As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 20, 2009

You Feel Lucky?

The CBO re-scoring of the budget is going to severely hurt efforts at progressive reform, and I don't think there's much use in denying that. The current deficit for FY2009 is $600 billion dollars more than first thought, because the recession's depth and severity wasn't expected to this degree. And while the numbers actually argue for a deeper public investment in the economy, as the normal economic tools for growth clearly aren't operative, there are enough fiscal scolds in Washington to make this re-scoring forcethe Administration to scale back their goals.

But I hope that's not the case. And this game of hardball on health care needs to continue to be played.

House Democrats, in consultation with the White House, will give Republican lawmakers until September to reach a compromise on President Obama's signature health-care initiative -- otherwise, they will use a shortcut to move the measure through Congress without Republican votes.

After meeting late Wednesday with senior White House officials, House Democratic leaders decided to include the shortcut in the budget proposal they will unveil next week, congressional sources said.

Known as budget reconciliation, the shortcut would permit lawmakers to roll Obama's health-care proposals into a bill that cannot be filibustered, meaning Democrats could push it through the Senate with 51 votes, instead of the usual 60. Since Democrats control 58 seats in the Senate, they could approve a reconciliation bill without Republican votes or the support of some reluctant conservatives in their own party.

Republicans have blasted the idea of reconciliation, saying it would severely undermine bipartisanship.

There's no bipartisanship to undermine. What it WOULD undermine is obstruction. And our problems are too great for obstructionism to continue.

I'm less confident about cap and trade - Obama is not as good a messenger on that topic, and if something must be given up, I expect it would be that specific policy, while a federal renewable portfolio could be advanced - but weirdly more confident about health care, despite the negative report from the CBO. Now, if the scolds want to pay down the debt some more, we can take a look at the military budget...

...another reason to be optimistic about health care reform is that the various competing chairs in the House are working together. Jurisdictional issues can become large rifts, and so having everyone working together is very important.

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