I see we have a new wave of angst among conservatives about the possible use of reconciliation, the once-obscure procedural gimmick that would allow the Dems to get around a GOP filibuster, to pass Obamacare. Here’s a typical example of conservative handwringing from Andy McCarthy:
I hear Republicans getting giddy over the fact that “reconciliation,” if it comes to that, is a huge political loser. That’s the wrong way to look at it. The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitablility of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary.
But this argument ignores an institutional obstacle the Dems can’t get around: The gimmick under discussion involves a ”pass and patch” process that requires House Dems to pass the Senate bill BEFORE reconciliation can be used to “patch” the many features they don’t like about that bill.
House Democrats would have to trust the Senate to retroactively “patch” its own legislation in order to make them happy. But once the House has passed the Senate bill, Reid & Co. have no real incentive to follow through with the “patch” step, and most House Democrats simply don’t trust them to do so.
House Democrats don’t trust Senate Democrats, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said late this week … Clyburn said the Senate would have to move first to pass fixes to its health bill, and that the House would refuse to act on health reform until the Senate’s passed fixes.
But the Senate can’t use reconciliation to fix a bill that has not yet passed both houses of Congress. This reality was made manifestly clear last week when Senator Kent Conrad, who would be a pivotal figure in making this arcane process work, confessed that he didn’t think that could be done:
I don’t know of any way, I don’t know of any way where you can have a reconciliation bill pass before the bill that it is meant to reconcile passed … When reminded that House Democrats don’t want to do health care in that order, Conrad said bluntly: ‘Fine, then it’s dead.’
And that’s where things still stand. It doesn’t matter if the Democrat leadership stands ready to let its rank-and-file members get decimated in November. And it matters even less how much bluster we get from O’s advisors or how many delusional NYT Obots think reconciliation is a viable strategy.
The increasingly obvious reality is that Obamacare is as dead as Ted Kennedy and no amount of procedural skulduggery can save it.