Be Patriotic- Pay More Taxes-Senators Considering New Gasoline Tax

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Well as part of the Obama administration’s brilliant philosophy of making energy prices so expensive the average person will seek alternative sources, in addition to a VAT tax being considered, some Senators are considering a new gasoline tax to drive you away from fossil fuels to something “green” like a bicycle or a horse and buggy.  You have to ask yourself, just what are these people thinking? Add so many new taxes in the middle of the worse recession since the depression and the highest unemployment in 35 years I believe it is? Great job guys …… are holding back the recovery by passing Obamacare, later maybe “Cap & Trade” along with your new taxes. Great Job!!!

Estimates put it in the range of 15 cents a gallon. Some oil companies are on board with the plan because it would cost them far less than other proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Senators consider gasoline tax as part of climate bill

Leading voices in the Senate are considering a new tax on gasoline as part of an effort to win Republican and oil industry support for the energy and climate bill now idling in Congress.

The tax, which according to early estimates would be in the range of 15 cents a gallon, was conceived with the input of several oil companies, including Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips, and is being championed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

It is shaping up as a critical but controversial piece in the efforts by Lindsay Graham, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to write a climate bill that moderate Republicans could support. Along those lines, the bill will also include an expansion of offshore oil drilling (which Obama already did, maybe in anticipation of this Climate bill.) and major new incentives for nuclear power plant construction. (You have to ask yourself, what does Lindsay Graham think he’s doing…supporting a new gasoline tax and amnesty for illegals? Is he wanting to lose his job come November along with many of the Democrats? It certainly looks that way to me.)

Glendale FreewayMotorists on the Glendale Freeway head toward the downtown Los Angeles skyline. The gas tax proposal is shaping up as a critical but controversial piece in efforts by GOP and Democratic senators to write a federal climate bill that moderate Republicans could support. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / February 10, 2010)

Environmental groups have long advocated gasoline taxes to reduce fossil fuel consumption; the oil industry has spent heavily in recent years to fight taxes, which it says would harm consumers.

In this case, though, several oil companies like the tax because it figures to cost them far less than other proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including provisions in the climate bill the House passed last year.

The Senate bill’s sponsors appear to want the revenue raised from the tax to fund a variety of programs that would lower industrial emissions, including helping manufacturers reduce energy use or boosting wind and solar power installations by electric utilities.

But the tax has encountered stiff behind-the-scenes resistance from some Democrats, who fear the political specter of increasing gasoline prices as the national average cost of gasoline is expected to crest $3 a gallon this summer.

And no other Republicans have publicly announced support for the framework legislation that Graham and the others are circulating on Capitol Hill. Attracting significant Republican support for a bill featuring a tax increase would run counter to historical political trends and to the anti-tax outrage percolating among the “tea party” activists in the GOP base.

Sources say the resistance extends to some Obama administration officials. In a statement, White House spokesman Ben Labolt said only that President Obama was “encouraged by the work of Sens. Kerry, Lieberman and Graham to move forward bipartisan, comprehensive energy and climate legislation” and that “we look forward to reviewing the details of the legislation when they are finalized.”

Some industry analysts and environmentalists question how much a tax would do to reduce emissions from gasoline, particularly if the extra cost to motorists is measured in cents, not dollars.

Proponents call the tax approach under consideration a “linked fee,” because it links the extra cost for gasoline to the average cost of greenhouse gas emission permits created through a so-called cap-and-trade system for electric utilities. That system would set a declining limit on emissions from power plants and force utilities to buy permits, on a trading market, to emit heat-trapping gases. Under the linked-fee proposal, gasoline taxes would rise in tandem with the prices of industrial emission permits, or fall if the price of permits declines.

As negotiations build toward a scheduled unveiling of the bill next week, it’s still unclear whether major oil companies and their trade group, the American Petroleum Institute, will explicitly endorse the legislation or at least agree not to fund an ad campaign opposing it. Proponents of a climate bill say such backing would be a major coup.

