Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2010

UNDERSTANDING 'BIPARTISANSHIP'.... As recently as 2006, when Republican policymakers controlled the levers of power, it was the duty of elected officials to stick to their principles and work on the agenda they presented to voters. In 2010, with Democrats controlling the levers of power, it is the duty of elected officials to compromise on their principles, scale back the agenda they presented to voters, and govern in such a way as to make the rejected and discredited minority party happy.

Take health care policy, for example, the signature domestic policy effort of the Democratic Party. For about a year now, Dems have been making concessions and moving its reform plan closer to the middle. Medicare for all was considered, and taken off the table. Expanded Medicare eligibility was considered, and then taken off the table. A public option was considered, and then taken off the table. All the while, conservative Republicans were unwilling to make literally any concessions at all.

As of today, the latest GOP offer to Democrats is pretty straightforward: the "only" health care plan Republicans will consider is the Republican plan.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has been hinting at this, but made the point quite explicitly this morning. Cantor's office told Greg Sargent "there's not much to talk about" with the White House unless Democratic policymakers completely "scrap their government takeover" and agree to embrace the Republican policy in its entirety.

Republicans believe the status quo is unacceptable, but so is any health reform package that spends money we don't have or raises taxes on small businesses and working families in a recession. To that point, House Republicans have offered the only plan , that will lower health care costs, which is what the President said was the goal at the start of this debate.

So, "bipartisanship" is defined as giving Republicans exactly what they want -- period.

Remember, as recently as September, Cantor said he agrees with "80%" of the Democratic reform plan. Now, he's willing to tolerate none of it.

I do hope the David Broders of the world are paying attention, noticing why bipartisanship is impossible with congressional Republicans who are completely out of control.

The incessant talk about "bipartisanship" is itself suspect -- I tend to think a governing majority should be able to give their agenda a shot, whether or not the minority approves -- but even if we put that aside, how, exactly, are responsible officials supposed to work with a rival who demands nothing short of 100% satisfaction, despite being part of a failed minority?

Post Script: By the way, Cantor has never been the sharpest crayon in the box, so it may be unfair to ask him to back up his own rhetoric with substance, but maybe the next time he's on TV, someone can ask him to explain what he thinks a "government takeover" is.

He keeps using that phrase, but I don't think it means what he thinks it means.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

You have to remember for the GOP
Bipartisanship is date rape.

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/bivens_outrage/699

Posted by: Jamie on February 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

So? They want what they want. The fact that we find this so horrible says more about us than them. They won't compromise principles. Their principles say, 'government is the enemy, destroy the bill,' and they're trying to do that. Our principles say, 'try to help the people possible,' and we're not.

Posted by: gussie on February 8, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Shutting down Republicans on bipartisanship is easy. Ask what they are willing to compromise on. Leaves them speechless. Pity the beltway stenos and cable shouting heads won't ask this question.

Posted by: Baldrick on February 8, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

So, "bipartisanship" is defined as giving Republicans exactly what they want -- period.

On behalf of fellow Connecticut citizens, may I say, "Welcome to our world."

Posted by: monocle on February 8, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't help any that we have an assload of nitwits in the media (and more than a few elected officials, some of them Democrats) who keep insisting that the change people voted for is not the change people want, that despite Obama's ginormous victory we are still a center-right nation, and since you can't say "center-right" without "right," we really oughta do what Republicans want because they're more in tune with REAL Americans.

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

It would be worth asking and hearing the answer on live television - especially if the the President of the United States is asking why it is so impossible for the Republicans to negotiate in good faith.

Posted by: bcinaz on February 8, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats will never be able to get anything done with only a 59-41 "minority". There should be a bunch of "How many Democrats does it take to..." jokes coming soon.

Posted by: qwerty on February 8, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

You may denigrate Cantor's intelligence, but at least he knows how to frame an issue:

To that point, House Republicans have offered the only plan , that will lower health care costs, which is what the President said was the goal at the start of this debate.

Go ahead. Take a poll and see what percentage of voters think the current Democratic plan will reduce their health care costs. Then we'll talk about which members of Congress are sharp and which ones aren't.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

The only time bipartisanship is important to Republicans is when they need enough democrats to join them in passing war resolutions and tax cuts. And unfortunately, too many dems have obliged. If dems are expecting some pay back now, some show of bipartisanship, they will just have to wait for the next Republican president, when they can, again, buckle under the pressure of not appearing to be weak on defense, terrorism and saving the upper class.

Posted by: lou on February 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has thought different must be RETARDED!

The Dems so utterly deserve the drubbing they'll receive in Nov.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on February 8, 2010 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Just the usual Washington give and take. Democrats give, Republicans take. Like candy from a baby.

