Commentary Magazine


Topic: health insurance program

Reconciliation — The Last Gasp of the Left

Obama is going to pitch the country on reconciliation. If he’s as persuasive as he’s been on the underlying bill that he’s trying to ram through Congress, the public will recoil. And well they should. The Wall Street Journal‘s editors explain that it’s an effort ”to permanently expand the American entitlement state with a vast apparatus of subsidies and regulations while the political window is still (barely) open, regardless of the consequences or the overwhelming popular condemnation.” It’s the final gambit (which might never come about unless Nancy Pelosi digs up some votes), made necessary because the president has failed to garner broad-based support for the bill:

Reconciliation is the last mathematical gasp for ObamaCare because Democrats can’t sell their policy to Senator Snowe, any other Republican, or even dozens of Democrats. This raw exercise of political power is of a piece with the copious corruption and bribery—such as the Cornhusker kickbacks and special tax benefits for union members—that liberals had to use to get even this far.

Democrats often point to welfare reform in 1996 as a reconciliation precedent, yet that bill passed the Senate with 78 votes, including Joe Biden and half of the Democratic caucus. The children’s health insurance program in 1997 was steered through Congress with reconciliation, but it, too, was built on strong (if misguided) bipartisan support. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that created Schip passed 85-15, including 43 Republicans. Even President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, another case in reconciliation point, were endorsed by 12 Senate Democrats.

We’ll see if we get that far. The House Democrats may nip this in the bud, after all. But this is in some way the epitome of the modern Left: impervious to public opinion, indifferent to fiscal reality, and willing to operate through brute political force. Obama, when challenged on his ObamaCare fetish, pronounces “that’s what elections are for.” Well, suffice it to say that a majority of voters in 2008 never thought that this was what they were getting. But they can certainly comply with the president’s request for electoral clarity this time around.

Obama is going to pitch the country on reconciliation. If he’s as persuasive as he’s been on the underlying bill that he’s trying to ram through Congress, the public will recoil. And well they should. The Wall Street Journal‘s editors explain that it’s an effort ”to permanently expand the American entitlement state with a vast apparatus of subsidies and regulations while the political window is still (barely) open, regardless of the consequences or the overwhelming popular condemnation.” It’s the final gambit (which might never come about unless Nancy Pelosi digs up some votes), made necessary because the president has failed to garner broad-based support for the bill:

Reconciliation is the last mathematical gasp for ObamaCare because Democrats can’t sell their policy to Senator Snowe, any other Republican, or even dozens of Democrats. This raw exercise of political power is of a piece with the copious corruption and bribery—such as the Cornhusker kickbacks and special tax benefits for union members—that liberals had to use to get even this far.

Democrats often point to welfare reform in 1996 as a reconciliation precedent, yet that bill passed the Senate with 78 votes, including Joe Biden and half of the Democratic caucus. The children’s health insurance program in 1997 was steered through Congress with reconciliation, but it, too, was built on strong (if misguided) bipartisan support. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that created Schip passed 85-15, including 43 Republicans. Even President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, another case in reconciliation point, were endorsed by 12 Senate Democrats.

We’ll see if we get that far. The House Democrats may nip this in the bud, after all. But this is in some way the epitome of the modern Left: impervious to public opinion, indifferent to fiscal reality, and willing to operate through brute political force. Obama, when challenged on his ObamaCare fetish, pronounces “that’s what elections are for.” Well, suffice it to say that a majority of voters in 2008 never thought that this was what they were getting. But they can certainly comply with the president’s request for electoral clarity this time around.

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