Harry Reid has sent a rather muscular letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell justifying the use of budget reconciliation rules to pass heath care reform. Meanwhile, the Washington Post continues to provide a platform for misleading agitprop against reform from so-called Democrats (in this case, former Democratic pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen). Jonathan Chait explains that Schoen and Caddell ceased being supportive of the Democratic Party long ago, but then finishes with a thud.

In short, Schoen and Caddell’s professed Democratic self-identification, to the extent that it would be interpreted as some sympathy for the party’s electoral success and broad policy goals, seems highly misleading. Their analysis of public opinion on health care likewise appears to be an outgrowth of their ideological opposition rather than a fair-minded read of the data. Especially given that Schoen made a virtually identical argument in a national newspaper just three days earlier, it’s hard to figure out what this op-ed is doing in the Washington Post.

No, it’s not hard to figure out what that op-ed is doing in the Washington Post. It’s not hard to figure out at all.

In other news, the Senate parliamentarian has apparently ruled that reconciliation language must change existing, not prospective, laws. That means that the House must pass and the president must sign the Senate bill before the reconciliation bill can be considered germane. I think I’ve got that right, but the parliamentary maneuvering is complicated and fluid at the moment. There is some talk of the House crafting a special rule that would allow them to consider the Senate bill as passed once they vote on the reconciliation part of it, thereby avoiding having two separate roll call votes.

Update [2010-3-12 10:14:48 by BooMan]: Maybe I haven’t got that right.

There seems to be a consensus that a public option, if passed by amendment in the Senate, would kill the reform effort, but no one can explain precisely why that is the case. My assumption is that it would be a change that the House would not approve. On the surface, this is a strange argument which may be why no one is making it explicitly. After all, the House already passed a bill with a public option. But, with the death of John Murtha, the resignations of Robert Wexler and Neil Abercrombie, and the defections of Joseph Cao and Bart Stupak over abortion language, it’s not clear that the House can pass a public option again. If that’s the case, I’d like to see someone say so in a straightforward and convincing manner. If the public option is offered as an amendment in the Senate and it fails, it won’t do any mischief. If it is going to scuttle a deal with the House, I’m sure plenty of Republicans will be willing to vote for it.