ABC’s Jake Tapper is reporting that President Obama will give his blessing for Senate Democrats to use reconciliation to force a vote on health care reform if Republicans do not play along. In his remarks tomorrow, the President will continue to demonize the private insurance industry and make his oft-repeated case that the Democratic version of health care reform is urgently needed without delay for the good of the nation.
To justify reconciliation, the President is expected to explain that it will not be used for the entire bill, but for some “fixes.” It’s all okay because Republicans have used reconciliation to pass tax cuts (which are an actual budgetary matter as opposed to sweeping insurance industry policy changes) and that health care reform is perfectly suited to a tool designed for deficit reduction because … health care reform will fix the deficit.
That last part is truly Orwellian. By that logic, any bill can “reduce the deficit” under whatever timetable or standards you wanted to apply. Cap and trade? It’ll reduce the deficit by increasing carbon tax revenues to the government. Similar justifications can be made for anything under the sun.
To appear reasonable and bipartisan, the President is offering the smallest of carrots to go along – $50 million to simply look into tort reform (not to enact anything, just for demonstration projects that will be deemed a failure). Reduction of Medicare and Medicaid fraud and removal of the Cornhusker Kickback will be touted as nods to the GOP – but in reality those should be parts of any rational pieces of legislation. Yet this is supposed to be the “too good to pass up” offer to the other side of the aisle. It’s more like a condescending pat on the head.
The reconciliation or “nuclear option” will not be referred to by name, but by focus group-tested code words like “up or down vote” or “majority vote.” By its inclusion, the President has already destroyed any pretense of cooperation with the minority party, essentially saying “It’s my way or the highway.” The trouble is, he’s not just saying it to the GOP, he’s saying it to a majority of Americans who are weary and fatigued with the entire sleazy process and the one-sided nature of this year-long debate.
The Democrats can now kiss any pretense of being moderate goodbye. With this strategy, they will forever paint themselves the party of liberals and progressives who will use a majority not to represent the wishes of the American populace, but to enact progressive wish lists whether the country is for them or not. Voters wanted the process restarted and a shift of the focus to the economy. Instead, they are lectured that health care reform will help the economy, just do things our way, you idiots.
The left will be ecstatic, but the Democrats are dooming themselves to electoral disaster by going this route. Here’s a clue: if you anticipate that the country is going to react to your legislation by throwing your party out en masse, you cannot then claim those actions represent the will of the people. If you thought the tone in Washington was ugly before, it’s about to get a whole lot worse.