It’s worth reiterating something Rich and Jeff Anderson have pointed out: The focus on reconciliation in the past few days confuses things a bit. The question in the health-care debate at the moment is whether Nancy Pelosi can get enough of her members to vote for the version of Obamacare that passed the Senate late last year. If the House passes that bill, it will have passed both houses, will go to the president, and will become law.
Some liberal House Democrats have problems with that bill — especially with some of its tax provisions, though also a few other things. So to get some of their votes, the leadership is now telling them that if they vote for the Senate bill, the House could then pass another bill that amends the Senate bill to fix some of what they don’t like about it. The Senate could then pass that amendment bill by reconciliation and it would also become law, and so the sum of the two laws would be closer to what they want.
But that amending bill wouldn’t change the basic character of what would be enacted (and to the extent it would change it at the edges, it would be mostly for the worse): Either way, if the House passes the Senate bill then Obamacare would become law, complete with its massive, overbearing, costly, intrusive, inefficient, and clumsy combination of mandates, taxes, subsidies, regulations, and new government programs intended to replace the American health-insurance industry with an enormous federal entitlement while failing to address the problem of costs. Just about everything the public hates about the bill is in both versions. The prospect of reconciliation is just one of the means that the Democratic leadership is employing to persuade members of the House to ignore the public’s wishes and their own political future and enact Obamacare.
The fate of Obamacre therefore now rests not in the Senate but in the House. It is members of the House who must decide if it will be enacted, and it needs to be clear to voters exactly where their opposition to the Democrats’ approach to health care should be focused now.