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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate