Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friends like Olympia Snowe

As you probably know by the time you read this, Olympia Snowe voted yesterday to approve an outline (not a bill) of a healthcare plan out of the finance committee. There are quite a few conservatives upset by that, but I'm not. Snowe has never been a conservative and to think she would take a conservative position on any particular issue would be rather foolish. I am, however, upset by a statement she made shortly after that on ABC's Good Morning in America. I can't find a video clip or transcript so I'm going to have to do my best to get the wording close. She was asked "Is one Republican in favor enough to really have bipartisanship?" to which she responded "It's not enough. We need more Republicans and centrist Democrats to look seriously at this bill and what it can do for the American people." With that sort of statement from a Republican I have to wonder if we would be better off with a Democrat in Maine.

The reason this horrifies me so much is that she implies in the statement that the reason we don't have bipartisanship in Washington is because more Republicans aren't willing to be like her and sign on to legislation that no Republican (and certainly no conservative) had a part in drafting. I've read crazy articles stating that the Congress around 2002 was the most partisan ever, but I still recall most of the important bills had bipartisan cosponsors. None of the big bills coming out of this Congress have any Republican input at all. The very fact that she's arguing centrist Democrats who, lets remember, are Democrats need to get in line with the party indicates that the hardline Democrats aren't just rejecting unreasonable conservative suggestions, they're rejecting any non-progressive suggestions. If you want to see a bipartisan bill try the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill or the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, or the No Child Left Behind Act (sponsored by John Boehner and Ted Kennedy). I note I think each of these is a disaster, but each is an important bill, introduced in a Republican congress, and written and sponsored in part by a Democrat. The "stimulus bill", the climate bill and the healthcare bill have all be the work entirely of Democrats with no Republicans consulted on drafting and no Republican amendments accepted.

I'll note, I don't have a problem with this. I very much wish that Republicans could get their act together and be more partisan when they hold majorities. The problem I have is that Democrats want to work without any consultation with the other party but at the same time claim to hold the mantle of bipartisanship because Republicans don't go along with purely Democrat bills. That's simply a perversion of the language.

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