“It’s not clear that a linked fee creates a path to 60 votes” to overcome Senate procedural hurdles, said Scott Segal, a lobbyist for the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm in Washington who represents utilities and refiners on climate policy.

If oil companies do back the bill, climate activists will find themselves joining forces with an industry they’ve long demonized. The tax could also put senators who vote for the bill at the mercy of election attacks if gas prices spike before November — even though the tax would probably not kick in for several years.

Senate Parliamentarian has ruled Reconciliation Can’t Be Used For Passing Health Care into Law

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Oops! Now the Senate Parliamentarian tells Republicans that reconciliation can’t be used to pass health care into law. He says the bill must first “be law” before reconciliation can be used to “tweak” it.

Ruling Kills an Option for Moving Health Bill

The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill (into law) before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday. (Oops!)

The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.

House Democratic leaders have been searching for a way to ensure that any move they make to approve the Senate-passed $871 billion health care reform bill is followed by Senate action on a reconciliation package of adjustments to the original bill. One idea is to have the House and Senate act on reconciliation prior to House action on the Senate’s original health care bill.

Information Republicans say they have received from the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office eliminates that option. House Democratic leaders last week began looking at crafting a legislative rule that would allow the House to approve the Senate health care bill, but not forward it to Obama for his signature until the Senate clears the reconciliation package.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved Thursday to put Senate Republicans on the defensive over health care, sending a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in which he dared the GOP to vote against reform.

Reid also defended the Democrats’ use of reconciliation to get a final health care reform bill to the president’s desk, noting that the bulk of health care reform was approved under regular order via the package that cleared the Senate on Christmas Eve. Reid also emphasized that Republicans have used the procedure several times over the years.

However, Reid also promised in the letter that Republicans would have ample opportunity to amend the reconciliation package.

“Reconciliation is designed to deal with budget-related matters, and some have expressed doubt that it could be used for comprehensive health care reform that includes many policies with no budget implications. But the reconciliation bill now under consideration would not be the vehicle for comprehensive reform — that bill already passed outside of reconciliation with 60 votes,” Reid wrote to McConnell.

“Reconciliation will not exclude Republicans from the legislative process. You will continue to have an opportunity to offer amendments and change the shape of the legislation. In addition, at the end of the process, the bill can pass only if it wins a democratic, up-or-down majority vote. If Republicans want to vote against a bill that reduces health care costs, fills the prescription drug ‘donut hole’ for seniors and reduces the deficit, you will have every right to do so,” he said.


Pelosi goes over health bill, leaves March 18 vote possibility open

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Translation: We don’t have the votes to pass this right now.

Pelosi goes over health bill, leaves March 18 vote possibility open

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her caucus discussed President Barack Obama’s proposed changes to the Senate healthcare bill on Thursday as she aimed for a vote as early as next week.

Pelosi and Democrats are struggling to garner the 216 votes necessary for approval, with members divided on abortion and deep, caucus-wide mistrust of the Senate. A survey by The Hill shows at least 25 Democrats are either firm or likely “no” votes on healthcare.

Despite a pledge to give members a week to study a bill prior to any vote, Pelosi held open the possibility of a vote by the March 18 deadline set by the White House.

“It may take longer, but we’ll take up the bill when we’re ready to take up the bill,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters after the first caucus meeting. “The March 18 [deadline] is an interesting date, as I say.”

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged much work was left, but said no “arbitrary deadlines” would be set. (Again, because they don’t have the votes!!)

“We’ve made significant progress the last week. We had a very good day yesterday,” he said at a Thursday press conference. “We feel that this is something that we can do. It’s not done yet — and that’s an understatement.”

The strategy adopted by Democrats would have the upper chamber consider a package of changes to the Senate bill under budget reconciliation rules that would prevent a GOP filibuster. But– the Senate will only take this action after the House approves the Senate bill.

That’s a problem, since many House members don’t trust the Senate to act.
(I can’t blame them, I wouldn’t either.Just look who they’re asked to trust!)

“We’re in the process of trying to make the Senate bill acceptable to as many House members as possible,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). “But even the most trusting member, I think, is skeptical of the Senate.”

