If you're reading this, you're probably already aware of my colleague Jonathan Cohn's terrific items about reconciliation and its implications for a health care bill this year. But, if not, please read here and here right now. This is just enormously encouraging stuff, and Jonathan's analysis is spot on. The key take-away point:
Put yourself in the shoes of a health care industry group--say, for example, the insurance industry. You probably have the power to swing at least a handful of senators your way, through advertising, astroturf organizing, and direct lobbying. If it's sixty-votes-or-bust in the Senate, reformers will probably need those senators to pass a bill. That means you have enormous leverage. You can hold out for the best possible deal and, barring that, simply walk away.
In other words, you know that there will eventually be two options on the table. A bill you like or no bill at all.
Now imagine Democrats have the option of using reconciliation. They need just fifty votes, which means they may not need your support after all. If you demand too much, they may just ignore you altogether--and craft a bill, perhaps with the help of more cooperative lobbyists, that is not in your self interest.
In this scenario, there are three options on the table. A bill you like, no bill at all, and a bill you really hate.
So what do you do? Chances are, you concentrate a lot harder on trying to get that bill you like.
I honestly didn't think Democrats had it in them to go this route (though, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, I don't consider it a particularly radical course). Consider me impressed.
Update: Looks like Chait posted a similar item on The Plank at almost the exact same time. I can assure you there was no directive from on high to promote Cohn's posts. This is just that big a deal...