I really don’t like to resurrect bad, old jokes, but I’m afraid in this instance, it’s fitting. That being said, here goes:
How can you tell when a Republican is lying?
His lips are moving.
Some of those lips are moving so fast these days they’re breaking records. It’s been a little over a year now, but Democrats are FINALLY on the verge of getting health care reform passed through the Senate. It’s also been a little over five months since Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted “You lie!” interrupting President Obama during his health care address to Congress last September while referring to Obama’s denial that his health care plan would cover illegal immigrants. The comment was somewhat ironic, coming from Republicans, who have lied about almost everything involving health care reform. From the silly: “death panels,” where apparently elderly grandparents would be lined up, checked off lists from clipboards and put to death immediately, to the procedural: “reconciliation will destroy democracy” or “reconciliation will end the Senate!” or “what Democrats want to do with reconciliation has never been done before!”
Except that it has been done before, by Republicans, and democracy, and the Senate are still with us. In fact, this feigned outrage by the Republicans is absurd and they know it is because Republicans were quite fond of reconciliation back when they used it for the Bush tax cuts. And that wasn’t all.
Between 1990 and 2007, there were 13 key reconciliation votes in the Senate. This chart by the Sunlight Foundation shows how senators in both parties voted, and how sitting senators voted in the past, on a variety of reconciliation bills:
The voting record shows that reconciliation is often used as a way to pass otherwise contentious legislation that could not receive sufficient bipartisan support to reach the 60 vote supermajority necessary to clear a cloture vote. Seven of the thirteen reconciliation measures examined here passed between 1990 and 2007 were almost universally opposed by the minority party while gaining almost total unity in support from the majority using the reconciliation process.
There are a couple of these reconciliation bills that stand out in particular. See if you recall any of these?
- The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, commonly known as the Bush tax cuts. The vote split 58-34 with twelve Democrats supporting the bill with 46 Republicans and two Republicans defecting to oppose the bill with 31 Democrats.
- The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, further tax cuts. The vote split 50-50 with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote. Two Democrats defected to support the bill with 48 Republicans and three Republicans defected to oppose the bill with 47 Democrats.
- The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which included cuts in Medicaid and Medicare. The vote split 50-50 with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote. Four Republicans defected to oppose the bill with 46 Democrats. No Democrats voted for the bill.
- The Tax Increase Prevention and Reduction Act of 2005, an extension of tax cuts. The vote split 54-43 with three Democrats defecting to support the bill with 51 Republicans and three Republicans defecting to oppose the bill with 41 Democrats.
The Sunlight Foundation website has more details on the bills and the voting records here.
So the next time a Republican claims reconciliation has never been used this way before, wouldn’t it be great if, just once someone in the media would look them straight in the eye and say “You Lie!”