Reid, who huddled with his conference early Thursday afternoon on healthcare, said Senate leaders will “try to do everything we can to satisfy them and any questions they have.”

Members in both chambers hope to see a Congressional Budget Office score of the president’s plan as early as Thursday night. House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) said he would convene members of his panel today to prepare for a markup, the final stop for the legislation before it is readied for the floor.

The next stop would be the Rules Committee, where Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is mulling an arcane maneuver that would allow House Democrats to avoid actually voting on the Senate-passed bill. Slaughter is considering a rule for floor debate that would have the House “deem” the Senate measure as adopted by approving the smaller package. (What the heck?…..these people are getting very desperate to pass this bill any way they can)

Slaughter told reporters no decisions had been made on how to proceed.

Democrats at a Thursday caucus meeting expressed frustration over the lack of legislative text (That’s because the new Health Care Bill hasn’t been written yet and that’s why the CBO hasn’t scored it yet as well) , but their leaders said a White House outline and question-and-answer session with White House Director of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle gave the caucus a good idea of the final reconciliation language.

Abortion continues to be a huge problem for House Democrats.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill) an anti-abortion-rights Democrat, said as many as a dozen Democrats will vote against the Senate bill unless language matching Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) amendment to the House bill is either attached to the Senate bill or added to the reconciliation legislation.

Stupak wants tougher language to prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortion services.

Lipinski said those dozen Democrats have rejected a compromise floated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that would let the House settle the abortion issue separate from the healthcare bill.

Complicating matters is Pelosi’s own admission that she does not see a way to address the abortion issue through reconciliation.

“Reconciliation is a very narrow discipline and that was emphasized to the members this morning,” she said. “Unless a provision is central to the budget, it cannot be considered.”

Waxman, the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, said all sides are continuing to look for a solution, even though he confessed he doesn’t see one on the immediate horizon.

“I don’t know how we’ll resolve it, but we’ll keep looking,” Waxman said. “We just have to all stay open and keep talking until we see where we end up.”

Another outstanding issue is whether to attach a student-lending bill to the reconciliation vehicle.


Dr. Milton Wolf-Barack Obama’s Cousin Speaks Against Obamacare


Well now among all the other problems with passing National Health Care here comes Obama’s second cousin who is a doctor (Milton Wolf) saying things against Obamcare.

Dr. Milton Wolf-Barack Obama’s Cousin Speaks Against Obamacare

By Dr. Milton R. Wolf

“Primum nil nocere.” First, do no harm. This guiding principle is a bedrock of medical care. Sadly, those politicians who would rewrite our health care laws do not live in the same universe as do the doctors and health care professionals who must practice it.

Imagine if, like physicians, politicians were personally held to the incredibly high level of scrutiny that includes civil and financial liability for any unintended consequence of their decisions. Imagine if they were forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on malpractice insurance and still faced the threat of multimillion-dollar lawsuits with every single decision they made. If so, a government takeover of health care would be the furthest thing from their minds.

Obamacare proponents would have us believe that we will add 30 million patients to the system without adding providers, we will see no decline in the quality of care for the millions of Americans currently happy with the system, and –if you act now!– we will save money in the process. But why stop there? Why not promise it will no longer rain on weekends and every day will be a great hair day?

America has the finest health care delivery system in the world. Let’s not forget that and put it at risk in the name of reform. Desperate souls across the globe flock to our shores and cross our borders every day to seek our care. Why? Our system provides cures while the government-run systems from which they flee do not. Compare Europe’s common cancer mortality rates to America’s: breast cancer – 52 percent higher in Germany and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom; prostate cancer – a staggering 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway; colon cancer – 40 percent higher in the United Kingdom.

Look closer at the United Kingdom. Britain’s higher cancer mortality rate results in 25,000 more cancer deaths per year compared to a similar population size in the United States. But because the U.S. population is roughly five times larger than the United Kingdom’s, that would translate into 125,000 unnecessary American cancer deaths every year. This is more than all the mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, cousins and children in Topeka, Kan. And keep in mind, these numbers are for cancer alone. America also has better survival rates for other major killers, such as heart attacks and strokes. Whatever we do, let us not surrender the great gains we have made. First, do no harm. Lives are at stake.

