CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer allowed Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) to criticize Democrats for reportedly considering using the budget reconciliation process to pass health-care reform with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate by claiming that “reconciliation was put in place to get deficits down.” Schieffer did not note that Grassley has previously voted to use reconciliation for the Bush administration tax cuts, which the Congressional Budget Office indicated at the time would not “get deficits down.”
From the August 23 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:
SCHIEFFER: Senator Grassley -- yes, go ahead.
GRASSLEY: Well, I wanted to say that, remember, reconciliation was put in place to get deficits down. The Dodd bill in the Senate and the Pelosi bill in the Senate drives the deficit up and it doesn't cut insurance inflation, and we need to tackle those issues as well. And then the other thing is, if you have reconciliation, it's a partisan approach, and I've said -- and everyone else is saying too, this is such an important issue, you know. It's one sixth of the economy, health care is. And health care implies life-or-death issues of every American, and it ought to be done on a broad, bipartisan basis. That's why we have the group of six. That's why we're trying to develop a bill that will get 70, 80 votes because you need a consensus on something this very, very important.
SCHIEFFER: You bring up a very interesting point, because President Obama said last week that he now thinks Republicans, or many Republicans, think it's more important to defeat this for political reasons than it is to pass a health care reform bill. Why shouldn't -- if that is the case, why shouldn't the president just go ahead and try to ram this through with Democratic votes, Senator Grassley, if that's the only way to do it?
Grassley repeatedly supported Republican use of reconciliation to pass Bush tax cuts
Grassley supported passage of 2001 tax cuts through reconciliation. Grassley voted in favor of a 2001 amendment to the fiscal year 2002 budget resolution that allowed for the consideration of President Bush's 2001 tax cuts -- the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 -- through the reconciliation process. He subsequently voted for the tax cut bill itself. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the bill, as cleared by Congress, would “reduce projected total surpluses by approximately $1.35 trillion over the 2001-2011 period.”
Grassley supported passage of 2003 tax cuts through reconciliation. In 2003, Grassley voted for the Senate version of the fiscal 2004 budget resolution that called for additional tax cuts to be considered under reconciliation and for the final version of the 2004 budget resolution. He also voted against an amendment to the Senate version of the budget resolution, proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), that would have stripped reconciliation instructions from the resolution. He subsequently voted for the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 itself. The CBO estimated that the bill, as cleared by Congress, “would increase budget deficits ... by $349.7 billion over the 2003-2013 period.
Grassley supported passage of 2005 tax cuts through reconciliation. In 2005, Grassley voted for the final version of the fiscal 2005 budget resolution, which also called for tax cuts through reconciliation. Grassley subsequently voted for the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 itself. The CBO estimated that the bill, as cleared by Congress and signed by the president, would “reduce federal revenues ... by $69.1 billion over the 2006-2015 period.”
Schieffer joins media in ignoring Republicans' past support of the tactic
In quoting GOP criticism of reconciliation, media have ignored Republicans' past support of the tactic. Media Matters for America has documented a pattern of journalists uncritically quoting Republican senators criticizing the decision to use reconciliation as overly partisan, without noting that the senators they are quoting -- including Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -- voted to allow the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass legislation during the Bush administration, including the tax cuts.