Obama To Use Reconciliation To Get Around the Party of No


Yesterday, Ryan Grim reported that Barack Obama is planning to use a procedure called “reconciliation” to pass his health care package with a simple majority — as opposed to the supermajority (60 votes) needed to end a filibuster. Obama has given House Republicans until mid-October to pass the legislation without imposing reconciliation, and he pointedly reminded them that they brought this on themselves:

In a meeting with House Republicans at the White House Thursday, President Obama reminded the minority that the last time he reached out to them, they reacted with zero votes — twice — for his stimulus package. And then he reminded them again. And again. And again.

[...]

Obama also offered payback for that goose egg. A major overhaul of the health care system, he told the Republican leadership, would be done using a legislative process known as reconciliation, meaning that the GOP won’t be able to filibuster it.

Congress has until October 15 to pass health care or student lending reform under the normal process. If it doesn’t, reconciliation can be used to eliminate the 60-vote requirement.

Today, Grim reports that Pres. Obama plans to use reconciliation on another budget issue: his student lending reform bill. This time the obstruction Obama will be getting around is Sen. Ben Nelson, who is nominally a Democrat but votes like a Republican — especially on this issue:

Nelson is perhaps the Senate’s fiercest protector of subsidies for student lending institutions, which, not coincidentally, are an engine of job growth in Nebraska. He has vowed to block any effort to reduce those subsidies. And given that Democrats have 58 members and generally need 60 to break a GOP filibuster, he can enforce his will on his colleagues.

An agreement struck between the president and House and Senate negotiators won’t give Nelson that chance. A process known as “reconciliation” allows budgetary measures to be moved through the Senate with a simple majority, rather than 60. Multiple congressional sources say that congressional Democrats have decided to use reconciliation to go after student-lending subsidies, specifically to get around Nelson.

Obama’s student lending bill would make college more affordable for millions of would-be students and would save taxpayers billions by cutting out the middleman — the banks that now rake in huge profits by charging high interest rates to student lenders on loans that are risk-free for the banks because the government guarantees them.

Here is a fun exit link: Sam Fulwood at Politico declares that Obama is the nation’s first hip president:

This, of course, is subject to debate. But watch him walk. Listen to him talk. See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes.

This much is clear: Whether dealing with the Wall Street mess, shifting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan or fumbling to fill his Cabinet, Obama leans heavily on personal panache to push political policies. Truth be told, his style is rooted in something elusive and hard to define. Pure and simple, it’s hip.

“Being hip is being able to navigate your environment and others’ environments,” like the way Obama traverses racial boundaries, said John Leland, author of the definitive book “Hip: The History.”

“Obama has this awareness that other presidents haven’t had. He’s white, and he’s black. He’s an elitist, and he’s regular folk. He’s not pinned down to a perspective.”

You know what? I would not argue with that.

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