by Brien Jackson

To follow up on the poker metaphor, the idea of moving the stimulus bill straight to the reconciliation process seems like a very bad move to me.

In poker, when someone with a very short stack (not a lot of chips) goes all in with a bad board, more often than not the larger stacks are “pot committed,” that is the bet isn’t big enough to justify folding and just handing the other guy the chips. Even if you aren’t holding a great hand, it’s worth the investment to go the distance and, possibly, catch the other guy bluffing. That’s what I think you’re seeing with Senate Republicans; they don’t have a lot of options, so they’re making a relatively large bet for them, hoping to frighten their Democratic counterparts. To this end, reconciliation is a good thing for the GOP Senators, as it gives them the same luxury House Republicans have; they can oppose the stimulus bill without any realistic hope of actually defeating it. And while reconciliation may become necessary if the Republicans can actually hold the line on cloture (something I don’t see as all that likely myself), going for it right off the bat seems like a bad move that would only give Republicans a way to oppose the bill without paying any real cost for it.

In other words, Democrats should call Senate Republicans. Maybe you catch them in a bluff, but in the worst case scenario you only lose a couple of days before you pass the bill anyway.