Obamacare: Fixing price at any cost

The justification for Obamacare has been to control costs, but the problem is there is little in Obamacare that will do that. Instead, there are provisions that will ration care and artificially set price. This is a confusion of costs and price.

As one example, consider the implications of Obamacare’s financial penalty aimed at your doctor if he seeks the expert care he has determined you need. If your doctor is in the top 10 percent of primary care physicians who refer patients to specialists most frequently – no matter how valid the reasons – he will face a 5 percent penalty on all their Medicare reimbursements for the entire year. This scheme is specifically designed to deny you the chance to see a specialist. Each year, the insidious nature of that arbitrary 10 percent rule will make things even worse as 100 percent of doctors try to stay off that list. Many doctors will try to avoid the sickest patients, and others will simply refuse to accept Medicare. Already, 42 percent of doctors have chosen that route, and it will get worse. Your mother’s shiny government-issued Medicare health card is meaningless without doctors who will accept it.

Obamacare will further diminish access to health care by lowering reimbursements for medical care without regard to the costs of that care. Price controls have failed spectacularly wherever they’ve been tried. They have turned neighborhoods into slums and have caused supply chains to dry up when producers can no longer profit from providing their goods. Remember the Carter-era gas lines? Medical care is not immune from this economic reality. We cannot hope that our best and brightest will pursue a career in medicine, setting aside years of their lives – for me, 13 years of school and training – to enter a field that might not even pay for the student loans it took to get there.

Giving power back to people

I believe there is a better way. The problems in the American health care system are not caused by a shortage of government intrusion. They will not be solved by more government intrusion. In fact, our current problems were precisely, though unintentionally, created by government.

World War II-era wage-control measures – a form of price controls – ushered in a perverted system in which we turn to our employers for insurance and the government penalizes us if we choose to purchase insurance for ourselves. You are not given the opportunity to be a wise consumer of health care and compare prices as well as quality in any meaningful way. Worse still, your insurance company is not answerable to you because you are not its customer. It is answerable to your employer, whose interests differ from your own.

Insurance companies have been vilified for following the perverse rules that government has created for them. But it gets worse. The government, always knowing best, deploys insurance commissioners across the land to dictate what the insurance companies must provide, whether you want it or not, and each time, your premiums increase. Obamacare will make all of this worse, not better.

One of America’s founding principles is our trust in the people and their economic freedom to rule their own lives. We should decouple health insurance from employers and empower patients to be consumers once again. Allow them to determine the insurance plan that best meets their families’ needs and which company will provide it. This will unleash a wave of competition that will drive costs down in a way that price controls never have. Eliminate the artificial state boundary rules that protect insurance companies from true competition and watch as voters demand that their state insurance commissioners get the heck out of the way. Innovative companies will drive down costs similar to how Geico and Progressive have worked for automobile insurance. And it won’t cost taxpayers a trillion dollars in the process.

This free-market approach has worked for everything from high-definition TVs to breakfast cereals, but will it work for medicine? It already is. Take Lasik eye surgery, for example. Because patients are allowed to be informed consumers and can shop anywhere, doctors work hard for their business. Services, availability and expertise have all increased, and costs have decreased. Should consumers demand it, insurance companies – now answerable to you rather than your employer – would cover it.

Between Barack and a hard place

I have personally trained and practiced in both the government-run and free-market segments of American medicine. The difference is vast. Patients see this for themselves, and this may be why, according to a recent CNN poll, they oppose Obamacare nearly 3 to 1. I am with them. It is difficult for me to speak publicly against the president on his central issue, but too much is at stake.

