Reconciliation is a procedure that's been around since the early to mid-70's. The orignial pupose of it was to balance budget bills, as linked to in this post. A reconciliation bill can be passed by a simple majority. That is why some Democrats have wanted to use the procedure to pass Health Care Reform. It would not require a filibuster-proof majority to get the bill passed. It would only require 51 votes in the Senate. The reconciliation process being discussed by Democrats for use with Health Care Reform is exactly the same reconciliation procedure used for passing budget bills.
Lamar Alexander spoke out vehemently this week in opposition to using reconciliation to pass Health Care Reform (see ...Did You Eat Memory Loss for Breakfast?). One of the many complaints of Republicans about Health Care Reform is the potential costs of the program.
Lamar Alexander has frequently voted in reconciliation process for budget bills that were unpopular with Democrats and many Americans, and had no problem doing so. One example is the Bush tax cuts, which is why they expire in 10 years. Any reconciliation bill expires in 10 years. The cost of these tax cuts? $1.8 trillion in those 10 years. Another is the deficit reduction bill that cut Medicaid spending, again wildly unpopular with many Americans (especially children whose benefits were cut, but that's another soapbox). The reason these bills have the word reconciliation in their title is that the reconciliation procedure was used to get them through.
The Republicans tried to use reconcilation to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of the federal budget resolution in 2006, which Lamar Alexander supported, but failed.
Lamar Alexander also voted for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, a recoconciliation measure, and certainly a less controversial vote.
So you see, Lamar Alexander only opposes reconciliation when it is used by Democrats for something he doesn't support. He's full of crap when he says otherwise.