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Discrediting the legislative process itself

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So far in the health-care debate, Republicans have attacked the legitimacy of private negotiations, parochial dealmaking, the budget reconciliation process, self-executing rules, the Congressional Budget Office's analyses, and even the constitutionality of the legislation. It's a good theory: Make people hate Washington and mistrust the legislative process and you'll make people hate and mistrust what emerges from that process.

But it's also dangerous. As Republicans well know, private negotiations between lawmakers, deals that advantage a state or a district, and a base level of respect for the CBO's scores have long been central to the lawmaking progress. As the parties have polarized, reconciliation and self-executing rules (like deem and pass) have become more common -- and the GOP's own record, which includes dozens of reconciliation bills and self-executing rules, proves it.

The GOP's answer to this is that health-care reform is important. Stopping the bill is worth pulling out all the stops. And I'm actually quite sympathetic to this view. Outcomes are, in fact, more important than process. But once you've taken the stops out, it's hard to put them back in. Democrats will launch the very same attacks when they're consigned to the minority, and maybe think up a few new ones of their own.

The result of this constant assault on how a bill becomes a law -- a process that has never before been subject to such 24/7 scrutiny from cable news and blogs and talk radio -- will be ever more public cynicism. Evan Bayh put it well in his New York Times op-ed. "Power is constantly sought through the use of means which render its effective use, once acquired, impossible," he wrote. Republicans, who're likely to return to power with a majority that's well below 60 seats in the Senate and a 40-vote margin in the House, will soon find themselves on the wrong end of that calculus.

Photo credit: Melina Mara/Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 19, 2010; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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Next: Twilight of the interest groups

Comments

Yeah but it won't matter when they are in the majority. They (the GOP) are so much better at messaging than the Democrats that it won't matter. The Democrats will scream and yell and decry the use of Reconciliation/Deem & Pass/Self-Executing Rules, etc. but will do so in their standard linear-logic/fact & reality based world instead of the five word soundbite that resonates with so much of the population. This is Drive-Thru Politics: Your Legislation and Debate Served to You in Under 90 seconds or it's FREE!!!

Add into that empty shirts like your co-worker Dana Millbank who will regurgitate these talking points verbatim lest he lose his spot in the DC cocktail party rotation.

Posted by: RoundedFork | March 19, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Of course, the threat to the Republicans is undermined by the Democrats repeatedly pointing out that they are just doing what the Republicans have done. When the Republicans need to use these methods, they'll have a treasure trove of Democratic sound bites supporting the use of these tactics.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | March 19, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't know. The GOP seems more comfortable with politics as food fight, and they tend not to make procedural promises that can be used against them when pursuing their policy agenda. My hunch is that this backfires against them only if it leads to procedural reform.

Posted by: CatfishHunter | March 19, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I doubt it- we'll always have "Gangs of N" when the deal cut by the gang is to advantage Republicans, but not when it's to help Dems. The gang of 12 on the court nominations was really 6 Dems capitulating, not 6 Dems and 6 Republicans compromising. I expect we'll see similar "compromises" when Republicans are back in power but never when Dems are in power.

Posted by: _SP_ | March 19, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

What other huge topic is left for Republicans to hold off on? Is Obama going to send us to work camps next?

Posted by: JohnnyGee | March 19, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

All these arguments. To me, it comes down to this--It is time to stop the health insurance industry's ponzi scheme whereby you pay into health insurance all your healthy life, you become critically ill and lose your job (and insurance), and you can't be re-insured anywhere else because you have a "pre-existing illness."

Meanwhile, of course, the health insurance corporations and their CEOs are making billions, enough to hire lobbyists, run millions in advertising, pay their CEOs millions (28 million for one last year, I saw), and still make a profit for their shareholders.

It is time for all that to stop. Good health care is a human right, not something to be used to make obscene profits.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | March 19, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Poor, poor Boener. You always look so sad in your pictures!

What's the matter? Hard day of misleading people into opposing policies that would benefit nearly everyone in your district, all to curry favor with industry tycoons who fill your campaign coffers?

Whaaaaa.

Posted by: paul65 | March 19, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse


Pelosi does not have enough votes. She has fewer votes today than she did yesterday.

All the rest is window dressing.

Posted by: screwjob11 | March 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Actually, I do think we have a near-term precedent in the Clinton's first budget. You got the same crazed reaction from the GOPers that it was going to wreak the economy and otherwise end the world.

The truly awful thing is that they never had to pay a price for this deception.

Posted by: leoklein | March 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

GOP tactics will only disadvantage GOP majorities if Democrats fight back. Now what was it that gave you the idea Dems would do such a thing?

Posted by: janinsanfran | March 19, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@RoundedFork March 19, 2010 10:41 AM -
You nailed it right there.

Posted by: looj | March 19, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

@ screwjob11 : Such statements are all the better for a little proof. Until the votes happen your message is mindless fearmongering troll talk.

Posted by: srw3 | March 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

This article's focus is entirely backwards. Democrats have both the White House and majorities in both the Senate and the House. Yet their massive, 2,000+ bloated monstrosity of a bill is so unpopular and -- yes -- stupid that they still can't get it passed normally despite all those institutional advantages. Sure, reconciliation has been used in the past, but the fact that nobody even knew about it until now shows how controversial this bill really is. Moderate Democrats know they are going to get eaten alive later this year at the polls, all in some mad banzai charge to put a feather in Obama's cap, and you're blaming Republicans?

If the Democrats had written a bill that was halfway coherent, didn't try to "fix" costs in two other Democrat healthcare programs by adding a third, and didn't basically require overburdened taxpayers to now pay for random strangers' healthcare, they might have actually just passed it themselves. That they now are trying to do so like thieves in the night shows just how wrongheaded their entire approach has been.

When your bill loses you Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts seat to a Republican, it is time to go home and rethink your life.

