Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2010

JUDD GREGG HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT.... Five years ago this month, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) was so desperate to let oil companies drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he tried to use the budget reconciliation process to do it. "If you have 51 votes for your position, you win," he said at the time, adding, "Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don't think so."

Today, Gregg was disgusted by the notion of using reconciliation to pass health reform.

"Reconciliation has never been used for a massive rewrite of policy like this," he said. "Adjusting tax rates is not like rewriting the entire healthcare system of the United States. It's substantive. It's very different."

Look, Gregg isn't some rookie. He's not a right-wing radio host or some random conservative blogger. Gregg is almost certainly is aware of his surroundings, understands the reconciliation rules, and realizes how the process is likely to unfold.

With that in mind, it's almost impossible to believe that Gregg's obvious misstatements of fact are the result of ignorance. He must know what he's saying is false. That Gregg can repeat such lies with a straight face, as if they were legitimate, raises serious concerns about his integrity.

It's tempting to note that reconciliation has already been used, by Republicans, on all kinds of sweeping, "substantive" issues -- welfare reform, for example -- but even that's beside the point. Reconciliation isn't being used for "a massive rewrite of policy"; it's being used for a budget fix. The "a massive rewrite of policy" has already passed. It passed through regular order, with no reconciliation. Gregg must realize this; he was there when it happened.

My first thought, reading Gregg's quotes, was that we won't have to endure the talking point for too much longer -- if the House passes the Senate bill, and the Senate approves a budget fix through majority rule, the notion that the huge health care reform package was passed through reconciliation will disappear.

Except, my first thought was almost certainly wrong. Even if Dems don't pass reform through reconciliation, Republicans will likely say they did. Why not? Fox News will dutifully play along -- "Sure, health care reform became law, but only because Dems cheated" -- and mainstream outlets will present it as a he-said/she-said dilemma.

There's no incentive for Republicans to tell the truth, just as there's no consequences for them failing to tell the truth. So, they'll just keep making stuff up, as Judd Gregg exemplifies.

Steve Benen 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

No one CARES about this procedural stuff. What voters know is that the Dems control both houses of Congress, and the White House. If the Dems get nothing done, the Dems are going to be blamed. Trying to blame the Republicans for obstruction and filibuster AIN'T GONNA WORK. Similarly, all this talk about "reconciliation," a word with even more syllables than "filibuster," is really a waste. Pres. Obama never discusses procedure, because he's smart enough to realize that no one cares except the choir preachers.

Posted by: 6079smithW on March 3, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

They're all painting this freak horror show of reconciliation and it's just freaky horrifying to watch..

Posted by: Insanity on March 3, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

That Gregg can repeat such lies with a straight face, as if they were legitimate, raises serious concerns about his integrity.

Stop, you're killin' me. If I laugh any harder, I'll stop breathing!

Really, this? this is what it took to make you question his integrity?

Posted by: Gummo on March 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to believe that this man was very nearly a member of the Obama Cabinet.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on March 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you said it a few days ago. The Republicans are "PATHOLOGICALLY DISHONEST". I don't know which is worse, Orrin Hatch or Judd Gregg. You know they know they are lying. The problem is that the lazy media stenographers rarely challenge their lies.

The Republicans are terrified about what will happen once healthcare reform is passed. Perish the thought that President Barack Obama and the Democrats will get credit. But also, I truly believe the mood of the country will change. And most of all, eventually, the Republican lies will be exposed. As Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, when hcr passes it will be time for the Republican lying to end.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on March 3, 2010 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

There's no incentive for Republicans to tell the truth, just as there's no consequences for them failing to tell the truth.

It's worse than that. Republican lies have crippled robust healthcare reform, neutered other Dem legislation and positioned the Thugs to win big in November. Plenty of incentive to continue to lie with the positive consequences (for them, not us) of winning elections.

Posted by: ckelly on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Judd Gregg is a lawyer. Lawyers are trained to make any argument that could possibly sway the jury with a straight face, whether they believe it or not.

Posted by: DR on March 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Re:Gregg doesn't know...

This is precisely backwards.

He knows exactly what he's talking about. He's playing politics, a game that doesn't follow the rules of logic much to the consternation of those folks who are forever pointing out hypocrasies.

The Dems need to respond by appealing to emotion rather than saying "but but but".

Tell the GOP to 'quit whining'.
Ask the GOP 'are you still victims?'

that will work.