I wish my cousin Barack the greatest of success in office. But I feel duty-bound to rise in opposition to Obamacare. I must take a stand for my patients, my profession and, ultimately, my country. The problems caused by government will not be solved by growing government. Now that this new era of big-government takeovers has spread to our health care system, it’s not just our freedoms or our wallets that are at stake. It’s our lives.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a radiologist in Kansas. He is Barack Obama’s second cousin once removed. President Obama’s great-great grandfather, Thomas Creekmore McCurry, is Dr. Wolf’s great-grandfather. Dr. Wolf’s mother, Anna Margaret McCurry, was five years older than Mr. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. The two were childhood friends until the Dunhams moved from Kansas to Seattle in 1955.


Charles Rangel steps Down Leaves Democrats without chair


Well it looks like the heat got to hot in the kitchen. These politicians should have learned by now, most of the time once something starts that’s very serious, it won’t go away.

The House ethics committee said Wednesday it was establishing an investigative panel to determine whether Rep. Charles Rangel, the influential chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, had broken House rules as a result of several reported lapses in his personal affairs.

Rangel, D-N.Y., has urged the ethics committee to look into questions surrounding his finances while rejecting Republican demands that he step down as head of the tax-writing committee.

Rangel steps aside; Dems without chair

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) announced at a 9:00 am ET news conference that he was temporarily stepping aside from his post as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

He did not take questions, but made a point of saying that he has previously made this offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As CNBC’s John Harwood told NBC’s Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown this morning, Republicans were set to introduce a resolution against Rangel that would have forced Democrats — in this election year — to say whether they were with or against Rangel. Democrats didn’t want that vote to take place.

As we noted in First Thoughts this morning, “As for whether Pete Stark or Sandy Levin replaces Rangel… Eventually, it’s probably going to be Levin, but Stark may get it temporarily if Rangel simply gives it up temporarily. But for the long term, Levin is the preferred choice among the Dem leadership. And even if Stark gets the gavel, his health problems may prevent him for truly running the committee, giving Levin de facto control.”

Who will be in charge has not sorted itself out quite yet. The first meeting of the committee since Rangel’s announcement has been unexpectedly cancelled. That means that Democrats still do not know who the chairman of the committee is going to be.

Minority Leader John Boehner said he doesn’t know how Rangel temporarily stepping aside will be interpreted under House rules.

“Either you are the chairman or you are not,” he said.

Pelosi said of Rangel: “Chairman Charlie Rangel has informed me of his request for a leave of absence from his duties and responsibilities as Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means. I will honor his request. I commend Chairman Rangel for his decades of leadership on jobs, health care, and the most significant economic issues of the day.”

Joe Biden Can Single-Handedly Run The Reconciliation Process: Parliamentarian Experts

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This is from MSNBC  and Huffington Post  which I don’t normally use, but I think in this case they explain it pretty good.  This time I’m using both in one post, what is wrong with me?  I just don’t understand why these liberal Democrats are so hell bent on passing something that the American people don’t want. Even a recent poll said 75% were against reconciliation. So why are these Democrats still pressing the issue on after wasting almost the compete first year of Obama’s  presidency ?

Joe Biden Can Single-Handedly Run The Reconciliation Process According to Parliamentarian Experts

Should passing health care reform come down to the use of reconciliation — and all signs point that way — Vice President Joseph Biden could play a hugely influential role in determining not only what’s in the bill but whether or not it passes.

Two experts in the arcane rules of the Senate said on Monday that, as president of the Senate, Biden has the capacity not just to overrule any ruling that the parliamentarian may make but also to cut off efforts by Republicans to offer unlimited amendments.

“Ultimately it’s the Vice President of the United States [who has the power over the reconciliation process],” Robert Dove, who served as Senate parliamentarian on and off from 1981-2001, told MSNBC this morning. “It is the decision of the Vice President whether or not to play a role here… And I have seen Vice Presidents play that role in other very important situations… The parliamentarian can only advise. It is the vice president who rules.”

