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.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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