The False Arguments Against Reconciliation

Brian Beutler:

[T]he dispute boils down to a question of whether Democrats should be willing to test the limits of what's technically feasible under the law and Senate rules--whether they should go farther than even the Republicans went when they used reconciliation to pass the Bush tax cuts--or whether doing so would steer U.S. politics on to a course so fraught and unpredictable that the consequences could outstrip the substantive gains they'd make by passing a comprehensive health care bill.

This is not the dispute at all, even though Mark Schmitt, whose Theory of Change has been thoroughly discredited, wants you to think it is. Sen. Chuck Schumer nicely described the "liberal" position:

[TAPPED]: Is it possible that using reconciliation will produce an ineffective bill, because of procedural problems like the Byrd rule?

[SCHUMER:]We’ve looked at it and you can’t use reconciliation for everything, [but] you can use it for a good number of things. There’s nothing wrong with using it for the places where you can use it and then trying to get the 60 votes on the places where when you can't. You'd be surprised -- the number of places where you can use it is larger than we first thought.

(Emphasis supplied.) Schumer describes a two bill approach, one using reconciliation (where the public option would be enacted) and a separate later bill to enact the "reforms" near and dear to the BaucusCare apologists like Schmitt.

Beutler's article is basically sourced by Schmitt, so it is not surprising that he paints an inaccurate picture here.

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    It's a reasonably good way to (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Anne on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:33:39 PM EST
    get some much-needed things through, but as soon as the GOP says "BOO!" the Dems will wimp out - you know they will.

    I have zero - maybe less than zero - confidence that the Dems can or will handle this the way they should, with strength and courage and NO FEAR.

    Of course (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by Steve M on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:40:22 PM EST
    Democratic handwringing over the prospect of reconciliation only serves to further the narrative that something extraordinary is taking place.

    Mark Schmitt (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:42:04 PM EST
    worked for Bradley.

    Need I say more?


    Yes, and we have been treated to more than (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by KeysDan on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 02:09:37 PM EST
    enough sausage making.  The important part, now, is the sausage.   If it winds up looking good, we will applaud the butcher.

    how many times (none / 0) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:53:14 PM EST
    have the Repubs used this tactic?

    anyone know?


    3 or 4 times during the Bush years (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:54:53 PM EST
    thats what I thought (none / 0) (#8)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 02:14:50 PM EST
    why are they not talking about that when the repubs start talking about Armageddon?

    What difference does that make? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Anne on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:08:46 PM EST
    The Republicans are masters at making the Dems look utterly evil and undemocratic and bad for the process for even thinking about using the same rules the Republicans did when they were in charge.  Filibusters?  How dare we consider impeding the will of the people!  But they did it, too?  Utterly irrelevant!

    The GOP will do the same with the reconcilitation process, and will win because the Dems will cower, as usual - and will allow the whole post-partisan, bi-partisan cr@p, along with charges of being unpatriotic and not loving America and their favorite - keeping the GOP from thwarting the tax-and-spend Dems from driving us to economic ruin - to put them back in the corner.

    I would LOVE to be wrong, but a pattern is a pattern is a pattern, ya know?

    Plus, I'm not all that sure that what they want to shove through via reconciliation is, in fact, the best they can do with respect to moving us closer to having increased access to affordable care.  A minor detail, apparently.


    Just. Get. It. Done. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by oldpro on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 02:14:39 PM EST
    Where there's a will....

    Well, (none / 0) (#9)
    by lilburro on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 02:53:17 PM EST
    if this is true, this sounds a bit frightening (from your link):

    But, Democrats say, the parliamentarian isn't likely to greenlight the whole set of reforms--and for each of his objections, Republicans are likely to raise "points of order" that the provision in question be stripped, which can only be overturned with 60 votes.

    But I think that is why you bring up Schumer, and the real threat is this

    Activists say this is all incidental. Some of them think the Democrats should pass what they can (including a strong public option) through reconciliation, and past the rest in a separate, less controversial, regular bill. This, skeptics would remind them, would take up significantly more time--and in a poisoned political environment might not produce a complete reform package anyhow. [emphasis supplied]

    I think these folks wanting us to hurry up with bad, public-option-less reforms include the President and his team.  They certainly include the Beltway media and Ezra Klein.

    Unfortunately this week will be heavily Senate oriented, so we'll get a lot of President Snowe and a lot of air being taken out of the public option tires.  Unless the PO amendment votes go well.

    Well... (none / 0) (#11)
    by jarober on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:20:45 PM EST
    Here's what you want to keep in mind about reconciliation: if the Democrats do this now, then the next time Republicans have power, they'll do the same with legislation you don't like very much.  

    There's an argument to be made for getting rid of the filibuster; I'd just like to see people on the Democratic side of the aisle recognize that this weapon won't only be deployed by Democrats.

    heh (5.00 / 5) (#12)
    by CST on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:21:55 PM EST
    they already did.  Where were you the last 8 years?  It's not like the republicans were playing softball with the dems.  They used reconcilliation.

    oh (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Steve M on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:26:39 PM EST
    and if we don't use it, the Republicans surely would never dream of using it, even though they were already using it quite happily over and over when they were in control of Congress.

    That's a very good point.  Thank you so much for your concern!


    I'm firghtened by the prospect (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:29:32 PM EST
    Who knows? They may use reconciliation to blow trillion dollar holes in the budget with massive tax cuts, or approve drilling in wildlife refuges or  . . .

    ha (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:30:43 PM EST
    to late

    The budget (none / 0) (#20)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 08:48:31 PM EST
    could be worse?

    They deserve the label (none / 0) (#16)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:57:14 PM EST
    It's no wonder that the Republican's have managed to make the label of "weak" stick to the Democrat's.

    They couldn't stop the big bad Republican's when they were a minority and now they can't seem to lead when they have it all.

    WTF does this mean? Seriously (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 05:30:50 PM EST
    or whether doing so would steer U.S. politics on to a course so fraught and unpredictable that the consequences could outstrip the substantive gains they'd make by passing a comprehensive health care bill.

    Is this like if you swim right after eating you'll get cramps and drown?  Or if go outside with wet hair from your bath you'll get pneumonia and die?

    I saw (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 07:12:22 PM EST
    that and all that came to mind is WTF? Why the h&$)are the people so worried about what the GOP might or might not do.

    The GOP has it made. They get to call the shots and not be held responsible for any legislation.


    Might need to heighten the terror alert. (none / 0) (#18)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 05:38:15 PM EST
    BTW, that canard about going to bed w/wet hair is apparently accurate per recently published research article.

    not to mention the damage done to your hair style! (none / 0) (#22)
    by DFLer on Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 09:39:19 AM EST
    Which is of course my greatest worry :) (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 08:31:57 AM EST