Let’s take a moment to remember Russell Long, the former Senator from Louisiana. He used what is called reconciliation – a part of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 that was intended to provide a way of adjusting the numbers, so to speak, of a budget between the first and second resolutions in a way not intended by the law’s framers. He saw that its language provided a far broader interpretation just a year later in 1975, and effectively used it to cut off debate on a tax cut bill he was trying to push through. So some 40 years later, we now have the GOP thinking out loud about using reconciliation to, not repeal in the full sense of the word, but to overhaul Obamacare. Mitch McConnell stated that they would use reconciliation in the Senate to nullify the bill’s most onerous provisions while putting forth a patient-friendly alternative with a wider range of options that any individual or family could choose between. The key is that it would only require 51 votes instead of 60 and McConnell is not too optimistic about the GOP reaching 60 seats come this Tuesday night. Employer mandates on health care and the 30 hour workweek regulations are two examples they believe they could gain consensus on and perhaps change. But remember, it still has to pass the president’s desk. Would Obama sign a reconciliation bill that amended his prized legislative baby? Do people like McConnell or Barrosso, the Republican Senator from Wyoming, really believe that? Or would it be a chance to let the president lower his job ratings even more? And would it work? Perhaps, lowering Obama’s approval ratings seems to be something everyone, especially the president himself, is getting good at. It might instead, however, be the first stage of 2016’s election platform for the GOP. Healthcare, or more specifically, the Republican’s alternative to Obamacare, will certainly be a defining part of the presidential elections in 2 years time. Perhaps reconciliation is not the first blow, the House has been swinging for some time, but it is certainly the latest volley in the ideological battle over how to keep America healthy.

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