Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dan Quayle, still stupid after all these years

Appearing on Fox News (where else?) yesterday, former VP Dan Quayle argued, or "argued," against the use of reconciliation to deal with health-care reform:

They're gonna go to budget reconciliation, which I believe would set a very bad precedent, because essentially -- if they could do it, and I don't know if they can do it, but if they could do it -- what you have done, effectively, is to take away the filibuster in the United States Senate. So, therefore, you have 51 votes in the House and 51 votes in the Senate. That is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind. That is not the constitutional process.

Okay. Let's go through that.

First, Democrats don't intend to use reconcilation to pass health-care reform, just to make so-called patches to a bill that both houses of Congress have already passed, including with 60 votes in the Senate.

Second, as TPM's Rachel Slajda notes, George H.W. Bush, Quayle's boss, used reconciliation "regularly." So how would using it now "set a very bad precedent"? Or is only bad when Democrats do it?

Third... 51 votes in the House? D'oh!

Fourth, as Slajda further notes, while the filibuster "seems to have been around since Congress began," it is not mentioned in the Constitution, which "gives both houses of Congress the power to set their own rules." Those rules include not just the filibuster but reconciliation, do they not?

"I would imagine wiser, cooler heads will prevail and this process will not be attempted," Quayle added.

By "wiser, cooler heads" he presumably means fearful Democrats who cave in to Republican objections and demands, and who will let Republicans set the double standard that Quayle seems to want in place: Republicans can do what they want when they want, and use the rules as they see fit, but Democrats can only do what Republicans tell them to do.

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