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NYT’s Blatant Lies About ‘Reconciliation’

From the shameless fulltime Obama-care lobbyists at the New York Times Prescriptions Blog:

Date Night in the Senate: A Primer on Budget Reconciliation


February 24, 2010

One way to wrap your head around budget reconciliation — the parliamentary maneuver that Democrats are contemplating to push major health care legislation through the Senate without being blocked by a Republican filibuster — is to think of it as an “evening out.”

No, not date night.

Budget reconciliation is not dinner and a movie. It is also no picnic, given that reconciliation would set off a political firestorm by infuriating Republicans and that it entails procedural hurdles that could leave the health care bill looking like a piece of legislative Swiss cheese.

Which, apparently, is the only objection that The Times can find to this illegal and unprecedented misuse of the ‘reconciliation process.’

Rather, budget reconciliation relies on policy changes to “even out” federal spending and revenues, so that the government can meet goals set in the annual budget resolution adopted by Congress, which generally means hitting targets for reducing the deficit.

Put simply, a budget reconciliation bill is used to reconcile, or match, federal policy with fiscal guidelines set by Congress.

The policy involved could be related to health care, education, energy or virtually anything else.

This is simply a lie. Reconciliation has never been used to pass policy legislation of any kind, which the current legislation most certainly is.

But to qualify for expedited consideration — no filibuster, a limit of 20 hours of debate — and for passage by a simple majority of senators, the policies must be directly related to meeting the fiscal objectives.

Under rules designed by Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, a longtime defender of Senate precedents and procedures, provisions in which the fiscal results are “merely incidental” to the true intent of the legislation can be struck out.

For a complex measure like the Democrats’ health care bill, this could leave many provisions subject to challenge by the Republicans and give a strong hand in the final shape of the bill to the Senate parliamentarian who must rule on each point of dispute.

The Times is trying to convince naive Republican legislators that they will have unique powers under ‘reconciliation’ to strike out items that they disapprove.

This of course is another lie.

But budget reconciliation provides an “evening out” in another important way. By taking the filibuster off the table, it levels the playing field on the Senate floor so that every senator’s vote is equal and a simple majority can adopt legislation.

More nonsense.

If anything, ‘reconciliation’ is date rape, since the rules of the Senate (and representative government) are being forced aside so that the Democrats can get their way despite the expressed will of the American people.

Under the Senate’s original rules, any senator enjoyed a right to “unlimited debate” — a k a the filibuster — which thereby enabled any senator, not to mention the minority party as a whole, enormous power to stop a bill.

Over the years, the Senate adopted rules to limit the right to filibuster, and currently 60 senators can vote to close debate, effectively cutting off a filibuster or even just the threat of a filibuster, and pushing legislation onward for a final, simple majority vote.

The budget reconciliation process allows the majority party to bypass the need to muster 60 votes to cut off debate. By “evening out” the vote count, reconciliation makes it easier for Congress to achieve the deficit reduction goals in a given year’s budget resolution.

(Whether this “evening out” is a good thing is debatable. Mr. Byrd has often noted quite contentedly that the Senate was never intended to be a “majoritarian” body and that a simple majority of senators from the smallest states would represent less than 20 percent of the American population.)

This is yet another outrageous misrepresentation by The Times.

Mr. Byrd has been vociferous in his opposition against using ‘reconciliation’ to pass healthcare legislation, as we have noted several times previously.

In the case of the health care legislation, House Democrats have balked at just adopting the Senate-passed health care — which they could do — because they oppose various provisions in it. So the White House and Congressional Democrats envision a process by which the Senate uses reconciliation to make changes to the health care bill that was adopted on Dec. 24th, including the alterations proposed this week by the president.

Then, before or after those changes were made, the House would adopt the Senate-passed bill as well as the reconciliation measure, and send both to Mr. Obama for his signature.

All the arcane talk of budget reconciliation seems to be giving a lot of people headaches — so much so that some folks are looking for a better name for the process than “budget reconciliation.”

