Senator Gregg has told Fox News the following:
When you are taking the entire health system of the United States, restructuring it, changing it fundamentally, moving it to the left significantly, basically nationalizing it for all intents and purposes ... without any opportunity for changes on the floor of the Senate, well, you might as well not have a Senate. You might as well just have a House of Representatives. It totally undermines the purposes of the two branches of governmentThis is contrary to what the senator had said back in 2005 when the Republicans tried to use such a "parliamentary trick" to allow for oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Gregg's response was "The president asked for it, and we're trying to do what the president asked for." President Bush's tax cuts were also passed using reconciliation, but Gregg defended those stating "It has always been on issues on policies which already exist -- adjusting tax laws, adjusting tax rates, affecting this program that already exists or that program."
Karl Rove stated in his September 3rd Wall Street Journal column:
Given the Democratic congressional margins, Mr. Obama has the votes to [pass health care reform legislation], but at huge costs to him and his party. Legislation that looks anything like the bill moving through the House will contain deeply unpopular provisions -- including massive deficit spending, tax hikes and Medicare cuts -- and create enormous ill will on Capitol Hill. This will be especially true if Democrats rely on parliamentary tricks to pass a bill in the Senate with 51 votes. The public's reaction in August showed that the president is creating the conditions for a revolt against his party in the 2010 elections.Back in March of 2001, Rove had stated otherwise, when on Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields, he was asked by Al Hunt whether the tax cut bill can pass in the Senate on its own, or would it need to become part of the budget package to pass. Rove's response:
Well, the Senate operates on a different calendar than the House, and we don't anticipate that the tax cut will be taken up and considered until much later in the spring. And exactly what forms it takes, whether it's a stand-alone bill or passes as part of the budget process, that's up to the Senate to decide. But we're confident that it will receive the necessary votes to pass the Senate.He had even suggested at using such procedure to repeal the estate tax in 2001 and at additional tax cuts in 2003.
[W]ith moderate Democrats -- and even some Republicans -- who provided the margin of victory for Bush's 2001 tax cut now openly questioning provisions of the [economic] growth package, reconciliation may offer Bush the only chance to get the bill through the Senate.No matter what party, you will always have the argument that the times your party tried to use a certain procedure or adopted a particular view, it was different.
The Republicans argue that the Bush tax cuts were budgetary in nature, but the Republicans (all the way to the top with President Bush) supported such measures for a non budgetary item. Republicans like to point out that it was not passed, but it does not erase the fact that they attempted to proceed.
Democrats can also argue that restructuring of health care is budgetary in nature. The proposed system, changes to medicare, and anything that amends what essentially involves 15% of the gross domestic product can be viewed as an item that can fall under rules for reconciliation.
Either way you see it, I think conservatives need to find a new argument against using reconciliation, and as for Democrats, maybe a little more compromise.