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Obama the hyper-partisan?

As the Democrats close in on passing health-care reform with only D votes, conservatives are describing President Obama as "hyper-partisan," shoving the blame for the current lack of bipartisanship onto him and his allies in Congress. It's a familiar narrative getting yet another spin, and, among other things, the evidence its articulators cite is that the president hasn’t proposed a major initiative that had a chance of significant bipartisan support, unlike President Bush at this point in his presidency.

Oh? What about the bipartisan fiscal commission that Obama proposed and that a group of GOP lawmakers -- dripping with hypocrisy -- outrageously nixed, even though they had pushed the idea just weeks before. This could have been huge -- Congress could have been required to make a straight up-or-down vote on the bipartisan commission’s recommendations to fix the budget. Instead, it became a casualty to Republican political calculation.

Or how about the massive overhaul of student loan policy that looks set to pass along with health care? An even more ambitious version than that which will be attached to the health-care bill passed the House 253 to 171. Moderate GOP Rep. Thomas Petri (Wisc.) has championed such reform for years. True, the Republican total on the vote -- six ayes -- wasn’t huge. But in a House so dominated by Democrats, that’s nothing to scoff at. More importantly, it wasn’t unreasonable for Obama to expect more support from the GOP, since even President Bush favored sticking it to private lenders making a living off of government guarantees and subsidies, as the system now allows. Instead, we’ve heard disingenuous tripe about a “government takeover” of education.

Or what about the lengths to which Obama has gone to reach out to Republicans on energy, promising massive assistance for nuclear power and support for more offshore drilling? Swathes of his liberal base loathe such policies. Sure, Obama’s outreach is in the context of a larger effort to get a price on carbon enacted. But pricing carbon is yet another policy Obama could have reasonably expected Republicans to have some interest in, at least if they felt like making good on their free-market ideological convictions. Instead, we’ve heard a lot of unhelpful rhetoric about “cap-and-tax” from GOP leaders. Yet even now, any comprehensive energy plan will need GOP votes in the Senate, and the White House has already shown it’s willing to work for them.

I don’t accept the argument that Democrats bear no blame for the current environment. They deserve plenty. On health care, for example, they could have tried harder to get the Olympia Snowes in Congress on board, rather than giving up after the relatively more conservative Chuck Grassley toyed with them in the Senate Finance Committee. And Democratic concessions to unions, particularly on how to tax “Cadillac plans,” are bad policy and bad for the legislative environment. But it strains the imagination to believe that the GOP hasn’t done more than its share to make the partisan strife worse.

By Stephen Stromberg  | March 18, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Next: Baier-ly substantive health-care interview with President Obama


Stromberg - when Republicans say that the Obama administration is hyper-partisan and it is heard repeatedly - that doesn't make it untrue, but reiterates that it continues.

Obama and his ilk are so immature that they don't even speak to Republican Representatives...they can't even muster basic decency. They are not included. The Democrats are sequestering junior high mean girls.

Enough of this insanity. You can spew all of your Progressive Party excuses...but it doesn't matter. The gig is up. Americans see Democrats for who they really are - and will take them to task this November. And THAT you can make a bet on.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | March 18, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Look, there is a bi-partisan aspect to the health care bill -- the opposition to it. More than three dozen House Democrats are going to vote "no" -- are they being "partisan"? If you view the House as a spectrum of ideology between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, there is a "middle" of moderate Dems and R's. The Obama plan is getting none of the moderate R's and few of the moderate D's. Ergo, it is very partisan.

Posted by: walshd | March 18, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Stromberg, quit being a whiny baby.

Partisanship is caused by democracy. It's the natural order of things.

Posted by: ZZim | March 18, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Democrats partisan? Wait until I tell Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater! They are the ones who divided us for political profit, then used their advantage to loot my country.

The conservatives have to be aggressive now. They have committed a broad range of crimes, and face justice from many sides.

Posted by: gkam | March 18, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"But pricing carbon is yet another policy Obama could have reasonably expected Republicans to have some interest in, at least if they felt like making good on their free-market ideological convictions."

Do you even know what a free market is? The government creating a (fake) commodity and then price fixing it and distributing it along non-market line is not a free market. The proposed carbon "market" is 100% managed economy and 0% free market.

Posted by: BradG | March 18, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

The party of NO! NO! NO! Tha pary of doubling the debt under Reagan and doubling the debt again under Bush and lieing America to war for oil should be branded with a Scarlet letter a foot high. "L", the mark of the Liar!

Posted by: chucky-el | March 18, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

How short Mr. Stromberg's memory is.

He must have forgotten just how many compromises were made to the health care legislation in the Senate to get Republicans on board. All the committee's, all the panels, all the conferences - all leading to compromise in the bill. Then the Republicans voted no anyway. It's called dealing in bad faith.

Now the Democrats have a bill they wished they didn't - all watered down to appease a bunch of disingenuous Republicans that never had any intentions of being bi-partisan.

So Mr.Stromberg, keep spewing your nonsense and partisan lies - if you repeat them enough they come true.

Posted by: HillmanDC | March 18, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Oh, PUH-LEEZ! The Dems are far too spineless and supine to actually engage in partisan politics. The only use to which they've been putting their less-than-rudimentary collective spine for the past 10 years has been rolling over for the so-called Grand Old Party. To this day, they still flinch if the aptly named Dick Cheney gives them a mean look.

Posted by: nicekid | March 18, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The hyper-partisanship is the GOP in the Senate, starting with the McConnell strategy of using his knowledge of arcane senate procedure, to bring the Senate pretty much to a halt, to try to discredit the Democrats. He has used his tactical skills very well, but it has left the GOP marginalized, standing for nothing except NO.

Posted by: bill30 | March 18, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Vote a straight GOP ticket this November. I want the people to experience the Government they so richly deserve.

I'm completely serious. Cut taxes for everyone. Get the Feds out of health care entirely. Deregulate a bunch of stuff, including but not limited to business practices of all sorts, employment law, workplace safety and discrimination, pollution of all sorts, our fisheries and wildlife and food and drug safety. Eliminate all farm support programs. Eliminate as much Federal consumer protection as we can. Drastically cut the entitlements that constitute most of the budget, particularly Medicare and Medicaid, student loan guarantees and Social Security. Stop all Federally funded construction, including highways and bridges. Sell all of the federally-owned parks, forests, and seashores. No more grants to education at any level. No grants for law enforcement or fire-fighting. No more FBI. No more DEA. No Government law enforcement - period. Privatize air traffic control and airport security. The Postal Service is going belly up anyway, so kiss that goodbye. Got a Toyota that might run away with you or a Fiero that might cook you to a crisp? Your problem. Whacked by tornados, hurricanes, floods, forest and brush fires? So sorry. Call the Governor's ofice, please. Guys like McDonnell and Rick Perry are standing by.

The Feds are going to maintain the armed Forces and the CIA. That's it. You want your version of the Constitution? That's all you're entitled to.

You don't get to pick any choose any of this stuff.

The states will have to be pick up anything from the menu above that their citizens thinks is necessary. They'll have the job of rounding up all the illegal immigrants and their families and packing them off to wherever they came from. If that happens to generate our own little internal terrorism industry, the state police can handle that. The problems stemming from the refugee camps that blossom across from the borders of Texas, Arizona and California will be their problem.

Abortion will illegal under any circumstance, of course. That will stop abortions right? Oh, yeah. Hope it's not your daughter messing with that coat hanger.

Organized school prayer will be in, of course. Screw those non-Christians. They don't belong here, anyway.

Weapons of every and any description will be available to anyone and can be carried anywhere. No background checks needed. Same for drugs and narcotics. We're talking some serious personal freedom here, right?

The time is now. I can't wait a minute longer for my libertarian paradise, and there is NO room for any inconsistencies or compromise. No grey areas whatsoever. Make it happen.

Posted by: st50taw | March 18, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Could not agree more. The Republicans, who were in charge of congress from 1995-2007, and had the White House from 2001-2009, decided early in Obama's presidency that they would not work with him. The deficit reduction panel was just the obvious one, but from the stimulus to healthcare to student loans, to banking reform even to the jobs bills. Republicans have decided that they will say no.

Yes there are philisophical differences, but people were elected to work together. Not apart. That is why people are so frustrated.

Looks Bank reform. After what this country & globally has been through with the banks requiring bail outs, you would think that Congress would work together to make sure ot does not happen again? Nope, instead you have Cantor & Boehner telling the banks to contribute to the GOP so they can block any type of reform.

Posted by: jjj141 | March 18, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The Dems (including the President) have reached across the isle time and time again. The GOP, to a person, keeps their hands in their pockets. The in-fighting among the Dems shows honest differences. Whereas the lock-step obstructionism of the GOP shows they are the partisans here.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 18, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

When you win you get your ideas, etc. Remember that's what Bush said and did and I didn't hear WaPo columnist complain about Republicans being partisan.

Posted by: rlj1 | March 18, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama isn't partisan? How about - "I won". He does not know what it means to be President of all the people. He is so partisan that he often appears condescending and nasty. Wait until November.

Posted by: delusional1 | March 18, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

How much longer should the President extend the olive branch to the Republicans, fail to even receive a single Republican vote on any legislation, before he drops his bipartisan efforts?

I think a year has been way too much time!

Start proposing Democratic legislation and let the Republicans filibuster "till the cows come home."

They're going to be very tired when November rolls around.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | March 18, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm so sick and tired of hearing the Republicans bleat about Obama's alleged "hyper-partisanship". Those do-nothing obstructionists have been rebuffing every advance that either the WH or their Democratic colleagues have made to them since January 20, 2009.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | March 18, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Republicans accusing Democrats of partisanship is the equivalence of white racists accusing Obama or Sotomayor of reverse racism. It is a standard right wing tactic to stand facts on their head.

Posted by: serban1 | March 18, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

When Roberts intentionally tossed the Oath of Office in an effort to deligitimize the president you knew right then how this would play out. Its a full court press and it is to some degree working.

Posted by: bob29 | March 18, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind his hyper-partisan approach. One year ago, I thought it would be a decade before a conservative approach had any chance of re-igniting. But the President has managed to wipe out the advantage and this Fall will change everything. Yes, Healthcare may well pass, despite the vast majority of the country opposing it. And Obama may not care how it passes, but the vast majority recognize an affront to the founding principles of this nation when they see it. So all is not lost. And how about that Barbara Boxer who suddenly is in a fight for her job as the Fall elections near. I wonder why? Power to the People. The great equalizer.

Posted by: donchew1 | March 18, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

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