No? Sure sounds like an option to me. Presumably Ax is clinging to the fantasy of reconciliation as a deus ex machina — Clyburn alluded to it tonight on CNBC, Grijalva talked it up to TPM, and Conrad, the Senate’s budget honcho, says he’s ready and able — but we’ve already been over this. If they’re too afraid of voters’ wrath to even delay seating Scott Brown, where are they going to find the balls needed to ping pong the Senate bill through the House and then do an end-around Brown’s no vote by revising the signed bill in the Senate through reconciliation? The optics of Brown’s win are actually tougher for the Dems than losing the supermajority: With all the national attention on the race and the irresistible meme of having the bluest of blue states essentially vote to veto ObamaCare, anything they do now to try to ram it through makes it look like they’re spitting in the face of the electorate. Which they are.
Not good enough? Here are 10 reasons rattled off this afternoon on Twitter by the estimable Jay Cost why reconciliation ain’t happening:
(1) It will look sketchy to do after Brown wins. Might drive away moderate D’s.
(2) You get a swiss-cheese bill. Anything not related to budget gets dropped.
(3) Bill has to be sunseted if it raises the deficit by even a little bit after 5 years.
(4) You’re going to lose votes in the Senate based on principle.
(5) You drag out [ObamaCare], further depleting whatever political capital the D’s still possess.
(6) You hand GOP another issue for 2010. I guarantee they’ll aruge: “D’s go ‘nuclear’ to get around will of public.”
(7) You give Mitch McConnell an opening to exercise his parliamentary chops in the Battle of the Byrd Bath.
(8) The D’s left flank will say, “Hey…if we’re doing reconciliation, give us the public option!” Is that a battle to revisit in 2010?!?!?!
(9) You make it substantially easier to kill [ObamaCare] in future. If 50 votes created it, 50 can kill it.
(10) You run the risk of getting less than 218 in the House and losing anyway…
Number 9 is especially shrewd. The GOP’s not going to be able to repeal ObamaCare if it passes under normal procedures, but if the Dems use a nuclear strike to get it through, a counterstrike circa 2013 is only fair. The buzzword of the moment: Disarray.
Exit question: Assuming they do decide to commit mass political suicide with reconciliation, do they have 50 votes in the Senate? Lincoln’s polls are now so toxic that they’d be starting with 58. Subtract Nelson, Lieberman, Webb, and Bayh and you’re down to 54. Who else?