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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bi Parisanship in the Era of Obama

Rasmussen has a new poll out regarding the favor ability of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Conservatives should be heartened because her popularity has slipped in the last week. I would wager that this has everything to do with the controversy surrounding her "wise Latina" comment. Buried in the poll is something rather interesting and more pertinent to this discussion.

Unchanged from last week is the fact that most Democrats favor confirmation while most Republicans are opposed. Those not affiliated with either major party are now evenly divided. Last week, unaffiliated leaned modestly in favor of confirmation.

So, it appears the nomination of Judge Sotomayor will go the same way of most of the policies so far under President Obama, into the polarized partisan scrap. Among many observations of his presidency so far (nearing in on five months) is the total and complete failure of President Obama to live up to his campaign THEME of transcending partisanship and bringing the country together. In fact, so far, the only bi partisanship that's been shown on any of his policies has been on GITMO. That's because the Senators voted in a bi partisan way, 90-6, to refuse funds for moving detainees until he showed a plan. Besides that show of bi partisanship, so far the first five months of President Obama's term has made the Bush era feel as though it was all love all the time.

Then, there's this story from Fox News.

President Barack Obama's hopes for a bipartisan health deal seemed in jeopardy Thursday as GOP senators protested his renewed support for a new public health insurance plan, and a key Democratic chairman declared that such a plan would likely be in the Senate's bill.

A public plan that would compete with private insurers is opposed by nearly all Republicans. Obama long has supported it, but he had avoided going into detail about his health goals, leaving the specifics to Congress and emphasizing hopes for a bipartisan bill.

That changed when Obama released a letter Wednesday to two Senate Democrats saying he believed strongly in the need for a new public plan.

"It wasn't helpful, it wasn't helpful," said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which is taking a lead role in crafting a health care overhaul. "Words make a difference. And this made a difference."

Now mind you, this doesn't mean that health care reform is dead. President Obama is determined to pass health care reform. This does however kill any bi partisan deal for health care reform. Whatever deal comes, it will come with almost no Republican support. In fact, it will likely come with little Republican input.

Cap and Trade, now making its way through the legislature, is also following a similar path. So far, it's only faced one vote. It passed almost entirely on a party line vote. Only one Republican crossed over to vote with the Democrats. Republicans have taken to calling it cap and tax. Cap and trade has a long way till it becomes law but if it does it will be with very little Republican support.

The same can also be said of card check. That bill looks dead and that's in part because it has received absolutely no Republican support.

Even the issue of regulatory reform is anything but a bi partisan affair. The President wants to give more power to the Federal Reserve. He's focusing on things like systemic risk, executive pay, along with a series of measures to put into place even more protection for the consumer. Meanwhile the Republicans are focusing on ending bailouts, reforming the Federal Reserve, and reforming Fannie/Freddie. So far, the President hasn't been very keen on incorporating Republican's ideas on this issue either.

Finally, there is the signature issue of Obama's presidency, the stimulus. We all know that this bill passed with no Republican support in the House and only three Republicans in the Senate. What's less well known is just how shut out Republicans were in the process. I was on a conference call with Eric Cantor the evening before the bill passed. Everyone wanted to know details and Cantor had none. That's because not only had he not seen the bill but no one in the Republican conference was even allowed in the meetings when they were crafting the compromise bill. The next day, at about noon, the bill passed both Houses and soon became law.

Now, none of this is necessarily a bad thing. There is nothing that says that a President must govern in a bi partisan manner. There is nothing that says that the ruling party must listen to the party out of power. None of this would be such a big deal except that President Obama made one of his campaign themes that he would transcend exactly this sort of partisan environment. One thing is clear and that is one of the main reasons that President Obama said for voting for him has turned into a miserable failure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obama's idea of bipartisanship is "the liberals who voted for me, and the independents who voted for me."

The Democrats are not going to trust the Republicans. They view them as an angry, hateful lot that values property over principle, order over freedom, and privilege over equality. I wouldn't be surprised if "Don't let them overthrow Obama" is their 2010 slogan.

To the Democrats, an insistence on bipartisanship is simply the Republicans demanding they act more conservative. Especially in light of what they experienced with a Republican president and Republican congress. Between Bush and DeLay they practically treated the Democrats like a terrorist organization.