Dove’s point is complex but important. With respect to health care reform, Senate Democrats are likely to offer a package of legislative amendments that they will ask to have passed using reconciliation. The Senate parliamentarian will then make a ruling as to whether or not those changes satisfy the conditions for reconciliation’s use (essentially, that they have a budgetary impact). But that ruling does not become the de facto law of the chamber. Biden can choose whether or not to accept the parliamentarian’s decision or rule that more or fewer amendments can be passed through reconciliation. That ruling is subject to appeal — but the appeal is decided by majority vote.

But Biden’s powers don’t end there. As Dove noted, the minority party does have the ability to offer unlimited amendments during the reconciliation process (ostensibly, as a way to hold up the process).

“At the end of the 20 hours you can offer as many amendments as you can scribble out,” said Dove.

However, Biden, as president of the Senate, could effectively put an end to that process by ruling that the amendments are not germane to the legislation and ordering the chamber to proceed to an up or down vote.

“The vice president can rule that amendments are dilatory,” Norm Ornstein, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and one of the foremost experts on congressional process, told the Huffington Post. “That they are not serious attempts to amend the bill but are designed without substance to obstruct. He can rule them out of order and he can do that on bloc.”

“There are time limits,” Ornstein added. “It is not that they can keep doing it over and over again.”

As Ornstein added, there are potential downsides to the vice president wielding any of these two institutional powers. For starters, it further politicizes a process that is already being criticized as overly political. Moreover, it could spur serious discussion of whether the Obama administration is engaged in an institutional power grab and/or upheaval of Congress. As Dove noted, in a follow up email to the Huffington Post: “I said the VP COULD have the final say–but no VP since Hubert Humphrey has ruled in any instance against the advice of the Parliamentarian.”

Indeed, when the Bush administration was trying to get its tax cuts passed through reconciliation and the parliamentarian ruled that they did not qualify, Republicans didn’t turn to former Vice President Dick Cheney to steer the process. Instead, they fired the parliamentarian and found a more sympathetic one. That fired parliamentarian was none other than Robert Dove.

Nevertheless, the powers that Biden has over Senate process could play a significant role durin the debate process — and potentially prove critical to getting health care reform through Congress.

“Biden would have some power here,” Ornstein summarized. “But again, this is not a power that you want to exercise. But it is one that exists.”

Poll: Majority oppose reconciliation

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Of course this won’t matter to Obama….he made that pretty clear today during the summit  that it’s his way or the highway. His definition of “bipartisan” is the Republicans giving in to his proposal, then it’s bipartisan. Now you see why some states are preparing to “opt out”, because despite the rhetoric from Obama, national health care is coming one way or the other… hook or crook and the later seems like the way it will come now.

Poll: Majority oppose reconciliation

A new poll suggests that a majority of Americans would oppose a move by Senate Democrats to use a parliamentary procedure called ‘reconciliation’ to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass their health care reform legislation by a simple majority vote.

A Gallup survey released Thursday morning indicates that 52 percent of the public opposes using reconciliation, with 39 percent favoring the move, and 9 percent unsure.

At Thursday’s health care summit, in his opening remarks, Republican spokesman Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee urged the Democrats not to use reconciliation to ram the measure through Congress.

Alexander asked President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders to “renounce this idea of going back to Congress, and jamming through a partisan vote through a little used process we call reconciliation your version of the bill. You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right. But it’s never been used for anything like this. It’s not appropriate to use (reconciliation) to write the rules for 17 percent of the economy.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, admitted that Democrats did talk Wednesday morning about using “reconciliation” to move health care legislation.

Senate Majority Harry Reid also defended the tactic at Thursday’s summit.

“Since 1981, reconciliation has been used 21 times and most of it has been used by Republicans, for major things like much of the Contract for America, medicare reform, the tax cuts for rich people in America. So reconciliation is not something that’s never been done before,” Reid said.

Reconciliation is a process, limited to budget-related bills, that bypasses the Senate rule on 60 votes being needed to end debate, known as cloture. By using reconciliation, only a majority vote would be needed to advance a bill. There are currently 57 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party in the Senate. Republican Scott Brown’s victory in last month’s special senate election in Massachusetts gave his party 41 votes in the chamber.

The Gallup poll was conducted Tuesday, with 1,009 adults questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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