Reconciliation 101

| Mon Mar. 1, 2010 1:33 PM EST

Are American journalists idiots? No, don't answer that. Just go read Jon Chait's description of Sen. Kent Conrad trying to explain the budget reconciliation process to Bob Schieffer and then having the exchange picked up by Politico. Is it any wonder that the public doesn't understand this either?

So here it is in simple terms: the Democratic plan is not to pass healthcare reform via reconciliation. It never has been. The plan is to pass it via regular order (i.e., have the House approve the bill already passed by the Senate) and then amend it with a few modest modifications that are passed via reconciliation and therefore can't be filibustered in the Senate. Only the amendments would be passed via reconciliation, and the only open questions are what exactly the amendments would look like and whether they'll be passed at the same time as the main bill or as part of a later budget resolution. Capiche? Here's Chait:

Look, it would be okay for reporters and pundits to be obsessed with what legislative method is employed to pass health care reform if they boned up on the issue. Alternatively, it would be okay for them not to understand it at all if they deemed it an irrelevant issue. (Which, in my opinion, it is.) But obsessed and ignorant makes for a bad combination.

Good luck with that.