Do Republicans Believe Their Own Lies?

In early 2010, Republican Scott Brown unexpectedly won a special election for a Senate seat in Massachusetts. Even though this put passage of Obamacare in mortal danger, President Obama urged Congress not to move ahead until Brown had been seated. They didn’t. Now, Democrats are urging Republicans to play equally fair and not move ahead with their tax bill until Doug Jones is seated following his win in the Alabama special election. Donald Trump isn’t buying the comparison:

A White House official told CNN on Wednesday that the Brown example is different because Democrats passed health care in 2010 using a process that allowed them to do so with only a 50-vote majority — at the time, they had more than 50 Democrats — rendering Brown’s vote less critical.

The truth is just the opposite. The Senate passed Obamacare under regular order, which meant Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome Republican filibusters. With the election of Brown, their majority was reduced to 59 votes, which means that Brown’s election was more critical than Jones’s.

But here’s the question: was this just a garden variety lie, or does the anonymous official really believe what he said? The reason I ask is that Republicans have been telling the story of Democrats “jamming” Obamacare down their throats using tricky parliamentary procedures for so long that, as near as I can tell, most of them believe it these days. Even though it was only seven years ago, this story has been repeated so often they’ve literally forgotten that it’s not true. But it’s not. After Obamacare was passed normally by both House and Senate, it was only a small “sidecar” that was added under reconciliation procedures that required 50 votes. But the sidecar was optional. Even without it, the vast bulk of Obamacare had already passed.

So: was the White House flack lying, or is he just another Republican who’s come to sincerely believe his own lies? Hard to say. So here’s another question: Why would CNN pass this quote along without explaining that it’s wrong? That’s also hard to say.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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