Reconciliation and the Nuclear Option: Whos Lying Now?

The latest talking point to trickle down from Fox News to the rest of the GOP is that an up or down vote, also known as reconciliation, on health insurance reform in the Senate is outside the Senate rules. GOPer talking heads have equated using reconciliation with the “nuclear” option — which, gentle reader, you’ll be surprised to learn, is a total lie.

The latest liar to join the fracas is Reince Preibus, chair of the Wisconsin GOP. ‘ “Democrats like Senator Feingold and President Obama have clearly and publicly opposed the use of reconciliation, also know (sic) as the “nuclear option” without equivocation…Democrats’ willingness to contradict themselves by changing the rules in the Senate…blah blah blah talking point talking point etc blah.

Now, now, Reince. Just because Hannity or Rush says something certainly does not make it true.

Reconciliation is NOT the nuclear option. The term nuclear option was actually coined by Senate Republicans in 2005, after Democrats filibustered a handful of radical Bush appointees, and Bill Frist, Trent Lott and the rest of Republicans in the Senate threatened to do away with the filibuster all-together. The nuclear option would be a vote by the majority to overturn 200 years of Senate precedent and get rid of an existing Senate rule. Reconciliation is NOT the nuclear option, no matter what GOP PR machine Fox News or Reince Priebus says.

Reconciliation is a rule (like the filibuster is a rule) in the Senate that allows for a simple majority vote on bills that have a lowering impact on the deficit. Well, at least thats what it USED to be, until Senate Republicans changed the reconciliation rules to pass the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy [2001 vote; 2003 vote], which ADDED over a trillion dollars to the deficit. One more time: reconciliation is a rule. Its on the books.

The greatest transfer of wealth in the history of western civilization wasnt the only time Republicans used reconciliation to jam legislation down our throats. Heres Senator Judd Gregg on using BUDGET reconciliation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling 

But dont stop there. Heres a list of more:

Chuck Grassley (R-Death Panels): “I prefer regular order, but recent tax legislative history in the Senate suggests the reconciliation option is an important tool to have at our disposal.” [Senate Floor Statement, 4/28/05]

John McCain: But I hope that tomorrow morning sometime when we, we’re, we’re clear who the winner is, that we start a process of reconciliation so that we’ll work together. And by the way, I’m encouraged that what apparently President Bush is succeeding in Florida. ABC, Special Report with Peter Jennings, 11/2/04]

Both parties have used reconciliation in the past ” Republican have used it more often (16 of 22 times used). It is not the nuclear option. Its a rule ” and since the Republicans refused for a decade to do anything about health care and are blocking any serious efforts at reform with political gamesmanship, its time to move on without support from conservatives.

President Obama has made a genuine effort to incorporate conservative ideas into health insurance reform and conservatives continue to refuse to act in the best interests of the American people. Its time to move on without them. The equating of the use of an existing rule to an effort by Republicans to blow up 200 years of rules and precedent in the Senate is more proof that conservatives are dead set on once again doing nothing on health care.

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