It is all, I am sorry to say, one big lie -- or, if you're sensitive, an astonishing exercise in hypocrisy.
In an op-ed in Tuesday's Post, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) offered an excellent example of this hypocrisy. Right off, the piece was wrong on a core fact. Hatch accused the Democrats of trying to, yes, "ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill."
No. The health-care bill passed the Senate in 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 "reconciliation" rules established to deal with money issues. Near the end of his column, Hatch conceded that reconciliation would be used for "only parts" of the bill. But why didn't he say that in the first place?
Hatch grandly cited "America's Founders" as wanting the Senate to be about "deliberation." But the Founders said nothing in the Constitution about the filibuster, let alone "reconciliation." Judging from what they put in the actual document, the Founders would be appalled at the idea that every major bill should need the votes of three-fifths of the Senate to pass.
Hatch quoted Sens. Robert Byrd and Kent Conrad, both Democrats, as opposing the use of reconciliation on health care. What he didn't say is that Byrd's comment from a year ago was about passing the entire bill under reconciliation, which no one is proposing. As for Conrad, he made clear to The Post's Ezra Klein this week that it's perfectly appropriate to use reconciliation "to improve or perfect the package," which is the only thing that Democrats have proposed doing through reconciliation.
Hatch said that reconciliation should not be used for "substantive legislation" unless the legislation has "significant bipartisan support." But surely 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.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
the big lie about passing health care
h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e-s: the washington post's e.j. dionne explains, in simple language, how the democrats are not "ramming anything down america's throat."
posted at 1:23 PM