Are Democrats 'rushing things'?
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
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