Remember ‘deem and pass’?

REMEMBER ‘DEEM AND PASS’?…. As part of the procedural budget rules embraced by House Republicans, the new majority plans to hand over a great deal of power to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). In the process, Republicans will quietly embrace a tactic they were hysterical about nine months ago.

Under the proposed rules, worked out in a secret deal crafted behind closed doors, Ryan would be empowered to single-handedly establish spending levels if the House and Senate struggle to agree on a budget resolution, as appears likely. Ryan’s levels would be binding on the chamber, without even being subjected to a vote, and without anyone else in Congress even having seen them.

Brian Beutler noted today that, as part of this move, House Republicans will pursue a legislative tool that they described as an outrageous abuse less than a year ago.

As soon as those rules are adopted on Wednesday, Ryan’s spending levels will be considered — or “deemed” — adopted by the full House as if they’d passed a budget with a floor vote. […]

Back in March 2010, House Democrats were toying with using a similar process to pass health care reform. They were considering the Senate health care package, which they hated, and a package of amendments to that bill, which they liked. To square those views, they wanted to set up a procedural vote, which, if agreed to, would “deem” both bills passed at once. “Deem” and “pass.”

This quickly became known as “Demon Pass,” or the “Slaughter Solution,” named after House Rules Chair Louise Slaughter. Republicans rebelled, and conservatives went off the deep end. Radio talk show host Mark Levin called it “100 times worse than Watergate.”

It’s called the “self-executing” rule, and the right-wing response to Democrats even considering the procedure was so excessive, conservatives were nothing short of apoplectic. The ensuing firestorm was intense enough to convince Dems to back off and pursue a separate course, rather than create another public backlash.

For what it’s worth, my problem with the new House Republican budget rules is not that they’re relying on “deem and pass,” but rather, that they’re handing unilateral power to one right-wing committee chairman.

But there is a larger truth here. When Republicans were in the majority before 2007, they frequently used reconciliation. When Democrats wanted to use the same tool last year, Republicans screamed bloody murder.

When Republicans were in the majority before 2007, they took advantage of the self-executing rule fairly often. When Democrats wanted to use the same tool last year, Republicans acted as if Dems were putting the Constitution through a shredder.

But with Republicans have once again rediscovered the value of procedures they used, but didn’t want Dems to use.

The moral of the story: GOP apoplexy is not to be taken seriously.