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February 25, 2010


Brendan, you know there is a big question that you and the NY Times might be ducking:

Were these bills passed by reconciliiation supported broadly and bipartisanly, so that the reconciliation process was used as it was intended -- to tweak out relatively minor differences in the House and Senate bill versions?

Or were some of these past reconciliations used to force 100% partisan bills through against the unified opposition of the minority party -- in other words, to break a filibuster that would have been successful without the resort to reconciliation?

I think that, in the Senate reconciliation vote of the 2001 tax cut bill -- the bill the NY Times article uses as an example of Republican hypocrisy, there were 58 Yea votes.

Two Republican Senators, Domineci and Enzi, did not vote. By the way, two Republicans, McCain (still sulking from the 2000 primary) and Chafee, voted against the bill. McCain would have flipped like a smoking pancake if his vote meant more than an opportunity for him to preen. Only 33 Senators voted Nay.

In another example the Times points to -- a 2005 budget bill which originally included provisions to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (the bill was referred to in connection to Judd Gregg's comment) -- the ANWR provision was REMOVED during the reconciliation process because of Democratic objections. Is this an example the Times and Brendan want to point to in order to defend the use of reconciliation now to pass healthcare?

So, Can you point to one example of the reconciliation process being used to beat an otherwise potent filibuster?

From the President's remarks at the end of the health care summit, it appears the Democrats are fully prepared to ram health care through the Senate using reconciliation (assuming they can muster the votes to pass a bill in the House, which is by no means certain). Seeing the President floundering reminds me of Charley's words at the end of "Death of a Salesman":

Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand. [Barack] was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back – that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.

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