Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bipartisan, To A Fault

Talk show host Laura Ingraham says so, Rush Limbaugh says so, Time Magazine's Mark Halperin says so, even David 'The Legend' Broder says so. Therefore, must it not be true?

According to Media Matters, on 10/27/09 Ingraham claimed on GOP TV's Fox & Friends:

This crowd is the most partisan crowd I have ever seen in Washington. They said Bush was partisan?.... You're about to have your entire health care system changed by one party that's wildly unpopular right now. Unbelievable.

The same day, Halperin contended on MSNBC's Morning Joe:

I agree with what you have been saying for months, which is they made a mistake not making this bipartisan, once they made the decision to do it with Democratic votes.

On December 16 Limbaugh blustered:

It is not simple-minded. It is not simplistic to say, "I oppose that, it's liberal. I oppose that candidate," or, "I oppose that president, because it's liberal." In fact, it is highly wise. It's very smart to cite liberalism as the primary reason you oppose any liberal or any Democrat. It's the smartest thing you can do is to stop liberalism at every chance you've got. Not work with it, not compromise with them, not try to prove to them that you're a nice guy. Just beat 'em. Just stop 'em. Especially now. We have never faced a more radically left leadership in this country than now, and there's no compromising with them.

And now, on Christmas Eve, Broder imagines

But even those Republicans who were initially inclined to do that (i.e., "offer a sustained working partnership)-- and there were at least a handful of them -- were turned away by the White House and the Senate Democratic leaders, who never lifted their sights much beyond the Democratic ranks....

It would help a lot if he (President Obama)reached out personally to those few Republicans who might still want to improve the bill rather than sink it. And it would help even more if he shamed the Democrats into rescinding some of the crasser bargains they made to buy votes along the way.

The country would welcome even a few signs that this legislation has bipartisan support.

On October 13, in the opening statement (html) he gave to the "markup" of the bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee he chairs, Senator Max Baucus explained:

Over the last two years, we held 20 hearings on health care. Last June, we held a health care summit at the Library of Congress. We held three roundtable discussions with experts on each of the three major areas of reform:

health care delivery, coverage, and how to pay for it. In connection with each roundtable, we put out detailed option papers. And then we held three walk‐throughs to hash out those options. Six Members of the Committee — three Republicans and three Democrats — held 31 meetings to try to come to a consensus. We held exhaustive meetings. We met for more than 61 hours. We went the extra mile.

Who are these "bipartisan" Republicans?

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl on an August 18 conference call with reporters, referring to GOP senators, stated

I think it’s safe to say that there are a huge number of big issues that people have. There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill.

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint on a conference call on July 17 boasted

If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.

Iowa's Senator Grassley, himself a member of the Gang Of Six which crafted the bill in the Finance Committee, on August 17 that he wouldn't vote for any bill which would not get the support of most Republicans.

In his remarks, Senator Baucus explained "Senators offered and the Committee considered 135 amendments. We conducted 79 roll‐call votes. And we adopted 41 amendments." On December 20, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported on one of these amendments:

A number of studies have cast some serious doubt about the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education and as a result, congressional Democrats -- who have bristled at the program for years -- cut off all federal funding.

But then Hatch stepped in. During a committee health reform debate, he cited his own supportive studies and proposed an amendment restoring $50 million for the controversial program for the next five years. It passed with the help of two Democrats -- Sens. Blanche Lincoln, from Arkansas, and Kent Conrad, from North Dakota -- much to the chagrin of Senate liberals.

"I sure do not want the abstinence education to be short-changed," Hatch said during the hearing.

The committee passed a second amendment supported by the Democratic chairman that created a separate $50 million program for comprehensive sex-ed, which combines information about abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives.

Aside from whether abstinence-only education generally works (it doesn't) or whether the Utah Senator (or Lincoln, Conrad, and the others) will continue to pose as a "fiscal conservative" (he shouldn't, but will), this was an amendment proposed by a Republican, approved by a Democratic-dominated committee and Senate, and which probably will appear in the combined House/Senate bill- even though most congressional Democrats don't agree with it.

In the mainstream media and, to a lesser extent, among the public, where "bipartisanship" is next to godliness, it's political gold for the GOP to pretend that the Democratic Party shut it out in advancing health care reform. But as at least Repub partisans like Ingraham and Limbaugh understand (but never would admit), it is bogus.

President Emanuel Obama and congressional leaders have strenuously attempted to get any Republican on board with health care reform. Any Republican. At almost any cost. But they have faced a party bound and determined to oppose all initiatives the Democratic Party has to offer on this issue. And they have held firm- with only one Republican vote (cast only after the necessary majority for approval had been attained)in favor of reform in the House and none in the Senate. And they have gotten their way- even if they have chosen, for strategic reasons, to claim otherwise- in persuading Democrats to promote legislation far more pleasing to health insurers and drug companies than to consumers.

-------------------Merry Christmas---------------------------------

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