It appears that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are both currently on board with the reconciliation sidecar strategy to fix the Senate bill. This could be a good thing. It would allow them to fix many of the bill’s problems while re-inserting extremely popular provisions like the public option and the Medicare buy-in. Unfortunately they are thinking about using the reconciliation sidecar to make a very unpopular Senate bill pure political poison.
Pelosi and Reid, for some reason, want to have the Democratic Party enter into a collective suicide pact. They plan to use the reconciliation sidecar to mainly just raise some people’s taxes to give special tax breaks to unions. From Politico:
The changes being considered track closely with the agreements House and Senate leaders made in White House meetings last week, according to a source. They include the deal with labor unions to ease the tax on high-end insurance plans, additional Medicare cuts and taxes, the elimination of a special Medicaid funding deal for Nebraska and a move to help cover the gap in seniors’ prescription drug coverage. Pelosi is also working to change the Senate provision that sets up state insurance exchanges. The House prefers a single, national exchange.
You must be kidding me. This is the dumbest thing I have heard from Democrats this month — a month dominated by terrible decisions by Democrats.
Pelosi’s and Reid’s plan to get the very unpopular Senate bill passed in the House is to pass a separate, even more radically unpopular measure using reconciliation. Because that is what the health care bill needs right now, more new taxes and more special giveaways to different interest groups.
If they want to fix the very unpopular excise tax, which they should, the secret is to pay for it with popular progressive cost control ideas. They should use the savings from the public option/Medicare buy-in/drug re-importation to pay for fixing the excise tax. This eliminates the need for more taxes and makes the top banner story about the reconciliation sidecar the popular public option/Medicare buy-in instead of a deal with labor unions.
This is not rocket science. If Democrats try to use reconciliation to only pass a deal for labor unions paid for with another tax increase, it will be the death of the party in 2010. If Democrats stand up to the private insurance corporations, give people the very public option they want, and then reduce the excise tax people hate using those savings; health care reform might become popular or at least palatable to most Americans.