Posted by: zippyspeed | March 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

excellent and thoughtful post.

regarding the current republican leadership, i think they are an intellectually and spiritually impoverished party now...with willful and spiteful obstructionism, lack of factual foundation for republican talking points against this bill, their bankruptcy of ideas and humanity in addressing the issue of suffering americans, the nearly complete absence of intelligent, inspiring leadership, as well as the profound and hatefilled dumbness of the tea party goblins, will reflect this period of republican leadership in an extremely negative way, once this bill is passed.

there will be a memory of glenn beck, feeding a poisoned cup to a paper effigy of nancy pelosi, sarah palin and her ilk, talking of death panels....revealing a stunning ignorance that shamed all americans, memories of the stony, corpse-like faces of the republican contingent at the state of the union address....the disrespectful, disdainful nterview of the president on fox news..as he went with hat in hand to the belly of the beast....images of eric cantor's mockery of the summit, treating it like a dog and pony show...showing the bill as a large document...only indicating that he had neither the patience or the acumen to read it.

these are the memories that will come to mind of the republican leadership, at this time.
and the outrageous moment during the president's appearance, when the shout came, "you lie!!!!!"
the republican leadership has sunk to a level of intellectual disdainfulness and incivility that will remain in the retelling of this period of history. i am sure of it.
in the meantime, i think this bill has been so hardwon...and president obama has remained so patient and civil and has made every attempt at bipartisanship throughout the process and it will be a beautiful victory, redirecting our compass as a humane nation, still capable of right action.

(and i have to add that watching some of the news segments of the tea party goblins, their leaders and their minions..i felt like an onlooker at a party for "rosemary's baby." it has been a chilling experience.
i have sometimes wondered,could they all secretly live in the dakota, on central park west?)

Posted by: jkaren | March 19, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

It's good to see health care bill coming to fruition. It has been attacked relentlessly and vigorously with exaggerated and falsified claims. Through all the fire and smoke the message coming across clearly is that the Dems are genuinely trying to help middle class americans gain better access to a healthier life while Repubs are protecting special interests. The Repubs are not proactive on the issue, and their suggested changes to the health care system at the summit seemed puny. They fought and lost. It's so nice and refreshing to see something transformative emerge from Congress, and let's hope this bill becomes a positive force in all our lives.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | March 19, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

@paul65: "Poor, poor Boener. You always look so sad in your pictures!"

In his defense I'm pretty sure that photo was taken in a wax museum.

But seriously, it's a telling sign that they've anointed that deficit spending, tax raising, torture condemning liberal Reagan to GOP Sainthood while completely oblivious to the fact that he'd lose in a landslide in today's GOP primaries.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 19, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"Outcomes are more important than process"

i.e. The Ends Justify the Means?

Contra Machiavelli -- who was right on a lot of things -- I'd say that the means temper the ends, and visa versa.

The process matters. So does the end goal. The two are inseparable. This is one of the reasons that we have the bill that we have and not something else.

As far as the larger context is concerned, the GOP's motivations are pretty clear -- and I agree that the actions are irresponsible. While it might take voters time to come around, the GOP's wager could have a corrosive impact on the system, or it could have an impact that is marginally corrosive to the system, but mostly corrosive to the GOP. At this moment the GOP is defining itself in purely negative terms.

Posted by: JPRS | March 19, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

The dems are about to have an opportunity to create a moment of realization in this country. When this bill passes and people start to use and appreciate the improvements in health care, we need to keep the republican feet to the fire and remind the voters about all of the lies told by republicans that came to be truth in the minds of many. They never suffer the consequences of the lies because dems are usually more than happy to move on. This should play out like the time when people finally came to realize that there were no WMD in Iraq and that Saddam wasn't behind 911.

Of course, this is just a fantasy of mine. After all, I'm sure in the short memories of Americans, republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility....aren't they?

Posted by: rramos01 | March 19, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Once again: The Republicans don't care bnecause they fgundamentally aren;t interested in governing, only distributing the spoils, which in some cases includes interfering in other people's private lives and decisions. Thwey favor the Predator State and governing in the traditional sense, as Bush proved, doesn't really matter to them.

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 19, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, you act as if this is a bug rather than a feature of the program. If your ideological end is the dominance of all human relations by the market, then you have to poison the governmental well as much as you can since that's the main alternative.

The political scientists Stanley Feldman and Marco Steenbergen wrote an article earlier this decade that sheds light on this, although they don't put their findings in the context I using here. The article is titled " The Humanitarian Foundation for Public Support for Social Welfare." The authors argue that public opinion support for social welfare policy isn't undergirded, in the US at least, by an egalitarian ethos, but a humanitarian one. Americans see distinct problems and want distinct answers to them. But, that poses a question: why not just leave charity to take up the task? E.g., if the goal is to alleviate certain distinct forms of suffering, then the government doesn't always have to be involved. Well, they find that those individuals who don't believe the government can do the job are far more likely to support charity doing to the job. "The interaction between humanitarianism and confidence in the government suggests that support for social welfare policies may be withheld, not because of a lack of interest in assisting the poor, but because of concerns over the effectiveness of the government in supplying public assistance" (674).

Poisoning the well, getting people to think that we don't do comprehensive well, mucking things up...these are tools in the arsenal.

Posted by: y2josh_us | March 19, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Insightful commentary as usual, Ezra; thanks!

Screwjob11, perhaps you've been huddled in a cave this week, or else you'd know that several Democratic representatives have come out in favor of the bill. Perhaps even more significant, no one who voted for it the first time has declared an intention to flip (though it's always possible, of course).

Bottom line: The bill will pass. :-)

Posted by: DCSteve1 | March 19, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, the fundamental premise of modern conservatism is that guvmint is bad, beyond feeding the military-industrial complex, ensuring that gays can't tie the knot and that women can't control what goes on in their own uteruses. So pooping in the punchbowl is a win-win for them. It tarnishes their opponents, who want to use government to promote the common good and regulate the conservatives' business benefactors, and so hastens the conservatives' return to power. Sure, they get a little mud on themselves, but in an anti-incumbent year, what have they got to lose? And it fires up their base while demoralizing the liberals, who see their side struggling to get anything done with massive majorities.

Posted by: matthewarnold | March 19, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

As so many comments earlier have said, today political competence is an ability to shout, obstruct and to win 'food fights'. Democracy, except for votes (which has it's own food fight with creme de vouer as like Bush-Gore 2000 election) as a reasoned dialogue and argument; that is out of window.

