PolitiFact busts Michele Bachmann again: The District 6 congresswoman and Fox News yakker Sean Hannity warned darkly the other day -- prior to Thursday's White House summit -- about a nefarious Democratic "trick" to ram health care reform down the throats of Republicans using the reconciliation process.
Reconciliation is a legislative procedure adopted in 1974 to balance budget bills. It can be a complex process, but what you really need to know about a reconciliation bill is that it can be passed with a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote supermajority Democrats lost when Scott Brown of Massachusetts was elected to the Senate. In other words, it's an option some Democrats are mulling if a bipartisan plan cannot be achieved.
It's not a trick, in other words. And it's being considered because the Democratic majority knows full well that Republicans are committed to stopping any legislation that would allow Obama to notch a win. It's also a tactic that's been used more by Republicans than Democrats, of late. Here's the reality:
On Nov. 14, 2008, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service put out a report on reconciliation bills between 1981 and 2009. There have been 22 of them, including three that were vetoed by President Bill Clinton. It's been used for health insurance portability (COBRA), nursing home standards, expanded Medicaid eligibility, increases in the earned income tax credit, welfare reform, start-up of the state Children's Health Insurance Program, major tax cuts and student aid reform. While some have tallied the Republican vs. Democratic report card on reconciliation based on the president in power at the time, we think it makes more sense to look at the party in power in Congress when the reconciliation procedure was initiated. By our count, eight of the reconciliation bills were initiated by a Democratic-controlled Congress. The rest, 14, were done by a Republican-controlled Congress.
Here's the alternate reality:
(Hat tip MNPublius.)