Recently, the White House has said that it may use budget reconciliation to pass key portions of its budget, such as health care or cap-and-trade. Reconciliation allows some legislation to be protected from filibusters and passed by a simple majority.
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) has been an outspoken critic of reconciliation, saying that it would “create real consternation, be regarded as an act of violence” against Republicans, and likening it to “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.”
It’s been noted before that Gregg was not so wary of reconciliation when President Bush was in office. Today, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell pushed Gregg on his apparent double standard, brandishing a list of the instances in which Gregg voted for legislation passed through reconciliation and asking him “are you flip-flopping around?” Watch it:
Gregg argued that the reconciliation process should only be used for adjusting existing programs “at the margins.” But then how does he square his support for using reconciliation to approve drilling for oil in ANWR? “The president asked for it, and we’re trying to do what the president asked for,” Gregg said at the time.
Gregg also voted for the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, both of which were passed through reconciliation. In fact, the 2003 cut passed with only 51 votes. Does Gregg really think a tax change adding about $1.7 trillion in deficits while overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthy was an adjustment “at the margins”?
But even if we apply Gregg’s standard to health care reform, then it too could pass through reconciliation, as Obama’s reforms simply build on the current system. So, yes, Norah. Gregg is indeed “flip-flopping around.”