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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Democrats Infight...Blame Republicans

Try and figure this out. If the health care legislation currently being debated has the public option, then the Democrats will lose most of the 52 Blue Dogs and most of the 15 moderate Democrats in the Senate. If it doesn't have the public option, then Democrats will lose most of its liberal wing. Either way, the Democrats can't put together a bill that will have enough votes to pass. Now, that sounds to me like a problem that affects Democrats and Democrats only. In fact, with 60 votes in the Senate and 256 in the House, the Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for not passing any legislation. They have enough votes to create a sort of Parlimentary majority. (by parliamentary I mean like the British parliament where the ruling party passes its entire agenda and when something doesn't pass that's a no confidence vote)

The Democrats can bemoan and cry about the Republicans refusal to get on board, but all of it is nonsense. First, they don't need Republicans to get on board. Second, if they had a bill that the people wanted, they wouldn't care if Republicans were on board. Third, and most importantly, if they wanted a bi partisan bill, why is the bill they have crafted so liberal. It's 1017 pages. It has 53 new bureaucracies. It expands Medicaid and Medicare. It includes business and individual tax increases. It doesn't include health savings accounts. It doesn't allow for health insurance to cross state lines. It has no tort reform. Just think about that for a minute. The Democrats craft a bill with every liberal fantasy and allow for no conservative ideas, and then bemoan the Republicans' lack of bi partisanship.

Yet, that's exactly what they are doing.

President Obama sharply criticized Republicans on Tuesday for following a “familiar script” to “block healthcare reform.”The president, seeking to prod the Democratic-controlled Congress to show significant progress on healthcare reform before the August recess, directed blame at the GOP for the stalled legislation.Obama blasted the "familiar script" of Republicans who "have openly declared their intention to block healthcare reform."

Here's Harry Reid.

On something as important as health care you would think people would be interested in working together,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. “Republicans aren’t interested in working with Democrats. That’s pretty clear.”

Here's Nancy Pelosi.

House Speaker Nancy (D-Calif.) told a small group of reporters Wednesday that the GOP, whatever its policy concerns, was intent on blocking health care reform out of fear that it will give a generational boost to the Democratic Party.

Pelosi, in painting the debate in starkly political terms, was careful to say clearly that it was the Republican Party that did so first. But underlying her remarks is a belief held by many in both parties that if Democrats can pass health care legislation that expands coverage and brings down cost they can lock up the majority for years to come, much as the party did after implementing the New Deal reforms.


Democrats should remember that as they go it alone on health care reform. It should be obvious by now that Republicans are bent on sabotage.

The last straw was Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's giving credence to the "death panel"
nonsense. (Grassley was supposed to be one of the reasonable Republican negotiators.) Party leaders just shot down the idea of consumer-run insurance co-ops, designed to appease Republicans as an alternative to the public option.

Every compromise President Obama offered in the name of bipartisanship was read as a sign of weakness. For Republicans, sticking it to the Democrats trumps doing what's good for the country. The heck with them.

Think about the irony of someone saying "the Republicans are bent on sabotage" then bemoaning Grassley as saying "nonsense". To the Democrats and their allies, a compromise from government run health care known as the "public option" is pseudo government run health care known as Co Ops.


Given the heinous dust that's been raised, it seems likely that end-of-life counseling will be dropped from the health-reform legislation. But that's a small point, compared with the larger issue that has clouded this summer: How can you sustain a democracy if one of the two major political parties has been overrun by nihilists? And another question: How can you maintain the illusion of journalistic impartiality when one of the political parties has jumped the shark?

There's more. Here's a commentary from my local Sun Times.

Faced with strident and at times destructive resistance from Republican leaders, particularly in the last few weeks, top Democrats are looking inward.

The Democrats can reform health care without significant Republican help, and we urge them to go for it.

With 47 million Americans uninsured, and health-care costs expected to account for one out of every four dollars in our national economy by 2025, reform cannot wait. That means forging ahead with Democrats, who represent a range of views on how best to improve our health-care system, including an element that rejects a publicly run health plan, or public option.

It also means rejecting any bill that, in the name of winning a few token Republican votes, is so watered down that it's not worth doing -- the likely outcome if Obama continues to seek the holy grail of bipartisanship.

This sort of delusional revisionism is stunning. There is delicious irony in pundits and presidents demonizing the other side with explosive language and then bemoaning the fact that the other party uses explosive language to block health care. Are all these folks really lacking this much self awareness? The reason that health care is still not law has nothing to do with the Republicans. It's because the Democrats spent months fighting amongst themselves. They finally got a draft in the House and the Blue Dogs freaked out and demanded that no final vote be taken until after the break. The Republicans have nothing to do with this.

The idea that the Democrats will be "looking inward" is fantasy. They've been looking inward and they can't find a consensus. In mortgages, something like this happens all the time. Things blow up and everyone points fingers at everyone but themselves. The president can't craft a bill that will pass and so it's everyone's fault but the president himself. It's the "misinformation". It's the Republican's " strident and destructive opposition". It's the fact that it's just so complicated. Of course, it's so complicated because it's a radical change in health care.

Now, I will say that there a few Democrats and liberal pundits that admit what is obvious to everyone besides the Democrats, that most of the fault lies in the president and the Democratic leadership. Still, it's hard to find any Democrat not follow that up with talking points about how Republicans are slowing this process down for political purposes. This sort of propaganda doesn't really work and so I suggest the Democrats act like adults, something rarely seen in politics, and accept responsibility for the mess they created.

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