A report came out this weekend about the possibility of new major cuts to Medicare. This could result because of Senate rules about how many votes it takes to pass legislation.
Because just one Senator can stall legislation through what is known as a filibuster, it takes 60 votes to pass any bill unless it is through a process called “reconciliation,” which then requires only a simple majority of 51.
Rather than get into all the details of how this works, we will simplify it this way. The Democrats now have the majority in the Senate because Vice President Harris can break tie votes, giving a majority vote of 51 to the Democrats.
Democrats want to be able to pass President Biden’s economic stimulus/COVID-19 relief bill, but it is highly unlikely they could get 10 Republicans to vote for the bill.
Therefore, they are considering using the “reconciliation” process because they would only need 51 votes. But if they do that, legislation passed over ten years ago dictates that they must either raise taxes or cut spending on current programs to pay for the new spending in the President’s bill.
By using reconciliation, it would mean there would have to billions of dollars cut from current spending programs, including Medicare.
Because Medicare is such a crucial program, most members of Congress usually stumble over themselves to protect it. However, if the situation ever presents itself, they will use threats to Medicare to bash the other party.
In normal political times neither party would allow Medicare to be cut. But because of our current highly partisan times, it would require ten Republicans to join with Democrats to stop the cuts to Medicare with new legislation if reconciliation were used.
However, right now there is no guarantee Republicans would do that, and instead, it is probable they would blame the Medicare cuts on the Democrats.
This issue has just popped up and TSCL will be in contact with members of Congress to do all we can to prevent these looming cuts and we will keep you advised as to how things are going.