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This Is Why They Invented Reconciliation

Republicans argue that using the reconciliation process to pass health care reform, or some portion thereof, would be a perversion of the legislative process. Henry Aaron, the highly respected economist at Brookings, begs to differ. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, he explains:

The idea of using reconciliation has raised concern among some supporters of health care reform. They fear that reform opponents would consider the use of reconciliation high-handed. But in fact Congress created reconciliation procedures to deal with precisely this sort of situation--its failure to implement provisions of the previous budget resolution. The 2009 budget resolution instructed both houses of Congress to enact health care reform. The House and the Senate have passed similar but not identical bills. Since both houses have acted but some work remains to be done to align the two bills, using reconciliation to implement the instructions in the budget resolution follows established congressional procedure.

Furthermore, coming from Republicans, objections to the use of reconciliation on procedural grounds seem more than a little insincere. A Republican president and a Republican Congress used reconciliation procedures in 2001 to enact tax cuts that were supported by fewer than 60 senators. The then-majority Republicans could use reconciliation only because they misrepresented the tax cuts as temporary although everyone understood they were intended to be permanent--but permanent cuts would have required the support of 60 senators, which they did not have.

Aaron, whom I know well, is no partisan hack. In fact, he's pretty much the antithesis of a partisan hack. So take this, and the rest of his essay, seriously.