It comes down to this: Do you think health care reform should get a straight majority vote in Congress? Or should a few Senators be allowed to single-handedly block reform?
As we speak, the Senate is working on President Obama's budget. At stake is something called "budget reconciliation," a Senate rule that forces Senators to take a simple majority vote on the budget. In other words, the budget cannot be filibustered.
The bill the House Budget Committee passed yesterday includes "reconciliation instructions" for health care, which means health care reform, according to the relevant committee in the House, should be passed with the budget and by budget rules. The question is, will the Senate committees do the same? Or will we repeat the mistake Bill Clinton called his worst one?
It goes without saying that having a majority vote on health care, as opposed to needing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, makes passing health care reform easier. The argument that this is "not bipartisan" doesn't hold much water. George Bush passed his tax cuts this way. And as Mike Lux points out in The Progressive Revolution, not a single Republican in the House voted for Social Security under FDR.
But there is principle to this argument, too. The American people voted for Barack Obama - largely because of his health care plan - and we only needed a majority vote to elect him. Shouldn't the Senate only need a majority vote to pass this major piece of his agenda and bring to America the change we need?
In 1994, the Clintons wanted to use reconciliation to pass health care, but Robert Byrd, the Senate's hallowed parliamentarian, said no. Clinton has said that his worst mistake in health care was not fully appreciating the blow his strategy had been dealt.
Let's not make the same mistake again.
If you think a couple Senators should be able to block reform, if you think health care deserves a straight majority vote, then click here to call your Members of Congress. Tell them you want to give health care reform a majority vote.
(also posted at the NOW! blog)
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