Obscure, High-Risk Senate Business-as-Usual

New York Times reporter Robert Pear (4/23/09) joined the rest of the media world expressing discomfort with the idea that the Senate Democrats might adopt budget reconciliation rules, which wouldthey would use to pass major legislation on a majority vote rather than seeking 60 votes. His lead:

With solid majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats are tempted to use their political muscle to speed passage of health care legislation with minimal concessions to the Republican minority.

That approach may be the only way they can fulfill President Obama’s campaign promises, but it carries high risks as well.

In the budget blueprint for the coming year, Democrats may resort to an obscure procedure known as reconciliation to clear the way for Senate passage of a comprehensive health bill with a 51-vote majority, rather than the 60 votes that would otherwise be needed.

“Muscle,” “high risk”– you get the picture. Until you read,many paragraphslater:

House Democrats say the Republican protests are overheated. The fast-track procedures have been used 19 times since 1980 to pass major legislation, including much of President Ronald Reaganâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s domestic policy agenda in 1981, welfare overhaul in 1996 and President George W. Bushâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

Well, hold on. Pear says reconciliation is “obscure” and “high risk.” Then later hesays it’s been used 19 times in the past three decades to pass major legislation. How can both be true?

It’s hard to recall corporate media worrying much over the divisive, obscure tactics used to pass the Bush tax cuts or welfare reform.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.