Even if Obama doesn't get everything he wants, if either of the current House or Senate versions passes, or some combined version, we will have government control through legislation and regulation over the most minute aspects of the health care system, and the people who use that system (i.e., everyone).
There simply is nothing to negotiate if the plan includes, as it likely will, a big government approach.
The latest "transparent" ploy is the televised "negotiation" on February 25. But Obama does not intend that event as a negotiation.
The Democrats apparently already have decided to try to push their version of the bill through the Senate using the reconciliation process:
Using the reconciliation process for such sweeping, non-budgetary, legislation will take what now is a highly fractured political landscape and shake the ground like an earthquake.
The legislation the White House will post on its website is expected to reflect common ground negotiated over the past several weeks by House and Senate Democratic leaders.
Those agreements are likely to be combined as a privileged budget reconciliation bill, which only needs a simple 51-vote majority to pass the 100-member Senate instead of the 60-vote supermajority that has become routine in the Senate and gives Republicans power to block the healthcare bill.
"I believe that's the path we are going to take," a senior congressional Democratic aide said.
The reconciliation process was not intended to be used for social engineering, and the result will be the de facto elimination of the filibuster without an actual change in Senate Rules.
Take it or leave it, or rather, take it with a few insignificant bones tossed your way, is not an invitation to negotiation. It is an invitation to legislative war:
“They are coming out of the summit guns-a-blazing and they’re committed to reconciliation,” said one Democratic insider.The choice for Republicans in Congress is clear.
Update: Here is an explanation of the reconciliation process, which would end up requiring Alan Frumin, the Senate Parliamentarian, to make key procedural calls. The pressure on Frumin from Democrats to get around procedural problems (such as the Byrd Rule - h/t to a commenter) will be intense.
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