Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 2, 2010

HATCH ABANDONS PRETENSE OF INTELLECTUAL SERIOUSNESS.... I realize Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is a sitting U.S. senator, but I'm hard pressed to imagine why the Washington Post agreed to publish such intellectually dishonest nonsense.

To impose the will of some Democrats and to circumvent bipartisan opposition, President Obama seems to be encouraging Congress to use the "reconciliation" process, an arcane budget procedure, to ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill that raises taxes, increases costs and cuts Medicare to fund a new entitlement we can't afford.... [T]he Constitution intends the opposite process, especially for a bill that would affect one-sixth of the American economy.

Mustang Bobby noted in response, "Orrin Hatch thinks you're stupid," which seems to summarize things nicely.

Hatch has been around long enough (he joined the Senate 33 years ago) to know that his claims aren't true. He says reconciliation is "arcane," but it's not. Hatch argues President Obama wants to use majority rule to pass the health care reform package, but he doesn't. Hatch says the Constitution discourages the Senate from approving legislation by majority rule, but it doesn't.

We're not talking about gray areas, or debates that are open to interpretation -- Hatch is simply and unambiguously wrong. And the Post published his demonstrably false arguments anyway.

This was especially rich:

[W]hen President George W. Bush and Congress created the prescription drug benefit in 2003, we Republicans in the Senate decided against using reconciliation because it would have made the plan partisan and condemned this important legislation to failure. Instead, the bill garnered significant bipartisan support -- demonstrating why reconciliation was not even attempted. That precedent should carry the day here.

What Hatch conveniently forgets is that reconciliation wasn't used when Republicans expanded Medicare (without paying for it) because Democrats didn't filibuster the final bill. The GOP didn't skip majority rule because of the goodness of their hearts; the Republican majority skipped it because they didn't need it. "That precedent should carry the day here"? Why, that's a great idea. As soon as partisan hacks like Hatch let the Senate vote up or down on major pieces of legislation, the way Senate Democrats did in 2003 and the way the chamber operated for the better part of 200 years, that precedent will be honored.

The whole pitch is absurd to the point of being insulting. Hatch has repeatedly supported up-or-down votes on legislation large and small. Indeed, he thought it was a great idea for delivering massive tax breaks for the rich -- packages that cost far more than health care reform now -- but whines incessantly when Dems consider the same procedure to pass a modest fix related to health care.

Hatch really ought to be embarrassed. His op-ed strays so far from reality, it reflects the perspective of someone who is either brazenly dishonest or shockingly confused about the basics of current events. Either way, this is a sad joke.

Update: I should also note that Hatch treats Senate procedures in his op-ed as somehow sacrosanct. But it doesn't take long to look into Hatch's background and realize he abandons institutional procedures and traditions whenever it suits his purposes. It's what dishonest hacks always do.

Second Update: Sargent takes a closer look at Hatch's history with reconciliation: In composing this treatise, Hatch naturally faced a problem: "How to address the numerous times he voted for reconciliation measures himself? His solution: He simply omitted all mention of his numerous votes for reconciliation measures that passed by a simple majority."

Steve Benen 10:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Comments

To me, Hatch has always been one of the most sleazy, dishonest Senators. He says outragious, brazenly false things then hides behind a supposed friendship with Ted Kennedy to show how reasonable and bipartisan he is.

Posted by: howie on March 2, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Hatch really ought to be embarrassed.

Oh right. Because he's normally such an upright, nonpartisan champion of reason and fairness.

Posted by: Monty on March 2, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

He says reconciliation is "arcane," but it's not.

But Cokie Roberts says it is "arcane:, so it must be true!

Posted by: martin on March 2, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I gotta disagree, Steve. This is par for all Republicans.

The WaPost should be embarrassed.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on March 2, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

to ram


There they go again, with the ramming.

