National ReviewOn the second point, to understand legislative strategy, you must first understand legislative procedure. There are a series of procedural problems presented by the so-called “Byrd Rule,” which Yuval Levin explains here, and which precludes the Republican Senate majority from ramming through everything it would like without 60 votes — despite the fact that Obamacare was passed by the very 51-vote reconciliation procedure that now stands in Republicans’ way.

Can Republicans just ignore the Byrd Rule? In theory, they could limit or abolish the legislative filibuster, but that’s a drastic step with a lot of future downsides. And they can’t just unilaterally change the Byrd Rule itself, which derives from a statute (the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the father of the modern, out-of-control budget system) rather than just from Senate rules. In the Senate, even a single senator can raise Byrd Rule objections to any individual item in the bill, obtaining rulings from the Senate parliamentarian that can be overruled only by . . . 60 senators. Worse, even if violations of the Byrd Rule make it past the Senate, their statutory origin means that, at least in theory, they could be challenged in court.

The above is from a lengthy article that claims to be about how to repeal Obamacare. I tried to read the whole thing, but when I got to the above passage, my tolerance for stupidity ended.

The Democrats passed Obamacare through reconciliation. Therefore, Republicans can repeal it through reconciliation. The whole thing, not bits and pieces. It may be politically difficult, but increasing the political difficulty by insisting on respecting political hurdles the Democrats do not is just a way to lose.

The Byrd Rule (by which he means the filibuster) objection is likewise absurd. Yes, the "rules" require 60 votes on some issues. Yes, the Senate parliamentarian may rule that 60 votes are required. The Republican majority can then vote to overrule the parliamentarian with 51 votes, just as they did recently to put Justice Gorsuch on the bench. Collecting 60 votes is harder; collecting 51 votes is not as hard. Insisting on 60 votes is just another way to lose.

And what does the author recommend as a way forward?


National ReviewBut any path forward, to be politically viable, will probably require Republicans to swallow hard and continue having the federal government lay out more money than we would like, for longer than we would like, to subsidize health insurance one way or another for Groups B and C.

Why is it so hard to just repeal the whole damn thing -- like they have been promising since it passed -- and then try to pass specific reforms issue by issue? Why does everyone insist on a "master plan" for healthcare? Why can't we have a free market?

This entry was published Mon Apr 24 11:43:25 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2017-04-24 11:43:25.0. [Tweet]

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