Reconciliation, an odd name for using the nuclear option on the Republican Party

Reconciliation is a rarely used parliamentary procedure which can be used in the Senate to pass health care reform with a simple majority. This is being called "the nuclear option" and supposedly is a declaration of war against the Republican Party. That is ridiculous. The Republican Party has already declared war against the Democrats. This is self defense.
The Boston Globe writes: "Passing a partisan health care bill is unappealing for Democrats because it promises to be politically dangerous and procedurally messy. After a furious conservative backlash against a health overhaul this summer, moderate Democrats are desperate for even a few Republicans to lend their support."  
So it’s "unappealing", why do they care? They’ve been battered and bruised by Republican bullies whose lying rhetoric is anything but appealing. 
The Republican corporate lackeys don’t want heath care reform because it will provide competition for the private insurance industry. They care not a whit about assuring that all Americans have access to the same health care those with private insurance do.
The GOP hard right has dragooned their moderates into lockstep in order to deny Obama and the Democrats any victory. It’s about politics. They want to go into the midterm elections being able to claim that Obama and the Democrats are failures.
It doesn’t matter to them that our health care system is in a shambles and an embarrassment to a supposedly advanced society. 
It is lost on the self-righteous religious right that it is immoral for a wealthy country with the capacity to provide high quality medical care to everyone is denying it to so many of its citizens.
The United States has two huge domestic socio-economic problems larger than the gap in health care coverage. One is poverty and the other is the percentage of men who are incarcerated. The later of course is related to the former. It will take decades to raise the standard of living for everyone and lower the crime rate.
There’s no single act of Congress that would solve these problems. But health care inequity is related to these and easily solved.
It would only take passage of one strong health care reform bill to help millions of our less fortunate citizens. 
The Republicans aren’t just attacking the Democrats, they are attacking these citizens.
The Republican are using the threat of a filibuster as their nuclear option. This is an attack not against the Democrats but against many of our citizens.
The Democrats must use the nuclear option to defend those citizens.


  1. ECT.


    Hal thank you for this well written and thoughtful article.
    As a Canadian sitting on the side lines..reading and watching all the USA news on the Health Care Reform Bill. I am troubled and at times frightened by the amount of hatred and discourse that both the Republians and some blue dog Democrats are using to stir up the very peope they were elected to help.
    Moreover, I feel a pity that some members of both parties…are so very ignorant about the Canadian Health Plan and tell such outrages lies about it. Shame on them. I have received total care all my life since the late Tommy Douglas was instrumental in putting it forth. No, I never did vote for Mr. Douglas. But, I hold him in high esteem for fighting for ALL Canadian citizens as, he did.
    Today, I read an article from Raw..where a citizen against your HCR, hit a Senior citizen {who was for HCR and the public option} in the face knocking him to the ground where he laid for several minutes. What’s next Hal..will Americans start murdering each other at these Town Hall meetings?
    Keep up the good work is needed in these sad times.

    Eileen C. Tallon
    Saulite Canadian

  2. ECT.


    Sorry Hal, my signature should have read ” Saultite Canadian ” Yep, I’m a Border friend of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

  3. inskeep

    There are now only 99 United States Senators, so a majority is 49. Forty-nine votes in the Senate can pass health insurance reform. It can be done without a single Republican vote or a single “Blue Dog Democrat” vote. Let’s get on with it.

    Jonathan Inskeep
    Crofton, MD USA

  4. woody188

    If you’d like to see roughly half of Americans openly rebel I suggest following this course of action. It is a recipe for disaster.

    If you could tell us exactly what “it” is we are going to get on with, it would help your case immensely. No specifics, no support.

  5. griff

    While the pivate sector has shed more than four million jobs so far this year, you’ll be happy to know that government employment is now greater than all manufacturing and construction employment. By the way, government employees make 40% more than their private-sector counterparts. Of course they also receive the best taxpayer-funded healthcare money can buy.

