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Hey Dems! Don't 'Sell Reconciliation' -- Just Push Good Policies
Pelosi Makes The Case For Reconciliation And Reforming Senate Rules
In an interview with Roll Call, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the case for reforming the Senate rules and using reconciliation.
"A constitutional majority is 51 votes," Pelosi said in an interview Tuesday with Roll Call. "If in fact the Republicans are going to say nothing can be done except by 60 percent, then maybe we all should be elected with 60 percent. It isn't legitimate in terms of passing legislation."
On this point, Pelosi is completely right. A 3/5 threshold in the Senate appears nowhere in the Constitution, and super-majority requirements for every action in the Senate makes a mockery of the idea of democracy. If a popularly elected majority is unable perform even the most basic functions of governing, are you even a Democracy any more?
In her interview with Roll Call, Pelosi stopped short of saying the filibuster should be done away with altogether, but she used some of her bluntest language yet to defend the use of reconciliation as something that has been used with regularity by Republican and Democratic presidents alike.
"We have set the stage for that. It's important for us to remind the American people of the inconsistency that the Republicans have in saying this is unusual. No, five times President Bush used it. ... This is what the Republicans did to pass their bills, their tax cuts for the rich," Pelosi said.
After the loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat, it appears the only path forward for health care reform is through use of reconciliation, either with a new reconciliation bill or a reconciliation fix to the current Senate bill. If Democrats want to pass health care reform, they are going to need to follow Pelosi's lead by defending the use of reconciliation. It was a serious mistake for Democrats to spend months downplaying the option. Pointing out that Republicans have repeatedly used reconciliation is a good talking point, but explaining reconciliation to the American people is going to be difficult. Most people don't even know this 60-vote threshold even exists in the Senate.
It would seem the smarter way to sell using reconciliation is to sell what is in the reconciliation measure, and not defending the procedure by talking about its history. If it looks like Democrats are using reconciliation to add very popular ideas like a public option, Medicare buy-in, drug re-importation, eliminating the excise tax, then I don't think the American people will care about the process used to enact them. On the other hand, if Democrats try to use reconciliation to move very unpopular things, like more special deals and carve outs for special interests, it will be very bad politically for Democrats.