Earlier today, I wrote about “sidecar reconciliation” and the difficulty of passing it, and concluded, in light of Lawrence O’Donnell’s remarks on MSNBC about parliamentary maneuvers, encountered a number of times each day, still needing 60 votes to overcome them, that Republicans can block HCR through reconciliation if they want to. I said, further, that if they do that, the nuclear option would be the only way for the Democrats to pass a positive Main Street agenda that could save them from blood baths in 2010 and 2012.
I’ve thought a little bit more about this since the first post. I now think that reconciliation could still work, if Harry Reid is willing to warn Senators that if they bring reconciliation business to a halt to block an up or down vote, then he would introduce the nuclear option to get rid of the filibuster altogether.
If he did this, I think Senators opposing the legislation would walk back from the brink and not risk losing the filibuster, even if the reconciliation bill contained a very strong public option. In other words I think a combination of a reconciliation and nuclear option strategy would work to pass a better health care reform than is being considered now.
Having said that, I also want to propose that progressives not support sidecar reconciliation, at all, but, instead go back further, and use the strategy I outlined in this earlier post, and push for passing HR 676, enhanced Medicare for All, under reconciliation. This will be met by extreme opposition, of course, and will be impossible to pass. Nevertheless, it is better to negotiate a compromise downgrading HR 676, as outlined in my earlier post, than it is to negotiate an upgrade to the Senate’s current terrible bill.
As long as reconciliation will be used anyway, Progressives, and even Harry Reid, keeping the coming electoral blood bath in mind, need to get tough and fight for legislation that the public will definitely like, and the health insurance and Pharma industries will hate. That is the way to begin to persuade people that real Democrats are back, and that Wall Street no longer controls them.
After health care reform, they will have to tackle a jobs program, financial system reform, and, I think revisit Credit Card reform by imposing a very quickly implemented ceiling on credit card interest rates, prohibiting card companies from charging more than 6 points above the interest rates that they themselves are subject to by the Federal Reserve. All these things need to happen before the election if Democrats expect to avert a Republican sweep. And they will have to be as politically ruthless as the Republican are, if they’re going to save themselves.