ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: President Obama today deflected GOP requests to rule out the use of budget “reconciliation” to pass health care reform, a maneuver that would allow a bill to pass with a simple majority of senators rather than the customary 60 votes. But Democrats are making those preparations — and argue that it’s a legitimate use of the budget process. “Reconciliation is part of the budget process,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a member of the Senate Budget Committee, told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today. “What it says is, in order to get our budget done, majority rules. I think that’s pretty democratic.” Though Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told us that the health care summit today was shaping up to be a “waste of time,” Cardin said it was serving to clarify the different approaches favored by the two parties. “The public now has a better understanding about how the Democrats want to attack this problem, and how the Republicans believe we should proceed,” he said. “The public wants action, and I think they’re starting to see the different approaches. Quite frankly, I think we need to act, we need to deal with these issues. And I quite frankly believe the president has been very open about seeking help from all members of Congress.” Our “Top Line” question of the day today sought to get at the impact of the summit: Would a single vote in Congress change as a result of today’s proceedings? We asked our Twitter followers. Wrote @MMonides: “Target audience for #hcrs is American people. Obama is prosecuting the case of GOP obstruction.” Cardin disagreed with the idea that the forum was all about a political argument against Republicans: “No, I don’t think so. I think it’s highlighting the need for health care reform that we can’t — the status quo means we’re going to see these insurance premiums go up as we saw in California by as much as 40 percent … I think it highlights the need for action for Congress to get its job done.” Cardin also told us to expect movement on another jobs-related package in the Senate next week, focusing on insurance protections for those who lose their jobs. “I think you’re going to find that there are going to be smaller bills dealing with job growth, so that we can try and keep this bipartisan momentum going to help Americans create more job opportunities,” he said.
Watch the “Top Line” interview with Sen. Ben Cardin HERE.