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April 2010
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Thinking Aloud….. April 10, 2010

  • Two weeks ago, Democrats, on a wholly partisan basis passed health care legislation. My world changed, as in my world Democrats have been the party of hand-wringing sissies in the back room considering all the reasons not to pass legislation it wants (please note, I’m describing national Democrats– Illinois Dems are exactly the opposite).

On the other hand, Republicans have never worried about opposition to legislation it wants. The GOP tells the public that the legislation is in its best interest. The GOP then announces if you don’t like the bill you are a ______________ (Fill in the blank with liberal, elitist, socialist, communist, anti-American, unpatriotic). Within that sentiment is an invitation to move to Canada.

That all changed March 21, 2010.

And the person with the cojones to ram the legislation through: Nancy Pelosi. The first woman Speaker of the House got the job done. Although I don’t agree with everything in the bill, it certainly is a good start and ultimately will prove to be a legislative victory for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Good job making history.

  •  FDR was called a socialist.


  • Ronald Reagan called Medicare socialist.


  • President Nixon had a healthcare plan too. President Nixon and Senator Ted Kennedy almost passed universal health care in 1974. President Nixon said in his 1974 State of the Union address: “The time is at hand this year to bring comprehensive, high quality health care within the reach of every American.”

“ObamaCare” is more conservative than Nixon’s plan.

Who said:

We need to work out a system that includes a greater emphasis on preventive care, sufficient public funding for health insurance for those who cannot afford it in the private sector, competition among healthcare providers and health insurance providers to keep down the costs of both, and decoupling the cost of healthcare from the cost of adding workers to the payroll.

Not Barack Obama. Not Nancy Pelosi. It was Richard Nixon, in his 1992 book, Seize the Moment.

  • Republicans have painted themselves into a corner by demonizing Barack Obama. The GOP did its best to characterize the President as “socialist” or the destroyer of America or worse, with some protesters carrying around posters of Obama looking like Hitler. Demonizing the opposition put the GOP in the bad position where it could not sit down and negotiate. One can’t negotiate with Hitler, you can only destroy Hitler. By likening Obama to Hitler– as the GOP’s rhetorical flourishes have– they put themselves in a position of having to defeat Obama rather than work with him to help the American people on the issue of health care. Republicans often said they agreed with 80% of things in the healthcare legislation. But, in demonizing Obama, they could not come to the table and pass that 80%– which they had the opportunity to do after Scott Brown was elected in Massachusetts– they had to make this issue Obama’s Waterloo. They could only defeat him.

If the legislation is as bad as Republicans assert– then they did the country a great disservice by not coming to the table in good faith to negotiate. With Republicans at the table negotiating in good faith, a better bill could have been passed. The GOP’s failure to negotiate gave Democrats the opportunity to pass whatever legislation they wanted. Fortunately, history will show that the bill is not as bad as Republicans have argued– ultimately, that’s why they did not come to the table.

When the American way of life doesn’t end because of health care legislation passing, hopefully the American public will have a long enough memory to hold those who told them it would to account.

  • Lack of bipartisanship? Is this really a reason to be mad at Obama? Obama could cure cancer and the same windbags would be upset that he didn’t come up with the cure sooner. You can’t blame the President for a lack of bipartisanship on health care when Republicans decided early on that there would be no bipartisanship. The President needed Republicans for bipartisanship– and he courted them for some time. But when it became apparent that GOP leadership ordered rank and file not to work with the President, efforts at bipartisanship had to be put to rest.

If I were a quarterback, I could tell the media before a big game that I’m going to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns. But, if nobody catches my passes, can I throw for three touchdowns? No. I need receivers. For bipartisanship to work, Obama needed Republicans to work with him. They weren’t. Even if he gave them more, they weren’t going to vote with him. (A few Republicans told the Administration that they wanted to sit down and assist in crafting a bill they could vote for, but without at least 10 senators coming with them, it couldn’t happen).

So why give them anything in the bill?

After the bill was signed, The GOP can’t moan that the bill was passed on a partisan basis when it made the calculated decision to sit on the sidelines. Get in the game and do something that benefits the country rather than your party.

  • The most recent edition of the GOP puts politics over country. The GOP had the opportunity to come to the table and figure out how to fix the worst financial mess since 1929. However, the GOP saw a crisis so bad, they calculated it politically advantageous to sit out, do nothing, and not take ownership of any of the fixes and then put Barack Obama and Democrats on the hot seat when the economy didn’t turn around.

After one year, economists agree that the fixes were enough to save the economy from true disaster, however, may not be enough to get us to full employment. Republicans now find themselves in an unenviable position of praying against the economic recovery before November 2010. Because when the economy rebounds, Republicans can’t take any credit.

Our political parties should be working together to come to solutions, rather than making calculated political moves to ignore problems so when the problem is not fixed, the nonparticipating party can lay blame. That’s what this edition of the GOP has done. The party would be better served by participating in governing the nation. I think that over time– when the economy turns around– the party will come to regret its lack of participation.

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