In that case, just think of it as a lovely “evening out” with your favorite Senate filibusterer — Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, perhaps, or Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana. Reconciliation may not come with a nice bottle of red wine, but it does potentially offer a change of pace from the usual waiting around for a “cloture” vote to end debate in the Senate.

Mind you, this nonsense is being published under the rubric: “making sense of the healthcare debate.”

For anyone who isn’t already crying to go home to bed, here’s a little more background on the reconciliation process.

Congress is not required to adopt reconciliation measures. An alternative approach is for the House and the Senate to simply adopt a concurrent budget resolution, which effectively changes that year’s fiscal goals to match existing policy, rather than changing federal policy to meet the fiscal goals.

While reconciliation is extremely controversial — it typically enrages the minority party in the Senate — it is no more of a hardball tactic than the filibuster, and it is clearly permitted under the rules.

Once again, this is a blatant lie. Since the reconciliation process was never intended to be used in this fashion. In fact, it was explicitly promised that it would never be used this way.

On Tuesday, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, dismissed complaints by Republicans who said Democrats should “renounce” reconciliation and suggested that using the parliamentary maneuver for the health care bill would be “jamming” the legislation through the Senate.

Mr. Reid noted that since the reconciliation rules were established, they have been used frequently for a variety of policy purposes.

“I’ve been told that my Republican friends are lamenting reconciliation, but I would recommend for them to go back and look at history,” he said. “Since 1981, reconciliation has been used 21 times. The vast majority of those reconciliation efforts have been by Republicans.”

“Nothing’s off the table,” he continued, “but realistically they should stop crying about reconciliation as if it’s never been done before. It’s done almost every Congress, and they’re the ones that used it more than anyone else. The Contract for America, most of the stuff in the Contract for America was done with reconciliation. Tax cuts, done with reconciliation. Medicare, done with reconciliation. So they better go back and look at history a little bit.”

Notice that no where in Mr. Reid’s quote does he use the word ‘policy.’ Tax cuts are not policy decisions.

And of course Medicare was enacted in 1965, nine years before there was ever such a thing as ‘budget reconciliation,’ which was introduced in 1974.

So, once again, it is simply a lie to claim that reconciliation has been used for policy purposes. But just like Mr. Reid, the New York Times will say anything to get what they want.

In their typical fashion the article continues on with more of the same meaningless meanderings and blatant untruths.

But we just couldn’t take anymore.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “NYT’s Blatant Lies About ‘Reconciliation’”

  1. proreason says:

    The plan is:

    a) paint the Republicans as obstructionist in the infamous “summit”, and
    b) use reconciliation, expecting that it will fail when Republicans add infinite amendments, so that
    c) they can reinforce the claim of obstructionism, and
    d) use that as their main campaign theme for 2010.

    Call it the “delusion of enraged maniacs”.

    Enraged because they won’t get the power they have craved for 70 years.

  2. Right of the People says:

    The Republicans are making a huge mistake by showing up at The Won’s summit tomorrow. This is the boy’s dog and pony show designed to make himself look reasonable and rational of which he is neither.

    They should boycott it or at the very least only send one representative with a copy of their plan for health care reform with all of the actual needed stuff like tort reform, allowing sales across state lines, portable policies, etc. and have him or her present it in a calm, rational manner.

    Of course if they tried that, I’m willing to bet there would be sudden “technical difficulties” with the TV equipment and the public would never see it.

    Just sayin’.

  3. Mithrandir says:

    …..and yet it rarely dawns on people that, Constitutionally, they aren’t even supposed to be wasting time on this anyway.

    It seems the feds role is to help regulate interstate commerce with affordable health care between states, not mandating take-over of another industry.

    Just sit back for a minute, and realize how expensive it is to pay all these old codgers like Byrd, to sit around decade after decade and think up things to argue with each other about. Ha!…It almost seems like they are just a big pile of lawyers wasting time, just to ring up the bill to present it to their clients with a reduced compromise neither side really wanted.

    …and Rush thinks there is a difference between the two parties. If there were 5 or 6 competing ideological parties I could agree, but not just two enjoying the monopoly.

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