Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 19, 2010

CHUTZPAH WATCH.... This morning, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declared that congressional Republicans "will say no to this health care bill." A couple of hours later, Eric Cantor insisted that it's incumbent upon President Obama to make a grand gesture of "bipartisanship."

President Barack Obama must take a procedural maneuver to pass healthcare with a simple majority off the table, the second-ranking House Republican said Friday.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged Obama to reject using the budget reconciliation process to pass health reform, a tactic that would allow Democrats to finish health reform without any GOP support.

"If the President is sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan fashion, he must take the reconciliation process -- which will be used jam through legislation that a majority of Americans do not want -- off the table," Cantor said in a statement.

First, it's painfully obvious that Cantor isn't "sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan fashion," since he, just this morning, declared his opposition to a bill he has not yet seen. It takes quite a bit of chutzpah to declare opposition to legislation in the morning, and then demand accommodation in the afternoon, all the while insisting it's the White House that needs to commit to "bipartisanship."

Second, Cantor's plea is itself idiotic. Before they talk about health care reform, Republicans want the president to agree in advance to give Republicans the opportunity to kill health care reform. Please.

Despite all of this, I still think there's a way for both sides to move forward in good faith. Democrats can agree to take reconciliation off the table if Republicans agree to take a filibuster off the table. The White House, Senate leaders from both parties, and House leaders from both parties can get together and have a substantive discussion about the policy. Soon after, the House and Senate can vote on health care reform -- if a majority in both chambers approve of the final bill, it goes to the White House for a signature. If a majority in either chambers disapproves, the bill dies.

That sounds fair, doesn't it?

Steve Benen 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Cantor is such the weasel. The master of doublespeak! He should go into politics..

Posted by: Smack the Trollop on February 19, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Where is he getting his figures when he says a majority of Americans "do not want" healthcare reform? Why are they allowed to continually get away with this?

Posted by: Mark on February 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Do you ever wonder where repugs get these great ideas?

obamarahm play the "bipartisan" game because they actually NEVER INTENDED for their to be any meaningful healthcare reform.

Posted by: joe on February 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, it sounds fair, but it will never happen because the Democrats have 57 votes and the Republicans 43 (Lieberman and Nelson just cacus with the Democrats, the camp with the Republicans.)

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 19, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

OK. Tell them to take the filibuster option off the table if reconciliation is off the table.

That's a fair trade right?

Posted by: mikefromArlington on February 19, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"caucus" and "they". Preview is my friend. Preview is my friend. Preview is my friend.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 19, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Steve I don't know if your out of your fucking mind or a master of satire and irony. What on earth would give anyone any idea that these douchebag republicans will do anything in good faith.

Posted by: Gandalf on February 19, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'd agree - I think good "put up or shut up" negotiating would trade reconciliation for filibuster; and I think if Republicans think opposing the bill is a net win, letting it pass works for them anyway. I do think this demand reflects that opposing a ready to go bill doesn't really hurt the GOP, and Democrats haven't entirely come up with a successful way to make it damaging. Yet.

Also, I think winning the healthcare reform battle isn't going to be done by trading competing poll numbers; the picture of just how much people like the reform bill that's still in play is muddy, at best. Waiting for such a significant policy change to be popular is a sure recipe for not doing anything at all. Not doing anything will poll well... even if it makes no sense (so will its cousin "something, but not this"). I think progressives have pinned too much of a winning argument on polling over policy. It's the policy that needs to be right, not the poll question.

Posted by: weboy on February 19, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

But the Democrats never talk this way. They act as though the Republican arguments are legitimate, and they act as though 60 votes are required and that reconciliation is therefore some kind of nefarious trick (or at least, by not vigorously opposing such arguments they allow them to stick).

Posted by: Joe Buck on February 19, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

This guarantees that there will be no bill.

Posted by: couser on February 19, 2010 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, my God...Cantor has been split into two people due to a transporter malfunction, just like Captain Kirk in that "Star Trek" episode...only both Cantors are evil!

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on February 19, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Cantor is a MAJOR dickhead...he offers nothing of substance but RUNS to the microphone every chance he gets to tell us what 'REAL AMERICANS' think. You know what Eric? Pay your taxes, pay your own insurance, stop whining about how you need a raise to support two households, get out of the pocket of lobbyists and THEN MAYBE you can talk to us.

Posted by: sysprog on February 19, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

For those of you who agonize over the endless debate(se) over healthcare, consider the legislation to be tapping into the tip of our entire political system.

The whole picture is one either for corporate interests, or for the people.

It is insane to consider that the very same people who equate any public option with socialism, want to
privatize our entire public wealth.

Federal versus States' rights.

Heck, we're even kinda applauding that IRS plane crash guy.

The folks who cheat on their taxes, aren't the one's who need to.

You either build for taxes, or builk the taxpayers.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 19, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"takes chutzpah to declare opposition to legislation in the morning, then demand accommodation in the evening, while insisting it's the White House that needs to commit to "bipartisanship."

