Democrats led by President Obama are moving forward seeking to ram their version of health care reform through Congress using the reconciliation process that allows them both to stifle Republican filibusters and to gain passage with only 50 Senate votes, plus that of Vice President Joe Biden, who presides over the Senate and votes only in cases of ties.
But instead of calling it "reconciliation," Obama and other Democrats are now calling it "a simply majority." Call it what they will, the fact remains they had a different view of reconciliation when it was a Republican majority using it to pass measures advocated by President George W. Bush.
Here's the case Obama made today for using reconciliation to pass his health care reform:
"Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of sixty votes. And now it deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was cast on welfare reform, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and both Bush tax cuts – all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority."
But here's what then-Senator Obama had to say in 2005 about reforms in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare program that he and other Democrats opposed:
“The TANF program affects millions of American children and families and deserves a full and fair debate. Under the rules, the reconciliation process does not permit that debate. Reconciliation is therefore the wrong place for policy changes and the wrong place for the proposed changes to the TANF program. In short, the reconciliation process appears to have lost its proper meaning. A vehicle designed for deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility has been hijacked to facilitate reckless deficits and unsustainable debt.”
That was then, this is now?