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8/19/2009
PREPARE FOR ARMAGEDDON ON HEALTH CARE REFORM

The pretense of bi-partisanship is being dropped by the Democrats in the health care reform debate as it now appears they are ready to go it alone to get something passed and rescue Obama’s presidency from irrelevancy.

Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times:

Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans’ purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month’s Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.

“The Republican leadership,” Mr. Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”

The Democratic shift may not make producing a final bill much easier. The party must still reconcile the views of moderate and conservative Democrats worried about the cost and scope of the legislation with those of more liberal lawmakers determined to win a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurers.

On the other hand, such a change could alter the dynamic of talks surrounding health care legislation, and even change the substance of a final bill. With no need to negotiate with Republicans, Democrats might be better able to move more quickly, relying on their large majorities in both houses.

It’s actually sort of amusing. The Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of congress, they control the presidency, the bureaucracy, the press, and other major propaganda organs.

And they’re blaming Republicans for their woes?

The Times dances around the real significance of this decision by the Democrats. Allahpundit at Hot Air explains :

[T]his can only mean that they’re going to go all out for the public option and use “reconciliation” if need be to nuke the filibuster in the Senate, no? Why cut the GOP out of negotiations only to settle for some watered-down alternative like co-ops? If you’re going to kick the minority party out of the room and anger half the country, you might as well make the bill as syrupy sweet to your own side as possible. And if that means having to take a precedent-setting step as draconian as reconciliation to deal with Blue Dogs like Ben Nelson who might not accept a public option, hey. Besides, Grassley and Jon Kyl all but told the Democrats today that they won’t vote for the final bill regardless of what’s in it, in which case it’s pointless for The One to keep making concessions. He might as well get the bill he wants, paint the GOP as “the party of no”, and hope that the inevitable ill effects of his program don’t appear before the midterms. Which they probably won’t.

I call reconciliation the “Armageddon Option” because the aftermath will blow up Washington like no other event in recent memory. The senate is a peculiar institution, steeped in tradition, governed by a kind of amity between members of both parties that, while strained today, nevertheless continues to dominate its proceedings. The minority gets a much better shake via senate rules than in the House and consequently, the potential for minority mischief in sabotaging the majority’s agenda are manifest.

The use - or rather, the clear abuse - of the reconciliation process to get health care reform passed by a simple majority with no chance to filibuster would be unprecedented - dangerous territory for the tradition-bound senate. The GOP has already threatened to slow the business of the senate to a crawl if the tactic is used; something they are more than capable of doing under the rules.

Imagine having the entire Congressional Record of the previous day read out loud. It’s one of the first orders of business and the reading is always dispensed with by unanimous consent. Suppose the Republicans object? The Democrats would be forced to call for a vote - the first of potentially dozens of votes of that day and every single day as the GOP would force the complete reading of all bills and amendments, constantly notice the absence of a quorum, force votes on trivialities, object to all unanimous consent requests and voice votes, and generally wreak havoc to the point where no real business could be done.

The Democrats threatened something similar over the “nuclear option” on judges that the GOP was seriously contemplating at one time. The threat made the Republicans back off and led to the “Gang of 14″ compromise. It is doubtful any such compromise on health care reform could be worked out, which makes the Democrat’s threat to “go it alone” on health care reform that much more likely to lead to a showdown.

With the GOP out of the picture, let’s see how negotiations between liberals and moderates in the Democratic party proceed. One thing seems pretty clear; the public option just got some new life and reports of its demise - including mine from yesterday - appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

By: Rick Moran at 6:48 am
19 Responses to “PREPARE FOR ARMAGEDDON ON HEALTH CARE REFORM”
  1. 1
    lionheart Said:
    7:31 am 

    “Reconciliation” as described leaves 48% of the country without representation. Perhaps the bill has new life, but these poll numbers (and especially the trend) still make it doubtful: http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Job-Approval.aspx

