Democrats & Liberals Archives

Let's Start All Over

You heard the conventional wisdom, the wisdom bruited about by the brilliant broadcast pundits: Republicans came out slightly ahead in the big Healthcare Debate at the Summit. How did the Republicans accomplish this outstanding feat? They came prepared, the pundits proclaim. Yes, indeed, every single Republican who spoke at the Summit said the same thing: “let’s start all over.”

Many pundits thought before the meeting that Republicans would come as themselves, as Republicans. Imagine the great surprise of the pundits when the Republicans arrived and were very polite to the president. The Republicans did not tell the president that they could not engage seriously with him because he is not truly president since he was not born in the U.S. What a relief. The Republicans refrained from calling President Obama a Muslim, a Nazi, a communist or as socialist. That was nice. The Republicans did not even say that Obama is more worried about terrorists than he is about the welfare of Americans. Wonderful.

The Republicans did none of these things. They were extremely deferential to the president and called him "Mister President." Wow! The Republicans behaved as normal human beings! So the pundit chorus decided that the Republicans won the match.

Ridiculous! The Republicans were polite on the surface, but they all came to tear down everything he proposed, regardless of its merits. They did it with the simple phrase, "let's start all over." Many health subtopics were discussed. But in each case, the Republican speaker wound up saying "let's start all over."

Boehner brought a stack of papers representing the healthcare bill, not to discuss anything in it, but to say that this is a 2700-page bill and is therefore a dangerous bill. Like all the other Republicans, he said "let's start all over." He followed this by saying let's go "step by step."

As I was listening to him I was wondering what should be the first step? Deciding how many pages the bill should be? Did he want to spend a month, maybe more, discussing the number of pages? What was the ideal number of pages he would like?
Was he willing to compromise on the number of pages or is this a matter of principle? If he did not like the way the page discussion was going would he filibuster it?

The pundits are wrong. They think, as they always do, in terms of a contest between Democrats and Republicans. This is not what the Summit was about. One goal of the Summit was to change the subject from Scott-Brown-induced Democratic defeatism to the crying need for healthcare reform. The Summit accomplished this in a big way.

A second goal is to push the House and Senate Democrats to work together to pass a good healthcare bill. They must do this on their own. This Summit made it abundantly clear that the Democrats will receive no help at all from Republicans. It's obvious today that the Democratic legislators have received this message loud and clear and are eager to act.

During the Summit, the Democrats did not like the Republican message of "let's start all over." But Democrats should adopt the same message: "Let's start by assuming that the Republicans will fight us every step of the way. Let's negotiate primarily with our own members in order to achieve the best healthcare bill possible. Let's start all over."

Posted by Paul Siegel at February 26, 2010 7:15 PM
Comments
Comment #296297

Nonsense…they had Obama himself admitting that parts of the D bill is flawed. Come November many of the dems will be missing from the new congress.

Posted by: Royal Flush at February 26, 2010 7:40 PM
Comment #296300

Would there even be an America if our Founding Fathers agreed to “Start All Over” every time a minority raised objection to some proposal for inclusion in the U.S. Constitution? I don’t think so.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 26, 2010 7:50 PM
Comment #296305

You would think that after agreement between the two parties that there is a lot in common that they can both support, there would be no need to start over. Doesn’t common sense say that you pick up further negotiation with your common agreements and work from there. I mean it is already established that x amount of the legislation is common ground. Why the need to abandon all those endless hours of work to reestablish what we already know? Makes no sense to me. Sounds like politics pure and simple to me. I watched the entirety of the meeting yesterday so that I might finally get a good grasp of what was going on before the media pundits could tear it down and turn it into some sort of power grab socialist agenda. I am glad I did. I learned a lot and am no longer skeptical of the need for this legislation. I think it is time for the dems to grow a pair and just do it.

Posted by: RickIl at February 26, 2010 9:27 PM
Comment #296309

Ironically, the Dems have far larger problems to worry about than how the GOPers ‘perfomed’ at the “Hyperbole Circus” Summit. No, the Democratic Party needs to coalesce and try and cobble together the 51 votes in the Senate and the 415 votes in the House for reconciliation.

Talk about infighting.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at February 26, 2010 9:46 PM
Comment #296317

The Democrats currently do not have a bill. They have a pile of proposals about which they cannot agree among themselves.

They will have to either start over with a new comprehensive plan or do the smart thing and make iterative changes, learning each time from the feedback. It is becoming clear that Democrats will not be able to get enough votes to pass their bill.

This is not the minority blocking the majority, if the Democrats cannot achieve a majority.

Posted by: Christine at February 26, 2010 11:01 PM
Comment #296321

Christine said: “The Democrats currently do not have a bill. They have a pile of proposals about which they cannot agree among themselves. “

I think the Senate’s Bill to be pushed through Reconciliation amply demonstrates the falsity of your comment, Christine.

Democrats have two Bills, one from the House, and another from the Senate. Carried almost entirely by Democratic votes.

Well, actually three Bills. They also have the Wild Bill Republicans to work with, who shoot from the hip and ask questions after making fools of themselves, as their 8 years of power amply demonstrate. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 26, 2010 11:24 PM
Comment #296324

David

Let them do it if they think they have the votes.

I don’t think they can pass it in the House. I think that right now they are trying to figure a way out where they can blame Republicans.

But the problem for comprehensive health care is that the current proposals will be unable to garner a simple majority. The best thing Republicans could do is let it come to a vote, no filibuster, no nothing. Let it fall by getting less than 50%.

Posted by: Christine at February 26, 2010 11:40 PM
Comment #296325

I was not able to watch the whole summit, but it appeared that Obama won most of the exchanges. One of the best points that I saw Obama make was that the parts of the bill that Republicans were using to claim it is a government take over of health care or government run health care were actually Republican ideas that were added into the bill. This is just one example of how two faced the Republicans are on this issue.

