Plan C for Health Care Reform

by Benjamin Domenech on 8:25 pm March 1, 2010

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Allahpundit is rightly surprised that the news regarding President Obama’s plans for Wednesday isn’t getting more attention — namely, that he plans to unveil a “Plan C” approach, a scaled back bill designed to pass on Capitol Hill. But let’s unpack what that’s likely to be, and what it really means.

While it’s certainly possible that the President will unveil something dramatically different than what the White House released a week ago (the time factor here is incredible — what, you expect Congress to read sweeping domestic policies before voting on them?), the more likely outcome of Wednesday’s unveiling is less likely to resemble an episode of Biggest Loser than it is some random makeover show where they buy some hopeless housefrau $200 of new threads. “Plan C” is almost certainly just the framing for the necessary and required “reconciliation instructions” — or as the indispensable Keith Hennessey outlines it, Bill #2:

Bill #1 will have to pass the House (but not necessarily be signed into law) before the Senate can consider Bill #2. In addition, while there is technically a choice in which body goes first on Bill #2, I would bet heavily on the House going first. If the Senate goes first then two Senate committees need to mark up Bill #2 (Finance & HELP). That’s a nightmare.

So I predict that the likely sequence is:

* House passes Bill #1, the Senate-passed bill.
* The House initiates and passes Bill #2, the reconciliation bill.
* The Senate passes Bill #2, the reconciliation bill.
* The President signs Bill #1.
* The President signs Bill #2.

“Plan C” is therefore likely to just be smaller only because it consists of “fixes” to the larger bill — it won’t be something new, despite the likely claims of the White House that it is. I fully expect it will just be the president’s method of trying to navigate the complex parliamentary process of reconciliation with germane material.

Update: Steny Hoyer concurs: there is no scaled back health care bill.

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