One cannot negate the contribution of Democrats to bring us to this sorry state but no doubt it is GOP which has primarily worked hard to bring state of affairs to this point and they have succeeded.

Possibly in Tea Party they will meet their nemesis. Granted that we are at the peak of 'political noise' since voting is come for HCR; but nevertheless inexorably our Politics is degenerating and the period of 'loud mouth, theatricals and Glenn Beck' is ahead of us.

Question is Tom Kaine, Obama and Dem Party are they up to the task or not in navigating through in this treacherous road. After Scott Brown victory, to pull off HCR Conference was a sign of competence. To get good CBO score in the middle of poor 'whipping' operation and lesser control on caucus is another sign. But by and large; Dems are still not up to the 'grade' to navigate through this jungle.

Visionary leadership demands that. Not only do leadership has to pull through this, the tone and discourse terms need to be changed so that this 'politics as jungle' is toned down in near future.

So far signs are that Obama is still failing here.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 19, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Republicans have a clear understanding with the backing of much of the villager media that there is a strict set of rules for Democrats and no remotely similar set of restrictions for Republicans. That is why the Speaker of the House could live with his mistress, rather than his wife, with the mistress on the government payroll, while Newt was pushing the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about sex. One of the articles of impeachment was based upon the Republicans not liking the answers provided by President Clinton to a series of accusatory questions submitted to Clinton by a group of Republicans. One hundred and thirty-four Republicans in the House, including my congressman, Wolf, voted to impeach Clinton because they did not like his answers. Yet Cheney and Bush could torture and start wars and illegally wiretap and Reagan could conduct the Iran-Contra scam because Republicans are above all of that. Impeachment was put in the Constitution for Democrats. This is not hypocrisy, the same rules simply no not apply.

Posted by: pointpetre | March 19, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Republicans have been running against everything Washington since Reagan. They will continue to do so even if they return to power. They not at all worried about discrediting the legislative process.

Posted by: publius1 | March 19, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I am actually concerned that the desire by Republicans to discredit the legislative process extends beyond the health care debate and reflects a larger right wing assault on politics itself, which by its nature involves the compromising and working out of differences between antagonistic groups that right wing ideologues with their insistance on doctrinal purity seem constitutionally incapable of engaging in.

And this discrediting includes the two-party system as well, even if it means attacking the Republican Party. What I've noticed from many at FOX, especially Glenn Beck, is that they don't mind if you hate Republicans just so long as you hate Democrats equally.

This only makes sense, because right wing movements prefer hierarchies and "I'm the Decider" authority figures to be in charge, however much they try to sell themselves as champions of the little guy or grassroots populists.

Given their druthers, the radical right prefers oligarchy or dictatorship to politics, just so long as its their oligarchs and dictators. So they have no problem undermining the credibility or support for democratic parliamentarianism, which by its very nature is messy, chaotic, unpredictable and often ugly.

As Walter Lippmann said long ago: "It is possible to govern a state without giving the masses full representation. But it is not possible to go on for long without a government which can and does in fact govern. If therefore, the people find that they must choose whether they will be represented in an assembly which is incompetent to govern, or whether they will be governed without being represented, there is no doubt at all as to how the issue will be decided. They will choose authority, which promises to be paternalistic, in preference to freedom which threatens to be fratricidal. No ideal of freedom and of democracy will long be allowed to stand in the way of their being governed."

Let's just be sure that our right wing Republicans don't have larger aims in mind than just defeating a health care bill when they pull out all the stops to bring democracy to a halt. Let's be sure they're not sabatoging the legislatve process in order to undermine democracy itself.

Posted by: TedFrier | March 19, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans deem it necessary and smart to burn Congress down in order to save it. Nice to know some lesson was learned in Viet Nam.

Posted by: tomcammarata | March 19, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

All of this is what's behind my excitement to see what happens between the 2010 and 2012 elections, when the Senate will be somewhere between D's +5 or R's +2. I honestly have no idea how the federal government will function.

More specifically, you might get a shot at a bipartisan finreg bill if that process drags out, but after that, it seems like the next closest action will be on tax simplification, and I wouldn't put the odds any higher than 25% that Congress will actually address the issue.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 19, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse


The GOP is only interested in its own branding. And I must say they are consistently on-message and good at what they do. The Democrats are too diverse a bunch to kow-tow to what looks like, well, ideology purity that rivals China's old Gang Of Four.

I say every time they say "Democrat Party," we say "GOP Party," because more so than the Dems, the Republicans exist only to serve other Republicans.

You know, the ones holding the money.

Pass health care reform sooner than later. Do we really need another economic disaster to make this need any clearer?


Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | March 19, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Fascists don't believe in politics either.

Fascists are the state.

Fascists are the rules.

Fascists are strong.

Republicans of conscience (is there such a thing) will one day look in the mirror and see a little man with a funny little moustache looking back. And it won't be Charlie Chaplin.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | March 19, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

This is really the incredible, diabolical genius of the modern Republican party. They have figured out that the fastest way into power is to identify a previously uncontroversial norm and to basically shake it until the consensus underlining it completely unravels.

The argument allows them to undertake ever more radical actions by arguing that completely normal and formerly uncontroversial aspects of public life are themselves radical departures requiring a proportionate response. Consider how many Rubicons we've crossed in recent years -- you don't impeach the president on a whim, you don't steal an election, you don't set up secret Cuban torture camps, you don't use the filibuster/holds to bring the Senate to a total halt just because you can. They all follow the same path.

So now the basic democratic process of Congress crafting legislation is seen as something crude and sleazy. I shudder to think of what right wing innovation this new crisis is going to "justify."

Posted by: NS12345 | March 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, for months you've been trashing the legisaltive process, whenever the helthcare bill hit an obstacle. You've trashed our electoral system. You've trashed the Senate. You've trashed the media and the voting public. You've trashed the CBO when its numbers didn't suit you.

Now, by posting this hypocritical faux-outrage, you've trashed your own credibility.

