24 April 2009

The Big Stick

Via Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic
According to senior Capitol Hill staffers, it's a done deal: The final budget resolution will include a "reconciliation instruction" for health care. That means the Democrats can pass health care reform with just fifty votes, instead of the sixty it takes to break a filibuster.[...] The reconciliation instruction specifies a date. That date, according to one congressional staffer, is October 15. [...] Obama has apparently endorsed making paygo rules--the requirement to offset all new spending either with additional cuts or revenue--into law. I gather this was the condition Conrad, and perhaps Boyd, demanded.
Gotta interpret this as good news.  As I wrote yesterday, there are real risks and costs to actually using the reconciliation process, but having it as a threat looming over the negotiations hopefully will motivate the republicans, and their allies in the insurance and business communities to stay at the table and negotiate in good faith, rather than simply try to obstruct and preserve the status quo.

I'm not sure about the implications of making paygo statutory.  It makes it a bit tougher for the democrats to pass reform, since it demands that they have the funding in place.  On the other hand, it means it will actually be funded, which is not a bad thing! 

Exciting times.


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