Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bring on Reconciliation

If there were any lingering notions that Barack Obama was a pragmatist, Monday’s release of the White House’s plan for Obamacare should finally put them to rest. Previously the President could hide behind the thin veil of the fact that the disaster we’ve come to know as Obamacare was actually crafted at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. No longer… He has embraced the plan and made it his own just as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid suggest that they will do whatever is necessary to turn it into law.

The interesting thing about watching this Democratic Kabuki Theater is that it’s really more like watching a completely different of Japanese act, Seppuku, or ritual suicide. The overwhelming majority of the American people do not want Obamacare. It’s not even close. Yet the Democrats are determined to have it because they think they know what’s best for America, and they’re sure we’ll thank them for it afterwards. I’m not so sure that’s how things are going to work out…

Just as Democrats ignore 150 years of socialist failure as they charge headlong into their statist fantasy, with their promise to use Reconciliation to force the economic rat poison of Obamacare down the throats of the American population, they ignore even their own history… and do so at their peril.

In 1993 President Clinton tried to force Hillarycare on the American people. Despite the fact that Democrats had 57 senators, Clinton recognized it was in trouble and threatened to use Reconciliation to pass it. None other than Robert Byrd, the long serving Democrat known for his mastery of Senatorial rules, said no calling it a “prostitution of the process.”

Byrd was right and America was saved from the government healthcare, at least temporarily. The interesting thing is, however, that the damage was already done. Democrats had so infuriated the American public with their elitist notions of knowing what “the people” want better than they themselves do, that voters showed them the door in the 1994 mid term elections. And those elections were not just another shifting of a few deckchairs that slightly tilted the boat… By 1993 the Democrats had controlled the House of Representatives for forty straight years, indeed, other than the 80th Congress from 1947-49, they had controlled the House since 1931. Over that same 62 year span their control over the Senate was not quite as ironclad, coming in at only 50 years. And these were not simple one seat majorities. They had 68 Senators in 1965. Coming out of Ronald Reagan’s first mid term elections they had 269 Members in the House and still had 253 after he won 49 of 50 states in 1984.

Hillarycare was a seminal moment in modern American politics. The Democrats so offended the American polity that they lost a grip on power they had held for almost exclusively for half a century. Now, a decade and a half later they are, rather inexplicably, not only revisiting the scene of their greatest modern failure, but they are doubling down on it by promising to use reconciliation to force their “medicine” down the throats of American patients, regardless of how clearly those patient say they don’t want it. Unlike many of his hypocritical Democratic brethren, the 92 year old Senator Byrd is still demonstrating integrity on this issue, having expressed his opposition to the use of Reconciliation just last year. Fifteen years ago just the threat of forcing Americans into government healthcare caused Democrats to lose the House of Representatives for 12 years and the Senate for 10. If they use a parliamentary tactic to attempt to overcome a filibuster today (Something that was not even done in 1964 when that same Senator Byrd was filibustering the Civil Rights Act) in order to put the yoke of Obamacare on the backs of the American people, they will be sowing the seeds of their own destruction, even if the bill fails, an outcome whose likelihood at I put at about 60%. They will certainly lose the House in November and probably the Senate as well, and then they will lose the White House in 2012. Given the damage they have inflicted on the United States over the last half century, we should bid them good riddance.

It won’t be a quick escape however, from the statist straight-jacket that the Democrats have strapped the American people into, but Reconciliation will be the knife that finally cuts those straps loose. It will take some time for the atrophied muscles of common sense, liberty and individual responsibility to begin to recover and flex their strength, but once unshackled, they will once again become the vibrant muscles upon which this country was built. Soon thereafter the people will begin to use those muscles to return sanity to the affairs of the state– and reversing Obamacare will be the first item on the very long list of progressive disasters that will be ripped from their roots and turned into a giant pyre, fueled by the flames of freedom and liberty.

Bring on Reconciliation… this should make for great theater.


  1. So, what *is* reconciliation, in the context of Congressional legislation, and why would the use of it be problematic for typical Americans?

  2. Well, the truth is, reconciliation is a legislative tactic used in the Senate to get around tactic called a filibuster.

    The Senate does not have a rule about how long debate should last on a particular subject. As such, if a Senator would like to prevent a vote on a particular piece legislation, if he (or in concert with like minded colleagues) could simply refuse to stop debating the issue... although they are not required to be on point, thus Mr. Smith reading the phone book or the Shakespeare in "Mr. Smith goes to Washington".

    Reconciliation is a tactic implemented as part of the Budget Act of 1974 which limits debate to a total of 30 hours on a bill and essentially ends the filibuster. It was initially intended to be used mainly for tax and spending bills.

    While in this particular case it would mean that the citizens of the US are going to become part of the socialist Borg taking over the civilized world with Obamacare, what it really means is that emperor has no clothes. The filibuster is a part of history, but it has always sat on rather dubious legal grounds. Many scholars believe the filibuster is unconstitutional and reconciliation being used in a way that is so obviously not part of its intended use, would essentially be saying that in the Senate, majority rules. That would make the Senate a far more efficient and far less deliberative body where the majority rules. The result would be more partisan legislation (and more of it) coming from the Senate. If you like big government America, you’ll love a post reconciliation Senate…

    Here's an overview:

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