  2. 2
    Anon Said:
    7:54 am 

    The problem with people like Barack Obama is that they have spent their entire lives (or their entire adult lives) surrounded by like-minded people. The health care “debate” took him by surprise because he has had so little contact with people who do not think exactly as he does. Liberals — especially those, like Obama, who float out on the far-left fringe — are very insular people. Every time he comes up against stiff competition for what any reasonable person would deem a radical idea, he looks like a deer in headlights, and then the confusion leads to anger, and eventually to hubris. We are watching Barack Obama go through that precise range of responses. He has been taught that anyone who disagrees with liberal ideology is either a racist or a nut or some other invective. Since he has had almost no contact with any other adults than fellow far-leftists, he believes the caricature, even when evidence to the contrary is staring out at him from a town hall meeting. So, he will proceed down this ruinous path, secure in his righteousness — because every single person he knows tells him it is righteous. Can he “Palinize” more than half the nation as inbred idiots? I don’t think so. But he’ll try, because that’s the only way he’s capable of understanding ideological differences.

  3. 3
    Pug Said:
    7:56 am 

    “Reconciliation” as described leaves 48% of the country without representation.

    Perhaps, but the ability of 48% to block any legislation leaves 52% of the country without representation. Chuck Grassley and John Kyl have made it pretty clear there will be no Republicans joining the majority. Period.

    Democrats don’t need all their members to vote for a health care bill. They do need all of them to vote for cloture and not join in a Republican filibuster.

  4. 4
    michael reynolds Said:
    7:58 am 

    It’s become clear beyond any reasonable doubt that the GOP has no interest in issues, no interest in solving problems. Their sole interest is in destroying Mr. Obama.

    Armageddon? Bring it on.

  5. 5
    CZ Said:
    8:10 am 

    Slowing government to a crawl could save us taxpayers a lot of money and, at the same time retard the national tumor of socialism. Why wait?

    Yep, bring it on.

  6. 6
    Martin Said:
    8:20 am 

    The “government shutdown” worked out brilliantly for Republicans last time,so I would urge them to repeat this action.

  7. 7
    mark30339 Said:
    8:57 am 

    Very good post. Forgive my Wiki shortcut from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconciliation_(U.S._Congress), the quickie primer on Reconciliation in the Senate is this:

    “The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 created reconciliation (See Pub.L. 93-344, § 310; 88 Stat. 297; 2 U.S.C. § 641.) but Congress came to use it in the 1980s. Congress used reconciliation to enact President Bill Clinton’s 1993 (fiscal year 1994) budget. (See Pub.L. 103-66, 107 Stat. 312.) President Clinton wanted to use reconciliation to pass his health care plan, but Senator Robert Byrd insisted that the health care plan was out of bounds for a process that is theoretically about budgets.”

  8. 8
    Comrade Stuck Said:
    10:12 am 

    Funny that. Republicans thus far have been the only one’s to use your so-called “Armageddon Option”. Two of Bush’s tax cuts among those times. Now it’s dems turn, if they can’t get 60 votes to beat the filibuster. Crybaby repubs are calling foul. As was said earlier. Bring it on.

  9. 9
    IanY77 Said:
    10:59 am 

    Comrade Stuck:

    Rick’s analysis only makes sense if he’s been in a coma for the last 9 years.

  10. 10
    Larry, your brother Said:
    11:25 am 

    So what’s the solution to the rising cost of healthcare? All I’ve heard from Republicans is that all we really need to do is tweak the system and everything will be fine. Nothing that indicates any thoughtful proposal, or any attempt at a compromise with Democrats. Single Payer System? “Socialized Medicine!” OK, let’s move to a Public Option. “Socialized Medicine!” Right. Let’s look at Insurance Co-Ops (which sounds like what group insurance is supposed to do, but…). “Socialized Medicine!” With Kyl’s and Grassely’s comments from yesterday, it’s pretty obvious the Republicans want this issue to fail. Again. So how does that affect me, who has no problem with getting insurance? Because people get sick, regardless of their insurance status, and get treated. If they can’t pay for it, someone has to and that cost comes back to me in higher premiums (as the bad debt works its way through the system) or higher taxes (as county hospitals need to recover the cost of treating the indigents). Unless we are willing to let people die because we can’t afford to treat them, then we will all pay for these healthcare costs. The question becomes where and how do you want to pay for it.