Obviously Cantor's statements are dishonest, and assume the stupidity of their target audience (like almost all political speech) but they aren't inconsistent: he's saying the present bill is too radical, that republicans oppose it as it is, and will only consider supporting it if the bill goes further towards the R's position. Seem like absolutely pedestrian points to me.

And voicing opposition or support for an unseen bill is also absolutely commonplace. Bills are passed unread all the time.

Posted by: flubber on February 19, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to believe how reasonable President Obama has been with these clowns. If all the roles were reversed and Speaker Pelosi bitched all day and all night without offering anything, Bush/Chenney would have just spat out F.U. and rammed everything through reconciliation as payback until they lost their Congressional Majorities.

Actually I am not able to imagine what the Mighty Whurlitzer would be shreiking right now if Pelosi had vomited on Bushes agenda like this.

Posted by: bcinaz on February 19, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats can agree to take reconciliation off the table if Republicans agree to take a filibuster off the table.

Steve, that only sounds fair if you're not dealing with a bunch of hostage-takers/out-and-out liars.

I'd bet dollars-to-doughnuts this is how it would play out:

WH agrees to take reconciliation off the table (side effect: the left blogosphere would be enraged and this would kick off a whole 'nuther round of circular firing squad action);

GOP just as good as agrees to drop a filibuster --and therein lies the rub. The GOP will just as good as agree to drop the filibuster but will find some shameless way to insist they never said they would do that, even if that shameless way means plain old lying. While they would insist they never said that, they would also insist that the WH stick to their good-faith pledge to drop reconciliation.

But the GOP is not even the greatest threat right now to passing the bill without reconciliation. Our own homegrown, useless Blue Dogs are. That's the biggest reason I feel reconciliation must be used to pass. the. damn. bill (as you say so effectively).

Posted by: June on February 19, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Based on a plain average, 7,134 people have died in this country due to lack of healthcare since the Senate passed its healthcare bill.

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 19, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

For The Current GOP Bipartisanship means doing it their way.

Posted by: Jamie on February 19, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

The frustration I feel with the Democrats' impotence in getting the message out about so many issues is about at the boiling point. Whether it's trashing the Constitution by allowing torture, health insurance, the stimulus, Republican obstructionism or any number of other issues, they are stupidly silent. Why aren't congressional Dems exposing Cantor? Where are the op-eds, the commercials, the press conferences? They are allowing the public to be (mis)educated by the likes of Beck. Limbaugh and Hannity. I'm ashamed of the party. Rachel Maddow and others on the paltry number of liberal radio talk shows are trying but they can't do it alone. Where is the national Dem leadership????

Posted by: emmie on February 19, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

The democrats are not as unified as the right is.

The left may have the upper hand but the right is doing all the jerking lately.

It's as if we now live in a world where bluster, swagger and bluffing is all ya need to run the country.





The democrats can't sneer as well as the GOP.

It's the loudmouths that get all the press and greedily crow for their own war chest.

The democrats can lead, they just have to be willing to jettison a few ideals and get er dun!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 19, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

This just indicates how weak Republicans think Obama is. And, sadly, I tend to agree. Where is the guy we elected? And where is the spine of the Democratic Party? For God's sake Pass. The. Damn. Bill. Already.

Posted by: SFBay on February 19, 2010 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not going to mince words on this. As far as putting up with more republican BS obstructionist tactics, hell, no! Republicans don't know the meaning of the word fair unless it applies to themselves. It's obvious that they will never vote in favor of HCR, and trying to negotiate with them after being burned by them repeatedly, they cannot be trusted. If they don't want to vote for HCR because they're focused on thwarting the president and democrats and not on helping the American people, they should be ignored. Use reconciliation to pass the bill, have the press conferences, and let the chips fall where they may. Based on what I've seen in the last year, the republicans plan to vote against almost everything the democrats propose. Either they would make good Calvinists, or I would make a good psychic. We all know how they'll vote before the bill is introduced into a house of Congress. It's good that I'm not a member of Congress because I'd be like Alan Grayson, only I'd be much worse. I'd make sure that I would be the republicans worst nightmare.

Posted by: majii on February 19, 2010 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

I swear, anyone whose done any reading at all about the American Civil War (and I've done a lot) will instantly recognize the irrationality and incoherance coming from the Republican Party as almost identical to the bullying one-sidedness and outrageously demanding that the slave-holding South became as it felt its power slipping away and its slave-based culture endangered. Read about Congress's outrageous "gag rule" that prohibited anti-slave petitions from even being acknowledged by Congress. It was also a capital offense to possess abolotionist literature south of the Mason Dixon line. John Quincy Adams fought the slaveholders and their gag rule at every turn and was actually censured as a result. That is how extreme the far right South became in the years right before Fort Sumter. Today's GOP has the same tone today.

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 20, 2010 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK
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