Monday, December 21, 2009

Nate Silver vs Jon Walker

Jon Walker argues that the kill the bill left believes, with reason, that if the current Senate Health Care bill is killed, then there is a good chance that a better bill is passed via the budget reconciliation process.

Nate Silver has a long excellent counter argument.

I want to add two things.

First Walker must assume that there are at least 50 senators who would support the better bill. Each of them could kill the current bill by voting against cloture. It looks as if none will. So Walker says that he understands the way the Senate works well enough to ignore the unanimous opinion of at least 50 senators.

What is the chance of that ?

By the way the Senate works I mean not just the rules but the way the minds of senators work. However, I don't think that Walker understands the rules of the Senate. I sure don't. I may be demonstrating this with my second thought below.

Second: If I am not much mistaken, only the Senate budget committee can start the budget reconciliation process and the chairman of that committee is Kent Conrad. Conrad absolutely opposes a robust public option. He is very unenthusiastic about a level playing field public option. He is the one who kept arguing that the gang of 6 should abandone the public option because it couldn't get 60 votes.

I believe he is also the one who can make sure a bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate.

I don't think it is just Harry Reid's call. I don't think that it is possible to get anything into law if it is opposed by 41 senators plus the chairman of the budget committee. Conrad couldn't have made it more clear that he is against using reconciliation. Unless I'm mistaken, that's final.

OK now I will wikipedia

A reconciliation bill is one containing changes in law recommended pursuant to reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution. If the instructions pertain to only one committee in a chamber, that committee reports the reconciliation bill. If the instructions pertain to more than one committee, the House Budget Committee reports an omnibus reconciliation bill, but it may not make substantive changes in the recommendations of the other committees.[2]

I'm still confused. I guess it is possible for the majority of the Senate to decide the bill is to be exclusively a Finance committee bill (or a HELP bill if one is willing to sacrifice Medicaid expansion in the hope of getting a public option). That means that it wouldn't go to the budget committee at all and all it needs would be 13 votes in Finance -- including Kent Conrad since all Republicans would vote no.

I think it is clear that the best a progressive senator who votes no now can hope for is a second chance to vote on the same bill.

And they obviously believe that. All of them.

Now the bill killers might be just acting. The logic (and it is very logical) is that the only way to get Lieberman to vote for the bill is for them to ask senators to vote no. That makes sense. I think that's what Dean did and I'm fairly sure that's what Atrios is doing (he's just not telling people to vote yes).

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