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From my December 17, 2009 blog post....
Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have the right idea....table this Christmas present to Big Insurance and Big Pharma....and go the route of reconciliation where 51 votes are all that are required to pass genuine health care reform for the American people.
If the Republicans, and the Village that loves them, don't like it and throw a fit.....they can go pound salt.
What has been passed before under the 51 vote threshold of the "reconciliation" process..
Twenty-two reconciliation bills were passed between 1980 and 2008,....
Whether reducing or increasing deficits, many of the reconciliation bills made major changes in policy. Health insurance portability (COBRA), nursing home standards, expanded Medicaid eligibility, increases in the earned income tax credit, welfare reform, the state Children's Health Insurance Program, major tax cuts and student aid reform were all enacted under reconciliation procedures. Health reform 2009 style would be the most ambitious use of reconciliation but it fits a pattern used over three decades by both parties to avoid the strictures of Senate filibusters.
The devastating second round of Bush-Cheney tax cuts in 2003 were passed using the reconciliation process. The Dick, himself, had to cast the 51st vote in order to change existing tax law. Republicans simply never even considered using the normal legislative route when it came to cutting more taxes for their already-rich friends. Needing 60 Senate votes, which Republicans incessantly screech about today over health care reform, was never even considered in 2003.
That 2003 tax cut bill passed by Republicans with 51 votes in the Senate, using the reconciliation process, added some $343 billion to our national deficit. In contrast, the Democrats health care reform proposals of 2009 wouldn't have added anything to the deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
According to conserva-Dem and gleeful Democratic Party basher, Chris Matthews,....
Matthews: You can't create a program through reconciliation! Congressman just name me the program that's ever been created through reconciliation!
Alan Grayson(D-FLA): Tax cuts for the rich!
Matthews: That's not a program. Under reconciliation you're allowed to do two things. Change fiscal numbers, raise taxes or cut spending.
Matthews, a sucker for Commander Codpiece types, and currently swooning with an apparent man-crush on the new GOP senator Scott Brown (R-MA)....arrogantly dismissed any such talk of passing health care reform through the reconciliation process. But Chrissy, despite having some trouble with his own gender identification, is mistaken.....believing instead, that Senate Democrats won't have the stomach to ramrod legislation through like George and The Dick did.
I have some ideas. Medicare and Medicaid are existing programs written into U.S. law decades ago.....just like tax rate laws existed in 2001 and 2003. Medicare and Medicaid could be expanded, as necessary, using the reconciliation process which requires only 51 votes for passage.
Perhaps a mandate that every American must purchase health care insurance doesn't meet the reconciliation guidelines.....but as George and The Dick proved, raising taxes to pay for an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid could be passed under reconciliation.
Villagers, like Matthews,....and all Republicans and conservatives, will wear themselves out telling Americans that reconciliation can't be used to pass health care reform. As usual, they will be wrong. But that won't stop them from lying about it......remember, they spent the whole of 2009 lying and reporting on conservative lies, without telling us they were reporting lies.
What Villagers, like Matthews, are doing is what they've been doing for the last 20 years......taunting Democrats and progressives to stand down and let the minority Republicans have their way. And that's probably what will happen again now, just like it happened in the 90's.
But it doesn't have to be that way. What Americans want from the Democratic majority they sent to D.C.....is a fight. A fight against the entrenched Big Money interests that have dictated the terms under which America has existed for way too long. A fight against the ridiculously corrupt and reckless Republican obstructionists.
Announcing that they will use the reconciliation process to reform health care would be the appropriate Democratic sucker punch to throw right now. Americans would cheer.