    1. Please present evidence that anything - repeat anything - that is in this reform plan will actually bring down costs. Are you smarter than Director Elmendorf at the CBO who says that it’s a pipedream to believe that costs will come down significantly? Even the Medicare cost control measures are nothing more than cutting payments to doctors and hospitals - which will simply be passed on to those of us on private insurance plans.

    2. “Negotiating” with the Democrats and the White House has been a sham. Name one concession they’ve made to the GOP? The idiotic hub bub over the “death panels” only shows their political cowardice.

    3. I am for reform. I agree wholeheartedly that unless we find a way to bring costs down, we are done for. I am not such an absolutist that I think all solutions can be found in the free market - something you would know if you had been reading me consistently.


    How about tort reform. Price Waterhouse determined in a study that 10% of all health care costs can be attributed to defensive medicine practiced solely because of our wacky malpractice laws. How about insurance pools instead of co-ops? How about changing the regs at state level that prevent insurance companies from selling across state lines? How about changing regs that require insurance companies to offer comprehensive health coverage so they can tailor policies to individuals like we do for auto insurance.

    The key I believe is that we are reaching for the stars when we should be planning a trip to Glen Lake. Incremental changes instead of this monstrous disruption that no one knows - including Obama - how it will work, how it will be paid for, or how it will affect the current system would make more sense and would probably gain Obama a few Republicans in the process.

    ed.

  11. 11
    lionheart Said:
    12:07 pm 

    Comrade Stuck, its not Armageddon if the bill is truly budget related. Tax cuts are as budget related as a bill can be.

    However, I am not defending it. It’s a loophole that should never be utilized. It was wrong then, and its wrong now. “It’s dem’s turn”? Please don’t justify bad behavior by pointing out other bad behavior.

  12. 12
    Comrade Stuck Said:
    1:19 pm 

    However, I am not defending it. It’s a loophole that should never be utilized. It was wrong then, and its wrong now. “It’s dem’s turn”? Please don’t justify bad behavior by pointing out other bad behavior.

    Healthcare reform is just as budget related, or even more so than tax cuts. Tax cuts did nothing to reduce the deficit, in fact because they were directed mostly at the rich, they actually ballooned the deficit. Obama believes as do I, that unless we interject some sanity into the market with some actual competition, the greed and avarice of health care profiteers will bankrupt the nation.

    As to not using the RP out of some noble effort by dems to do right instead of doing equal wrong with the GOP. I will say this. If dems don’t use a rule equally as the GOP then imbalance will result to the overall body politic.

    I simply do not care anymore what repubs say or hope. They lie about everything and make false notions of bipartisanship, then bring guns to dem political events and threaten to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. I have no more desire to debate them on any level about anything.

  13. 13
    Larry, your brother Said:
    1:27 pm 

    1. I am certainly not an expert on healthcare finance. But maybe the first step is to stop the incredibly rising costs before actually bringing them down. And those of us on private insurance plans already benefit from the cost cutting to doctors and hospitals. Insurance companies (like Wellpoint and United Healthcare) use those prices as guidelines for what they pay to doctors.

    2. Read my note. Moving from a Single Payer system (which was probably a non-starter anyway) to Insurance Co-Ops is trying to throw up something ANY Republican may possibly, hopefully, maybe listen to.

