To refresh your memory: In order for a provision in the Senate bill to be “fixed” in reconciliation, it has to be a budgetary matter. That’s why they can’t use reconciliation to satisfy Stupak on abortion. (It’s also why Marcy Kaptur is now calling for a separate abortion bill, which would never pass the Senate. But I digress.) If the parliamentarian rules that a provision’s not budgetary, then it’s out of the bill.
Which poses a problem for Madam Speaker. Bush econ honcho Keith Hennessey:
There are several Byrd rule violations. This means the House will have to vote on this bill twice. The second time would be after Senate Republicans use the Byrd rule to strike these provisions from the bill, then the Senate passes the modified bill and returns it to the House. And no, I won’t tell you where all of them are. Sorry. I don’t want to help the Democrats find and fix them. Some of these are only arguable violations. I have found at least three that are clear violations.
Follow the link for a dizzyingly wonktastic breakdown of the rest of the bill. This isn’t quite as sweet as it sounds: The second House vote described by Hennessey would only be on the reconciliation fix, not the Senate bill, which would already have been “deemed” passed by the first House vote. The point of raising this now is to remind House Dems that the ordeal isn’t over on Sunday. If they’re serious about passing this boondoggle, they’ve got another vote coming down the road and a whole lot of uncertainty until then about which of their favorite “fix” provisions will end up in the garbage once the Senate gets done with them. An added bonus? If there really are three clear, indisputable Byrd violations, as Hennessey claims, it makes it much tougher politically for Biden to overrule the parliamentarian and rubber-stamp the House bill when the GOP inevitably raises these challenges. They can get away, maybe, with railroading this thing through the Senate if the Byrd issues are arguable. If they’re really not, then they have a problem.
Speaking of uncertainty, if Hennessey’s right that the bill passed this weekend won’t be the final final bill passed in the House, how useful really is today’s ballyhooed CBO score? Jeffrey Anderson ponders:
When the House votes on Obamacare, probably this weekend, it will do the following: Most likely all in one motion, it will vote on whether to pass the Senate bill — or, more likely, on whether to “deem” it passed — and on additional language. Should the House pass the Senate bill, it would be enacted the second that it went to the president and his pen touched the page. At that point, the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the “Louisiana Purchase,” “Gator Aid,” and all the rest, would become the law of the land. The additional language would be passed on to the Senate. The new CBO score is for the whole ball of wax — for the Senate bill, which would immediately become law, plus the new language, which wouldn’t. Clear as mud?
We don’t know what the cost will be because we don’t know what the fix that ends up on Obama’s desk will look like. Although we can kinda sorta guess: Again per Anderson, if you take a 10-year projection starting with O-Care’s true first year of implementation, you’re looking at a number for the whole package somewhere in the ballpark of … $2.5 trillion.
Total costs weren’t the only gamed numbers in today’s bill either. I leave you with this, which seems to capture the sentiments of the day nicely.