Wednesday, March 3, 2010


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FEBRUARY 28, 2010 4:54PM

Lamar Alexander: Reconciliation will ruin the Senate

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Senator Lamar Alexander, superheroic protector of minority rights, went on ABC's "This Week" (h/t Think Progress) to talk for 8 minutes about the horror, the horror, of healthcare legislation being passed through budget reconciliation:
There’s never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way. There are a lot of technical problems with it, which we could discuss. It would turn the Senate, it would really be the end of the Senate as a protector of minority rights, the place where you have to get consensus, instead of just a partisan majority. It would really be the end of the United States Senate as a protector of minority rights, as a place where you have to get consensus instead of just a partisan majority."
Two enormous flaws exist within this statement. First, an actual health care bill isn't being passed by reconciliation. That's already been done. The Senate passed a health care bill all on its own, without anything imploding, a little over two months ago. Remember that? It sure seems like the Senate has kept going since then. So this horrifying event that's about to come up isn't passage of a massive tax-payer-killing Senate death match: it's a patch that's going to be used to make the House and Senate bills match up (assuming the House canget a new bill passed). There's no gigantic side-stepping of the minority, here. The minority got its say back on Christmas Eve, and the majority -- in favor of health care reform -- won that battle fair and square.

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Second, if reforming our broken health care system is actually going to destroy the U.S. Senate, I can't really think of a nicer way for it to go. Let's not, by the way, mistake the process for the problem here. It's not that using budget reconciliation to patch up the bill is going to destroy some existing climate of friendly cooperation in the Senate. That climate ceased to exist at least a year ago. People aren't exactly frolicking through the aisles handing off daisies to one another every day in the Senate. They are, instead, scheming on a daily basis to find new and interesting ways to say no. Chief among those who must face responsibility for the decline in consensus-seeking in the Senate would be, I'd think, the chair of the Republican Conference: one Lamar Alexander.
Of course, it's easier to say that Democrats are going to use the nuclear option to blow up the whole building than to actually talk about what's really going on.

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