Mitt Romney Commits to Repealing Obamacare via Reconciliation

12 Oct

One thing Mitt Romney has focused on this year is consistency. He says the same thing, using the same phrasings and formulations, at nearly every venue. At last night’s Bloomberg / Washington Post GOP presidential debate, however, Romney said something he hadn’t said before: that he would use the reconciliation process to repeal Obamacare.

Last week I asked the question: is Mitt Romney committed to repealing Obamacare? Jeff Anderson had notedin a National Review article that Romney’s “Believe in America” policy manifesto contained five bills for Day One of a Romney presidency, none of which was an Obamacare repeal bill.

The Romney team responded to my piece by saying that the absence of a Day One repeal bill was due to the possibility that a full repeal couldn’t get through Congress. The Romney advisor I spoke to said that Romney was open to using the reconciliation process to repeal the law, but that “specific hypotheticals [around how to repeal the law] are hard to discuss.” (For those who don’t know, the reconciliation process allows certain types of deficit-reducing provisions to pass the Senate with 51 votes instead of the usual filibuster-proof 60.)

Well, scratch that hypothetical off your list. Last night at the debate, Romney said that on “Day Two,” he would send a repeal bill to Congress designed to pass the Senate via reconciliation:

On day one, granting a waiver for—to all 50 states doesn’t stop in its tracks entirely Obamacare. That’s why I also say we have to repeal Obamacare, and I will do that on day two with a reconciliation bill, because, as you know, it was passed by reconciliation, 51 votes.  We can get rid of it with 51 votes. We have to get rid of Obamacare and return to the states the responsibility.

To be technically accurate, the bulk of Obamacare was not passed through reconciliation. That was Democrats’ original intent; but once Scott Brown won the special Senate election to replace Ted Kennedy, the Senate bill that passed with 60 Democratic votes in December 2009 was passed whole-hog by the House in March 2010—a highly unusual procedure—and then a few loose ends were altered via the reconciliation process.

But what’s new is that Romney has committed to using the reconciliation process: something he hadn’t promised previously. He clearly wants to make sure that Republicans have no doubts about his determination to repeal the law. And as I wrote in National Review earlier today, it appears to be working.

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