Posted by: Jackifus on March 3, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

He's/she's lying. Two words that can't be said often enough in discussing Republicans' public statements. Forget all the "is he/crazy/stupid/oblivious?" accommodation. Thank you, Steve Benen and Rachel Maddow.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 3, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Who wants to deal with facts, when you can simply press your ear to a conservative's stomache and learn what his gut says? Who needs reality, when you can astroturf a mythology? Nevermind that repubs have embraced mental illness in favor of policy. It's so much easier than those pesky facts.

Posted by: JoeW on March 3, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

This is the inevitable fallback position for the Repubs. IF reform passes, via reconciliation, the Repubs have the noise machine already primed, "the Dems rammed a lousy bill thru against the 'will of the people' and against the Constitution while flipping the bird at the founders and kicking puppies." Facts, democracy, and hypocrisy be damned. Hey, when you find a strategery that works - stick with it. Besides, the sheeple don't do 'nuance'.

Posted by: ckelly on March 3, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

With that in mind, it's almost impossible to believe that Gregg's obvious misstatements of fact are the result of ignorance. He must know what he's saying is false. That Gregg can repeat such lies with a straight face, as if they were legitimate, raises serious concerns about his integrity.


Are you surprised? The theopolitical right has been engaged in willful ignorance for a very long time (e.g., creationism). Given the significant overlap between the economic right and the theopolitical right, we should just automatically assume they'll adopt the same strategies.

Posted by: Mike the Mad Biologist on March 3, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

There's no incentive for Republicans to tell the truth

that sums up the Obama administration's dilemma nicely. the only incentive the republicans and the right wing media have to be truthful would be a basic and unqualified moral belief that lying is bad, but I really think they believe it doesn't count as long as they're lying about democrats.

Posted by: DelCapslock on March 3, 2010 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

"He must know what he's saying is false. That Gregg can repeat such lies with a straight face, as if they were legitimate, raises serious concerns about his integrity."

You are giving Gregg and the Repubs the benefit of the doubt. There is no question that from the beginning their strategy was to lie about everything the Dems and Obama did. It was caculated, conscious, and coldly logical.

Posted by: Kurt on March 3, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Gregg, like Bunning is quitting, er, excuse me, RETIRING. And they are trashing the place on the way out the door, a la Animal House.

Posted by: DAY on March 3, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

I expect he kept his fingers crossed behind his back, when he said it. That cancelled any moral ambivalence about lying.

Posted by: exlibra on March 3, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

There is a worse potential situation.

Except, my first thought was almost certainly wrong. Even if Dems don't pass reform through reconciliation, Republicans will likely say they did. Why not? Fox News will dutifully play along -- "Sure, health care reform became law, but only because Dems cheated" -- and mainstream outlets will present it as a he-said/she-said dilemma.

Now, most of the reforms go into effect in 2013 and beyond. God-forbid we have a Republican-President elected in 2012. Might they simply declare that Democrats violated Congressional rules, and therefore, the reform bill is not law? And an executive order could stop everything.

Posted by: Chris on March 3, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I knew Gregg was lying because his lips were moving.

Let's hope that some of the HCR initiatives can be implemented sooner, once the people see that Obama isn't going to disconnect dialysis machines, kick the canes out from under seniors, wave in the black UN helicopters, and kick puppies as a result of health care passing.

Posted by: beyond left on March 3, 2010 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

@hells littlest angel "He's/she's lying. Two words that can't be said often enough"

Exactly. These dirty tactics need to be described as precisely what they are. Instead of saying "He must know what he's saying is false" it needs to be "He must know that he is lying."

The sentence is about his motives, not about whether or not what he's saying is false.

Posted by: Boston Jerry on March 3, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

They lie with a straight face because this is part of how they do their job; that is, what they feel their job to be. Lying is part of it and they do it without shame.

Posted by: Algernon on March 3, 2010 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

every time gregg opens his mouth its yet another disgrace on obama that he wanted to give that guy an important position in in the administration.

Posted by: zoot on March 3, 2010 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

For many Republicans it looks like where you stand depends on where you sit.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on March 3, 2010 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans lie?

You don't say.

They sure do. This is THE single biggest problem with our political system for the last 30 years. Republicans can and do lie with impunity.

It's the LYING, stupid!

Posted by: The Fool on March 3, 2010 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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