Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stupid Argument for Using Reconciliation

Of all the arguments one could make for using reconciliation for the health care bill, the Democrat argument is the stupidest, most self-supporting argument one could make.

Realise that reconciliation itself is not a "nuclear option", or even a bad thing. Reconciliation is a specific part of the rules of the senate, and is perfectly valid to use in it's intended application. So saying that "Republicans used reconciliation" is a pretty stupid argument -- it's like claiming "Republicans passed bills with 50 votes, so we shouldn't be allowed to filibuster judges" -- it's apples and oranges.

Reconciliation is for passing bills that implement financial aspects of an already-passed budget agreement. The intention is for the senate to not get bogged down debating and blocking implementation of taxes or spending changes that have already been through the process during the budget debate.

So reconciliation is often used as an omnibus legislation, to implement the budget.

But the health care bill isn't a budget item. Sure, parts of it include budget items, like new taxes, and restricting money for medicare. But things like changing the rules for medicare advantage, creating new regulations, and the like are certainly not budget monetary items.

And what is more clear is that reconciliation has never before been suggested as a way to amend existing non-reconciliation legislation, before that legislation has been completed. In this case, they have competing bills between the house and senate, for which they can't find a common bill that gets a majority in the house and passes filibuster in the senate. This is hardly the first time this has happened -- in fact, it happens all the time.

The normal procedure is to go back to the drawing board, and find some other way to get everybody on board. Instead, since the democrats can't amend the current bill with the support of 60 senators, they want to pass the bill with a PROMISE that they will amend it by using budget rules. There were Senators like Webb who said they voted on the bill to MOVE THE PROCESS FORWARD, "knowing" that if the house democrats screwed around with the bill, they could vote against it when it came back and still stop it. Now they are being told "too bad, we lied to get your vote, and now we don't need it anymore".


But that isn't the stupidest argument. The stupidest argument is the one many democrats are using, that "reconciliation is a horrible way to do this, and it's only a 'last resort' if we can't pass the bill any other way".

That argument is essentially saying : If we can get 60 votes, that's what we will get, and we will only pass the bill with fewer than 60 votes if we get fewer than 60 votes".

Which I hope you can now see is a stupid argument. It's like saying "We'll go to the restaurant you choose, so long as you choose the one I like, otherwise we'll go to the one I like." Or, calling a coin flip by saying "you can have heads, unless the coin comes up heads, and then I get heads".

Here is an actual example, Ben Nelson: "[reconciliation is] my least favorite way to do something. It’s only after everything else fails, when there’s obstruction going on,” Nelson said.

Well, a filibuster is obstruction. And failing to break a filibuster is "everything else failing". So his argument is "reconciliation is to use if someone tries to filibuster and we can't break the filibuster". If true, then no filibuster would ever work against the majority.

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