Now that the Democrats appear ready to pass health care reform without Republican support, the arguments being used by Congressional Republicans in a last-ditch attempt to prevent its passage are coming in for increased scrutiny.
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow called out a number of Republican senators on Tuesday for their hypocrisy in opposing reform provisions they once supported or for suggesting there is something unseemly about the reconciliation process they themselves used when they held a narrow majority.
"I thought these were the people who we're supposed to take seriously," Maddow commented, "and yet, they're just trying to get away with really, really, really blatant hypocrisy on this subject. I don't get it. Do they think that they're so respected, they're so mainstream that no one's going to fact-check them?"
Maddow pointed in particular to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), whose recent Washington Post op-ed "has so many blatant, outright, laugh-out-loud falsehoods in it that it made me wonder if maybe there's a deal or something, where if you're a United States senator ... who's been in office for 33 years ... you just don't get fact-checked. ... They just agree to let you print whatever you want."
Hatch responded to Maddow's attack on Wednesday morning, after a fashion, writing in his Twitter account, "Rachel Maddow (@maddow) ran me down on her show last night over my views on health care reform. Wonderful badge of honor."
The points Maddow made, however, had nothing to do with Hatch's actual "views on health care reform" but were focused on his misrepresentation of the tactic of reconciliation. "Lying about the record," Maddow noted, "lying about this tactic, is not actually a substitute for just making an honest argument against health reform."
Hatch, for example, called the use of reconciliation to pass reform "unprecedented in scope" and insisted that "the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balances."
Maddow responded to this by pointing out a dozen occasions on which Hatch has voted for reconciliation bills over the last 20 years.
Hatch then went on to claim that reconciliation has been used in the past only to deal with budget issues or in cases where "the legislation had significant bipartisan support."
"That is a total, utter, complete, 100%, unambiguous lie," Maddow responded. "I find it hard to believe they think they can get away with stuff like this." She offered as a counterexample the 2003 Bush tax cuts, which were passed on a 50-50 vote with Vice President Dick Cheney breaking the tie.
"Republicans used reconciliation a lot," Maddow emphasized. "For major legislation. They did it all the time. And they're now lying about that record. ... Orrin Hatch is lying about that in the Washington Post, and the Washington Post is just printing the lying!"
"For us all to just let this slide and call it politics is to surrender to cynicism," Maddow concluded.. "The country needs real debate. The country needs real opposition. The country needs you guys to grow up here."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast March 2, 2010.