Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reconciliation: A Nuclear Abuse of Power

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid said that he may choose reconciliation to get healthcare passed.

Reconciliation is an optional step of the annual budget process which allows legislation to be approved by 51 votes in the Senate, instead of the usual 60 votes necessary to withstand a filibuster. This could be 50 Senate votes plus VP Biden as the 51st vote. This process is a shortcut, limiting floor debate to only 20 hours.

It was created in the 1947 Budget Act to pass tax cuts and deficit reductions. Period. It was not meant to circumvent the role of the Senate.

This year, when Congress passed the budget, it set in place a process to pass healthcare, education, and climate change legislation. In the House, the budget instructed the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee to come up with $1 billion in deficit reductions for healthcare reform. In the Senate, the budget did the same for the Senate Finance and Health Committee (HELP). If lawmakers can come up with $1 billion in fake savings, they could use reconciliation to pass Obamacare.

The problem is that it would be very difficult for the liberals to navigate 'the tight budgetary constraints imposed by the Budget Act, the budget resolution and the Byrd Rule." The Byrd Rule prohibits that no reconciliation bill can make the deficit worse outside the budgetary window. This means that any provision in the legislation that's expected to cost taxpayers, even 10 years down the road, would doom the prospects of passage of the bill.

Reconciliation leaves incredible policy issues at the hands of the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, who interprets the rules. The non-elected, Mr. Frumin, would be responsible for deciding what could and could not be included in the final healthcare bill.

I could not make this up, even if I tried. Fake savings, budgetary window, the Byrd Rule, and who is Alan Frumin?

In 2010, let's start over and call that reconciliation.

1 comment:

  1. Who is John Gault? Read Atlas Shrugged and find out that we are living it!

    ReplyDelete