In my not so humble opinion, this is a done deal. My score is 100% chance health care passes. Because it already has. The House passed a bill. The Senate passed a bill. Reconciliation only involves spending and paying for it. Obama decided after the new year, that the dems only have more to lose by doing nothing, so it doesn't matter how they do it, just do it. If Congress is going to lose either majority, it isn't going to happen just because they pass health care - both houses already voted yes on it anyway. And if they don't pass health care, Obama is going to be a lame duck after his first year.
The Alinsky precept that the ends justify the means and the spin that says it is the ethical thing to do.
Very clever, these folks. Last week, the message changed from "we want an up or down vote" to "it's the right thing, it's the ethical thing to do." This is to make our elected officials feel better about what they have already done. The hell with what people want. As long as they don't have to vote again. We were all talking about reconciliation instead, never seeing what was coming. They were crafting the discussion for this week - how to vote on something without having to talk about the Senate bill by itself. And lo, this week we are talking about the Slaughter plan - to deem the Senate bill as passed without having to actually have an up or down vote.
But that decision was over with by the middle of last week if not earlier. The House has not been talking about what version of the health care bill they are going to vote on - we have. The talking (behind closed doors) is what other unrelated goodies representatives need to vote yes on a package. Outside, they will talk a lot about what the House wants changed in the Senate bill but that is really irrelevant. It is a distraction - to keep the discussion and the attention on something else. The package includes the Senate bill as is, but they don't want to talk about it.
Reconciliation deals with budget issues -- how much spending is authorized and how it is going to be paid for. The issues such as a public plan, single payer plan, abortion funding and the Senate goodies like the Louisiana purchase and the Florida exemption cannot be resolved in reconciliation.
So, what is going on in the House now is horse trading on other stuff like making student loan programs publicly financed (which is basically subsidizing the program with tax payer funds that will cover the administrative costs as well as the loan losses). That gives reps cover when they go home and say, "well, yes, I voted for the whole package which has these good things in addition to health care." This is what we will be talking about next week - how sausage got made.
The health care thing is done. It is just a matter of time not votes. Two things need to happen. 1) The Senate bill plus the legitimate reconciliation amendments need to be published for 72 hours before any vote. 2) The CBO score needs to be posted. We are just waiting for the CBO score. The last 5 days have been about trying to figure out how to get the CBO score they need and still be able to take out the Cadillac plan tax, include the rest of the states in the Florida exemption and give credit to states that already have public plans. It's the CBO score that matters now, everything else is done. So, Wed the CBO score comes out, the bill gets posted, 72 hours go by and they vote on something Friday night or Saturday. It is that 72 hour schedule and 2 publications that became the issue and reason Obummer postponed his trip. But we never talked about that. Again, distract people from the real deal.
Meanwhile the House will come up with a list of other goodies they like that will get them 216 votes. That package will include the "deemed as passed" language and the reconiliation items.
They want us to keep talking about the Slaughter plan, the Stupack amendment and Hyde Act, how awful cutting Medicare by 10% a year, and anything else BUT the reality of the schedule and a new batch of pork.
The cake is baked folks, the icing is on, the seats are assigned. And we're all arguing about who got an invitation instead.
The news people and talking heads have to know this or they are really stupid. Why are we not hearing about this? Because if it is a done deal, a baked cake, why talk about it at all? None of them want to bury the bone until it is thoroughly chewed.
It's one of those weeks where every day, I wake up with a worse stomach ache. It just totally tics me off - Congress, news, political analysis, and people who don't see how easily we are manipulated.