|The Evolution of a President: Not Yet Trans-Partisan|
By Sam Batkins
Thursday, December 10 2009
“We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”
“The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America.”
“I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.”
President Obama arrived in Washington promising to change Washington, and on Election Day 2008, some voters were under the naïve delusion that we would no longer be a “Red America or Blue America,” that Obama’s promise to end politics as usual and unite a divided nation around a supposedly nonpartisan agenda would surely become reality.
Regrettably, this new Obama Nation is one of czars, bailouts, endless droning from Joe Biden and single-party governance. Beyond the lofty rhetoric and frenzied enthusiasm is the reality that partisan rancor has actually increased in Washington during the President’s first year in office.
The first major hyper-partisan act of the Administration was the (purported) economic stimulus. Remember that? The second/third installment of the federal government’s Keynesian sleight-of-hand, designed to take money from one part of the economy and redistribute it to another, more politically-favored nook. Despite Obama’s promises of post-partisanship, the stimulus package was muscled through the House without a single Republican vote. The President demonstrated no bipartisanship during the legislative debate, and the $787 billion boondoggle received zero bipartisan support, and deservedly so.
And what do we have to show for it? Well, the unemployment rate now stands at 10%, despite the President’s promise that it wouldn’t exceed 8% if the stimulus was passed, and the President’s approval rating is dropping faster than Tiger Woods’.
Fast forward to the present. Amidst the Senate debate over government-controlled health care, it appears that President Obama will be unable to conjure a single Republican Senator with his trans-partisan magic.
Soon, Congress could enact the single-largest takeover of the U.S. economy in history, and President Obama seems to care little that no one on the other side of the aisle, much less a majority of the American people, supports higher taxes, individual mandates and government rationing of care in the name of “reform.” This push by Democrats is truly unprecedented in U.S. history.
By comparison, the 1935 vote to establish Social Security secured 81 Republicans in the House and 16 in the Senate. Similarly, the 1965 vote on Medicare, which established more than $89 trillion (in today’s dollars) in unfunded liabilities, garnered 13 Republican votes in the Senate and 70 GOP supporters in the House.
That is not to say that Republicans should have supported these massive mandatory entitlement programs currently set to bankrupt the nation, but rather that these programs carry with them at least the appearance of bipartisanship.
When an issue on the table is as important as health care, which represents 17% of the nation’s gross domestic product, wouldn’t it make sense for the President to sell the plan as a grand triumph of his trans-partisan vision for America?
Unfortunately, instead of a health care debate being played out on C-SPAN, as then-candidate Obama promised, Americans are witnessing one closed-door session after another.
First, it was Speaker Nancy Pelosi patching together a haphazard health bill that could achieve the bare minimum 218 votes. She succeeded, but only the top Democratic brass were around to witness the transformation of three awful House committee bills into one larger and even worse final version.
Then, it was Harry Reid who had to play Dr. Frankenstein, patching together two ugly Senate committee drafts. Without Republican support, Harry Reid and his partisan lapdogs crafted a bill that would attempt to please his partisan base and the omnipotent Congressional Budget Office. Republicans and the 59,948,240 taxpayers who voted against President Obama’s agenda last November were an annoying afterthought to Senator Reid.
President Obama preened on national TV that his “door is always open.” Unless it happens to be closed, and you happen to be a Republican, or one of the lonely moderate Democrats in Congress who are struggling desperately to appease the President and your skeptical constituents.
When the final vote is taken on health care, Americans will have witnessed the culmination of the most hyper-partisan legislative pushes in the nation’s history. And so, it appears that President Obama’s trans-partisan bona fides will have to wait.
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