Posted by: tomtildrum | March 19, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Rounded Fork wrote:
Yeah but it won't matter when they are in the majority. They (the GOP) are so much better at messaging than the Democrats that it won't matter. The Democrats will scream and yell and decry the use of Reconciliation/Deem & Pass/Self-Executing Rules, etc. but will do so in their standard linear-logic/fact & reality based world instead of the five word soundbite that resonates with so much of the population. This is Drive-Thru Politics: Your Legislation and Debate Served to You in Under 90 seconds or it's FREE!!!
___________________________

And isn't that the real problem these day with our politics.
It is not about governing or working to make the country better or doing the right thing for the people
It's about messaging. marketing.
Selling it in a commercial.
That is not how a country should be run and it will - no, is destroying our country.
People wonder why everything is so confusing and why our country no longer works. It's because for our politicians it's more about the message and soundbite then about legislating and working to fix our country.
the republicans are very good at messaging and they do well with the rah rah, cheerleading stuff. The promoting our wonderful country and how we are number 1 at everything!
Good at fantasy building and illusion.
But, in reality this is why our country is no longer number 1. We are 37th in health care but, we are number 1 in how much that care costs.
We are about the same in education.
In so many areas. We are not in the top ten for quality of life.
We use to be the best at everything or in the top 5. Until marketing and messaging became a substitute for doing the real work.
Until messaging masked the erosion of this country.

Posted by: vwcat | March 19, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The nice thing is, after this bill passes exactly the same way former republican House Speaker Hastert used the exact same procedure 100 times... is that we will be able to tell all republican obstructionists to go eat a long brown stinky thing.

Posted by: jfern03 | March 19, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The Dems are going to be hurt by the timing of the bills provisions. Anything bad that happens to people health care or insurance between now and election day is, rightly or wrongly, going to be hung around the Dems necks. And anger gets people motivated to vote; happy people aren't as motivated. So like the Assault Weapons bill in 1993 and Clintons budget, the Dems are going to lose 30-40 seats. it's called winning the battle but losing the war.

Posted by: ronjaboy | March 19, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Ted Frier, well said.
Your post is a must read.

Posted by: vwcat | March 19, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

the democrats discredited these tactics the past 8 years. obama more effectively than anyone. maybe obama should have been a little less persausive in getting elected by promising 'change' and he could have had more room to use likely unconstitutional tricks to pass a thoroughly detested bill.

if he and pelosi cant live up to the standards they so righteously declared from a mountaintop then they are rank hypocrites, plain and simple.

americans are tired of politics as usual as practiced by both parties and the wave is bound to crest in november 2010. sucks for democrats that they will be left holding the bag and their "ends justify the means" approach to "getting this done" will result in the SCOTUS striking down the bill and rendering all this divisive, political capital destroying health care hysteria all for nuaght.

call the most disasterous miscalculation in domestic american politics and policy.

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Posted by: nikejordans1 | March 19, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@ zippyspeed: that they still can't get it passed normally despite all those institutional advantages.

It is all about senate repiglicans not allowing an up or down vote in the Senate and Boner not willing to appoint members to the conference. That is why there is no conference report process and the need for self executing rules and reconciliation.

Repiglicans complaining about process sound like asking for charity for being an orphan after killing one's parents.

Sure, reconciliation has been used in the past, but the fact that nobody even knew about it until now shows how controversial this bill really is.

HUH? You are not paying attention then. Abusing reconciliation by using it to increase the deficit and firing the senate parliamentarian when he said that adding to the deficit did not meet reconciliation standards is SOP for repiglicans. It has nothing to do with the substance of the bill and everything to do with repiglican obstruction and delaying tactics.

The fact that villager media play up the same procedural rules as unusual when repiglicans used the same rules repeatedly without a peep from the MSM only shows how incestuous and corrupt the villagers are.

Posted by: srw3 | March 19, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

wow ted frier is a must read to the unreality and state of delusional obama have led the democrats too. in true messiah-like jim jones fashion, democrats will drink the koo-aid on sunday and forever tie the legacy of the modern democratic party to pigs-at-the trough, back room dealing, arm twisting belway politics as usual.

Posted by: dummypants | March 19, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

does anyone else see the hackery in klein describing as "THE legsilative process" a totally unconstitutional end run around the process of legislating laid out in th, you know, US constitution?

Posted by: dummypants | March 19, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

is this your midterm election outcome prediction?

"Republicans, who're likely to return to power with a majority that's well below 60 seats in the Senate and a 40-vote margin in the House, will soon find themselves on the wrong end of that calculus. "

Posted by: jamesoneill | March 19, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@ronjaboy: Dems are going to lose 30-40 seats. it's called winning the battle but losing the war.

The vast majority of mid term elections have the majority party losing seats. The only relevant question is are Dems in better shape passing the bill and being able to say that they got something hard done for the American people or saying that the mean repiglicans wouldn't let us do what we wanted to and we wasted a year working on HCR...

Which one sounds easier to defend?

Posted by: srw3 | March 19, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

More of the Huckabee hybrid religion/political party "Do as I say, not as I do."

Posted by: coloradodog | March 19, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The republicans are the ones that will be explaining their NO vote for the next 50 years.

Posted by: jfern03 | March 19, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@DP: their "ends justify the means" approach to "getting this done" will result in the SCOTUS striking down the bill and rendering all this divisive, political capital destroying health care hysteria all for nuaght.

Right...SCOTUS is going to rule that the legislature acted unconstitutionally by using the same rules that have been in force for the last 40 years...

You really should be doing comedy.

Posted by: srw3 | March 19, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you don't "put" stops back in, you "push" them back in. It's an organ idiom.

Posted by: Bertilak | March 19, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I disagree that the outcome is more important than the process. "Democracy" describes a process of government, not a result. These guys are showing that not only do they disrespect our government, but they disrespect the democratic process.

Posted by: annyoupsy | March 19, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I think you give Republicans a little too much credit for having a viable "theory" for operation.

Right now, they operate on "oppose everything." They don't get the likelihood that one day, far in the future, they may be back in charge. Right now, they have nothing to lose -- already being on the losing side -- so claiming everything is "unconstitutional" or being anti-government is a no-brainer.

Someone needs to ask them, if the federal government is so bad, why are you here? why not share your wisdom in state government, if you think that is where the "founding fathers" wanted power to be vested. Why not do all of these great things you say you want the states to do in your home state? Why come to Washington on the federal taxpayer dime if your intention is to do nothing?

