Dem sources: Senate “fix” for ObamaCare could add another $300 billion to price tag; Update: Dems ready for reconciliation, says Kyl

posted at 7:33 pm on January 28, 2010 by Allahpundit

The bill in its original form was projected as costing $849 billion over 10 years. Slap on another $300 billion in programs added via reconciliation to placate Pelosi and you’re now talking about a bill in excess of the magical $1 trillion mark.

Of course, that’s only if you use ReidMath. If you use real-world math, where you start counting when the bill finally kicks in instead of five years before that, the original cost is … $2.5 trillion.

And really now. When you look at it that way, what’s another 300 bil on top of that?

ABC News’ Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl report: The renewed optimism voiced by some Democrats over the prospects of passing a health care bill may be just a little premature.

Though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying she thinks she can pass the Senate version of the health care bill if the House and Senate can agree on changes by using the budget process, the price tag for those changes could approach $300 billion, Democratic sources tell ABC News. That’s a figure that’s likely to give moderate Democrats sticker shock.

Speaking of reconciliation, Hugh Hewitt’s been teasing an interview with Jon Kyl where apparently he’ll say that the Senate has finally decided to pull the trigger and go for it. I tried waiting for the transcript, but who knows when it’ll be up. Hewitt’s teaser sounds pretty certain, though. Headline: “The Zombie Health Care Bill Is Out Of Its Grave.”

Senator Jon Kyl relays reports –very reliable reports according to Kyl– that Congressional Democrats have indeed decided to use reconciliation to resurrect the remains of Obamacare, despite Massachusetts, despite the public’s continuing and still growing dislike of the bill, and despite the jam-down ultra-partisanship such a naked power play and perversion of Senate rules that such an approach entails. I will interview Kyl in the second hour, and a transcript will be posted shortly thereafter.

What’s odd about this is that both Landrieu and Mark Pryor made it sound this morning like the bill was in coma and on the verge of death. Any reason to believe them instead of Kyl? Well, Kyl’s claim could simply be a feint aimed at goosing conservatives into launching a hopefully final salvo against the bill and finishing it off. But Pelosi sounded a bit more confident than usual last night. Who’s lying? And who are the lucky 50 who are going to have to swallow hard and vote for a bill that’s likely to be hundreds of billions of dollars more expensive than the public was told?

Exit quotation: “There wasn’t much discussion about the implications if the thing went the other way.”

Update: Here’s the Hewitt transcript. Sounds serious this time.

HH: It’s remarkable, but let’s get to the news of the day. There is some talk that the Democrats are going to try reconciliation, a jam down of their bitterly divisive, and almost certainly wrong-headed health care plan. What can you tell us about this?

JK: This is kind of breaking news. As you say, we’re just hearing it. We haven’t been formally advised, but we have it on relatively good authority. And this would be what they call the nuclear option. This would be we can’t do it with 60 votes, because now we have a new Senator from Massachusetts, so we’ll do it with 51. Now it’s called the nuclear option, because it really upsets all of the tradition and precedent within the Senate which on a really big bill on the magnitude of health care, would always have strong bipartisan support, and therefore the 60 vote requirement really doesn’t matter. But here, using an arcane part of the budget that ordinarily relates to tax cuts or tax increases, it doesn’t relate to comprehensive bills with a lot of substantive provisions in them, but just changes in the tax code, usually. They’re going to try to rewrite this bill to, where it would only need 51 votes, and still accomplish most of what the bill will accomplish. Now what this will do is let the Blanche Lincolns and Ben Nelsons and Evan Bayhs and other to say oh, I can’t go along with this now. And of course, that’s exactly what their constituents want to hear. But it doesn’t matter, because their votes in effect at this point don’t count. They don’t matter. All it takes is 51 Democrats to vote for it, and it becomes law. It remains to be seen how long the process will take, and whether, and how much of the provisions of the comprehensive health care reform that we’ve been looking at can be scooped up into this legislation. But it now appears the Democrats are going to try that.


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