All of which makes me feel better about the prospects for ultimate passage even as it makes me feel kind of foolish. Luckily I didn't spread this misconception too far or God forbid post it at AB or here. Anyway here is Ezra correcting me six months in advance.
PASS HEALTH REFORM BY OCTOBER 15TH, OR ELSE.
First, a bit of background: Awhile ago, we talked about the three types of reconciliation possible on health care. The first type was a simple reconciliation process. The second type was a timed process where reconciliation would begin if the Congress didn't pass a bill by "X" date. And the third type was a threat to pass another budget at a later date that would include reconciliation.I just mistook a trigger for a deadline. Oh well.
The timed process always seemed the most likely. And Jon Cohn reports today that a deal has been struck: The budget will include reconciliation instructions pegged to October 15th. That's the date by which Congress has to pass bipartisan health care reform. If they fail, then the relevant committees have to write reconciliation legislation that faces a simple up-or-down vote in the Senate. No filibuster allowed. And with 59 Democrats, no Republicans needed.
It's hard to overstate the importance of this decision. This could be the day that health care reform went from being unlikely to inevitable. Without reconciliation, the incentives for the minority are very simple: Kill the bill. Do as Gingrich did in 1994 and hand the majority a failure. With reconciliation, killing the bill just means you're locked out of the final legislation. It's a death sentence for your involvement in the process. It is not, however, the end of the process itself.