Of course they have no real answer for that.

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 19, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans understand that the torch and pitchfork crowd are unmoved by fact or reason and that their votes can be earned with well constructed sound bites (death panels, government takeover, socialism, etc.). It matters not what the Democrats do, the Republican spin machine will mischaracterize it to their full advantage and their gullible minions will take it as gospel because they lack the mental horsepower to sift through complicated sets of facts to arrive at reasonable conclusions.

Tea Partiers, for a little historical context on how you are being used, I suggest you read the speeches of Brutus and Mark Antony at the funeral of Caesar. You may recognize how the "bloody shirt" strategy is used by Republicans to get you to vote against your own interest time and again.

And Democrats, strap a set on and vote for the bill, because as previously explained, it doesn't matter how you vote, the GOP will try to hang health care reform around your necks.

Posted by: JoeBewildered | March 19, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The height of irrationality is hiring people who hate government to run the government.

It would be like hiring my wife to run the NFL.

Posted by: js_edit | March 19, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"The height of irrationality is hiring people who hate government to run the government."

This "argument" is so silly and stupid, I am surprised I see it as often as I do. Republicans are not anarchists. They don't want to get rid of the government, they want to limit the scope of government. There is an obvious distinction, one that only an idiot wouldn't see, hence your inability to see it.

Posted by: Bob65 | March 19, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"They don't get the likelihood that one day, far in the future, they may be back in charge."

Seven and a half months is not that far into the future.

Posted by: Bob65 | March 19, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps even more corrosive to the public trust, is shouting about budget projections built on 10yrs of revenue to pay for 6 years of benefits and counting as revenue tax increases schedule far in the future, which the current Congress lacked the political will enact today. Obama will be remembered for Obamacare, but not in a good way: being so selfish that he ran over its citizens in his race to make history.

Posted by: bruce18 | March 19, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"The Republicans understand that the torch and pitchfork crowd are unmoved by fact or reason and that their votes can be earned with well constructed sound bites (death panels, government takeover, socialism, etc.). It matters not what the Democrats do, the Republican spin machine will mischaracterize it to their full advantage and their gullible minions will take it as gospel because they lack the mental horsepower to sift through complicated sets of facts to arrive at reasonable conclusions."

The above quote, coming from an idiot who seems to honestly believe this bill will cut the deficit, is absolutely hilarious. The only ones being gullible here are those who are buying, without a hint of skepticism, everything the Dems have said about this bill. No medicare cuts? Sure, I believe that, never mind the $500 billion that is slashed from Medicare? It will cut the deficit? Never mind the fact that it only arrives at such a dubious conclusion after the doctor fix is dishonestly put into another bill, the taxes are in effect from the beginning and only six years of subsidies are given in return. The CBO states that the bill spends $923 over only six years. There have been individuals that are easily led in this debate, but it isn't the Tea Partiers.

Posted by: Bob65 | March 19, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

It may be dangerous but it is Washington that is creating the danger, not the public. And perhaps we need to step into the abyss. That is what the founding fauthers did when they took on King George. It may time to take on King Washington in a much more forceful way.

Posted by: jdonner2 | March 19, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@zippyspeed: Absolutely! I'd only add that part of the reason no one knew about "deem and pass" and reconciliation before is that they were mostly used on relatively minor legislation, and, if on larger pieces, they were not the kind of last, desperate acts we're seeing here.

If the people don't want it, why should we be forced to accept it?

Posted by: CTullius | March 19, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I would like one person to explain to me why, if health care reform is so urgent and so many people are dying because they can't afford it, are the subsidies not going into effect for four years? I think we already know the answer. To game the CBO. Only an idiot is naive enough to believe this thing lowers the deficit. If the spending on the subsidies took effect immediately, the cost of this bill would be well over $940 billion for ten years. But hey, arrogant jerks, go on insulting tea partiers are gullible while you unquestioningly accept the laughable deficit projections that even this newspaper has essentially called bogus, in an article that came out just today.

When Obamacare starts costing over $200 billion a year/ as the CBO projects, the Democrats will be saddled with 100% of the blame. WHen premiums don't come down, Democrats will be saddled with 100% of the blame. When this bill passes, and taxes go up, and people don't start seeing any real benefit, they will question why the Democrats spend a whole year on this issue, to the detriment of everything else, Democrats will be blamed. Any vulnerable Dem that voted for this is toast this year.

Posted by: Bob65 | March 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

You are "quite sympathetic" to Republican burn-and-destroy defense of the objections to "process"?

The Republicans are dead wrong on the substance AND impossibly destructive in their process.

Wake up, toadies of the Wash Post! You, too, will have egg all over your face next year, five years from now and 50 years from now. Fact check that one!

Posted by: walden1 | March 19, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"The height of irrationality is hiring people who hate government to run the government."

This "argument" is so silly and stupid, I am surprised I see it as often as I do. Republicans are not anarchists. They don't want to get rid of the government, they want to limit the scope of government. There is an obvious distinction, one that only an idiot wouldn't see, hence your inability to see it.

Posted by: Bob65 | March 19, 2010 1:57 PM

---------------------

My wife doesn't want to get rid of the NFL, either. But she would be happy to limit its scope to the point that it was virtually worthless.

I see no difference in that view, and in professed agenda of Grover "Make it small enough to drown in a bathtub" Norquist.

In other words, I find your argument disingenuous, and I didn't even have to resort to name calling.

Posted by: js_edit | March 19, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

@ annyoupsy: I disagree that the outcome is more important than the process.

Where was the outrage over getting medicare part d through the house (holding a vote open for 3.5 hours, really?)? Just sayin...

And

@ CTullius : I'd only add that part of the reason no one knew about "deem and pass" and reconciliation before is that they were mostly used on relatively minor legislation

This is a good one. Reconciliation used for adding 2 trillion dollars of debt through tax cuts is only a minor thing, welfare reform a minor thing, cobra expansion a minor thing...Really???

Deem and pass was used regularly by the repiglicans when they ran congress to shield their members from uncomfortable votes. Repiglican leaders have said that this is not an abnormal use of the rules.

