Hatch abandons pretense of intellectual seriousness

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.”