With healthcare reform bills having been stalled and floundering in the House and senate, with three different versions coming out of committee, and with talk that some Democrats on the Senate Finance committee have been considering caving in on the public option in order to compromise with the Republicans, the most damaging approach Obama has taken on healthcare, the one thing that has caused all the slogging and confusion in congress, was to make bi-partisanship an important goal in passing health care reform.
The big question is why?
Why do the Democrats and Obama feel they need bi-partisanship? Since when does bi-partisanship have anything to do with whether an idea is good or bad or whether it will work or not? Perhaps Obama has never heard the line about a camel being a horse designed by a committee. And when your trying to do it with a bi-partisan committee, it's not only harder, the results are liable to be a lot worse..
The point is, bi-partisanship is often a worthless goal and in this case it couldnt be more worthless.
In 1992 every Republican in the House and Senate voted against Bill Clinton's 1993 budget which passed by one vote -- Al Gore's deciding vote as president of the senate. Republicans called numerous press conferences during the debate to say that Clinton's budget was going to be a disaster for the country. They said specifically it was going to explode the deficit, drive up unemployment and deepen the recession. The Republicans batted 1.000. They were wrong about everything.
Clinton's economic polices which included tax increases, eliminated the deficit, achieved a balanced budget, resulted in the lowest unemployment in 40 years, the greatest economic expansion in US history and Clinton left the country with a $5 1/2 trillion budget surplus that Bush and the Republicans blew in 3 years. something even Paul Volker, Chairmen of the Fed under Reagan, said was mindboggling.
During the Bush years, the Republicans employed policies that destroyed the balanced budget, created record deficits ,saw Bush become the first President since Hoover to lose jobs in his first three years in office and then saw all these policies lead to the greatest economic crisis since the Depression.
And Obama wants bi-partisanship?
This is taking the PR of Obama being a conciliator way too far. The only reason to have bi-partisanship is if you are afraid your idea will fail and you want to share the blame if it does.
The country elected Obama and gave the Democrats big majorities in the House and Senate because they had enough of 6-8 years of Republican ideas and governance and went to the polls and said they didn't want any more. So why are the Democrats negotiating with the Republicans? Why are they trying for bi-partisanship when the majority of the country voted for something else? What,as the saying goes, are they thinking?
Either Obama and the Democrats believe in their ideas and what they are doing on healthcare or they don't. If they don't, then drop it. If they do, then forget bi-partisanship, pass the ideas and the programs and the bills you think is best for the country, most notably the public option, and do it without bi-partisanship if the Republicans dont want to go along.
If Obama and the Democrats are right then the country will reap the benefits and the Republicans who opposed it will find themselves in a political hole they will not get out of for decades. If it goes wrong, the Republicans who opposed it will reap the political benefits. That's the way it goes. That's how the game is played. Those with the best ideas win.
Bi-partisanship is only about one thing -- spreading the blame politically if something doesn't work. It has nothing to do with whether an idea is a good one or whether it will work. The Republicans didn't look for bi-partisanship when they impeached Bill Clinton (for which they took the blame) and there was no bi-partisanship on passing the Clinton budget that turned the country's economy around and resulted in the greatest economic expansion in history.
Obama and the Democrats need to forget bi-partisanship and stand on what he and they believe. .Obama has to give up this idea of wanting everyone to like him. If the Democrats have the votes to pass the public option and other reforms they believe are best for the country, then just do it and be done with bi-partisanship related to healthcare reform.
And what Obama needs to do with the Democrats is tell them the public option is non-neogitable and not to waste time discussing compromise plans with the Republicans.
Tell them to vote against it if they dont believe in it and that they wll be held accountable politically if it passes and it succeeds. Let him be clear that he will veto any bill that does not include the public option and that their choices are to vote for it or against it but not waste any time trying to forge a bill that drops it.
Obama also has to address the lies being told by those opposing the public option and label them in no uncertain terms for what they are -- lies instead of treating it like the thing he supposedly came to Washington to change -- politics as usual. And make it clear he will hold them accountable for lying when they do..
Obama likes to remind the Republicans that the Democrats won. Its time for both he and the Democrats to start acting like it or hand over the government to the Republicans who know how to act like a majority party even if most of their ideas and policies were a disaster.
The best thing the Democrats can do is pass what they think will work with or without Republican support . And if Obama wants everyone to get along, then he can invite everyone over for a beer instead.
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