Confused By ‘Nuclear Option’ Spin, Right-Wingers Claim Obama And Biden Called Reconciliation A ‘Power Grab’

In 2005, frustrated by Democratic opposition to some of President Bush’s far right judicial nominees, Senate Republicans threatened to change the rules of the Senate in mid-session to prohibit Democrats from using the filibuster to block votes on judicial nominees. Then-Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) dubbed the maneuver the “nuclear option” because it would be so divisive.

For months now, conservatives have been trying to similarly label the budget reconciliation process, which has been used 22 times between 1980 and 2008, the “nuclear option.” With Democrats warming to the idea of using reconciliation to complete passage of health care reform, the conservative Naked Emperor News posted a compilation video to Breitbart.tv today of Democrats — including President Obama and Vice President Biden — denouncing the 2005 GOP plan to rewrite the Senate rules as a “naked power grab.” The video was titled “Obama & Dems in ‘05: 51 Vote ‘Nuclear Option’ Is ‘Arrogant’ Power Grab Against the Founders’ Intent.” Watch it:

As Media Matters notes, the video has now been promoted by right-wing luminaries such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ed Morrissey, Matt Drudge, Fox Nation as proof of hypocrisy if Democrats use reconciliation for health care reform. Human Events even claimed that the Democrats were calling reconciliation “unconstitutional“:

The Obama White House has recently announced that they will go forward with a reconciliation process — sometimes called the “nuclear option” — to try and pass their government run healthcare plan in the Senate. This process circumvents a Republican filibuster and only requires a simple majority vote of 51 rather than 60.

What did top Democrats think of this process previously? See below…

Despite the fact that the Democrats weren’t talking about the reconciliation process, Congressional Republicans are falsely claiming on Twitter that they were. For instance, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) links to the Human Events article and claims Obama and Biden “opposed reconciliation” in 2005:

Rep. Bob Latta lies on Twitter

As Media Matters’ Ben Dimiero notes, “The Democrats in the video are railing against the ‘nuclear option’ as defined by Lott, not the new definition conservatives have decided to bestow upon the phrase.” Additionally, as NPR reported today, the use of reconciliation to change health care would be in line with historical norms. “In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process,” Sarah Rosenbaum of the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University told NPR’s Julie Rovner.