The Wall Street Journal uncritically quoted Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) saying “there'll be a minor revolution in this country” if Democrats use the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform. The Journal did not note that, during the Bush administration, Alexander voted to use the reconciliation process to pass tax cuts and voted against amendments that would have stripped reconciliation language from budget resolutions.
From the September 2 Wall Street Journal article:
Republicans said the Democratic leadership has never really given them a seat at the table or entertained their ideas on health care, which include limiting medical-malpractice suits and allowing small businesses to join insurance-buying pools that would be exempt from state-level regulations.
“They either don't know how to operate in a bipartisan way or don't want to operate in a bipartisan way,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.). He warned that if Democrats use a parliamentary tactic called reconciliation to push through a bill by a majority vote in the Senate, “there'll be a minor revolution in this country.”
Democratic leaders are leaving open the option of using reconciliation for parts of the bill. But with the political price for that tactic potentially high, they are hoping to avoid it.
Alexander supported Republican use of reconciliation to pass Bush tax cuts
Alexander supported passage of 2003 tax cuts through reconciliation. In 2003, Alexander 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 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the bill, as cleared by Congress, “would increase budget deficits ... by $349.7 billion over the 2003-2013 period.”
Alexander supported passage of 2005 tax cuts through reconciliation. In 2005, Alexander voted for the final version of the fiscal 2005 budget resolution, which also called for tax cuts through reconciliation. Alexander 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.”
WSJ joins media in ignoring Republicans' past support for the tactic
In quoting GOP criticism of reconciliation, media have ignored Republicans' past support for 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 those same senators -- including Sens. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 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 tax cuts.