. "Separate, but equal" was found to be unacceptable by our Black population, yet ironically, and tragically, Black males share with the rest of us the repression of women.

    I just don't get it; half our vocabulary has been stricken from our common, everyday use for fear of offending some group, yet the 24/7 subjugation of women is carried out openly with no fear of reprisal, reprimand, or penalty of any kind.

    Yeah, The Stupak Amendment got me started on this rant tonight, but my anger is against the complete disconnect that this illustrates. We get all riled up over one crumby amendment, yet the wholesale dehumanization of an entire Gender goes on as if it didn't even exist.

    I know I sound like a big phony, screaming on my soapbox, but I'll tell you one thing: I grew up in NYC, a skinny, little Jewish immigrant, and there were a whole lot of young "Americans" whose faces ended up looking like Picasso portraits after they thought they could mock me to my face.

    I don't know what would've happened if I was born a female; By now, I'd either be dead, or our prison population would be two million..........and one.


    I'm actually a little surprised at this, since (none / 0) (#1)
    by steviez314 on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 11:30:31 AM EST
    the Hyde Amendment goes through the appropriations bill every year.

    I would have thought that any law proscribing what a public option could not cover would result in lower premiums and thus lower subsidy levels, and thus be a budget item.

    Something tells me that "budget germane" is somewhat like "p*rnography", except here the Parliamentarian and Robert Byrd know it when then see it.  (except for the obvious things like direct restrictions on private insurance companies).

    The Hyde Amendment (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 11:34:06 AM EST
    as far as I can tell, passes through regular order and is attached in non-reconciliation provisions.

    The same could occur with Stupak, but it would not impede the passage of health care reform.


    This is from an insurance lobbyist (none / 0) (#10)
    by Cream City on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 01:45:51 PM EST
    who was, yes, a Senate staffer -- but for the GOP.  Is he correct according to Congress, not according to his former boss Bill Frist and his current boss, the insurance industry?

    As the rest are anonymous sources (none / 0) (#11)
    by Cream City on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 01:46:49 PM EST
    as I ought to have added, too.  So they won't go on the record to say this is correct.  Hmmm.

    after each house passes a bill . . . (none / 0) (#15)
    by allys gift on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 02:40:21 PM EST
    then they reconcile it putting things from each bill into a unified bill and deleting other stuff.  Then, doesn't the unified bill have to be passed by each house?  Wouldn't the Stupakers vote against it if their amendment was not there at that point?

    Another procedural question: couldn't Congress just decrease the Medicare eligibility age in an appropriations bill with a single sentence and solve the problem of universal health care?

    Thanks in advance for the answers.

    But without Stupak both you and pelosi told us (none / 0) (#31)
    by Bornagaindem on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 07:47:16 AM EST
    it wouldn't pass the house??? Women got thrown under the bus and the democrats went on the record against privacy rights (because that is what abortion rights are all about -the right not to have the government make decisions about what you do with your own body) for nothing? You are telling me now that the healthcare bill could  have passed the house without this amendment? Because that is what you are suggesting - that we should rely on the Senate to strip this out. Where is this La La land that you all live in?