Now that the Congressional Budget Resolution has passed, there has been a lot of talk about how the reconciliation instructions included in the resolution will make it easier for a health care reform effort to pass. Particularly since the mechanics of reconciliation provide for a simple majority vote for approval -- instead of the 60 votes that might be needed to overcome a filibusterer in the Senate.
Ironically, considering political motivations, it might be easier to round up 60 votes for a fiscally irresponsible health care reform bill, than to attain the 51 votes for a fiscally responsible bill -- which would be needed to utilize the reconciliation fast track procedure.
Let me explain. When the modern budget process was established, the idea behind including a lower procedural bar under reconciliation was to facilitate legislation that contained difficult choices resulting in deficit reduction. Only in recent years have legislators deviated from this intention, most notably by the usage of reconciliation to pass large, deficit-increasing tax cuts.
The guidelines put in place by the budget resolution for reconciliation -- in a sense -- navigate this budget procedure closer to its original purpose. Specifically, for Congress to consider any health care reform bill, it must contain...