Unfortunately, I have on occasion seen Democrats be two faced on issues as well. It is a problem with partisanship. Our founding fathers did not believe in politiical parties because they knew that they would have a corrupting influence on our politcs. Party members wind up supporting the party line instead of what they really believe.

One example where the Democrats have been two faced is the Democratic hue and cry to do away with the filabuster. As Democrats we were quite properly opposed to Republican threats to end the filbuster during the Bush Regime. I personally was outraged and felt that the Republicans were dismantleing our whole democratic republic.

The Republicans are now using the filabuster to the extreme for cheap corrupt partisan political gain just like they used the special prosecuter in the Clinton administration. So the Democrats agreed to do away with the special prosecuter in order to prevent it from beine used as a corrupt partisan tool and then we really did need it during the Bush Regime.

We do need to reform the filabuster. We do need to break gridlock. We also need to move very carefully in this area. What I think should be done is to leave cloture at 60 votes but make people talk - really talk - and not about reading the phone book. You want to filabuster health care - you talk about health care in non-repetitive and substantive fasion - and when you are done talking… we will vote - straight up or down… by majority rule.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 27, 2010 12:07 AM
Comment #296332

Kevin L. Lagola-
Your party’s filibusters are more or less making differences in our party excessively important. If it weren’t for them, we could tell several of our people to take a hike.

Making everything party-line both emphasizes the majority party’s internal differences, and forces your side’s representatives to paper over their own divisions.

The Republicans are creating situations with their electorate that will force them to confront their own differences soon enough. I mean, will you be able to keep Scott Brown in the Senate if you force this Massachussetts Senator to vote a hardline Republican line every time?

You guys tell us to start over because you want control. You want to dictate terms, to dictate what gets through. You’re not satisfied with campaigning for revisions, as minorities traditionally have. You feel it necessary to basically operate as a shadow majority, and use your obstruction to force your will on the country. You want the blank sheet, because your party wants the initiative just given to it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 27, 2010 1:39 AM
Comment #296335

Christine said: “The best thing Republicans could do is let it come to a vote, no filibuster, no nothing. Let it fall by getting less than 50%.”

We are on a roll, Christine. Again, I could not agree with you more. But, the Congressional Republicans aren’t that smart. They started shooting themselves in the foot when they nominated GW Bush, and they haven’t stopped yet.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 27, 2010 2:01 AM
Comment #296336

Ray Guest said: “Our founding fathers did not believe in politiical parties because they knew that they would have a corrupting influence on our politcs.”

I think this is an erroneous statement. They did not envision political parties at all, until after the Constitution and Washington’s first election. There had been none previously under King George to give them reason to consider the potential of political parties in the first place.

Their view was that individuals in government would have differences of opinion, and debate of those differences and a vote would resolve them in law. They never foresaw the rise of political parties. George Washington’s first election was conducted before political parties had even become a reality.

It is always tricky business to extrapolate from our present experience to that of the past, before our present experience even existed.

The rise of political parties began around 1792. The first were the Federalist Party created by Alexander Hamilton and the Democratic-Republican Party created by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Washington was elected in 1789, predating the formation of political parties. The Constitution was ratified in 1788, and in operation by 1789, before political parties had even been invented in America.

Political parties were therefore, not even contemplated in the drafting of the Constitution. By some conservative’s logic, the GOP is unconstitutional since it was not provided for in the original Constitution. :-)

To say our founding fathers did not believe in political parties, in light of two of our founding fathers having created the first two political parties, is simply and historically, false.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 27, 2010 2:15 AM
Comment #296338

Its pretty obvious that the Reps want to start over in the faith that they will be able to pick up enough seats in the mid-term to scuttle the whole thing or perhaps some window dressing measures that will do little like medical savings accounts to make it easier for providers to steal a bunch of money. Perhaps the problem is that we need more tax cuts for rich people?there must be some reason for that. Trickle down medical care? We could use their old bandages,maybe?
Its the same sort of reasonning that must have occured before the poison pill Medicare drug benefit got passed. It will make people happy enough to gain enough control to scrap the whole welfare state,get rid of medicare altogether and then maybe SS and food stamps, and unions, and worker safety and the 40 hour work week, and product liability and public education and PBS and…then what wonderful world it will be.

Posted by: bills at February 27, 2010 3:27 AM
Comment #296339

Christine
As DR pointed out,there are two reform bills that are quite similar that have already passed. What is the usual process now is simple reconcilliation and futhur votes. I concur that this process should be allowed to go forward without without obstruction. I do not believe you are correct about the outcome but lets just see.It could only help the Reps. If it passes they will have something to whine about and if it doesn’t the Dems will once again start eating their young.Plus if it passes it provide a lot of health care and the Reps can claim credit for it just like the stimulus.

Posted by: bills at February 27, 2010 3:38 AM
Comment #296347

Another bit of history that often seems to be overlooked is that Washington was the first president under the Constitution, but not the first US president:

http://www.marshallhall.org/hanson.html

The link proposes that Washington would be monarch, if not for Hanson. While I think that is a false notion, since Washington rejected the idea, the belief that there was harmony in American politics after the Revolution is entirely false.

Posted by: gergle at February 27, 2010 10:50 AM
Comment #296412

The one thing the founders were good at was compromise, even if compromise was sometimes settled at the end of a dueling pistol. Every time a modern conservative throws the Constitution or the founders at me I cringe, because the one thing the founders depended on to birth a nation, Republicans reject out of hand. Which conservative currently in power could have stood fair ground during our political birth? Could we have become a nation if we had to depend on Boehner? We’d have been just as well off staying with George III.

Posted by: Marysdude at February 28, 2010 5:38 AM
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