T Nation

Demoncracts Prepare Nuclear Option

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/02/26/gamble-dems-prepare-ram-health-care/

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama strongly signaled that Democrats will move forward on a health care overhaul with or without Republicans, preparing his party for a fight whose political outcome will rest with voters in November.

Delivering his closing argument at a 7-1/2-hour televised policy marathon Thursday, Obama told Republicans he welcomes their ideas – even ones Democrats don’t like – but they must fit into his framework for a broad health care remake that would cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans.

That’s the deal.

It’s a gamble for Obama and his party, and it’s far from certain that Democratic congressional leaders can rally their members to muscle a bill through on their own. At stake are Democrats’ political fortunes in the midterm elections and the fate of Obama’s domestic agenda pitted against emboldened Republicans.

“The truth of the matter is that politically speaking, there may not be any reason for Republicans to want to do anything,” Obama said, summing up. "I don’t need a poll to know that most Republican voters are opposed to this bill and might be opposed to the kind of compromise we could craft.

“And if we can’t,” he added, "I think we’ve got to go ahead and some make decisions, and then that’s what elections are for. "

To the nearly 40 lawmakers in the room with him, the message was unmistakable.

“Frankly, I was discouraged by the outcome,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “I do not believe there will be any Republican support for this 2,700-page bill.”

Democratic leaders – who preside over majorities in both chambers-- were having none of that.

“It’s time to do something, and we’re going to do it,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Still, no participant publicly called the daylong exercise a waste of time. Despite flare-ups now and then, they had a remarkably civil debate on an issue that has divided Americans and polarized political partisans.

Obama’s plan would require most Americans to get health insurance, while providing subsidies for many in the form of a new tax credit. It would set up a competitive insurance market for small businesses and people buying coverage on their own. Other changes include addressing a coverage gap in the Medicare prescription benefit and setting up a new long-term-care insurance program. The plan would be funded through Medicare cuts and tax increases.

At the summit, there were some areas of agreement, including barring insurers from dropping policyholders who become sick, ending annual and lifetime monetary limits on health insurance benefits and letting young adults stay on their parents’ health policies into their mid-20s or so.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has a track record of working across the political aisle, said he would try to broaden common ground. Obama said he was willing to incorporate medical malpractice changes into his plan.

Yet on the core issues of how to expand coverage and pay for it, the divide was as wide as ever. Democrats argue a stronger government role is essential, and with it higher taxes and new rules for private companies.

“We have a very difficult gap to bridge here,” said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican. “We just can’t afford this. That’s the ultimate problem.”

A Democrats-only strategy is no slam-dunk. The House would have to pass a Senate bill that many House Democrats find unacceptable. Indeed, House Democrats appear to hold the key to the success of Obama’s gambit.

To make the Senate bill more palatable to the House, both chambers would pass a package of changes. In the Senate, that would be done under special budget rules allowing majority Democrats to get around the requirement for 60 votes to shut off bill-killing filibusters. Democrats are one vote shy.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., asked Democrats to swear off the tactic, known as “reconciliation.” Reid defended it.

Obama said Americans want a decision on health care, and most think “a majority vote makes sense.”

Yet a USA Today/Gallup survey released Thursday found Americans tilt 49-42 percent against Congress passing a health care bill similar to the ones proposed by Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate. Opposition was even stronger to the idea of Senate Democrats using the special budget rules, with 52 percent opposed and 39 percent in favor.

Congressional aides said top Democrats will take a few days to gauge the summit’s impact on the public and, perhaps more importantly, on moderate House members who will likely determine whether any health care bill will pass.

If the effort fails, Democrats may try a scaled-back plan to insure about 15 million more Americans, rather than the 30 million covered under the congressional bills. Among other things, the fallback plan would require insurance companies to let people up to age 26 stay on their parents’ health plans.

It will be a nuclear option all right but I don’t know if the Democrats realize it’s going to destroy them in the process. With the tide of popular opinion solidly against them now…doing this will be a gift to the opposition, which at this point is just about everyone.

Gee, it seems like just a few years ago that reconciliation was SOP in the Senate and the “nuclear option” was the threat to abolish the filibuster. My how times have changed.

Robert Byrd, Democrat and original author of reconciliation said:

Y9ou’re right Tiribulus. Using it to let people keep more of their money is way different than this current idea.

If you look at what they have to do - step by step - to pass the bill via reconciliation, especially considering that the Dems know full well how the American people will react - both immediately and in November - it seems highly improbable that they’ll do this.

But, of course, “improbable” doesn’t rule out “brain-dead stupidity.”

Obama may well be arrogant and unwise enough to push extremely hard for the Congressional leadership to do this, thinking (as would Rahm Emanuel) that surely it’s just a matter of applying enough Chicago-style arm-twisting.

If he fails at doing so he will have pretty much shot his wad so far as being able to lead the Democratic Party, as personal opinion on the resulting outcome.

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
Obama may well be arrogant and unwise enough to push extremely hard for the Congressional leadership to do this, thinking (as would Rahm Emanuel) that surely it’s just a matter of applying enough Chicago-style arm-twisting.

If he fails at doing so he will have pretty much shot his wad so far as being able to lead the Democratic Party, as personal opinion on the resulting outcome. [/quote]

He kinda fails either way - donch-ya think?

edit: maybe that’s why he’ll go for it.

His failure is already set in stone, he has alienated many people, including those in his own party.

Will the American people do an Epic Beard Guy on the Democratic Party if they try this attack?

It is getting to that point Bill, I know people will think I am crazy in saying this, but I think there will be a point where there will be blood in the streets.

I think riots, etc. are very possible. The American people don’t take very kindly to being told to fuck off.

Well, to be clear: I meant at the polls.

Maybe someone can do a Democrat-themed (you know, a donkey or DNC logo or something)

DA AMBALAMPS
bring dem

“motivational” pic

This just in from your local “Progressive Double Speak” department:

And the fact that every poll shows that a majority of the American people are opposed to this bill neglects the fact that they “left their imprint” and so therefore Pelosi, Reid, and Obama are doing the people’s work as the faithful public servants they are.

Maybe she’s losing her mind?

[quote]SteelyD wrote:
This just in from your local “Progressive Double Speak” department:

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/84089-pelosi-gop-has-had-its-day-217-healthcare-votes-in-sight[/quote]

[quote]hedo wrote:
It will be a nuclear option all right but I don’t know if the Democrats realize it’s going to destroy them in the process. With the tide of popular opinion solidly against them now…doing this will be a gift to the opposition, which at this point is just about everyone.[/quote]

We need a better poling procedure, because I believe most people know that health care costs are running away and that America is the largest customer of that run away health care industry, America pays fifty cents for every health care dollar spent. The prices make it unsustainable.

I do not agree with everything Obama is doing, but something must be done, I personally would agree with opening Ins. To be sold across state lines and would even look at limiting law suits, But there is a lot more that needs to be done

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/02/28/sen_conrad_reconciliation_can_not_be_used_for_health_care.html

My understanding:

They are not actually going to pass the bill through reconciliation. The House is going to pass the bill that already passed the senate. Reconciliation will be used to tweak the bill once it passes, as a compromise to the house. Nothing shady about this by today’s standards.

Otherwise, the house would not accept the senate bill and they wouldn’t have the votes to pass a compromised bill in the senate.