2010-03-20 | Filed Under RichardH's Posts |
In his 20 March 2010 Boston Globe editorial, Fight Republicans’ hypocrisy, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders writes,
The good news is that, in order to get this country moving again, all the Democrats have to do is to use the same Senate procedure that Republicans employed — time and time again — in the past. The “reconciliation process’’ requires a simple majority of 51 votes to pass legislation in the Senate, not 60. I find the hypocrisy extraordinary that when Democrats now talk about using reconciliation, Republicans begin whining and howling about how unfair and undemocratic it is. They have used that very same approach time after time when it suited their purposes.
Remember Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,’’ the bible of the Republican Revolution of the 1990s, which attempted to slash Medicare and Medicaid, cut education, raise taxes on working families, weaken environmental standards, and give huge tax breaks to the rich? Before President Clinton vetoed that bill it passed by reconciliation. In fact, of the 22 times that reconciliation has been used since 1980, Republicans have used it 16 times — often to provide tax breaks to the wealthy and slash health care for the elderly and poor.
Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, among many Republicans, is now a critic of reconciliation. But back in 2005, when the Republicans used it, he sang a different tune: “All this rule of the Senate does is allow a majority of the Senate to take a position and pass a piece of legislation… Is there something wrong with majority rules?’’ Gregg was right then. He’s wrong now.
In 1985, Congress provided health insurance for the unemployed, a backstop insurance policy commonly known as COBRA. Do you know what COBRA stands for? It’s the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. In 1996, Republicans used reconciliation to pass legislation that ended six decades of welfare policy. In 2001, Republicans used reconciliation to pass President Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut that mainly benefited the wealthy. In 2003, Republicans increased the deficit by $350 billion by providing generous tax breaks for the wealthy and large businesses. In 2005, Republicans passed a reconciliation bill without a single Democratic vote that provided deep cuts to Medicaid and raised premiums on Medicare beneficiaries.
Republicans believed in reconciliation when George W. Bush was president and wanted to push an agenda that benefited the wealthy and large corporations. Now, however, they vigorously oppose reconciliation because some of us want to reform a disintegrating health care system and make college more affordable for working families.
Want more? Paul Krugman says read Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s 11 March 2010 letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Krugman also says Ezra Klein of the Washington Post sums up Reid’s letter to McConnell as “Reconcile This!”