    Federal spending in July rose 26% while tax receipts fell 6 percent. Corporate tax receipts fell 58% while individual income fell 21 percent.

    The Congressional Budget Office says we need to cut spending by 8% while the ten year deficit projection will increase by 9 trillion dollars while our GDP fell 7.4% in the first two quarters of 2009.

    Our public debt stands at 11.797 trillion dollars while our unfunded liabilities are rapidly approaching 70 trillion dollars.

    We built a $700 million dollar embassy in Baghdad larger than the Vatican while most Iraqis get by with two hours of electricity per day. The highly propagandized “pullout” of American forces from Iraqi cities was accomplished by redrawing city maps so the American bases are now located outside the cities.

    More troops are heading to Afghanistan as violence escalates.

    But let’s ignore all that. Mr. Soetoro needs a victory!

  6. CheckerboardStrangler

    I am more than happy to see them rebel.
    I hereby invite them to SECEDE.
    Please, don’t tease me with empty threats folks, just go on and do it.
    Create the Republic of Jesusland and be done with it.
    Don’t expect a drop of foreign aid though.

  7. AustinRanter

    Thanks, Griff…nice post.

    Oh what a web we weave and we’re so easily deceived.

    La La Land DC isn’t all that concerned with the issues, facts, and figures that you shared with us. After all, accountability isn’t a part of their duties.

    In fact, a portion of the population of this country who is might be remotely aware of all you’ve posted, they will most likely will tune into a radio or TV pundit to gain a better understanding of somebody elses opinions as to the meaning of these tid bits of reality. In the end, they won’t know anymore about the respective “truths” than before listening to a so-called pundit.

    The remaining portion of the population need to have their heads surgically removed from their lower posterior.

    The problems that our nation (and others) have today are profoundly more serious than during the great depression. We live in a much more complex world.

    During the Great Depression, the population was about 139 million. The government wasn’t nearly as dangerous. The banking and market institutions weren’t nearly as sophisticated and way less connected to the world economic system. But they were beginning their quest to become the owners of the U.S. Government.

    Information techology was virtually non-existent…yadda, yadda, yadda.

    So…those who currently own government could care less about public opinion.

    Who we threaten to elect or don’t elect is of no consequence to the folks who own our government. They’ll even throw in mass amounts of money to help elect candidates that are more favorable in any given community. These candidates’ ideologies or political affiliations are of no importance.

    The system is set in concrete and won’t yield to shifts in political personalities or crusaders who are professing to save America. They won’t give in to media because they own them as well.

    These folks who own the government believe in dividing public opinions, philosophies, and political preference. The more divided the public is…the more control they have. They daily engage in behavior manipulation in every public arena.

    A Blast into the Future…

    Eventually, the subsidiary known as The Government of the United States will be phased out by those who currently own it…as it will no longer serve their objectives.

  8. John1172002

    What we need is Medicare for everyone, with some changes. The head of the Dems should tell the Blue Dog Dems that they either fall in line, or they see the Dem party endorse their Rep opponents come election time. I personally would be glad to pay a tax increase and more for Medicare than I do now. The only thing the Reps are after is 1. making Obama fail regardless of the cost to the nation, and 2. sucking up to the health insurance companies who pay out millions each and every week to Senators and Congressmen because they are afraid their gravy train ride of high premiums and multi-million dollar bonuses to their CEOs would stop.

    Look what happened when JFK told the steel industry to hold the line on prices. The steel companies raised prices regardless, and Kennedy called their CEOs to Washington. Their he told them “either the prices go back down, or I nationalize the steel industry.” Needless to say, the prices went back down. Obama needs to get the same size set of gonads, and get rid of the blood-sucking health insurance companies.

    Isn’t it time for change when health insurance in Manhattan costs more than an apartment there? For God’s sake, WAKE UP!!


  9. Hal Brown

     We are still are one of if not the wealthiest country. If we didn’t spend on wars we certainly would have money for needed social programs, health, education and infrastructure.

