WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Last month, in a conference call with liberal bloggers, President Obama made clear that he was open to using the reconciliation process to lower the vote threshold in the Senate for healthcare reform from 60 to 50. Now it appears that very strategy is being seriously considered:

The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, seeing little chance of bipartisan support for their health-care overhaul, are considering a strategy shift that would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes.

[...]

In recent days, Democratic leaders have concluded they can pack more of their health overhaul plans under this procedure, congressional aides said. They might even be able to include a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, a key demand of the party's liberal wing, but that remains uncertain.

Other parts of the Democratic plan would be put to a separate vote in the Senate, including the requirement that Americans have health insurance. It also would set new rules for insurers, such as requiring they accept anyone, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions. This portion of the health-care overhaul has already drawn some Republican support and wouldn't involve new spending, leading Democratic leaders to believe they could clear the 60-vote hurdle.

Per Jonathan Weisman and Naftali Bendavid, who reported the story for The Wall Street Journal, there is a better than even chance that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, working in consultation  with the Obama administration, will move forward in this regard -- passing the easier parts of healthcare reform in normal order, and passing the more difficult parts using the budget process. In such a case, the Democrats could afford to lose as many as 10 votes in the Senate (including that of Ted Kennedy, who has not been seen in the Senate for months) while still enacting the more contentious portions of reform, namely a public option.

This, of course, is a trial balloon, and it's not yet clear that the Senate will move forward in this regard. But it is most certainly a positive development for the cause of reform to see Harry Reid, Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership taking a harder stance to gain a stronger bargaining position.

Tags: 111th Congress, health insurance reform, Healthcare, Reconciliation (all tags)

Comments

27 Comments

Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Good until the next Gibbs misspeak.  And Obama is still playing the "bipartisan" shtick, with today's NASCAR event and tomorrow's with a conservative talk-show host.  If health care fails, Obama is a lame-duck.  Personally I would have started out with a smaller package, even though the over/under on combined GOP votes would still be 1.5.  I think our president is too naive to understand this--appeasement never works!

PPP is coming out with their next round 2012 polling tomorrow.  Here's a hint: "Compared to last month Huckabee is up...."

So right now Obama is no better than the MOE against Huckabee.  

by esconded 2009-08-19 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

You're worried about a poll for a contest 3 years from now?

It's pointless to look at ANY polls right now... This massive domestic issue is mired in the muck at the moment, and no incumbent looks good...

Once it's resolved, and it's clear that the world hasn't ended, then we'll maybe get a clearer picture...

Who the hell knows what is going to happen 3 years from now, much less 3 months from now?

by LordMike 2009-08-19 07:03PM | 0 recs
My God

good thing you weren't a Republican in the Summer of 1983 when, 15 months before election day, Reagan was losing big to both Walter Mondale and Gary Hart.

by DTOzone 2009-08-19 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: My God

And Republicans lost pretty badly in the House and in governors races in 1982 because of Reagan's unpopularity and the economy.  I think we will be able to tell if this realignment is real if we lose less in the House(21 seats) than we gained in 2008.  That is how Republicans knew it was a realignment in 1980 when they lost just 26 seats after gaining 35 in 1980.  If Democrats can lose only around 16 seats in the House, the realignment was real in 2008.  

by Kent 2009-08-19 08:36PM | 0 recs
If Democrats lose more than 16 seats in the House

next year, it probably indicates there isn't a county left to realign.

by DTOzone 2009-08-19 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Wont work, still too many in the Senate who wont support reconciliation. And the fact is dems are scared to death in those more republican leaning districts that they will be slaughtered if they push through without voters buying in. I still say whatever comes out of the Baucus group is what has best chance of passing. Generally speaking polls showing public is uncomfortable with this, myths, misinformation aside. The over 60 crowd isnt buying in and if they bail, this President and congress is gonna be in trouble.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-08-19 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Democrats should be scared to death of this NOT passing.  Are conservative voters like you going to support Democrats because they didnt pass healthcare reform?  I didnt think so.  

by Kent 2009-08-19 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

There are 46 on record supporting the public option. Of the remaining several lean in favor. We only need 4.

by bruh3 2009-08-19 06:55PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

That's assuming it can indeed by done under reconciliation, and that if it can't, we can get ten more to agree not to filibuster.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-08-19 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

It can be done under reconciliation... The one option is to alter Medicare's rules to expand the program as the "public option".

by LordMike 2009-08-19 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Again, to understand how this game is being played everyone needs to read Glenn Greenwald's piece:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

Sorry but your very frame is exactly why it is difficult. We have a lot of leverage here, but a) progressives are too scared to use it, and b) The WH has so far used it against progressives rather than conservatives.