Posted by: srw3 | March 19, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, RoundedFork hits the nail on the head:

"Yeah but it won't matter when they are in the majority. They (the GOP) are so much better at messaging than the Democrats that it won't matter. The Democrats will scream and yell and decry the use of Reconciliation/Deem & Pass/Self-Executing Rules, etc. but will do so in their standard linear-logic/fact & reality based world instead of the five word soundbite that resonates with so much of the population. This is Drive-Thru Politics: Your Legislation and Debate Served to You in Under 90 seconds or it's FREE!!!

"Add into that empty shirts like your co-worker Dana Millbank who will regurgitate these talking points verbatim lest he lose his spot in the DC cocktail party rotation."

Posted by: sumipatel1985 | March 19, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein's articles' statement that the Republicans are vulnerable to delay by Dems when the Republicans win a majority disregards one key factor. The Republican base of Conservatives and Libertarians for the most part like deadlock in Congress. We generally don't want more government action. We generally want less.

If Dems will create gridlock to prevent Republicans from spending more money on government programs, then thank you. We also get mad at Republicans for overspending. The problem we have had is that when the two parties have disagreed on something, they usually compromise by both sides voting for the pet projects of the other party. The two parties usually resolve differences by compromising up, not down. That creates even more spending than if one side just voted for what they want and ignored the spending the other side wants.

Conservatives and Libertarians would be thrilled, if Dems would block Republican spending. Our biggest fear when Republicans win control is that they will continue the spending binge. Unfortunately, it isn't likely that Dems will stop the spending when Republicans win control. It's just not in their nature.

Posted by: jfv123 | March 19, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama wants to kill small business--and by that I mean the little plumbing and construction companies etc that help to support small communities.
It's killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

Posted by: glasater | March 19, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Yeah but it won't matter when they are in the majority. They (the GOP) are so much better at messaging than the Democrats that it won't matter. The Democrats will scream and yell and decry the use of Reconciliation/Deem & Pass/Self-Executing Rules, etc. but will do so in their standard linear-logic/fact & reality based world instead of the five word soundbite that resonates with so much of the population. This is Drive-Thru Politics: Your Legislation and Debate Served to You in Under 90 seconds or it's FREE!!!

Add into that empty shirts like your co-worker Dana Millbank who will regurgitate these talking points verbatim lest he lose his spot in the DC cocktail party rotation.

Posted by: RoundedFork |
-------
Here's one problem with your argument, the Republican will resort to the same ingenious things they are arguing against. May be great politics but bad

Back in 2006 they used the same proceedure only to find themselves sued for doing it. Incidently the appeals court upheld it in 2007 so with that being a precedent the Democrats use it and all of sudden they act like a 5 years old not getting what they wanted to happen. Noticed the arguments McConnell put forth was basically about the procedures and not about solutions.

The GOP has been resorting to the same scorch earth policy that they pursued back in the 1990's first being the Presidency and now Congress.

Posted by: beeker25 | March 19, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

What is dangerous in this whole Health Care Reform debate is the polarization of America! This president is the most polarizing president since the beginning of this nation. Instead of trying to unite this nation, this Congress (both parties) are creating a nation of distrust in the national government.
This is what creates civil wars, and we don't need that at this time.
It's time for the electorate to take charge of this nation again, and I hope we do not have blood spilled in the streets before the next election!

Posted by: SeniorVet | March 19, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have made hating government a basic strategy since 1980. It has worked to get them elected sometimes but has done little to help them govern effectively. The country needs an effective government but it is difficult to achieve one with all the hate monger and lying from the GOP.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | March 19, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are not anarchists. They don't want to get rid of the government, they want to limit the scope of government. There is an obvious distinction, one that only an idiot wouldn't see, hence your inability to see it.

Posted by: Bob65 | March 19, 2010 1:57 PM

---------------------------------------------

Bob65 - Before you start calling people idiots, please give one (legitimate) example of the Bush administration limiting the scope of government.

Posted by: eddie111 | March 19, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

No, Ezra, the danger lies in subverting the Constitution and the will of the people. Using ten percent of the population as justification for nationalizing, and that's what it really is, nationalization, one sixth of the US economy is nothing more than a National Socialist power grab. Oh yeah, and Medicare, the people who said that it would be a precursor to Socialized Medicine were right after all, weren't they.

Posted by: WriterDude | March 19, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

If the Republicans are in power and try to pass massive legislation like this WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF THE VOTERS, they will deserve the adversity.

Posted by: DavidKeene1 | March 19, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats seem to have a very childish view of morality. This includes Mr. Klein.

Every time they are called on some bit of sleight-of-hand, or caught in a lie, or trim a little fat off the Constitution, we hear “Well, the Republicans did it!” or “Well, Bush did it!” as though this is justification for them.

Mr. Klein opens his piece with that very reasoning.

I thought they were promising Hope and Change. I thought they were going to change things from the way the Republicans and George Bush did things.

It’s kind of like a kid getting bagged for shoplifting, and using as an excuse, “Well, Johnny Doe next door did it!”

Has it occurred to the Democrats that the way the Republicans did things is the major reason they no longer occupy a majority in either chamber, or occupy the White House?

Has it occurred to the Democrats that the excuse, “Well, the Republicans did it!” is really not setting well with We the People?

Apparently not.

In this Slaughter House Gambit, we’ve heard, “Well, the Republicans did it!” as though that makes it right.

It doesn’t. That the Republicans were wrong is not negated by the Democrats pulling the same stunt. It simply makes the Democrats wrong, too. Perhaps even ‘wronger’, because now it is out in the light of day, and they don’t care. Rather than all of them saying, “Well, it really isn’t right” and doing away with the process altogether … they use one bit of prostitution of the Constitution to justify another.

It’s time for a House cleaning.

Posted by: DinkyDauBilly | March 19, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

ALL the media constantly repeat right wing talking points/propaganda as news. The right wing permananent government rules the US no matter who wins elections: corporate lobbyists; Dixiecrats now unrestrained since joining Republican Party; Wall Street liars; Fox News: All The New Spun For Fun; dittoheads; Becklovians; and the truly evil Carl Rove.

Posted by: Citizen0 | March 19, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

When I first saw this this a.m., all I could think was, "whaddya mean 'soon'???" With nausea.

