Team Obama is reportedly suggesting to Democratic Senators that the administration's new budget bill ought to be adopted under "reconciliation" rules that don't allow filibusters. Needless to say, this has provoked howls of outrage from Senate Republicans. For example:
"That would be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through," said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who briefly considered joining the Obama administration as commerce secretary. "You're talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You're talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River."
Let's review the reasons why this is hypocritical and stupid. First, Republicans have routinely resorted to reconciliation to force through their agenda:
There is plenty of historical precedent of using it by both parties, including Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who used it force through big tax cuts.
"Pretty much every major piece of budget legislation going back to April 1981, April '82, April 1990, April 1993, the 1990 act, the 2001 tax legislation, they were all done through reconciliation. Yet somehow this is being presented as an unusual thing," Orszag said.
"The historical norm as opposed to the exception is for a major piece of budget legislation to move through reconciliation."
Second, Senators like the outraged Gregg supported reconciliation rules when their guy was in charge:
Republican leaders indicated Tuesday that they plan to press the issue of drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of a so-called budget reconciliation process, which cannot be subject to a Democratic filibuster--a tactic that has blocked the refuge's development in the past. ...
Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H. said it was reasonable to assume ANWR, as the refuge is commonly called, would be part of the budget measure.
"The president asked for it, and we're trying to do what the president asked for," Gregg said Tuesday after meeting privately with Republicans on his panel.
Third, what's up with the goofy claims that majority rule is antidemocratic?
From Sen. Judd Gregg (R–NH), on the possibility of using the budget reconciliation process to pass healthcare and cap-and-trade bills in the Senate:
"That would be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through. You're talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You're talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River."
Hell yes. This is supposed to be a democracy. Why, allowing legislation to pass based on nothing more than a simple majority vote would be just this side of mob rule.
Fourth, since Congressional Republicans reflexively oppose everything the Democratic majority proposes, it's unclear how resort to reconciliation could make things worse:
[I]t’s not at all clear how “irrevocably damage[d] relations” would differ from the status quo. This is one reason, perhaps, why it’s not customary for a defeated minority to immediately move to a posture of relentless obstruction. By adopting such a posture, you give away a bargaining chip.
Finally, since Republican complaints are baseless and hypocritical, centristy centrist Evan Bayh is organizing bad Democrats to take their side against the Democratic President who's trying to pass health care reform. I say this as a long-suffering constituent of the clueless Sen. Bayh: I'd call him a $100 haircut on a $10 head, but his haircut sucks too.