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February 28, 2010

Chair of Senate Budget Committee Declares Reconciliation Can't Be Used for Health Care

Just one Democratic vote, and they can afford to lose up to nine. But it's more important than that, as the legislation would, apparently, have to be passed out of his committee first. And it's more important than even that, because to do this at all, the House needs to act first, and pass the Senate bill, and they only want to do that with the assurance the Senate will be passing a budget-busting reconciliation measure shortly thereafter -- and Conrad seems to be sowing a lot of doubt that will happen.

Vid at the link, but here's the transcript:

“…reconciliation cannot be used to pass comprehensive health care reform. It won’t work. It won’t work because it was never designed for that kind of significant legislation. It was designed for deficit reduction… The major package of health care reform cannot move through the reconciliation process. It will not work… It will not work because of the Byrd rule which says anything that doesn’t score for budget purposes has to be eliminated. That would eliminate all the delivery system reform, all the insurance market reform, all of those things the experts tell us are really the most important parts of this bill. The only possible role that I can see for reconciliation would be make modest changes in the major package to improve affordability, to deal with what share of Medicaid expansion the federal government pays, those kinds of issues, which is the traditional role for reconciliation in health care.”

If the Democrats are looking for an exit strategy (and note, when it comes to big expansions of government, the Democrats do not shy away from declaring as Bush did in Iraq that the exit strategy is "victory"), then this will do as well as any other. Liberals can crow that they tried their hearts out, but this one Senator from South Dakota sold them out.

And that even works for Kent Conrad, because, hailing from South Dakota, being the guy who tanked the reconciliation route should be a small net positive.


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posted by Ace at 12:53 PM

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