Wednesday, March 03, 2010

GOP BS about Reconciliation

Let's retire the notion being pushed like crack that using "reconciliation" to get what's been watered down to health care consumer protection passed through the U.S. Senate is something terribly, terribly unusual and sinister. The pushers, Republicans such as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), should be ashamed of themselves for this naked effort to throw pixie dust at the public to protect their insurance industry patrons.

The facts of the matter are that reconciliation, a procedure created to bypass an arcane Senate practice to make sure, among other things, that the federal government has funds on which to legally operate, was first used in 1981 by the ... wait for it ... Republicans!
  • 17 of the 23 reconciliation bills signed into law, were enacted by Republican presidents;
  • If you have ever continued under your employer's health plan after you were laid off under "COBRA" benefits, that's due to the 1974 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act;
  • Welfare reforms were passed in 1996 thanks to one Newton Leroy Gingrich (then R-Ga), in the the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.
As to what reconciliation bypasses, it's called a filibuster, a maneuver not found nor based in the Constitution, to stop the Senate from even debating whether a law should be passed or voting on the law. The filibuster stops a 59% majority from approving a law.

Let's consider what 59% means.

Remember  Ronald Reagan's 1980 "landslide" electoral victory that made him president? He only got 50.7% of the votes cast. In contrast, Lyndon B. Johnson won 61% of the votes cast 1964 -- that was a real landslide.

Under the Senate's 60% supermajority rule needed to defeat a filibuster, neither Abraham Lincoln nor John F. Kennedy would have been elected. Nor would any president since Lyndon Johnson, including Barack Obama and both Bushes.

The famously portrayed filibuster by actor Jimmy Stewart in the 1939 film  "Mr. Smith Comes to Washington" isn't even how filibusters occur today at all. There's no continuous talkathon, no drama at all and really no effort.

Last week, by one vote upholding a filibuster, that of Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky), the unemployment benefits of millions of people came to a crashing halt this past Sunday, just when the duration of joblessness is at an all-time-record.
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