Well it looks like the Republicans' "silver bullet" to stop the health care bill didn't work out so well. Lawrence O'Donnell reports that the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled against the GOP. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has more on the GOP's tactic that just failed.
Their latest scheme, apparently, is to claim that the rider affects Social Security, thus falling foul of reconciliation rules. Igor Volsky provides the details:
The most substantive and immediate GOP challenge could occur as early as Tuesday, when the Senate plans to take up the bill. Republicans will try to send the reconciliation package back to the House by citing a rule that prohibits reconciliation measures from making ‘recommendations’ about Social Security. “The Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would have an ancillary effect on Social Security’s trust funds, and GOP lawmakers will argue that such a finding constitutes a ‘recommendation.’” They’ll be arguing that since the excise tax on high cost plans “would cause some employers to reduce the cost of their workers’ insurance and pay them higher wages,” workers would have to pay higher Social Security taxes, which would also have the effect of extending the life the life of the Social Security trust fund by $53 billion.
I'm not sure what to say about this. Volsky quotes Sarah Binder suggesting that Republicans might have a point, but that seems laughably unlikely to me. Seriously, the chain goes like this: (1) rider affects excise tax, (2) excise tax pushes down insurance costs, (3) lower insurance costs lead to higher wages, (4) higher wages lead to higher payroll taxes, and (5) higher payroll taxes affect the Social Security trust fund. Read on...
From Lawrence's reporting it appears Kevin's predictions were right.