But returning from your tweet, it seems to me that this kind of threat is just wishful thinking. There is no memory among anyone but the liberals, none. All the Medicare talk just proves that. No one is going to say, "well, remember what you said about reconciliation in 2010, neener neener." No one cares but us.

Don't you remember 5 minutes ago when W was president, and they committed every perfidy, scoffed at normal procedure, pulled every trick? No?

First comes the bread, then come the morals. As long as there aren't jobs, as long as your salary is 10 times that of the guy who makes your sandwiches and 1/10 that of the guy who owns your bank, then demagoguery will continue to spiral out of control. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Posted by: JaneG | March 19, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The notion that people are upset because evil Republicans are commanding their thoughts tips the current experience on its head. A huge number of people are paying attention to the legislative process (as well as the substance of the proposed health-care reform legislation) because they see great potential harm in restructuring one-sixth of the U.S. economy when they, in fact, are very happy with many aspects of the current structure.

As they peer into the legislative process, they don't like what they see, and they certainly don't conclude that the seamier, manipulative, Machiavellian corners of the process are inherent to healthy and responsive democracy. The Democrats are certainly bringing together every such trick into a seamless package for all to see. What is going on is especially offensive since Democrats ran on a platform promising procedural improvements in transparency (such as posting passed legislation awaiting Presidential action on the White House web site for 5 days before the President signs or vetoes -- a promise that has been breached repeatedly). But instead of constructive reform, we see Congressional leaders and the White House moving in the opposite direction.

Republicans are not leading, but rather following the grassroots reaction, and if as a result they are prepared to run on pledges of procedural reform, then perhaps there is improvement in the future after all.

Posted by: rboltuck | March 19, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"Democrats will launch the very same attacks when they're consigned to the minority, and maybe think up a few new ones of their own."

BINGO! That's exactly what we've been trying to tell you is the inevitable consequence of "Deem and Pass" for Obamacare. You should have a long talk with yourself about whether you are fully prepared to live with the consequences of the havoc you are proposing to wreak on our Constitution and our legislative processes for many years to come. Many people will never ever never accept the legitimacy of Obamacare and it will be subjected to every form of legislative assault imaginable. And every fiction and dodge Pelosi and company are busy dreaming up will come back to haunt them.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 19, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Any process that goes against the will of the people is illegal - government of the people, by the people and for the people. Ezra, does that ring a little bell?

You are in agreement to pass a bill that neither Obama or Pelosi knows what is in it as morally responsible, let alone the legalities that will show their heads soon.

Ezra, set back and fasten your seat belt! If the Healthcare Reform passes you're going to have the ride of your young life.

May God Bless America

Posted by: tboca | March 19, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me or has Ezra's ardor for an "up and down vote" dimmed considerably of late?

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 19, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Klein:
Sweet ironies have indeed never found no ideological boundaries!
Who would say that Mr. Klein is incapable of finding wisdom for his opponents but never for his own thoughts and his friends?
After stating "Sometimes you have to burn a village to rule it" and "Outcomes are, in fact, more important than process", you warned your opponents: "Republicans, who're likely to return to power with a majority that's well below 60 seats in the Senate and a 40-vote margin in the House, will soon find themselves on the wrong end of that calculus."
When will be day you might say "We have to kill people to save their souls"?

Posted by: sun127 | March 19, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I simply want the hypocrisy on the behalf of the Republicans in power to stop. How disingenuous is it to accuse the Democrats for doing something that the Republicans did when they were in power or take credit for the money to districts that THEY voted against. Where was the Republican anger and or the anger of many of these teaparty people when Bush didn't put the wars in the budget and just kept spending money like it was free.
Just stop the crap!!

Posted by: mishanti2 | March 19, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

@ EK:

Really? You're serious? You think the Dems will stoop as low as Rs? I just can't see it.

Haven't Dems demonstrated repeatedly throughout this HCR debacle, that they are just "too nice" (not ruthless enough) to employ such tactics EVEN when they would clearly benefit by doing so?

Posted by: onewing1 | March 19, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are my favorite calendar. I always know when it is Friday cuz your stuff shows just how tired you are after a busy week.

I read it.

Thanks.

TGIF

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 19, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Give Obamacare to the blue states, and leave the red states alone. We are now two countries - one of producers, and one of takers.
Of course, no one in the house or senate will give up their private healthcare for Obamacare.
This is NOT ABOUT HEALTHCARE-IT'S ABOUT POWER

Posted by: rknapp0205 | March 19, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Wow, so the defense of unconstitutional skullduggery is "they did it too???" It has come to such weakenss, something we teach our young children to eschew?

If you haven't forgotten, the Republicans were walloped, "thumped" in 2 consecutive elections for losing their way - what do you think will happen for those who are telling the American people to "sit down, shut up, & take it whether you like it or not???"

Posted by: WhitehorseTN | March 19, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Geez Ezra, don't you ever get tired of being little more than a lackey for the left?

Take a look at the Constitution. It's nothing but process... which is probably why Comrade Obama is and always has been focused on outcomes rather than process.

Posted by: rethman | March 19, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Ctullis - reconciliation has been used on very MAJOR legislation. Welfare reform, SCHIP, COBRA and the Bush tax cuts. Which were not paid for and increased the deficit mightily. You didn't hear a peep from the MSM, Tea Party and deficit hawks then. The Iraq War was completely off-book -- which is why Obama told uis what the actual national deficit was. It had been added to for almost a decade. Bill Clinton left a surplus but it didn't take Prez Spend-Like-A-Drunken-Sailor long to go through it. Right now the Republican party is acting like the little kid who says "You didn't choose me so I'm taking my ball home!" My mom -- lifelong Republican - is a teacher and she picked up on that one.

Posted by: memccroden | March 19, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

What is really dangerous is that an ignorant, wet behind the ears dupe Like Ezra Klein is given a national forum to promote the administration’s lies!

The phony cost projections, mythical Medicare savings,jury rigged CBO scores, and mindless allusions to ‘bending the cost curve’ cannot be supported by any truly objective and rational analysis. Go back to McDonalds Ezra, you’re out of your league boy.

Posted by: dcn1 | March 19, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

"As Republicans well know, private negotiations between lawmakers, deals that advantage a state or a district,"

And it is about time to force a stop to the above...

