Tuesday, March 2, 2010


This health care thing is becoming an emotional roller-coaster ride. Obama's 11 page draft plan was close to the Senate version with a few tweaks. I could live with it. But then the summit fell flat -- splat -- on its face. The President kept trying to find something the opponents could live with. The opponents kept saying start over, blank slate, or there's nothing to talk about. I don't know about you, but if they start over with a blank piece of paper and we're stuck with another year of this haggling, I don't think I can stand it.

And then I heard Ezra Klein (WaPo) and some other talking heads talking about micor-reconciliation -- and then I think I got it. Weeks ago, I (and lots of others -- I can't take credit) advocated that the House pass the Senate bill and then pass the fixes through the process known as reconciliation -- measures that are related to the budget can pass the Senate by simple majority of 51 votes (with Joe Biden as number 51). Most of the things that have to be tweaked for the House to buy into the Senate compromise affect the budget, so this can be done. Lots of us in the health advocacy community have been arguing for this for weeks.

But it seems that there are a few things that people don't think would fit into reconciliation. For example, although I think federal funding of abortion (um, federal funding of anything) affects the budget, people are saying the fix for abortion funding can't be in reconciliation. There are a few other things like that.

So here's the deal. The House passes the Senate bill. The Senate passes micro-reconciliation, as does the House. Then they both -- maybe, some day -- get around to the issues they couldn't "fix" through micro-reconciliation.

Why micro? Nobody wants to pass the whole health care bill through an exception to the rules. Since the reconciliation would be a "micro" one, the idea is that most of the bill gets passed through normal channels, and President Obama's 11 pages become tweaks to the Senate bill -- 11 page micro-reconciliation -- and then it's done.

Since I could have lived with any reconciliation, I certainly can live with a micro one. And most of all, I'm really impressed with this political maneuver. They just invented micro-reconciliation. Remember, unless you were listening to MSNBC last night, you heard it here first! Jennifer

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