Bloggers are tracing predictable party lines in reaction to news that Democratic lawmakers are considering employing budget reconciliation along with the possibility of passing a health overhaul bill in two parts.
Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias‘ (who had mentioned the split bill prospect in a different post on Tuesday) explanation “One a filibusterable, regulation-focused bill to create health insurance exchanges and set up a skeleton of reform and the other a non-filibusterable bill focused on raising taxes and disbursing funds on subsidies, public program expansions, and setting up a new public plan with up-front costs but long-run savings. Pass the moderate bill one week, let everyone go home to their constituents for a weekend and brag about how bipartisan they are, then come back next week and pass the more progressive bill with fewer votes.”
Heritage’s Conn Carroll’s assessment: “Democrats in Congress are undeterred by history, precedent, and public opinion.”
On the reconcilation idea, Critical Condition’s James Capretta thinks the reconcilation approach would have been the plan in the first place were it been feasible. He writes, “The bottom-line question is this: can Congressional Democrats pass a sweeping and controversial takeover of American health-care on their own? Here’s a clue to the likely answer: if they could, that would have been plan A. Why bother talking with political opponents if you could pass the next New Deal without them?”
Ed Morrissey of Hot Air concludes, “Not even Harry Reid is this foolish,” and predicts the Senate will grind to a halt:
However, if they do manage to get past that obstacle, the Republicans can shut down the Senate for the next year. Those unfamiliar with the parliamentary procedure may not realize that a great many steps get skipped by unanimous consent. Bill-reading is just one example. One Senator can force each and every bill to be read aloud at every appearance it makes on the Senate floor, including when they are sent to committee. For ObamaCare and cap-and-trade, one bill reading could take a week, keeping the Senate floor locked off from any other business.
Bob Laszewski thinks Democrats should review recent public opinion polls along with the “Byrd Rule” before proceeding with reconciliation. He writes, “The notion that Democrats can ram something so big as health care reform through with the 41% approval rating the President now has on health care is just nuts. Politically, they would be asking for an even bigger polarization on this issue than we already have.”
In a separate post, Laszewski calls the ’splitting the bills’ idea “the most bizarre of all” and adds, “The Democratic leadership and the White House staff really need a vacation.”
But some liberals are unphased. The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn says:
Well, well, well. Maybe the Democrats are ready to get tough after all… But even the theoretical possibility of Democrats passing reform on their own would change the dynamics in Congress, by giving Republicans new incentives to negotiate in good faith–and giving Democrats a way to enact legislation in case the GOP remains as obstructionist as it is now.
And the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein thinks the strategy might not be about Republicans at all. According to Klein, “The one potential answer is that reconciliation isn’t about bypassing the GOP at all. It’s about bypassing a handful of centrist Democrats.”