"and a base level of respect for the CBO's scores have long been central to the lawmaking progress."

...The CBO has to project based on the data they are given. Can you see the the problem with that? According to the CBO projections, Social Security should have plenty of money...

Posted by: deadmanwalking | March 19, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

There is a reason it is compared to sausage making. The people wanted transparency and they got it, although way too many are so brainwashed they don't realize it.

Posted by: jbowen431 | March 19, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are hypocrites and they don't care. They've only made that more obvious lately. The majority of people on both sides already know that.

Republican votes that understand this have alternative agendas and they don't care what Republicans have to say to get that agenda accomplished. Those agendas are actually fairly diverse: outlawing abortion, concentrating wealth, promoting theocracy, discriminating on the basis of race, gender, and sexual preference, shooting things.

The fighting is over the small number of voters in the middle who are gullible and ill-informed enough not to have an opinion. It is an effective, if contemptible, strategy to lie and self-contradict to persuade these voters. If these voters were going to figure out that Republicans are lying hypocrites, they would have figured this out a long time ago.

Posted by: zosima | March 19, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

As someone who gave up her health insurance because it got too expensive with no tangible benefits (huge deductibles with a suggestion that I establish a health savings account [remember those?] with my copious leftover money), I was getting nothing. So I tried getting health insurance on my own in the lovely state of Virginia. I was rejected for osteoporosis and--get this--acid reflux. I guess no women over 55 need apply. Unfortunately, I won't get any help from the insurance plan that will pass the house because what would help me would not happen until 2014. In October 2013, I will be on Medicare. There is one good reason to be 65 and that is it.

I live in Virginia, so there is not a chance that anyone in our reactionary state government would help those without insurance. I could pay a reasonable fee for real insurance, but no $600 a month for basically nothing. If I get something like cancer, I'll just be another bankrupt, but then I'll probably die quicker without insurance--which is the insurance companies would do to me anyway.

If you detect some cynicism here, you are not wrong.

Posted by: yenta1 | March 19, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Scott Brown won based on a single issue, HealthCare Reforem. The 2010 candidates will use the Slaughter rule as a rallying point for repeal.

Posted by: givenallthings | March 19, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Ezra is predictable and in this case, straight up wrong. He refers to GOP using self-executing rules "like deem and pass" and just glosses over the fact that it prevents the constitutional requirement that both houses vote on the same bill, which is constitutionally suspect to say the least. He suggests that the GOP uses similar tactics, but at ... See Moreleast he doesn't go so far as to say that the GOP has pulled this same stunt, which it hasn't. More ignorantly, he uses the same old boring tactic of blaming the Republicans for stalling and using the legislative process to prevent this legislation. If the end is more important than the means (is unabashed torture now ok?), maybe he should consider that more of the populous is opposed to than in support of the bill. The bill's struggle has little to do with the GOP and much to do with the fact that it is unpopular and its passage may well be political suicide for the Dems (except Barack, who depends on this bill and is resorting to armtwisting). It's the Democrats who can't get their votes in order. The GOP couldn't stop the bill if it wanted to (they can and should certainly insist on accountability, since Barack promised transparency and Pelosi promised the "most ethical congress ever"). Preach on Ezra; blame the GOP for the Dems' shortcomings.

Posted by: boydscout | March 19, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

This comment goes off on a tangent to the issue of health care reform which I support. Ezra's piece was thoughtful and provoked many to comment. It is stimulating to read them. They focus mostly on the impact of health care reform on the political futures of the parties. However, isn't there another,larger issue lurking out there that may over-shadow everything going on today?

How long did the Great Depression take to really settle in? If a financial collapse of unprecedented scale occurred can we make it go away by pretending it didn't happen-say, by calling it a recession? The tools for depression reversal are few and unproven. Monetary policy with zero percent interest isn't "kick-starting" the economy. You have to marvel at the language employed to simplify the world we live in. Cynically, one could say that war is one way to stimulate the economy since it increases government spending. But, the economy collapsed while we prosecuted two wars whose costs were inflated. Hiring thousands of "contractors" to do jobs normally done by the military makes war more expensive. Doesn't that imply that the economy was already in trouble before the wars? But, that is another debate.

The point I am working toward is who will be blamed if millions are left homeless and hungry? Haven't the President's ambitious and humanitarian initiatives muddied the waters so much to make later analysis impossible? Then, if we don't know what happened, how can we correct it? This exercise in speculation can be stretched to some provocative conclusions. I have no doubt that the country can and will be saved but the cost necessarily will be incremental to the financial debt that we already have.

Posted by: Reesh | March 19, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Right will always triumph over wrong. the republicans are wrong and have shown over and over again their contempt for the rights of the American people. However it is not enough- they will lose and we will win.We have an intelligent president who has surrounded himself with intelligent people and together they will put this mess to rights and we, the American people. will see that the party of "NO" is never in a position to attempt to flush this country down the toilet again.

Posted by: imanihon | March 20, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

When the Republicans were in power, they did the very same thing they are accusing the Democrats of: used the very same rules and regulations to pass their bills. Now they want to complain that it is wrong to do so. Somebody please-shut the GOP up.I am so tired of them whinning like some spoiled child who did not get their way. They lost the election and it looks like they are trying to lose any future elections.All of the name calling, the attaching of negative names to bills and Democratic politicans does not endear the GOP to anyone with any intelligence.

Posted by: imanihon | March 20, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

Im getting a kick at of watching these wing nutter politians of the right, twisting like a pretzel, trying to figure out what lies and distortions they can use when Frank Lutz sends them the talking points, every morning, gathered from his poll tested opinions. Then they have to run to any cameras they can find and spout the lies they were given, because they are crazed and can't think for themselves.

There is no reason to think they would ever vote for "any thing Obama" because they won't. It they had worked at this problem, instead of being shills for all corporation and whole industries or cooperated with great idea, they would have helped clean up this mess they caused.

But they didn't. And their message has been overtaken to look like the they care not a fig unless you are rich, richer and richest,

People are watching the Republicans, and they are not amuzed. Can't fool all the people, all the time,

Posted by: johallmark | March 20, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

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