If the House Democrats can agree to pass the Senate’s version of health acre reform with a few tweaks here and there, the master plan of President Obama and his Congressional allies is to get the remaining bill through the Senate and the Scott Brown-bolstered filibuster-ready GOP opposition using a Senate device called “reconciliation.” It is a somewhat complicated procedure and has some significant limitations. The Republicans are telling everyone who will listen that the device is not supposed to be used for such major legislation, and that the Democrats’ tactic borders on being unconstitutional. The Democrats counter that the GOP’s critics are suffering from either dishonesty or senility, because Republicans have been willing to use the device themselves when it suited their agenda.
Who is misleading the public? This time, it’s the Republicans. A too-rare collaboration by conservative and liberal scholars in today’s New York Times makes it very clear that if the Democrats use reconciliation to get heal care reform the last couple yards to the goal line, they will be well within Senate precedent.
This is an excellent, useful and objective article, and it raises the question, “Why can’t we get more of this?” Why can’t the public regularly have access to collaborations between legitimate scholars from both ends of the spectrum that provide real, reliable answers in the fog of spin and bias created by partisan advocates and the media? Is the health care bill really a jobs bill too, as Democrats are saying? Are the deficit-reducing promises in the health care bill realistic?
For now, let’s just be thankful that respected conservative scholar Norman J. Ornstein (of the American Enterprise Institute) joined Brookings scholar Thomas E. Mann to clarify this controversy.