Interesting remarks from Chuck Schumer who seems relatively enthusiastic about doing parts of health reform through the reconciliation process:
Are you planning on having an interim appointment from Massachusetts?
No, I don’t know. That would be up to the Massachusetts state legislature but I know they’re considering it. Ah, so, so the bottom line is that even with 60 or even if Olympia Snowe comes to some kind of agreement, it’s going to be hard, and I’ve always favored using reconciliation for good parts of the bill. I think that will get you the best bill, the strongest bill and the bill that will have the greatest positive effect on the American people. Ultimately, we’ll be judged not by whether we pass the bill, but ultimately we’ll be judged by whether it works. Leaving the bill as something that doesn’t work, even if we pass it, leading to hurting both the country and the party.
Is it possible that using reconciliation will produce an ineffective bill, because of procedural problems like the Byrd rule?
We’ve looked at it and you can’t use reconciliation for everything, [but] you can use it for a good number of things. There’s nothing wrong with using it for the places where you can use it and then trying to get the 60 votes on the places where when you can’t. You’d be surprised — the number of places where you can use it is larger than we first thought.
I’m still a little unclear on the actual procedural rule, but I agree on the policy and the politics here. I’ve defended what Max Baucus proposed as better than no bill (and taken a lot of crap for it) but Baucus’ bill is worse than the House bill and worse than the HELP bill and it’d be better to pass a better reform package, which is a lot easier to do if you can do some of it with 50 votes. I’m no senate parliamentarian, but it seems to me that since creating a public option leads to CBO-scorable savings, that it should be within the rules to do one in reconciliation.