I've said unkind things about Kent Conrad in the past, but if Ezra Klein is correct about what Conrad said today, I take them back:
In the Democrats' Senate Caucus meeting today, Kent Conrad apparently argued that this left the Democrats in an even stronger moral position. The reconciliation rider fixes unpopular elements of the health-care bill: the Nebraska deal, the Florida deal, the excise tax and so forth. If Republicans figure out some nuclear level of obstruction that could actually derail the reconciliation process, then they will effectively own the worst elements of the Senate bill, and Democrats can just spend their time hammering Republican obstructionism that has so lost touch with reality that they'd rather keep legislation they're against than let Democrats fix it. Or so goes the argument.Perhaps Kent Conrad has been reading Plain Blog!
By the time the bill actually makes it to the Senate floor (if, that is, the House does their part in all of this) I expect the Democrats collectively will realize that Senate Republicans will be put in a somewhat awkward position.
I previously said that I'd set the betting line at 58 votes for the reconciliation bill in the Senate if the main bill has already been signed into law -- and that I'd take the over. I'll stick with that, and add that I think there's a better chance of it getting over 60 than of it getting fewer than 55 votes.
Which also means that if the patch bill does have to come back to the House because the Republicans successfully knock out or add a provision, it will be an easy vote for the House, too. There's only one tough vote remaining (on passage...it's possible that Republicans can force tough votes on amendments), the House vote on the Senate bill.