Kathryn Jean Lopez
pithily sums up the prevailing wisdom about using reconciliation to pass health care reform: it's the "the-vote-yourself-out-of-Congress approach." The
risks for the Democrats are obvious. They may appear to be ramming the
legislation down representatives' and voters' throats, bypassing normal
democratic Congressional processes. But some believe the risks of reconciliation are overstated.
- Not Finding the Anti-Reconciliation Arguments Convincing
Dan Amira of New York Magazine explains the Republican view that passing health care "would betray the very purpose of the hallowed institution by
bypassing the minority party's ability to filibuster." What they leave out, he writes, is that "Republicans have used the
reconciliation process many times before--more than Democrats, in
fact--and for legislation as vast and consequential as the
trillion-dollar Bush tax cuts and welfare reform." This is one of the more common liberal counterarguments.
- Maybe It Will Actually Help in Elections Princeton history professor Julian Zelizer
(who calls the reconciliation process at least as democratic as the
filibuster) acknowledges that there is a risk: "If the Democratic
leadership wants to use this tactic, they have to convince enough
members of their own party that this won't scare off independent
voters." To make reconciliation work, "the leadership must be proactive
in responding to the criticism about reconciliation." On the upside,
though, "right now, Democrats are receiving the brunt of Republican
attacks without being able to pass much legislation. If they pass
health care, they will be able to respond to the arguments of the GOP."
In other words, there may be just as many risks in not using
the reconciliation process. If Democrats don't pass health care reform,
"one thing is for certain: [they] will go into election day facing
voters who are hearing all the complaints about their party but seeing
very little in terms of what they can deliver on health care."
- Maybe Elections Aren't All That's at Stake, suggest Andy McCarthy and Mark Steyn
at the conservative National Review. They think the Democrats are
making a highly rational, temporary sacrifice to further their
agenda--albeit a misguided or downright evil agenda, depending on your
perspective. Here's what will happen, predicts Steyn: "The Dems will be
punished; the Republicans will take over the committee chairmanships
and be content, as they often are, to be in office rather than in
power; and after a brief time out the Democrats will return to find
their new statist behemoth still in place."
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