Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Senate Republicans begin to concede defeat on "reconciliation"

The Senate version of the health care reform bill, approved by the House on Sunday, will be signed into law by President Obama later this morning. To complete the health care reform package, the House also passed a bundle of fixes, patches, and revisions (together with a long-overdue reform of the federal student loan program). This now needs to be passed by the Senate as well. As everyone should now be aware, this measure will be voted on using the procedural device of "budget reconciliation," which circumvents a Republican filibuster and allows the bill to be passed by simple majority vote.

Senate Republicans have promised a final crescendo of procedural obstructionism to block this measure, but the consensus of informed opinion seems to be that this will fail, and that they probably can't delay final passage for more than a day or so. Even some Republican die-hards are beginning to concede this.

Republicans are unlikely to force major changes to the measure making final tweaks to healthcare legislation, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Monday night. [....]

"No," Coburn said during an appearance on CNBC when asked if the GOP would be able to stop many elements of the reconciliation bill. "We'll put a few holes in it, but basically it's going to come through here because they've done a good job crafting it." [....]

Senate Republicans have said they plan to raise a series of objections and points of order against the bill, leading some to say they are "virtually certain" they could force changes that would send the reconciliation measure back to the House for another vote.

Those efforts were dealt a blow Monday night, though, when the Senate's parliamentarian dismissed a GOP challenge that claimed the bill should have been dismissed for touching on Social Security revenues.

Instead, Coburn sketched out some elements of the long-term propaganda war that will follow enactment of this health care reform package. This was in a sympathetic TV conversation with the outspoken market-fanatic, anti-tax, pro-plutocratic right-wing economic commentator/propagandist Lawrence Kudlow on Kudlow's CNBC show. It's worth listening to the video clip from their exchange down at the bottom of this piece, since it offers a partial foretaste of what we'll be hearing from the Republican side for the rest of 2010 ... and beyond. (And a few of Coburn's remarks are even, in their own tendentious way, perceptive.)

--Jeff Weintraub