The Corner

‘Everything David Brooks says about reconciliation is wrong’

Speaking of Ezra Klein, this is an odd post ripping David Brooks. Klein is right to correct Brooks when he says in his Times column today that reconciliation was used for the prescription-drug bill (Brooks must be reading too many lefty blogs) and when he suggests support for the Bush tax cuts was always bipartisan. But look at this passage from Brooks:

Reconciliation has been used with increasing frequency. That was bad enough. But at least for the Bush tax cuts or the prescription drug bill, there was significant bipartisan support. Now we have pure reconciliation mixed with pure partisanship.

Once partisan reconciliation is used for this bill, it will be used for everything, now and forever.

What that reminded me of when I read it was this piece from Ezra Klein last week in the Washington Post, which included these passages:

For the minority, everything depends on their skill with Rule XXII. For the majority, it’s all about their understanding of the budget reconciliation process. For the country, it’s a mess. . . .

Congress doesn’t pass two budgets anymore, and reconciliation, like the filibuster, has expanded beyond its original purpose: It’s been used to pass the Bush tax cuts and Reagan’s tax increases, welfare reform, the Balanced Budget Acts of 1995 and 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA, and much more. Of the 21 reconciliation bills that have passed since 1981, 16 have been signed by Republican presidents. So the GOP’s feigned astonishment that the maneuver might be used to pass a few fixes to health-care reform legislation rings hollow. . . .

And as the minority becomes less responsible with the filibuster (and oh boy, have minority Republicans become less responsible with the filibuster), the majority needs to use reconciliation more often.

Why is Klein so angry at Brooks for saying basically the same thing he did a week ago? Because Brooks — in his even-handed way — seems kind of critical of Democrats? Puzzling . . .

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