Monday, March 8, 2010
By Steven L. Taylor

Yesterday on MTP, Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) had the following to say:

SEN. HATCH:  […] The fact of the matter is they’re going to abuse the reconciliation rules.  And let me tell you, the reconciliation rules have never been used for such sweeping social legislation like this.  This is one-sixth of the American economy.  It’s sweeping in, in effect.  There–and, and, and there have been three sweeping social bull–not sweeping, but social bills that have been approved through reconciliation.  One was, of course, the, the welfare reform. That had 78 positive votes, but–huge bipartisan vote.  Another one was the SCHIP bill, my bill with Senator Kennedy.  That had 85 votes.  The third one was college tuition, and that had, I think, something like 78 votes.  The fact of the matter is, is that it has never been done before, it’s never been used before. 

First, the “sweeping” references were amusing, insofar as watching it on TV Hatch clearly thought that it was a powerful word (It’s sweeping!  Sweeping, I say!).  Plus, it was especially amusing that he mistakenly used the term in opposition to his own argument, and had to correct himself (in the quote above).  And yes, I fully acknowledge that this is major legislation.  But then again, as I noted earlier this morning, the bill itself will not be passed via reconciliation, per se.

Second, while there is little doubt that the proposed legislation would increase the influence of the federal government over the nation’s health care system, it is not a government take-over.  We are hardly poised for single-payer system a la Canada or a British-style government run health service.  I can fully understand why there is objection to the bill and why opponents use hyperbole, but still.

Third, if one carefully reads the above, one finds that what Hatch is really objecting to is the lack of a super-majority, not reconciliation per se.

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