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Posted by on Feb 20, 2010 in Breaking News, Economy, Health, Politics, Society | 48 comments

Health Care Reform in 60 Days Using Reconciliation?

Harry Reid is now saying that health care reform will be passed by April, using reconciliation:

Democrats will finish their health reform efforts within the next two months by using a majority-vote maneuver in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said.

Reid said that congressional Democrats would likely opt for a procedural tactic in the Senate allowing the upper chamber to make final changes to its healthcare bill with only a simple majority of senators, instead of the 60 it takes to normally end a filibuster.

My feeling is, I’ll believe it when I see it. Although I’ll admit, I’m encouraged to see that Paul Krugman is optimistic:

Well, this certainly sounds like it’s a go. That’s the style, Mr. President!

If this works out — I’d think the odds now are that it will, though it’s by no means a done deal — there will be endless debate about whether Anthem Blue Cross was wot did it. My sense is that a final push was always available, as long as the White House was willing to take a stand; Anthem may just have helped provide an occasion.

Jonathan Chait predicts a “conservative freak-out” in three, two, one… Wait, it’s already begun!

Ever since Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley, conservatives, with very few exceptions, have been convinced that health care reform is dead. Friday’s Charles Krauthammer column offers a good example of the prevailing sentiment: “Barack Obama’s two signature initiatives — cap-and-trade and health-care reform — lie in ruins.”

But the mustache-twirling bonhomie has started to give way to the realization that the legislative door to health care reform is wide open, and Democrats simply need to walk through it. By no means is it clear that they’ll succeed. But I’ve been waiting for conservatives, filled with hubris at having swept liberalism into the dustbin of history, to wake up to the fact that health care reform is very far from dead, and start to freak out.

Friday’s New York Times report that Obama plans to propose a bill on Monday signaled the start of the freakout. Former Bush administration aide Yuval Levin writes:

The apparent decision to push Obamacare through reconciliation gives new meaning to the term political suicide. It will almost certainly fail, for one thing. And it will persuade rank and file Democrats in Congress that their leaders have lost their minds, and so will badly divide the Democratic caucus and make for a very difficult year to come for them.

Which, of course, is transparent nonsense. Levin and others on the far right, including the Republican leadership in Congress, know perfectly well that it’s the opposite scenario — the defeat of health care reform — that would spell ruination for the Democrats’ electoral chances in 2010 and 2012. If they thought for one second that using reconciliation to pass health care reform legislation that Republicans have blocked since last March would be such poison for the Democrats, they would be doing everything possible to help the Democrats get it passed. That’s so obvious, it shouldn’t even need to be said.