    3. I know you’re for reform, as I have read you pretty consistently. Never accused you of anything else.

    I haven’t seen the Price Waterhouse study, but I’d love to see what activities make up this 10%. Extra tests? Extra paperwork? And insurance pools sound to me like group insurance, which is what I have now. Are they pools for people with the same problems? Isn’t that the point of group insurance–to spread the risk among many people? Insurance companies have been trying to segregate risks like this for years, claiming it’s the one cancer patient or heart condition in a pool that’s jacking up rates. It won’t help solve the problem of affordable healthcare. Selling insurance across state lines sounds like eliminating restrictions on branch banking: you get efficiences in the administrative process, but remember these are insurance companies. If they’re like banks, that efficiency will not be passed along in lower rates. Finally, insurance companies already tailor policies to people who want less. I just went through that process for a certain 23 year-old young man. We were able to buy a policy that had some basic coverage with low premiums and high deductibles. It didn’t cover everything, only major medical and an annual physical. This probably doesn’t apply to group policies, but there should be no reason (except legislative) that they can’t.

    I think the whole problem with the healthcare debate is nobody is stating the obvious: we provide a basic human need in the context of a for-profit system. Why don’t we treat it like a utility? Why don’t we gurantee a cost+ payment system to healthcare providers (and drug companies and medical device makers)? That’s probably what Medicare tries to do, and I’m sure there would be arguments about what should go into the cost structure and what should not. But we do that now for electricity, so why can’t we do it for healthcare? I realize there are all sorts of problems with Public Utility Commisions, and people will worry about being dictated to by bureaucrats. But since we are already being dictated to by the private sector equivalent (claims adjusters) why not at least give us some influence over who those decision makers might be?

  14. 14
    lionheart Said:
    3:32 pm 

    They lie about everything

    Ridiculous. You display the petulance of a child.

    then bring guns to dem political events

    All of us do, right? We’re all packing our heat. Waiting for Armageddon. At least we’ll be ready.

    I have no more desire to debate them on any level about anything.

    Sounds like somebody is taking their toys and going home. Wahhhhh, wahhhhhh, wahhhhhh. If you don’t want to debate us anymore, WTF are you doing here?

  15. 15
    Comrade Stuck Said:
    3:54 pm 

    What I am saying is that your side has nothing to offer. No ideas, no force of intellect, only crazy “death panel” “Nazism” talk and apologists like yourself who give us platitude of “all of us aren’t that way” smush. And concern trollery of “yes we did it” but two wrongs don’t make it right.

    And what I am taking home, is the power to make changes without your participation thru superior majorities in congress and the WH. The same way your GWB did for 8 years. Maybe dems will suffer the same type of fail and the people will give your side another chance. I don’t think so, but who knows.

    But just quit whining about no bipartisanship and win some elections if you don’t like what is going on. Big boy rules. And repudiate those on the right who talk of gunplay and armed resistance. Then we can debate.

  16. 16
    michael reynolds Said:
    6:34 pm 

    But just quit whining about no bipartisanship and win some elections if you don’t like what is going on. Big boy rules. And repudiate those on the right who talk of gunplay and armed resistance. Then we can debate.

    Amen.

  17. 17
    cleek Said:
    7:16 am 

    “…the first of potentially dozens of votes of that day and every single day as the GOP would force the complete reading of all bills and amendments, constantly notice the absence of a quorum, force votes on trivialities, object to all unanimous consent requests and voice votes, and generally wreak havoc to the point where no real business could be done.”

    and is this not also abuse of the Senate rules ?

  18. 18
    cleek Said:
    7:22 am 

    The Democrats threatened something similar over the “nuclear option” on judges that the GOP was seriously contemplating at one time.

    FALSE.

    utterly the nuclear option was ginned-up by Bill Frist in an attempt to end Dem filibusters over W’s nominations.

    also, what do you call the GOP’s desire to filibuster EVERYTHING, if not abuse of the Senate rules? there is no Constitutional requirement that every bill needs 60 votes to pass; that requirement has come about because the simply GOP threatens to block everything. go look at the numbers of filibusters previous to the GOP becoming the Senate minority, compared to after.

  19. 19
    cleek Said:
    7:23 am 

    errr… ok. i see what you’re saying. lemme take back that “FALSE” stuff. :)

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