Worth Reading #6: Jonathan Chait: David Brooks At His David Brook (Bonus Extra Why-Oh-Why-Can't-We-Have-a-Better-Press-Corps? for March 16, 2010)
Department of "Huh?!"

Ezra Klein Calls for the New York Times Ombudsman Clark Hoyt to Do His Job - Everything David Brooks says about reconciliation is wrong

It is remarkable how much right-wing establishment figures in America feel that they are entitled to their own facts--and that nobody should call them on it. We will see if the New York Times actually takes any action to correct the record--or even if the "ombudsman" weighs in. I am not holding my breath.

Ezra Klein:

Everything David Brooks says about reconciliation is wrong: The factual statements... in his argument are wrong. Not arguable, or questionable, or suspicious. Wrong.... "Reconciliation has been used with increasing frequency," writes Brooks. "That was bad enough. But at least for the Bush tax cuts or the prescription drug bill, there was significant bipartisan support." The outcome of letting reconciliation go from rare and bipartisan to common and partisan is that we will go from a Senate where "people are usually pretty decent to one another" to a Senate that "bleaches out normal behavior and the normal instincts of human sympathy."

Chilling stuff, huh? But none of Brooks's evidence is true. Literally none of it. The budget reconciliation process was used six times between 1980 and 1989. It was used four times between 1990 and 1999. It was used five times between 2000 and 2009. And it has been used zero times since 2010. Peak reconciliation use, in other words, was in the '80s, not the Aughts.... Nor has reconciliation been limited to bills with "significant bipartisan support."...[T]he 2003 tax cuts passed the Senate 50-50.... Two Democrats joined with the Republicans in that effort. Georgia's Zell Miller, who would endorse George W. Bush in 2004 and effectively leave the Democratic Party, and Nebraska's Ben Nelson.... In 1993, Bill Clinton passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. The final tally was, again, a tie broken by the vice president... not a single Republican voted for the bill. As for the prescription drug benefit? The prescription drug benefit didn't go through reconciliation. It was passed through the normal order. Brooks is simply wrong on this....

Reconciliation is, in fact, being used less frequently, past reconciliation bills like the tax cuts were not significantly bipartisan... and the prescription drug benefit did not go through reconciliation. Brooks isn't wrong in the sense that "I disagree with him." He's wrong in the sense that the column requires a correction.

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