No discussion of the media's ongoing battle to understand basic seventh-grade civics would be complete without enjoying Jonathan Chait's post in which he basically loses his mind over Mike Allen's inability to grasp what Democratic lawmakers are doing.
The big issue with reconciliation is that there seems to be this widespread idea that Health Care Reform -- the capital letter concept in toto -- is going to be entirely enacted through budget reconciliation. Suffice it to say, this cannot be done and that is precisely why no one is proposing to do it. However, it's become handy for health care reform opponents to suggest that this is what is occurring, when it isn't. In fact, the Senate has already passed a health care reform bill. This was a big story!
Nevertheless, a lot of ersatz political experts have decided to collectively play stupid on the subject, depicting a perfectly common parliamentary procedure as some sort of nefarious maneuver. To do so, they have to pretend to not understand that the Senate has already passed a health care bill. One senator, Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has been repeating himself until he's blue in the face in an attempt to get people to understand the reconciliation process:
Reconciliation is not being considered for passing comprehensive health-care reform. Major health-care reform legislation passed the Senate without reconciliation on Christmas Eve. If the House now passes that legislation, it can go immediately to President Obama's desk to be signed into law. What the president and others have suggested is that, after the House acts, reconciliation could then be used to pass a much smaller "fixer" bill to allow for modifications to the comprehensive bill that will have passed under regular order.
And yet, here's Mike Allen:
When Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) made this confusing argument last week on "Face the Nation," we weren't sure he was being deliberately disingenuous. It was, in fact, spin. Now, he's made the same case in a similarly obtuse WashPost op-ed, "Reconciliation is not an option for health-care reform." Don't misread it: It's an Alice-in-Wonderland argument FOR the use of reconciliation as part of the recipe for getting comprehensive health reform to the president's desk.
So, naturally, Chait is all Frustrated, Incorporated over this, and he lets Allen know in a piece appropriately titled, "Jesus Christ, Mike Allen, Reconciliation Is NOT THAT COMPLICATED."
Confusing? Obtuse? Does Conrad need to stop by Politico's offices with a picture book and some finger puppets? I understand perfectly well how intelligent people who don't follow this debate closely might not catch on to the distinction. But this is what Mike Allen does all day -- and, as I understand it, much of the night and the wee hours of the morning as well. How can anybody still not understand this?
Last week, I had a similar reaction watching this video of Chris Matthews utterly making a fool of himself in front of Representative Alan Grayson (D-Fla.).
You'll note that at about the three-minute mark, Grayson begins to explain to Matthews the fact that the Senate has already passed a health care bill, but Matthews is so certain that he's right about this that he just keeps interrupting Grayson, over and over.
Matthews, in the above clip, goes on to make it clear that he thinks the whole notion of a single senator agreeing to pursue budget reconciliation is just crazy. Over the weekend, when Mark Begich became the 50th Senator to sign on to using reconciliation to add enhancements to the ALREADY PASSED SENATE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL (and, presuming that Vice President Joe Biden is on board with his own agenda, that's the ball game, right there), believe you me, I thought about Chris Matthews, and what an idiot he turned out to be on this matter.
Chait asks, "So, what the hell is going on here?" I think that what is going on here is that a lot of political journalists just love to pointlessly mystify the political process. By doing so in this case, it creates the illusion that the whole matter of budget reconciliation is one more horse race between two interesting points of view. But one of those points of view is only interesting because it is colossally incorrect!
Jesus Christ, Mike Allen, Reconciliation Is NOT THAT COMPLICATED [The New Republic]
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST
Let's Flashback To That Time Chris Matthews Was Crazy Wrong About Parliamentary Procedure