Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Washington Post columnist E.J.
Dionne have taken their tussle over reconciliation from the
op-ed pages to the TV studio. After Hatch attacked the Democratic plan
to pass health care reform through the reconciliation process in an
op-ed last Tuesday, Dionne responded in his column. (See other errors in Hatch's column here.) The two
then continued bickering on Sunday's Meet the Press.
at first by a majority of senators as an inappropriate way to pass
health care, reconciliation was revived after Scott Brown's Senate
victory in January. Confronted with the inconvenient truth of an
electoral rebuke, the president is pivoting to this tactic that polls
show a growing majority of the American people oppose ... if the only
way to pass this $2.5 trillion bill is through reconciliation, then
this continues to be an abuse that stifles dissent and badly undermines
our constitutional checks and balances.
Dionne's return fire, March 4: Dionne
says Hatch's arguments are hypocritical, given
Republican success using reconciliation. He contests Hatch's grasp of
the facts, and ends with an argument about morality, quoting the late
Ted Kennedy's argument that health care is "a fundamental right and not
a privilege." Writes Dionne: "it's not just legitimate to use
reconciliation to complete the work on health reform. It would be
immoral to do otherwise and thereby let a phony argument about process
get in the way of health coverage for 30 million Americans."
'Sweeping Social Legislation,' says Hatch:
On Meet the Press, Hatch says this is not a fight between Democrats and
Republicans but rather between "Democrats and the people," whom are
generally against this bill. Democrats, he says, want to "abuse the
reconciliation rules ... the reconciliation rules have never been used
for such sweeping social legislation like this. This is one-sixth of the American economy."
Republicans Dislike Poor People, suggests Dionne:
Dionne points out that this is not the first time a president has
pursued a policy with poor support in the polls. Bush did the same and
Iraq and was called "courageous" for it. Furthermore, he points to five
cases of a Republican senate using reconciliation to pass legislation
with fewer than 60 votes. "I didn't hear Senator Hatch complain about
that." He suggests what Hatch is really saying that "it's okay to use
reconcililation to pass tax cuts for the wealthy but it's just terrible
to use it if you're gonna extend health care coverage."
Descent into Fruitless Bickering: "You
cannot ignore," counters Hatch, "the fact that we are talking about the
first time in history sweeping social legislation will be passed--if
they get their way--by a totally partisan vote." Responds Dionne, "what
Senator Hatch is saying is--if Republicans unite and say we won't vote
for this and you need bipartisanship--he's saying Democrats can't
govern and..." At this point, Hatch interjects "well, they can't!" The video descends into cross-talk.
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