Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reconciliation and Lamar Alexander's Memory Loss, Take 2

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.


  1. Looks like the last laugh is on you, Tom. Who is the fool who doesn't know that budget reconsiliation process IS the process we're all talking about for Health Care Reform? Thanks for encouraging me to write a better post. This is what I meant to say, but was in too much of a hurry to link up the first time. Of course, I didn't realize that there were be someone out there that wouldn't get it, but it always helps to know your audience better. So now I know, and I'll always provide the easy-to-understand version with my entire thought process and ALL the links from now on. Again, thanks for your help and have a great day.

  2. Sky Girl,
    Thanks for an interesting post,learned a little more about the process.

    Always best to dot all your i's and cross all your t's.I know from personal experience how frustrating it can be when you discover a mistake or omission. Having said mistake pointed out in an adversarial rather than constructive fashion makes the matter even worse.

  3. "So you see, Lamar Alexander only opposes reconciliation when it is used by Democrats for something he doesn't support."

    Did you look to see how many times Democrats only support reconciliation when it's for something they support? No, I don't imagine you would. It's funny how you're able to overlook their hypocrisy, it's almost like you have an agenda or something.

  4. The post is about Lamar Alexander's comments on Thursday. Not all Republicans or all Democrats.

    But since you brought it up, defend your own point. Let's hear some examples.

  5. Examples? How about the current health care bill they're trying to force on everyone through reconcilation?

    Or do you mean an example of when they didn't support reconciliation when it was for something they didn't support? Well you're very own link to the ANWR controversy gives us an example of that.

  6. Oh btw, here's Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and the guy that would have to push through this wrong-headed reconciliation plan says about using it to pass Obamacare:

    "reconciliation cannot be used to pass comprehensive health care reform. It won’t work. It won’t work because it was never designed for that kind of significant legislation. It was designed for deficit reduction… The major package of health care reform cannot move through the reconciliation process. It will not work… It will not work because of the Byrd rule which says anything that doesn’t score for budget purposes has to be eliminated. That would eliminate all the delivery system reform, all the insurance market reform, all of those things the experts tell us are really the most important parts of this bill.";featuredPost-PE

    So, if this guy says it won't work and is wrong...and he's on your side and knee deep in the process, what makes you think it's right?

  7. Did I post something that said I think it's right? I think Health Care Reform didn't have to be this difficult. Using reconciliation to a get a bill through in some form, well, it's not the ideal option. But when the other said has stated they will not work together, when the other side has engaged in obstructionism time and time and time again, then reconciliation becomes AN option. Maybe the only one left for health care.

    I'm not thrilled with a bill without a public option, which is what I think we will get now, no matter what. I'm not thrilled with either side mis-using reconciliation to get things done. But that seems to be the era we live in.

    I do think it's wrong for people like Lamar Alexander to go on television and speak out against reconciliation for spending huge accounts of money on controverial bills. Because when you stuff things like 1.8 trillon dollar tax cuts for the rich into a so-called budget reconciliation bill, that's what you're doing.

    Would you feel better if the Democrats named theirs a budget reconciliation bill, too? Does the title of the measure really matter? It seemed to matter to you when you thought I misunderstood the process on an earlier post.

    The truth of the matter is that Republicans have had no problem with the reconciliation process to pass any legislation they wanted for years. We watched and learned well. And it's tough to sit back and reap what you sow.