The Republican myth making nonsense that there is something wrong with Obama and the Democrats in the US Senate using the reconciliation process to resolve the health care impasse is finally being challenged. And the Republican mirage is being shown as just that.
As EJ Dionne Jr points out in his column yesterday in the Seattle Times entitled “The GOP’s astonishing hypocrisy on health care and ‘reconciliation'”
“…The health-care bill passed the Senate last December with 60 votes under the normal process. The only thing that would pass under a simple majority vote would be a series of amendments that fit comfortably under the ‘reconcilation’ rules established to deal with money issues.”
Dionne is responding in his opinion piece to statements by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch trying to paint the Democrats in the US Senate as somehow acting contrary to the views of the founders who wrote the US Constitution. Funny thing is that, as Dionne notes, there is nothing in the US Constitution about 60 Senators needing to be in agreement to pass any piece of Legislation.
But the mirage the Republicans are trying to paint that the Democrats are proposing to do something Republicans would never do is the big joke here. As Dionne notes
“…the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which were passed under reconciliation and increased the deficit by $1.7 trillion during his presidency, were “substantive legislation.” The 2003 dividends tax cut could muster only 50 votes. Vice President Dick Cheney had to break the tie. Talk about “ramming through.”
The underlying “principle” here seems to be that it’s fine to pass tax cuts for the wealthy on narrow votes but an outrage to use reconciliation to help middle-income and poor people get health insurance.’
As Media Matters remarks, the media has been slow to challenge the false assertions by the Republicans that there is something wrong with using reconciliation in resolving the differences between the House and Senate passed versions of the health care legislation.
Media Matters notes that the Republicans frequently used the reconciliation process to pass major legislation:
“GOP used reconciliation to pass Bush’s tax cuts. Republicans used the reconciliation process to pass Bush’s 2001 tax cut, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001; Bush’s 2003 tax cuts, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003; and Bush’s 2005 tax cuts, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 2001 tax cuts would “reduce projected total surpluses by approximately $1.35 trillion over the 2001-2011 period”; that the 2003 tax cuts would “reduce projected total surpluses by approximately $1.35 trillion over the 2001-2011 period”; and that the 2005 tax cuts would “reduce federal revenues … by $69.1 billion over the 2006-2015 period.”
The Media Matters article has many more instances where reconciliation has been used by the US Senate, noting that some 21 bills were passed by reconciliation between 1980 and 2005.
The Democrats need to move forward and act on passing health care legislation. The Republican’s goal here is not to help more Americans get health care coverage or lower costs. Their goal is to make the Democrats look incompetent in not getting anything done. The Republican goal is to try to get back in power.
What a mistake that would be for our country. It’s under their watch that the economy tanked and deregulation and lack of financial oversight brought us almost to financial disaster comparable to the Great Depression. Let’s move forward to resolve our problems, not backward.