A true-blue Democratic friend of mine was complaining the other day about the language Republicans were using about health care reform: that Democrats were going to “ram it through” the Senate. Somehow this implies that it’s an outrage, she was saying, and ignores how many times Republicans did the same thing when they were in the majority. (The reconciliation process, as ramming is more politely (and arcanely, until now) known, has been used 22 times, 73% of those times by Republicans.)
I used that infelicitous phrase myself the other day. It conjured up a very satisfying image, of Republicans falling helplessly right and left (actually, I guess, they’d all be falling right) under the onslaught of heavy blue battering rams. But I agree – it’s inflammatory.
This morning I heard something to this effect on NPR: “The Democrats plan to sidestep a possible Republican filibuster by putting Obama’s health care reform package to a simple majority vote, in a process known as reconciliation.”
If I could stand to watch the cable news networks, I’d watch today to see if this language gets repeated all day long. I suspect it will. It reminds me of the infuriating Republican talking points that got faxed to every conceivable news outlet during the Bush administration, which you’d then hear ad infinitum.
But it was great strategy. And all of this confirms my suspicion that the whole process was laid out in advance, undoubtedly by Rahm Emanuel. The steps: 1) Obama comes up with a plan that merges the House and Senate bills; 2) they have a Health Care Summit so everyone can see how obstinate Republicans are; 3) he writes a letter to Senate leaders incorporating nearly all the ideas Republicans were able to come up with; 4) they put out talking points about the Congressional process; 5) Obama gives a speech (today) linking health care reform to the economy; 6) Pelosi and Reid wrangle up the requisite votes; 7) many other behind the scenes steps we’ll never know about (like the Families USA study, just (coincidentally?) out today, about all the people who will die prematurely without health care reform).
I’m beginning to think it’s really going to happen.