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PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE PARTY OF CAN'T
Before this monstrous health care bill was eventually rammed through Congress, Barack Obama was intent on going after the GOP, calling them the "party of no," and claiming that they were using extreme dilatory tactics in every step of the process. The GOP was essentially using politics and fear tactics to avoid getting the work of the American people done.
In my opinion, that's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? I mean, if you get right down to it, during the past year President Obama provided only myriad excuses as to why nothing was getting done. Nearly every sentence out of the president's lips—or from the lips of any democrat for that matter—essentially started off with "the Bush administration."
The question comes to mind, how can the GOP have been to blame for inaction? How can the GOP have been to blame for any fundamental lack of leadership? How can the GOP have been to blame for not getting the work of the American people done?
In case anyone is not clear on the matter, during the entire health care debate the democrats had the majority in the United States Senate with 59 seats, if you were to include Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, who are both independents, but who caucus with the democrats. In the Congress it's the same story. Democrats held the majority there as well.
The fact is that the republicans don't have the voting power to have had much of a say in any part of the lawmaking process. Even if they had been able to participate more in the debates, their vote was effectively irrelevant in the grander scheme of things.
So, who was really the party of no?
During the whole health care debacle, we heard it all. Barack Obama threw around accusation after accusation that the GOP had offered nothing in the way of solutions. The democrats did the same. "If you have a better idea, let me know," the president told everyone at his SOTU address. In a pseudo-response to that statement, House minority leader John Boehner, introducing the president as a speaker at the republican retreat a few days following the president's SOTU address, handed the president a booklet called "Better Solutions," which basically outlined a series of ideas the republicans had tried to get through the process, but that were met with opposition by the president and the democratic leadership in the House and Senate, or simply ignored altogether.
Things like tort reform. Or opening up competition between state lines among insurance companies.
Look, at no time did the republicans have it in their minds to stop any progress in any aspect of the health care bill, and I think it is a terrible mistake to suggest that. It's absolutely untrue, it's unfair, and quite frankly, it's ridiculous as well. The operative word here is "progress." We can argue all day about the effectiveness of our elected officials, but I highly doubt that anyone actually goes to Washington to accomplish nothing. I wouldn't even accuse the democrats of that.
The republican party was never once totally opposed to health care reform as some would like to suggest, or believe. Neither were the 52% of the American people who opposed the bill entirely against health care reform. And while it's true that in the end the republicans did, indeed, make a strong effort to kill the bill, it wasn't because they didn't want a bill, it wasn't because they wanted to end the discussion on the bill, but rather because the bill being rammed through the process in its current form was simply not a good bill.
And by the way, think back a little bit. Had the GOP really been the major issue with any delays in getting the health care bill passed, why was not one single republican considered a key vote to get? Those delegations went to Ben Nelson, a democrat, and Bernie Sanders, who again, caucuses with the democrats. Why were those two senators so crucial? And what about Bart Stupak's vote? Or Dennis Kucinich's vote? Which critical republican was it that took a ride on Air Force One?
The real reason the health care bill was being delayed was very simply because the democrats themselves did not have sufficinet support for the bill. The republicans could have effectively filibustered. And the fact of the matter is, that had been that happened, the democrats might have lost their bill altogether. They may have been forced to take some of the republican's proposals into consideration. Democrats clearly were not interested in any of the republican's ideas.
What conservatives wanted out of this deal was simply to have an open line of communication. They wanted to have an open exchange of ideas, and they wanted to see solutions that brought together the best parts of both the democrat and republican parties. They wanted to offer to the American people a bill that would accomplish health care reform without bankrupting an already broke country. Not once did I ever hear nor read about a single republican who ever said that they would knock down the bill if they did not get everything they wanted or proposed to be included in the bill. Not once. So, there was plenty of room for compromise. There was plenty room for more debate, and fair debate.
It was easy to point fingers when nothing was getting done, and it was easy to make every effort to redirect anger, clearly directed at them, to the republicans. It was easy to blame Bush, and blame the republicans for all of the problems facing the nation, and for all of the failures of the democratic party to get things done in a timely manner. As you have said yourself, the election is over. You are the president now, Mr. Obama. Up to now, control of the House and Senate has been in your hands. Before Scott Brown, you even had a super majority.
The bill got done. The president and the democrats got their way without the help of the republicans. Hooray. They called them the party of no. The truth is there never were nearly enough "no" votes to cause so much trouble. That honor could only go to what could well have been deemed 'the party of can't.'
Not to be stripped of that label thanks to the bill's passing, it now will apply to what they can't do in November. Win.
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