    I am suggesting that the Republicans opposition to health care reform amounts to an attack on citizens who don’t have insurance.

    I have no idea what you mean by money laundering since it means hiding illegally obtained money so it can be used legally.

    The Democrats were had virtually no power under Bush because Congress was controlled by Republicans. It doesn’t excuse them for not at least trying to stop the Iraq War and not fighting the Patriot Act.

    I agree the Democrats are spineless and play victim. That’s what prompted me to write this. 

    I agree there are corporate lackeys on both sides.

    The insurance companies are lobbying and spending millions in advertising to defeat the public option and would just as soon have no health care reform at all.

    The government has a decidedly mixed record when it comes to running their bureaucracy. However most critics agree that Medicare is one of their successes.

    Ending military adventures and righting the economy will take time. Remedying the inequities in health care coverage can be done quickly.

  10. griff

    News Flash! We are no longer a wealthy country. There’s plenty of wealth here, but we are a nation drowning in debt with unemployment skyrocketing.

    And you suggest that Republican opposition to this money-laundering scheme masquerading as healthcare reform is an attack on the citizens of this country?

    And of course, you blame the spinelessness of the Democrats on Republican bullying? Maybe if the Democrats grew a pair during the Bush administration we wouldn’t be so deep in this mess.

    But no, the Democrats play the victims so well and so often that it’s become their national identity. It’s always the other party’s fault.

    Oh how they suffered under Bush!

    And when it comes to corporate lackeys, you’ll find that they exist on both sides of the aisle. As if this legislation wasn’t written by the insurance companies and medical establishment.

    This government ruins everything it touches. We should be concentrating on ending our military adventures and righting the economy before we crack open another massive bureaucracy.

  11. woody188

    Seeing how neither of the major parties are now willing to work with each other to the benefit of the nation, it’s time for a 3rd party that will work for the benefit of the nation and not themselves or the corporatist/globalists that have a stranglehold over the current system.

    Congress is elected to represent, not to direct, the people.

  12. DogFish

    Everyone thinks it, no one says it.

    I think one of the biggest issues with “Health Care Reform” is the majority of people that are against it don’t want to pay for people that won’t help themselves. We have people that are 3rd gerneration Welfare that will get health insurance, people that just don’t want to work we will pay for.

    I would agree if they and/or their spouse were a contributing part of society and bad times have fallen on them and they need help then so be it. If you are physically or mentally unable then so be it.

    Quit blaming everything on each other and look at the ugly side.

    I pay my way and always have. Why should I pay for someone who thinks I owe it to them. Welfare was set up to be a helping hand.

    How do we have 3rd gen welfare people?
    You don’t think Health Care Reform will be the same?

    If we quit paying the way for the dregs of society and illegals we the people could afford health insurance.

  13. woody188

    With 1 in 10 on food stamps, those welfare numbers are increasing exponentially since 2000. I believe it’s now up to 8-9 months on average to find work if you are laid off.

    I’ve never received food stamps or collected unemployment, but I did qualify for reduced rent while I was finishing college. There was a couple of years there I was working only part-time and making on average about $8,000 per year. So I applied for an apartment that was rent controlled, qualified, and moved in. Soon after I was able to get a full-time job making over $30,000 per year, but I kept the rent controlled apartment and paid off all my debt. I was told then there would never be another review of my finances so long as I stayed in the apartment and there never was.

    So maybe there should be more reviews and even (gasp!) a limit to what charity is given to help cut abuse like the billions they say are fraudulent Medicare/Medicaid claims. Just show an ongoing need and honest attempts to get a job and secure your own future.

  14. barak

    You say that you pay your way and always have, but what if a catastrophic illness wiped out all your savings and left you unable to work? Who would pay your way then? Many people want to work but have lost their jobs due to economies in freefall. I lost my job at age 52 and ended up taking a job at a salary which was 1/6th of what I had been making. Fortunately I had no debt and was reasonably healthy, and my children were older and had jobs. I also had savings and so I cut my standard of living WAY WAY down and survived.

