Jonathan Chait

Truth And Reconciliation

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Republicans have been working very hard to portray any use of budget reconciliation to amend budgetary features of the health care bill as some unprecedented assault upon minority rights. Here, for instance, is Michael Gerson today:

[A] reconciliation strategy would both insult House and Senate Republicans and motivate them for future fights. The minority would not only be defeated on health reform but its rights would be permanently diminished -- a development that would certainly be turned against Democrats when they lose their majority. Each side would have an excuse for decades of bitterness, creating a kind of political karma in which angry spirits are reincarnated again and again, to fight the same battles and suffer the same wounds.

If only we had this sensitive soul around in 2001 when the Bush administration used reconciliation to push through a massive, regressive tax cut! Oh, wait, we did.

Anyway, if you want to read an informed take on the history of using budget reconciliation for health care reform, look at today's report by NPR's Julie Rovner. It documents how reconciliation has been used very frequently for major health care changes. ("In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process," says Sara Rosenbaum, who chairs the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University.) It's kind of amazing that nobody has done this story before.

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