Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Lies And Reconciliation Commission

Senate Republicans are already talking about using budget reconciliation to put massive austerity cuts on a Republican president's desk in early 2017, including the end of Obamacare.

Several Republicans said they’re discussing the possibility of adopting a budget this year that would let the next president’s agenda -- including top goals like repealing Obamacare -- bypass a Democratic filibuster at the very start of the year. Republicans used a similar move early this year to send a bill repealing much of Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood to President Barack Obama, who vetoed it.

The strategy would allow Republicans who control the House and Senate to put just such a bill on the desk of a new president if their party wins the White House, without having to grind through months of budget process. To succeed, Republicans need the Senate parliamentarian to let them use rules set by a budget resolution into the next Congress.

“It could be pretty powerful if it works,” said John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican. “We haven’t yet concluded one way or the other.”

Such a strategy “might pass muster,” said Bill Hoagland, a vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Republican congressional aide.

Legislation generally expires at the end of a Congress. Yet rules set by a budget resolution remain in force until a new one is adopted, meaning that a resolution enacted by the current Congress may allow a filibuster-free vote early next year on a new Republican president’s economic agenda, Hoagland said. “I think it might be an open question,” he said in an interview.

“What unified us this last year on the budget was the ability to vote to defund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare with 51 votes,” Cornyn said. “So if we find a similar unifying theme then I think that does provide us with an opportunity and that’s what we’re exploring. We haven’t settled on anything yet.”

This Congress would first have to enact a budget resolution, something that is optional because lawmakers and the White House agreed to a two-year deal that raised spending caps last year.

Seems to me that this is a rather pointed reminder of what Republicans will try to do if they maintain control of the Senate and win the White House this November, and what Democrats should remember is at stake here. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and any Republican president would be more than willing to shred everything back to the New Deal and then some, and then appoint Supreme Court justices who would cement everything into law for decades.

We may be bickering over Hillary versus Bernie (well not *here* but in general) but in the end we have to go out and vote.

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