On Thursday, February 25th, 2010, the long-anticipated bipartisan health care summit called by President Barack Obama will take place beginning at 10am EST in Washington, DC. CSPAN and possibly other TV stations will covering it live.
In the run-up to this summit, both political parties have been managing expectations for their respective bases, telling them not to expect anything substantial to result from this.
The democrats are claiming that this summit answers republicans’ accusations that they were excluded from all previous health care reform actions. The republicans are claiming that the democrats are conducting this meeting for purely political reasons, and that if the dems were really serious about bipartisanship, they would entirely abandon the now-combined health care reform package that has already passed both the House and the senate.
The republicans are also front-loading the media against the legislative process know as reconciliation, which allows the majority party in either house of congress can avoid the obstructionist tactic by the minority party known as a filibuster (talking forever without yielding the floor). Filibusters require a 60% “super-majority” to end, but are not permitted under reconciliation procedures. Thus, under reconciliation a bill can proceed to a final vote, which only requires a simple majority (more than 50% of votes cast) to pass.
The GOP has used reconciliation many times when they controlled the congress. Yet, the GOP is now claiming that use of reconciliation by the dems to pass a revised health care reform package is unfair and “arrogant”, according to Senate Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
In other words, when the republicans used reconciliation, which they hold the record for, by the way, it was acceptable. But when the dems want to use it for the very first time in this administration, the GOP screams foul and runs around claiming that the dems ( the party which the voters chose to be the majority) are arrogant.
What’s wrong with this picture?
The real answer is that the American people have allowed themselves to be subjected to this type of hypocritical irrational reasoning for far too long. This has encouraged the GOP to scream that the sky is falling under the democrats, regardless of issue. Rather than offer real workable, viable solutions to real problems, the minority party senate republicans have used the filibuster to block action on most major legislation since Obama took office in January 2009.
Note to GOP: Political Tip: It’s a lot easier to trash your opponent than to out-perform him in the proposed solutions department. If you can inject fear for and hatred of the opponent in the voter, you stand a better chance of getting elected/reelected, because many voters don’t do the research necessary to find out who’s telling the truth and who’s full of it.
As a result of all of this, no one is expecting any breakthroughs during the unprecedented five hour summit meeting. In fact, the expectation is so low now that the summit will probably have mostly entertainment value. It is undeniable that Obama has answered the GOP’s accusation of non-inclusion on health care reform by calling this meeting. But the GOP is already setting it up as a dismal failure by demanding that the democrats abandon their position (in the form of legislation already passed by majority vote) even before the meeting starts. In other words, the minority is telling the majority to surrender and how to do so.
And yet, all the democrats have asked the GOP to do is to show up and bring their ideas to the table. Nothing else.
This is a very dangerous game for both sides, but the GOP has now desperately painted itself into a more dangerous corner than the democrats. Unless they present clear, easy-to-understand solutions to the issue of the recent 40% health insurance premium increases such as those in California and Maine; unless they have a clear solution to the unpaid hospital emergency room bills incurred by the poor but subsidized by the rest of us through higher and higher medical costs….
…unless they can present an alternative plan that will clearly work, they will be left with only one choice: either sign on to the democratic proposals to fix these things, or bad-mouth the summit, complain about the unfair democrats, cry “woe is me” to whomever will listen to such garbage, and stream endless propaganda about how the democrats are destroying America, Americans, and Americana.
The odds are that when the summit has ended and the theatrics are over, the GOP, having contributed little to nothing at the summit, will opt for the propaganda route. Credibility will then be the underlying issue. But in light of the summit itself, that might a huge mistake. It could cause some moderate republicans stand up to their party leaders and say, “Not so fast…!” Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts come to mind.
Note to GOP: Political Tip: When you lose your credibility past a certain point, the lemmings that were following you over the cliff may begin to have seconds thoughts…as in “think for themselves”…without you.