From E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post:
For those who feared that Barack Obama did not have any Lyndon Johnson in him, the president’s determination to press ahead and get health-care reform done in the face of Republican intransigence came as something of a relief.
Obama’s critics have regularly accused him of not being as tough or wily or forceful as LBJ was in pushing through civil rights and the social programs of his Great Society. Obama seemed willing to let Congress go its own way and was so anxious to look bipartisan that he wouldn’t even take his own side in arguments with Republicans.
(This is a repeat poster from back in August. However, you couldn’t see it from the front page (you would have had to click on keep reading, so maybe you missed it the first time. I remembered it while reading the article. But don’t worry, kids, I wasn’t totally lazy, and there’s a brand new poster down below.)
Original DVD cover
Those days are over.
(No, this one’s not new either. Keep scrolling!)
On Wednesday, the president made clear what he wants in a health-care bill, and he urged Congress to pass it by the most expeditious means available.
He was also clear on what bipartisanship should mean — and what it can’t mean. Democrats, who happen to be in the majority, have already added Republican ideas to their proposals. Obama said he was open to four more that came up during the health-care summit.
Republicans, however, don’t want to talk much about the substance of health care. They want to discuss process, turn “reconciliation” into a four-letter word and maintain that Democrats are “ramming through” a health bill.
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.
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.
Ooooh, liar, liar, pants on fire!! (You finally got to the new poster, kids!)
Original DVD cover
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.
[I]t’s not just legitimate to use reconciliation to complete the work on health reform. It would be immoral to do otherwise and thereby let a phony argument about process get in the way of health coverage for 30 million Americans.