Posted by: kc on March 2, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

If Republicans were magically rendered incapable of lying, would they be able to speak at all?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on March 2, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

For someone who claimed to be good friends with the late Ted Kennedy, he doesn't seem to mind lying through his teeth to kill the very legislation his 'good friend' spent his life championing. He doesn't have to agree, but damn, it is too much to ask for some honestly in discussing his 'good friends' life's work ?

Posted by: ScottW on March 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Orrin Hatch thinks you're stupid"

Unfortunately he's right for far too large a segment of America.

Posted by: jharp on March 2, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

The Washington Post just hired that pro-torture atavist Thiessen, so I don't know why you would be surprised that they would run this load of horseshit by a frequent purveyor of just this kind of horseshit.

Posted by: The Grand Panjandrum on March 2, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

In a sane world in which the MSM seeks to inform its readers, there would be an opportunity for both sides of an issue to have their say, especially in an op-ed space on such a contentious, momentous issue as HCR. But the corporate media has a message that they're paid to push, and here we are.

Posted by: terraformer on March 2, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is why the House must pass the bill first. The two sides can agree to a sidecar to pass through reconciliation, but it's crucial that the House give a big show to agreeing to the Senate bill and passing the bill through normal channels. They can have a nice photo-op, with Obama, Reid and Pelosi all lifting each others' hands in the air and proclaiming victory. Then the Senate can pass its few tweaks through reconciliation, while Obama goes about the country selling the bill. If you get Obama out on a victory tour, the press will cover him first and GOP whining second.

Posted by: NHCt on March 2, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is tribal politics pure and simple. What is really shocking is to watch how much the various news outlets have also been coopted by tribal politics. I really had hoped that they had Fox News and we had everyone else. With the exception of the NYT and McClatchy, all of the major news outlets -- AP, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, the Washington Post, even NPR etc, -- have been coopted by or capitulated to the Republican Party. I don't find the corporatist rhetoric from secular animist, ron beyers, or neill necessarily convincing, but I am left scratching my head at why the coverage is so lop-sided. They are delivering a strong headwind to the Republican resurgence, and it has nothing to do with wanting a horse race. Once in office, they always give the Republicans a free pass to do whatever they want. Again, we might not be a center-right Country, but our news media sure is. The question is why? And yes, I am sure it is complicated.

Posted by: Scott F. on March 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

He's not wrong, Steve. He's lying. He's a Republican office holder, after all.

Posted by: FrJackHackett on March 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

This is what sucking vast quantities of kool-aid, made exclusively with the vibrantly-untreated waters of the Potomac, will do to a person. It doesn't kill them; it just makes them write op-eds with all the cognitive sensibility of three-day-old malt-o-meal....

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 2, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Hatch is a dishonest, partisan hack. I'll never figure out why he's treated with such respect. I can't stand the man, he sets off my BS-ometer every time he inhabits my brain, computer or tv. I wish he would just go away. What a commentary on WaPo that they are giving him a forum for his BS.

Posted by: danimal on March 2, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, yeah he didn't mention his votes on reconciliation and I'm betting that there is NO ONE in our illustrious media who would challenge him on same if interviewing. The reason the public remains IGNORANT is so in large part at the feet of a despicably inept or purposefully obfuscating paid for press/media. And, if MSNBC doesn't wise up soon and dump Matthews (who serves no purpose) and put Rachel Maddow into his time slots all over...they deserve their second place ratings. Rachel does what an intelligent and honest media SHOULD be doing...she INFORMS and challenges intellectually...too much to hope for from the members of the "press club"...

Posted by: Dancer on March 2, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

We've been over this ground frequently in the last few months, and it always boils down to the same things; (a) a generous proportion of the electorate will believe Hatch, because they're predisposed to do so by wanting to believe him, or because he's a senator, or both; and (b) the only recourse that has a hope of success is immediate and forceful pushback in the same or a similar forum.

