by Jonathan Singer, Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 12:07:27 PM EST
Senate Republicans are up in arms about the possibility that their Democratic rivals will bypass the GOP's "no" tactics on healthcare reform through use of the budget reconciliation process. To take but one recent example, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee said yesterday, "It’s the most massive piece of legislation I’ve ever seen and it clearly shouldn’t go through the Senate under reconciliation... That’s railroading the Senate."
Of course Gregg didn't speak to the dissonance in his position, backing reconciliation to bust budgets by increasing the deficit by trillions through the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts but opposing the tactic on healthcare reform, which would decrease the long-term deficit by more than $1 trillion.
That aside, the Republicans' position becomes even less tenable considering that not only has reconciliation been used for major legislative undertakings in the past -- it has been used in the area of healthcare reform. Indeed, virtually every piece of healthcare reform legislation in recent decades has passed by a majority vote through reconciliation. To take one example, the CHIP program, under which children across the country are provided healthcare coverage, was created through the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Heck, COBRA, which enables Americans to keep their health coverage after being laid off, was named for the reconciliation legislation under which it was passed: the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. The list goes on.
So before anyone goes believing the GOP spin, they might want to take a moment to actually apprise themselves of history, which clearly shows that not only is majority vote appropriate for healthcare reform legislation -- it has been the preferred tactic for Senates, Democratic and Republican alike, for decades.