Jonathan Chait at The New Republic, ObamaCare Kool-Aid sipper, writes in “The Coming Conservative Health Care Freakout” that he is excited to see conservatives “freakout” when they realize that ObamaCare is not dead yet. He may be correct that conservatives were surprised to see that ObamaCare was back from the dead. I was shocked to see that the Obama Administration was intent on shrinking the Democrat Caucus by pushing this unpopular measure. This Chait Op Ed is conclusive evidence that these lefties live in another universe.
Quick reality check from Real Clear Politics Polls on ObamaCare (From 1/20-2/22 the average ObamaCare poll is 38.4 support and 52.3 oppose it for an average ObamaCare deficit of 13.9%):
Safe to say that these numbers combined with the election of Senator Scott Brown Massachusetts, a candidate who ran on the idea of being the 41st vote to obstruct and filibuster ObamaCare, is a danger sign to Democrats. They may want to take a step back from ObamaCare – it is killing them politically. Now I understand that the left’s talking points argue that elements of the President’s proposal are popular, yet they can’t argue that the individual mandate is a popular item. As I wrote for Red State yesterday
Newsweek’s most recent poll finds that in response to the question ”if health coverage is required for everyone, imposing fines on individuals who don’t obtain coverage and on larger businesses that don’t offer it do you Support (28%), Oppose (62%), or don’t know (10%).” That is the problem with ObamaCare, the core elements of the plan are nonstarters for the American people.
Chait, a guy who is clearly not running for office this fall, argues that
Some of us realized all along that there was no rational reason that the Massachusetts election had to kill health care reform. Fundamentally, the main barrier — getting sixty votes in the Senate — had already been crossed. The remaining obstacles are puny.
Wow. It is not rational for politicians to push ideas that cause constituents to show up at Townhall meetings and yell at them. Saying the remaining obstacles are “puny” is either wishful thinking or spin. I challenge you, Mr. Chait, to provide one comment on the record from you lefty buddies on the Hill saying that “the remaining articles are puny.” You will find none, because that statement is not true. Getting the House to pass the Senate version of ObamaCare, Senate to pass the House version of ObamaCare or a reconciliation strategy is a huge obstacle. If it were so easy, it would have been done.
There are a few huge obstacles to ObamaCare getting to the finish line. First of all, the House passed version of ObamaCare had a public option, a prohibition on abortion coverage and the tax on the “rich.” All of those provisions are controversial in the Senate and made the bill unlikely to pass with a 60 vote threshold. As for the House, no way the House could merely take up and pass a bill with federal funding of abortion, a tax on high end health care plans opposed by Big Labor and a bill without an explicit public option. Furthermore, there is a constant tension between the House and Senate that makes them not work well together as institutions. Both Reid and Pelosi want the bill that they worked on passed intact or after a conference. They were trying to negotiate and agreement in secret behind closed doors at the White House when Scott Brown happened.
All the Democrats needed to do was have the House pass the Senate bill. If they insisted on changes, most of those could easily be made through reconciliation, which only requires a majority vote in the Senate. Most conservatives paid no attention to this basic reality, though they did indulge in some gloating mockery of those of us who pointed it out.
It is far from easy, if you ask somebody who understands the budget rules, to pass a reconciliation bill with 50 votes plus the VP. The budget rules are strict with regard to the items that can be in the bill. They have to be consistent with the reconciliation instructions passed last year as part of the budget process. Any member of the Senate can make a point of order against provisions that do not comply with the instructions. If a point of order is made, and the Parliamentarian acts in good faith, proponents of the provision would need 60 votes to retain it. The idea of jamming a new “Health Insurance Rate Authority” into reconciliation may cause a scoring issue with CBO, as well as a problem with the Byrd rule. I find it hard for Chiat to assert that it will be “easy” when we have yet to see a draft of a reconciliation bill, nor do we have any Members of Congress say that this process will be “easy.”
Chiat then hit me
Brian Darling at Red State speculates that the Democrats will fire or overrule the parliamentarian in order to pass their plan through reconciliation.
Just checked the link and I never suggested that the Dems would “fire” the parliamentarian. I do believe that if the Democrats pass the ObamaCare reconciliation side car through the House, they will be willing to put a friendly Senator in the Chair or the VP to help get the bill through the Senate. They may ignore the suggested rulings of the parliamentarian. If that happens, I bet you and your buddies at TNR would be cheering them on.
Republicans actually did fire the parliamentarian in 2001, after he complicated their plans to push tax cuts through reconciliation, but this caused virtually no outcry.
Republicans dismissed Dove and installed Alan Frumin, the guy who is currently the Parliamentarian, in error. I don’t want anybody to get the impression that I don’t have deep respect for Frumin’s work as Parliamentarian — I do, but this issue is so big that I expect the Democrats to be ready to bend the rules to pass ObamaCare if they pass the reconciliation bill in the House. It is important to note that the parliamentarian does not make rulings, the parliamentarian advises the President of the Senate, Joe Biden, or whomever is designated by the Democrat Leadership to sit in the Chair. The parliamentarian has no power other than advice. There is a misconception that the parliamentarian actually makes rulings.
But Democrats aren’t going to need to do so. The paranoia stems in part from a failure to understand the technicalities of what’s going on here — liberal policy wonks have been following this closely for the last month, but hardly anybody else has.
I have been following this all year. Don’t be fooled, conservatives have been ready for this fight for months and are ready to fight back with parliamentary maneuvers if the Democrats declare war on the rules and implement the Health Care Nuclear Option. Your liberal policy wonk buddies are not correct if they think this will be easy. Republicans will make numerous points of order against provisions of a reconciliation bill. They have an opportunity at the end of the debate to offer unlimited amendments. If you think this will be easy, why are you worried in your column that it may fail?
The President’s bill has not been written yet. Remember that the President’s bill, if he even has a reconciliation measure drafted, will be introduced by a member and that member will probably load up the reconciliation measure with some new Cornhusker Kickback’s or maybe another Louisiana Purchase.
But most of the points of negotiation between House and Senate concern taxes and spending — exactly the kinds of things that reconciliation is designed for. So it’s fairly easy to just have the House pass the Senate bill, then use reconciliation to eliminate the Nebraska Medicaid subsidy and change the mix of taxes that pay for new coverage. Indeed, this process is probably easier than getting another 60 votes in the Senate would have been even if Martha Coakley had won.
The Senate passed bill will offend pro-life democrats and that is something that seems impossible to solve via reconciliation. The reconcilation measure will have controversial new tax provisions and it will lack your beloved public option. The massive new taxes proposed in the President’s reconciliation draft, like a new tax “on income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties an rents” are going to be unpopular.
This Op Ed in The New Republic is a good case study in the madness of the left. They are completely whistling by the political graveyard if they really believe that this bill is going to be popular. Just wait until after the Blair House Summit when the left has sucessfully shaken up the beehive of conservatism and Tea Partiers — there will be a strong response from those who are offended by a de facto government takeover of health care. Back to you Chait.