Nothing’s wrong with “Sidecar” (U.S. health care debate)

I like what Eli is saying over at FireDogLake. Although Scott Brown’s special election victory in Massachusetts is being spun in parts of the Republican Party, and their little echo chamber of five or six Democratic Senators, as the end of health care reform, there is in fact a perfectly good alternative of what the folks around Congress and the political junkies call the “Sidecar”.

What Sidecar does is use the Senate’s reconciliation process to pass a bill with fifty votes plus one — simple majority (assuming 100 Senators voting).

So in effect, the Sidecar process is the actual way the Senate is supposed to work under the U.S. Constitution! But in the twisted world we live in nowadays, where up is down and down is up, Sidecar is being presented as some far-out tactic.

If the House passes the less-than-perfect Senate bill, but then sends back an amending bill that would be voted on through the budgetary reconciliation, the Sidecar on the tracks of the parallel train so to speak, the amendments would only need the normal 51 votes.

If they get 51 Senators to agree, both bills would go to Obama, and the President would sign them into law. If he signs the amendment after he signs the original Senate bill, it is said, the amendments govern the overall law.

It sounds like a plan.

In budgetary reconciliation, a proposal must be fiscally neutral (means it can’t add to the deficit). So for instance, the House proposed tax increase on the wealthy to pay for expanded health care could go into the reconciliation bill. Public Option could feasily be put in there, and maybe Medicaid expansion. The revenue items in the Senate bill that are unpopular could be amended out.

On this issue, next week for certain is going to be a bumpy one. It will be interesting to hear what the President says in his State of the Union speech on Wednesday. As he showed in Ohio, Obama is getting fired up and ready to go on the critical issues coming to the fore.

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