GOP rediscovers its objections to reconciliation

GOP REDISCOVERS ITS OBJECTIONS TO RECONCILIATION…. RNC Chairman Michael Steele told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last night how outrageous it is to see Democratic lawmakers consider the Senate reconciliation process for health care reform. Except, of course, he didn’t use the word “reconciliation.”

“If it means the nuclear option, it’s going to be the nuclear option,” Steele said. “And so my attitude, quite frankly, is, ‘Bring it on.'”

We talked yesterday about how ridiculous it is to describe reconciliation this way. The “nuclear option” phrase was in reference to a Senate Republican scheme to change institutional rules. Now they’re using the phrase to denounce playing by the institutional rules.

But what’s interesting is to note the evolution of the GOP’s thinking on this.

Here’s Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in March:

“I fully recognize that Republicans have in the past engaged in using reconciliation to further the party’s agenda.”

And here’s Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in April:

“[Democrats] have the votes with reconciliation,” said Ryan. “They nailed down the process so that they can make sure they have the votes and that they can get this thing through really fast. It is their right. It is what they can do.”

And here’s former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in June:

“[Reconciliation is] legal, it’s ethical, you can do it. And it has been suggested and accepted by the administration, pretty directly that if it came down to it, they’re going to drive this thing through a fifty-vote door.”

Obviously, looking for some kind of intellectual consistency here is foolish, but I get the sense that some Republican official woke up sometime this week, and announced to the GOP world, “Never mind what we said before, let’s start calling reconciliation the ‘nuclear option.'”