Monday, March 01, 2010

This claim, that claim and this third claim are and are not true depending on what the definition of "and" is.

Recently New York Times public editor Hoyt got a whole lot of attention for arguing that
"made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn."

implies that "O'Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time."

Now Lamar ! Alexander is horning in on his turf saying

"The reconciliation procedure is a little-used legislative procedure -- 19 times it's been used. It's for the purpose of taxing and spending and reducing deficits.

"But the difference here is that there's never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way.


Notably reconciliation has been used to pass Bush's tax cuts which increased the deficit and were of budgetary size *and* magnitude greater than health care reform let alone the health care reform sidecar bill which may actually be passed using the reconciliatoin procedure.

Ah but it depends on what the definition of "and" is. Did Alexander claim that the reconciliation procedure has only been used for bills which changed taxation and spendiong and reduced the deficit ? If so, his claim is false, since the Bush tax cuts did not affect spending and increased the deficit. Or did he claim it has only been used for bills which affect spending and for bills which affect taxes and for bills which reduce the deficit ? That's true, just as the following would be true

"It's for the purpose of taxing and spending and increasing deficits. " In any case, Senator Alexander himself has voted to use the reconciliation process to advance each of those admirable aims.

And again. Does "But the difference here is that there's never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way." mean that there has never been something of this size run through the Senate in this way and there has never been something of this complexity run through the Senate in this way or does it mean there has never been something at least this big and at least this complex run through the Senate in this way ? The second interpretation and the history of the Senate together imply that another true staement would be "But the difference here is that there's never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way." The additional qualifiers size and magnitude don't affect the truth value of the statement. So why did Alexander use them, both of them, redundently, with repetition, one after the other ?

Obviously he is trying to trick people into thinking that reconciliation has never been used in order to aid passage of a bill involving as many dollars as the Senate health care reform bill. He knows that is false and chose his words.

Note other things he doesn't say. He suggested that reconciliation is for reducing the deficit. In that sentence he doesn't even suggest that the Republicans have never used it for something other than its intended purpose. The next sentence discusses what was done in the past.

Of course, since the CBO forecasts that health care reform will reduce the deficit to use it to pass the bill (as the Democrats didn't) would be to use it for its original purpose. Ah but Alexander didn't say that the bill won't reduce the deficit (he knows it will) and he didn't say that, for the purpose of Senate rules, the CBO score is questionable (he knows it isn't).

Note he also didn't say that the health care reform bill will be passed using the reconciliation procedure. He said "run through" oh no ooops he slipped. He said "run through the Senate" wrong. The bill that will go through the Senate using reconciliation will be small and fairly simple. He could have managed a technically true claim by sayring "run through congress" since the reconciliation fix or a credible promise of a future reconcilation fix is needed to get the Senate bill through the House.

Still, my overall impression is that Sen Alexander is smarter than I thought. He managed to mislead with only one, easily corrected, error of fact. I'm sure he had help composing his misleading statement, but he remembered (most of) his lines.

No comments: