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Are Democrats 'rushing things'?

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To pretend a bit of naiveté for a second, the people -- some call them "Republicans" -- who keep arguing that the Obama administration is "rushing things" have a really easy way to put an end to it: start cooperating when the Obama administration doesn't rush things.

For instance: Starting in June, health-care reform took what amounted to a three-month breather so four Republicans (Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Olympia Snowe and Mike Enzi) could sit in a room and negotiate with three Democrats. The result was that one Republican (Hatch) left, and two campaigned against "Obamacare" while they were still involved in the negotiations over it. It's not a process anyone is anxious to repeat. But if the Republicans had actually united around some compromise proposals and then contributed some votes to the final bill, everyone would be anxious to convene bipartisan working groups to leisurely develop large pieces of legislation.

A majority party that can count on 60 votes for any piece of legislation can ignore the minority. A majority party that cannot count on 60 votes -- and the Democratic Party is such a party -- is desperate for votes from the minority party. In that way, whether a bill is bipartisan or not is often the choice of the minority, even as they blame the majority for rampant partisanship. So it was with health-care reform, and the stimulus, and much else. In all these cases, Democrats worked pretty hard to secure Republican votes for their bill. The stimulus contained hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts. The Senate Finance Committee's bill eschewed the public option and cut the deficit.

But none of it worked, and it didn't work because Republicans decided that obstruction offered more opportunity for political revival than did cooperation, just as they've decided that complaining that Democrats are "rushing things" will net them more votes than crowing about their skillful use of the filibuster. They're probably right on both counts, but people shouldn't confuse good politics with an accurate description of events.

Photo credit: By Alex Brandon/Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  November 2, 2009; 5:11 PM ET
 
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Comments

To play devil's advocate you can go around the internet and find pro-reform hacks arguing precisely that Dems need to rush this bill through as quickly as possible.

The process has not been transparent and most Americans have no idea what's in the bill. Those of us who study these things don't always know what's in the bill. In some cases even the people who supposedly *wrote* it don't understand it (witness for example Anna Eshoo's attempts to defend her own biosimilars amendment.)

The process can be defended if you believe the ends justify the means. Personally I don't think we have a product here that meets that standard.

Posted by: bmull | November 2, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats should do the task of passing the healthcare legislation as soon as possible without any unreasonable delays. The time for delay and debate has passed. The Republicans want a delay and debate so as to kill the reform legislation. They really do not want healthcare reform. The Republicans want to maintain the status quo and help the private insurance companies rip-off the American people. This issue has been debated, analyzed and written about for decades. The result is that we are still stuck with a broken healthcare system and 50 million uninsured and millions more people underinsured left behind and the highest per capita healthcare costs in the world. Doing nothing is not an option that will save us money. On the contrary, doing nothing will cost us more money in the future. Healthcare reform will save us money in the future and save American lives as well.

Posted by: abishop2 | November 2, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

The best thing that could ever happen is for people to stop acting responsible. To expose the poor values behind the democrats and their ilk the population as a whole should start having children at incredible rates, living in government paid for housing, using government paid for food, sent to government paid for schools and using government paid for health care so that this system may collapse all the sooner.

The "values" and "rights" touted by the left are false and unmaintainable. The most poetic death of this country would be choke the fools with their own rhetoric. You fools who deserve everything you get. Enjoy.

Posted by: jfelce | November 3, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I corrected your first sentence for you.

To show his severe naivete about everything, the person -- otherwise known as Ezra Klein -- who keeps arguing that...

Posted by: novalfter | November 3, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

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