Monday, April 27, 2009

Sununu on Reconciliation

John Sununu has a nice piece on the reconciliation process in today's WSJ.

A couple of excerpts [any emphasis is mine.]

"Reconciliation was established in 1974 as a procedure to make modest adjustments to mandatory spending such as farm programs, student loans and Medicare that were already well established in law. Over the past 35 years, it has been used only 22 times -- and three of those bills were vetoed. There are good reasons it has been used so rarely."
"The power of a reconciliation bill is this: Senate rules allow only 20 hours of debate and then passage with a simple majority of 51 votes. This represents a lightning strike in the normal deliberative time-frame of the Senate. The historic precedent of open debate, and the requirement of 60 votes to close debate, are completely short-circuited.

"Budget reconciliation was never intended to push through dramatic and expansive new programs. It was created as a way to help a reluctant Congress curb spending, reduce deficits, and cut the debt. Moreover, changes made under reconciliation expire after five or 10 years, depending on the budget. This is clearly not the appropriate process for implementing significant new policies."

"Misusing reconciliation undermines [Obama] on two counts: It shows a lack of confidence in his own ability to pass an agenda using the regular legislative order. And it exposes his limited experience with the history, traditions and temperament of the U.S. Congress."

As I wrote previously, nationalized health care is a subject that needs bipartisan support. There are some serious problems with the whole nationalized health care issue. It is fraught with problems in other countries and there's no consensus that the majority of Americans even want that kind of system here. A full and open debate is important in this case.

Obama has already slipped in part of the groundwork for nationalized health care when he inserted computerized health records into the Porkulus bill and a health care czar. All that was in the bill that nobody read.

At any rate, read Sununu's whole article. We can debate health care in a bit.

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