Continuing to cling to the stately and high-minded principle of according disproportionate respect to a sitting senator is killing the Democrats, because it's one-sided. It's trench warfare in RepublicanLand, featuring shouted outbursts of "you lie!!!" during presidential speeches and generally contemptuous behaviour that would never be tolerated by Republicans with a majority and a Republican president.

Hatch must be promptly exposed as the liar he is. If the Democrats want to allow him the recourse that he "misspoke", fine, but he must be forced to acknowledge the inaccuracy of his comments or, if he will not, they must be systematically held up to the ridicule they deserve. In simple terms the electorate can grasp, such as repeatedly saying, "Well, is this accurate, or isn't it?" until there's no more room for waffling.

Continuing to attempt governance as if you were dealing with mature and principled statesmen who disagree only on merit and have the country's best interests at heart is not working, because that's not the situation you're up against.

Posted by: Mark on March 2, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

" I am left scratching my head at why the coverage is so lop-sided"-Scott F

By lop-sided I assume you mean "Business Friendly", because that's where the GOP resides.

And that "Business Friendly" MSM is, after all, a business. Owned by corporations like GE, Disney, etc.

In the days of Cronkite the news division was both a shining example of good citizenship, and a loss leader.

Neither is the case today. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 2, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Hatch: "...especially for a bill that would affect one-sixth of the American economy"

The whole idea, you jerk, is to NOT have healthcare costs become 1/6th of the economy, and bring it down to about 1/10th of the economy like all other industrialized countries.

Jeez!

Posted by: Ohioan on March 2, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm hard pressed to imagine why the Washington Post agreed to publish such intellectually dishonest nonsense.

Errr.... maybe because it suits their agenda to do so.

The real question is, what are we prepared to do to punish a lying media? Advertiser boycotts? I don't see any better idea.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on March 2, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

>> To impose the will of some Democrats and to circumvent bipartisan opposition... etc, yadda... to ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill.. etc, etc

Remember this: The Bill Has Already Passed.

Say it over and over, every chance you get. The Bill Has Already Passed.

Posted by: churchyard on March 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Hatch argues President Obama wants to use majority rule to pass the health care reform package, but he doesn't."

to me the fact that "President Obama wants to use majority rule to pass the health care reform package" is indicative of any kind of controversy is the saddest development of politics. that "majority rule" is somehow bad or anti-democratic, or it's worthiness subject to debate at all just tells me how far gone the political and "news" system is now.

Posted by: els on March 2, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK
They are delivering a strong headwind to the Republican resurgence . . .

I think you'll find that's a tailwind. A headwind hinders.

Posted by: noncarborundum on March 2, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Hatch is simply and unambiguously wrong."

Hatch is simply and unambiguously lying.

There, fixed it for you. Being wrong and lying are two completely different things. Don't hold back from using the "L" word EVER when it is true.

Posted by: Kid Charles on March 2, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hatch says the Constitution discourages the Senate from approving legislation by majority rule...

Has Hatch even read the Constitution? They specify two instances where a two thirds vote is required -- to expel a member and to override a Presidential veto. Other than that the clear implication is that the majority (simple majority) rules. And someone should school the old man on history, especially the history of the house of Congress that he has obviously just been taking up space in. The Senate, like the House, limited debate with the "previous question" rule until 1806 and even after they changed the rule to allow unlimited debate (opening the door to the filibuster) there wasn't a filibuster till 35 years later. Hatch so clearly doesn't know what he is talking about it is sad.

Posted by: majun on March 2, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Alas, Hatch can only be held responsible if there are Republicans like Snowe who have been involved in this and are willing to patiently say that they are not passing the whole bill. Otherwise his excuse is that he is being partisan. Once again Obama should learn that the Republicans in Washington have gotten partisanship to such an art form that they will stake out to the right of whatever he tries to do.
I was grateful that Hatch was going to be the Republican leader in the intelligence committee because he appeared to have two brain cells to rub together. Emphasis on the was.

Posted by: 4jkb4ia on March 2, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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