Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Final Push

President Obama told Congress to pass the damn bill.

In a speech at the White House, Obama urged Congress to “finish its work” on health care and indicated support for a strategy that includes the budget maneuver known as reconciliation, which would protect the final product from a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Obama told an audience of medical professionals that Congress “owes the American people a final vote on health-care reform.”

But completing the job would require weeks of complicated parliamentary tactics that Republicans have pledged to challenge at every turn. Although Obama has reached out to GOP lawmakers in recent days, hosting a bipartisan health summit last week and offering to include conservative proposals in his plan, Republicans remain unified and resolute in their opposition.

GOP opportunities to block reconciliation in the Senate will be numerous. The minority party may offer an unlimited number of amendments and can challenge provisions that don’t have a clear impact on the federal budget, restricting the bill’s contents. “We’re going to scrub the bill thoroughly,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky).

Scrub all you want, Mr. McConnell; you’re still going to lose, and all your threats and warnings about delaying tactics just play into the YouTube moments that the Democrats will use when you’re up for re-election. And what more can you do? As John Cole notes,

We’ve already seen record numbers of filibusters and clotures. They’ve already used every parliamentary trick in the books to bog down the legislation. They’ve negotiated in bad faith, stalled, and then voted en masse against. They’ve lied and misrepresented everything the Democrats have tried to do. They even insisted that we wheel the near dead Byrd onto the Senate floor late night, and openly prayed for the death of another Senator. And now we are supposed to fear obstructionism?

The Republicans could have actually participated in the process and at the very least realized that at least some of the 30 million people without insurance or who are ripped off by insurance companies are Republicans, too. They could put politics aside on something that, in their words, deals with one-sixth of the economy. And I could have sprouted wings and flown to the moon.