if we can get this far without anyone in the WH actually doing any lifting, what would happen if they did? To me , right now is a test of who president obama is. The false concept that he can do nothing is untrue since they have had no problem leveraging progressives.

by bruh3 2009-08-19 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Clarification: My point in the prior post is when people start talking about the whip count and how hard it is my issue that I do not find how you can be so certain about how hard it is since rather than whipping people into agreement, the President's team has been focused on concessions to conservatives. He does not use the stick against them at all. Only the carrot. So, what is fully possible with the numbers can not at all be certain unless one concludes we will not get Pres Obama to do any of the lifting. That maybe true, but it is not a good sign going forward on this and other legislation.

by bruh3 2009-08-19 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Because the over sixty-five crowd is such a strong democratic demographic?

by lojasmo 2009-08-19 07:40PM | 0 recs
I hate to tell ya this

but the over 60 crowd didn't vote for the President anyway. They're pretty much irrelevant here.

by DTOzone 2009-08-19 08:00PM | 0 recs
Irrelevant?

We'll see in 2012 how irrelevant they are when they're the biggest reliable voting block!

What a stupid comment....

by suzieg 2009-08-19 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Irrelevant?

By 2012, most of them will have passed through the requisite death panels unscathed, and be grateful for it! ;-)

I suspect that after the bill is passed (not before), it will be touted as the plan that saved medicare... I even expect a CBO report to show that it prolonged the life of the program by a decade at least... This is the angle that will be used to sway old people...

They won't use it before the bill is passed 'cos it reeks of "rationing", but afterwards, hell yes... if they are smart, that is...

Regardless, by 2012 Seniors will notice that nothing has changed in their care.  Remember that medicare pays bupkiss, and yet seniors still get great care... even if 10% of bupkiss were cut out, seniors will still get great care!

by LordMike 2009-08-19 09:39PM | 0 recs
Like a quarter of them

will be dead by then lol

Besides if they're the biggest reliable voting block, they obviously don't seem to have much power since they voted for McCain by a big margin last year.

Didn't get him elected, did it?

by DTOzone 2009-08-19 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Let that 60+ crowd go over to Republicans.  They will find out that they made a mistake pretty quickly when they realize that Republicans are trying to destroy Social Security again.  

by Kent 2009-08-19 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

Word.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-08-19 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

I'm sorry no.

Oh we will split the bill and put in one part all the pieces that the republicans and blue dogs and the insurance companies like. And in the other we will put the tough stuff. Just vote for the good stuff bill and we will force the public option through reconciliation.

Yeah and by the way this land in Florida isn't really all that swampy.

by Judeling 2009-08-19 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

You beat me to it. This is a ploy similar to the trigger meant to defeat the public option.

by bruh3 2009-08-19 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

There is a way that a split bill could work.

If the House passes the Medicare for All. Before the Senate passes anything. Then it is clearly a budget issue. And it would scare the beegesus out of the Senate.

You know since anyone who votes for the Public Option is a socialist and will be run against as one, Why not just go for the option that is easy to explain.

by Judeling 2009-08-19 08:45PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

There is a 1% chance that Republicans will gum up the works by voting for the bill enough that it will pass...

That would be a fantastic development!

by LordMike 2009-08-19 09:35PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

I like the idea in theory but I don't see how the public option can survive at all under this plan. Without the threat of the whole health care bill going under, is there anything to keep the blue dogs in line at all? And if there was already concern the mysterious "senate parlimentarian" may reject the use of reconciliation, wouldn't it only increase risk of rejection to restrict the reconciliation part to the most controversial part of the whole bill?

And of course this strategy in general opens up the risk that we could somehow wind up with passing the individual mandate but not the public option, which is just unacceptable.

How about this, we have two bills. One contains the individual mandate and the public option. The other contains everything else. We pass the first one normally and the second using reconciliation. This both gives conservadems a reason to still vote for the reconciliation bill and ensures the government doesn't create a legal requirement to buy insurance without also guaranteeing there will be an acceptable insurance provider :P

by mcc 2009-08-19 09:18PM | 0 recs
This already exists

One contains the individual mandate and the public option. The other contains everything else.

the individual mandate and the public option would almost certainly have to be in the same bill anyway since both are at risk of being stripped by the Parliamentarian.

by DTOzone 2009-08-19 09:43PM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

I would respectfully suggest that we pass the bill with the public option and the subsidies BEFORE we pass the bill with the penalties for people who don't have insurance.  That seems like politics 101, no?

by Steve M 2009-08-20 03:59AM | 0 recs
Re: WSJ: Dems Could Split Bill, Use Reconciliation

I said the exact thing just yesterday at Daily Kos.

Seems like a clear winner, as long as they can get the public option through reconciliation.

by MtnFrost 2009-08-20 09:18AM | 0 recs

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