Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Nuclear Option, Reconciliation, and the Rachel Maddow Lie

Currently Mediamatters has an article on their site:
Maddow says media who repeat conflation of reconciliation and nuclear option "are helping Republicans spread a lie"

Let's look at who is really lying.

Maddow - "The 'nuclear option' and 'budget reconciliation' are two separate things."

Here is what I gather from the history of the 'nuclear option'. It seems it was a point of order used in reference to 'changing the rules' of the senate in 2005. Now the liberals are griping that conservatives have labeled 'reconciliation' as the 'nuclear option' (inane argument to completely take eyes off real deception...even if that argument was correct it would be mere semantics). The act of 'changing the rules' is a process, so 'nuclear option' could be applied to various situations.

Using the 'reconciliation' process to pass an entire stand-alone health care legislation is 'changing the rules', as the full title of the reconciliation process is 'BUDGET reconciliation'. Therefore, the nuclear option CAN be applied to the current situation because they are 'changing the rules' by using it to accomplish something other than BUDGET reconciliation.

Maddow - "nuclear option was not to pass something through reconciliation, but to do away with the filibuster altogether"

The meaning of 'nuclear option' was not 'to do away with the filibuster'. It was to 'change the rules'. Period. The rules the Republicans wanted to change were in regards to the filibuster. (Isn't Maddow so smug looking...almost giddy...when she attacks Republicans)

Let's examine her COBRA example.

The Combined Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 is represented as though the act itself was a complete health care program. Has she actually looked up and read the act?

S.Con.Res 32

Is it some massive, complex health care program created from scratch? No. It was a budgetary act. Health care reform was a very small part of the act, buried deeply in it. COBRA, as it applies to the reconciliation act in regards to health care, is basically a nickname. The act itself was a BUDGET act, not a health care creation act (which, using it only to create health care would be an improper use of reconciliation...considered as 'changing the rules'...also know as the 'nuclear option').

Does Maddow know this? She smugly used it as a prime example of her case. Being a brilliant scholar, one would thing she actually read the legislation before reporting on it.

The consolidated budget reconciliation act, created to 'reconcile' the budget, had a provision in it (slipped through with very little debate), Article X, that contained amendments to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the IRS Code, and the Public Health Services Act (PHSA). Those amendments created the changes that fall under the COBRA moniker. The real medical 'COBRA' falls in those three areas. When you look deeply at how such legislation is enforced (through IRS amendments), you realize why the government is terrified of changing the IRS code. So much of our legislation is intertwined in it that it would be literally impossible to separate it. For example, the real force of COBRA is in punitive amendments to the tax code.

Yes, health care REFORM has happened WITHIN the reconciliation process (small changes...some sneaked in), but as amendments to strengthen or change existing programs external to the process. Not to create the programs themselves.
Why is Robert Byrd opposed to misusing the 'budget reconciliation' process to ram through health care? Because in 1985 the Senate adopted the 'Byrd Rule' to keep provisions unrelated to the goals of budget reconciliation out of it.

Everything you wanted to know about the reconciliation process:

Maddow and liberals love to throw that 'lie' word around as though everything that Republicans and Conservatives say when they incorrectly state any fact or small detail is intentional. Was it considered a 'lie' if you got an answer wrong on a history test? Unfortunately most liberals don't acknowledge that the definition of a 'lie' is an intentional action, not accidental. I wouldn't call it a a 'lie' on either side regarding the definition of 'nuclear option'. It can be misunderstood. But does Maddow really know what COBRA (the actual reconciliation act) is, and what it really contains? Does she really know that very little of the act is created directly within the reconciliation act? If so, SHE lied. She did seem to try to make everyone think it was just for health care purposes. Where is Joe Wilson when you need him? He needs to make an appearance with Maddow.

Rachel Maddow...