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After Alabama, Trump World struggles to explain a double standard

How does the White House justify denying Doug Jones a vote on the Republican tax plan? By lying about what happened in 2010.
Image: DFoug Jones, Louise Jones
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Doug Jones and his wife Louise wave to supporters before speaking Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. Jones has...

Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is eager to get to work on Capitol Hill, but the Senate Republican majority isn't going out of its way to expedite his arrival. The Alabama Democrat will be sworn in, of course, but GOP leaders will wait until officials in Alabama complete the certification process, which should take a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, Republicans hope to ram through an unpopular tax plan before Jones takes his seat.

The trouble, as we discussed yesterday, is that GOP officials are ignoring their own purported standards. Seven years ago, when Republican Scott Brown won a Senate special election in Massachusetts, GOP senators demanded that he be seated quickly and that all major legislative efforts stop until he was sworn in.

Indeed, this wasn't limited to Capitol Hill. Jay Sekulow, now a leading member of Donald Trump's legal team, said in 2010 that Brown should be seated before the results of his election were certified, and it'd be "outrageous" to suggest otherwise. Even Donald Trump himself made similar comments at the time.

Yesterday, Trump World apparently came up with a line to explain the double standard.

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.Jones is different, the official said, because his vote could tip the balance on the tax measure because the Republican majority is far slimmer.

It's important to understand how very wrong this is.

At issue is something called the "budget reconciliation" process, which allows senators to pass some bills with a bare majority, circumventing a filibuster. The trouble is, when Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, they didn't use the reconciliation process -- because with a 60-vote majority, they didn't have to. It's why the ACA passed in December 2009 with 60 votes. (Congress later passed a separate measure that included some health care provisions through reconciliation, but this wasn't the core "Obamacare" bill.)

Brown's election in 2010 didn't make his vote "less critical," it did the opposite, since it meant the Republican minority at the time could defeat practically every bill through filibusters.

In other words, while trying to defend Trump World's hypocrisy, the White House appears to have lied, quite brazenly, to CNN.

And why is that? It's possible the president's team can't think of a legitimate defense for the double standard, but this may also have something to do with the fact that they think they can get away with it. Note, for example, that CNN's original report on this made no effort to tell the public that the White House's argument was demonstrably wrong.

Indeed, the New York Times' Jonathan Weisman wrote this morning, "A bunch of reporters fell for this yesterday. [It's] the problem with having no institutional memory in newsrooms these days."

Folks, 2010 really wasn't that long ago, and for those who didn't follow the health care debate closely at the time, Google exists. When Team Trump peddles a lie like this, it's easy to catch.