    When the heart trouble started, I had insurance, and could continue working. I managed to get back to work for 5 years and sold the small house I lived in just after the beginning of the real estate crash. I was never greedy and lived within my means. Like you I paid my own way and always had. My salvation was that I had no debt, could go back to a lower standard of living, and the kids still had jobs. Now I have no job, live abroad in a lovely 3rd world country, my son is out of a job and my daughter is struggling because she did not get tenure at her University before the economy went into the toilet.

    Neither of my children have health insurance, and I only have medicare, which will not pay anything if I get sick outside of the USA. I support a national health care program because it is the right thing for America. It is a debt that we owe our citizens and our guests. If someone came to visit you at your home and accidentally cut themselves, would you deny them a band-aid?

    We need a national health care program. It is our duty and responsibility to our fellow americans and to our immigrant non-citizens. Stop being so selfish and let’s show the world that Americans care for their own.

  15. almandine

    “The GOP hard right has dragooned their moderates into lockstep”

    I think you must have mistaken the SEIU and other union types for GOPers, who hate union dragoons, NO?

    “It will take decades to raise the standard of living for everyone”

    I agree, except that it isn’t going to happen at all, given the path being pursued. The “levelling” currently under way will reduce, not raise living standards.

  16. Warren

    Or, maybe, the Reps and a significant number of Dems just don’t want a hastily contrived bill (there are five bills, I hear) that nobody understands and that would affect such a huge part of our economy; all for the purpose of making the president look good in his first year in office.

    Nuts. If they’re going to do something, they at least ought to do it knowing what they’re doing and based on some sort of consensus.


  17. CheckerboardStrangler

    Killing off the public option in health care is the equivalent of an act of war against the uninsured of America. It is the equivalent of “the shot heard round the world”.

    So as far as I am concerned, I wish the Dems would stop pussyfooting around and fighting a symmetrical war with the Republicans. It’s time to start working this the way the terrorists work their IED’s. Have we not learned anything, either from our forefathers who kicked British ass or from the insurgents who are currently kicking ours in Afghanistan using the exact same playbook?

    Hal is correct, they should stop intellectualizing and realize that they ARE in a WAR and start calling the tactic what it truly is, the NUCLEAR OPTION.
    That is what the Repubs called it when they used it, and they DELIGHTED in using it.

    The Dems should hoist the Repubs by their own petard and remember what they were taught by recent history.

  18. woody188

    Yeah good luck with that. One day you’ll realize the Democrats and Republicans both are on the same side and it isn’t ours.

    I’d like to also point out that this legislation touches every American while the Republican’s nuclear option was to be used for judicial nominees. I know, a judges ruling might touch every American as well.

    Something of this magnitude must have broad public consensus or else there will be massive repercussions. You can’t ignore half the people and expect to cast laws down from on high. They are already sharpening the pitch forks.

  19. DogFish

    Why does it always have to be Dem vs Rep?

    How about what the majority of the voting population wants?

    Oh wait, then neither side gets there payoffs. I almost forgot about that.

  20. griff

    Thanks, Hal.

    The majority of wealth in this country is concentrated in the hands of the very few. It’s not on Main Street anymore, it’s on Wall Street.

    The implication is such that the Republican – or any – opposition to this bill equals opposition to helping the uninsured. This is untrue in most cases.

    I happen to believe that this is bad legislation. I oppose it on that basis, not because I identify with either of our wonderful parties.

    I’ve suggested a .1% tax on all Wall Street financial transactions to fund insurance for the uninsured. Trillions of dollars are transferred every day on Wall Street, and not a penny is levied in taxes. How are we to fund this shiny new bureaucracy?

    The Democrats seem to believe we can just print up the money for this with no ill effects on our overtaxed populace or our tanking economy.

    While you say that ending our military adventures and righting the economy will take time, I see absolutely no moves in that direction.

    Our main priorities should be reviving our productive economy and bringing back jobs. We are adding hundreds of thousands of people to the ranks of the uninsured every month.

    Imagine what would happen if ten million people went back to work by the end of the year.

    But we’ve allowed Washington to set the priorities and dictate the agenda. Classic divide-and-conquer.

  21. griff

    Another 298,000 jobs lost in August. Almost 900,000 in the last two months. Of course, the geniuses in Washington forecast 250,000 losses, yet we continue to put our faith, not to mention our very lives, in the hands of people that are never, ever honest or even remotely accurate.

  22. SamJr

    SamJr – Army MSG (Ret)

    Sorry Hal, you are so very wrong, both in your original article and now in your latest comment. This is not “self-defense” by Democrats. They are trying to steamroll a terrible piece of legislation through Congress and impose it on the American people. We have nothing against providing health care to our citizens. It is the provision of health care to the non-citizens, the over 10 million illegal aliens to which we are so adamantly opposed. The administration denies they would have access but if that were really true then why has every Republican attempt to insert wording explicitly denying that faction benefits under this bill been soundly defeated by the Democrats, led by the neo-Socialist Nancy Pelosi??? They have not paid into the system (legally) and deserve nothing other than to be deported! The inclusion of that group alone would completely cripple our medical system and would of necissity, lead to the rationing of health care which also has been denied by Democrats.
    The second error on your part was that Congress was controlled by Republicans under Bush. You need to go back and check the record. The last few years were Democratically controlled – and they did absolutely nothing to even try to slow down our fall into the current situation. Get your facts straight before presenting them to the public!

  23. Hal Brown

    First, let’s differentiate between non-citizens here legally and illegally. We have many non-citizens here legally going to school and working, sometimes in important jobs and often on the road to becoming citizens.

    I am aware of the so-called "loopholes" in the bills where illegal immigrants can obtain health insurance. Illegal families (parents and children) are already in our health care system using expensive emergency room services, often for illness if treated sooner would not be nearly as costly to treat. 

    As for Congress: in order to get anything through with an opposition party president you need control of both Senate and House. In order to thwart the Senate filibuster you need 60 reliable votes. Therefore while the Democrats had 51 seats in 2006 and  they technically controlled the Senate they did not effectively control it except for committee appointments.

  24. barak

    If anyone thinks that poverty causes full jails, they should visit Vietnam and China. Most of the criminals in prison are either political prisoners or government officials who were caught stealing. Poor people are among the most honest of all economic classes. The drug dealers are really very, very rich. So are bank robbers and embezzlers who buy themselves short terms in plush prisons.

    Wake up to reality

  25. DogFish

    Hey barak, did you miss the paragragh before the I pay my own way and always have. Lets qoute it here.

    Quote “I would agree if they and/or their spouse were a contributing part of society and bad times have fallen on them and they need help then so be it. If you are physically or mentally unable then so be it.”

    Are you one of the people that encourages the street corner sign holders by giving them money. Maybe they have a dog to make you feel even sorrier. I don’t buy their claims.

    I did help out a fellow at the car wash one day that asked me for a couple of dollars but he atleast told me it was hot and he wanted to by a beer.

    Why bring my standards down for people that are not willing to help themselves bring their’s up?

    I’m no scholar but I do beleive it should be my choice to help and not the governments choice to make me help. We are free right.

  26. CheckerboardStrangler

    Please refrain from using words like sucka when referring to another poster. I want to have dialogue here and not see those engaging in debate tempted to respond in kind. Hal

  27. griff

    We used to take care of our own. When we where prosperous and before the government created the beasts we know as HMO’s.

    As for our immigrant non-citizens? Round ’em up and send ’em home.

  28. DogFish

    Sorry for the supposed “attack”. I just can’t figure how some people don’t seem to read what’s in front of them. I guess CheckerboardStr telling me he is going to steal from me when I’m sleeping along with calling me a sucka(In the above post)is OK though.