Back in 2009-2010, the Democrats couldn’t be bothered to try to fashion a health care reform bill that would get some bipartisan support. So when the people of Massachusetts warned them against a unilateral one, by electing Scott Brown as senator to replace Ted Kennedy and to block the passage of Obamacare—becoming the first Republican senator from Massachusetts since Edward Brooke in 1972—the Democrats just said “Full speed ahead!” and used reconciliation to get around the cloture problem and pass the final bill.
Remember those exciting and outrageous days? Seems like only yesterday, although it was actually seven long years ago.
But guess what? Reconciliation is the tool that can undo what was done back then:
Senate Budget Committee Chair Michael Enzi (R-WY) introduced a budget resolution Tuesday that includes “reconciliation instructions” that enable Congress to repeal Obamacare with a simple Senate majority. Passing a budget resolution that includes those instructions will mean that the legislation can pass through the budget reconciliation process, in which bills cannot be filibustered.
That means Republicans will only need 50 of their 52 members in the Senate, and a bare majority in the House, to pass legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act. According to the Wall Street Journal, the budget resolution could be passed by both houses as early as next week.
The Democrats really thought it would all work out.
Obamacare would be a wonderful success.
Obamacare would be a dependency people would never want to give up.
Obamacare would fail and a Democratic Congress and president would replace it with single payer.
Whatever happened, the presidency would remain in Democratic hands in perpetuum and any Republican efforts to change things against Democratic wishes would be met with a presidential veto.
So now the Left lives with the world it made. The outgoing administration’s signal legislative achievement can be undone through simple majority. Key progressive social reforms — implemented through letters and memoranda — can be undone at the stroke of a pen. The most controversial judicial nominations will escape filibuster. In other words, if the Republicans have the will, they actually have a way to not just unwind much of the Obama legacy, they can reform the judiciary without fear of Democratic “Borking.”
One of the principal rules of politics is what goes around, comes around. Another is that majorities are never permanent. The Democrats seem to have forgotten both.
It’s not smooth sailing for the Republicans, though, in doing away with Obamacare. Not at all. There are possible deficit hitches. There is the huge task of passing something better to replace Obamacare, agreeing on how it should be structured and on what principles, and when it should take effect in order to avoid the greatest hardship and backlash.