Posted by: fradiavolo on February 8, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Love the "Princess Bride" reference!

Posted by: Shantyhag on February 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

This is not a government "takeover" of health care, remember the Republicans are following the tactics of Lenin when the use these anti-truths. As Lenin said, "A lie told long enogh becomes the truth."

meanwhile,

the stimulus is working, it prevented another Republican created Depression, Hank Paulson Bush's treasury secretary said so himself on NBC Sunday Morning. When the Republicans say differently they lie, remember they are using the tactics of Lenin to get back control of the Congress for their corporate masters, "A lie told long enough becoems the truth."

the stimulus is working, it prevented another Republican created Depression, Hank Paulson Bush's treasury secretary said so himself on NBC Sunday Morning. When the Republicans say differently they lie, remember they are using the tactics of Lenin to get back control of the Congress for their corporate masters, "A lie told long enough becoems the truth."

the stimulus is working, it prevented another Republican created Depression, Hank Paulson Bush's treasury secretary said so himself on NBC Sunday Morning. When the Republicans say differently they lie, remember they are using the tactics of Lenin to get back control of the Congress for their corporate masters, "A lie told long enough becoems the truth."

Posted by: Kurt on February 8, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

You have to remember for the GOP
Bipartisanship is date rape.

But date rape is not consensual. This is consensual.

The Senate Democrats have two choices. They can either write a crappy bill that is doomed to fail, or they can write a great bill that is doomed to fail. The short-term legislative outcome is the same either way, but Option B has a greater shot at being beneficial in the long run. So why is Option A always the preferred avenue?

Posted by: Christopher on February 8, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, bipartisanship.

I'm reminded of two Republican quotes on this subject from the recent past.

Dick Cheney's, "go fuck yourself". and

Karl Rove's, "I don't want to win by 54 votes, I want to win by 51".

good times good times

Posted by: oh my on February 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

For once, I agree with the republicans. Let's start over, WITH SINGLE PAYER.

Go at them hard with a single payer plan and challenge them to find a plan that provides more coverage with less cost. No insurance company ransom and an integrated cost administrative structure which puts the practice of medicine back into the hands of the doctors.

I guy can dream, can't he?

Posted by: bdop4 on February 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker is right. Democrats cannot let people start thinking the Republicans have a viable plan that costs less, even if they don't.

Posted by: Th on February 8, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't we just ban rescissions and pre-existing conditions bans- the latter with a one year ban on the given treatment with loans available and insurance hospital costs available.

Posted by: Raoul on February 8, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

I do hope the David Broders of the world are paying attention.

Ha ha ha!

Posted by: Mike on February 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker is right.

Memorize these words and live by them!

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 8, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Where was this great Republican health plan in 2000-2006? The right fought Hillary, they're fighting Obama, but the 8 years in the middle, where was their plan to help Americans?

Haven't the Republicans shown their contempt enough for bipartisanship that we can put that dream away? I mean even the name, the "Republican Health Plan", it isn't subtle. It's a blatant ploy to replace anything that might have liberal fingerprints on it with a load of stolen ideals being sold under the Republican (R) brand.

Why Republican health care now? Republicans wouldn't be coveting the credit for health care reform if REAL Americans didn't actually want it. The Republicans placing importance on passing something under the heading of health care under their name only should be a huge red flag.

I believe this issue shows the Republicans long-term vision and it certainly isn't with any sympathy for suffering Americans. It's for 2012. If the right gets their Special Label health care passed, they will tell the American people they've once again saved this nation from the liberals, and we can hand them the 2012 election, right along with all the promises of moving this nation in a better direction for how many more years. I shudder for my liberties then.

Obama cannot afford to drop this ball. Not for today, not for tomorrow.

Posted by: Not America Anymore on February 8, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK
...how, exactly, are responsible officials supposed to work with a rival who demands nothing short of 100% satisfaction, despite being part of a failed...

Oh, they're quite good at it. See AIG, Goldman Sachs.

I do hope the David Broders of the world are paying attention...

Hope all you want, but don't expect anything to change.

Posted by: Don SinFalta on February 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Raoul,
We can't just prohibit rescissions and preexisting conditions exclusions without more because then the premiums will go out of sight.

Posted by: JackD on February 8, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to demanding that Obama scrap the pending health care legislation (after almost a year of work and countless pages) the Republicans demand that the President renounce reconciliation.
This strategy harks back to the Bush rules on talks with opposing nations: " give up your positions and we'll talk."

homer www.altara.blogspot.com

Posted by: altara on February 9, 2010 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

"To us, bipartisanship is them being forced to agree with us after we politically have cleaned their clocks and beaten them." - Rush Limbaugh, 2009

Posted by: Keith on February 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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