Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No "Bi" in GOP Partisanship

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

The Obama administration is failing to fully communicate to a panicky nation facing economic meltdown the fact that an obstinate GOP is crying wolf over a lack of legislative bipartisanship while refusing to conduct themselves in a bipartisan manner.

By Senate procedural rules, the minority party can hold up.... or frustrate.... any legislation by invoking a "filibuster" debate which means the measure under consideration has to get sixty percent, sixty votes, to end the filibuster and put the bill to a vote.

President Obama and Democrats have been watering down their economic stimulus legislation in the name of bipartisanship.... looking for bipartisanship participation, for those sixty votes, paring down job-creating spending programs and increasing tax cuts, the GOP's snake oil cure for all ills.

It's time to realize that for an all-politics-all-of-the-time GOP, there is no "bi" in partisanship. It's still their way or the highway. When time was of the essence as increasing unemployment hurtled unchecked toward depression levels, the Republican party looked to score points with their radical base.... good of the nation be damned!

Eugene Robinson's advice...."Roll Over Republicans" (WaPo) As he points out today, "Bipartisanship is safe and effective when used as directed. In the present circumstance, however -- dire economic crisis, hardheaded Republicans, time running out -- bipartisanship is doing more harm than good. President Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress can no longer afford to let comity defeat common sense."

Robinson shares our anger over the end result of this begging-for-votes hijacking by a GOP bent on frustrating the process.... "One of the most effective items in the House bill was $79 billion to be transferred to state governments, which are hurting; in California, our most populous state, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is ordering furloughs of state workers. Any dollar given to the states will fly out the door by sundown. That $79 billion would have instant impact.

"But in the Senate, the ad hoc "gang" of moderate Republicans (all three of them) and conservative Democrats cut those state funds to $39 billion. It's wrong to see this as the normal give-and-take of legislative sausage-making, the usual trek down a well-worn path toward the golden compromise that everyone can live with. This is not, repeat not, a time for compromise. Meeting in the middle, which the Senate sees as its role in our democracy, renders the whole exercise potentially useless. If we don't get enough money into the economy, and if we don't do it soon, we risk wasting a king's ransom on a stimulus that's too puny to stimulate."

Robinson is onto something. Bipartisanship isn't working. The conundrum is how to get past or around the GOP grandstanding obstructionists.

Harry Reid, take note..... the next time the GOP Senators want to "filibuster," do it the old-fashioned way. Don't agree to a filibustering set-time debate .... make the naysayers stand up and talk all night, or however many days and nights they choose, so their filibustering impediment is seen by Americans for what it is. A cynical roadblock to progress.

Make the Republicans own their delaying tactics. Make them literally stand up and be counted as they impede and obstruct. Otherwise, these blackmailers will continue to impose their bullying tactics, in the guise of "debate" with cries of non-partisanship, on a nation desperate for government action.... now.

Robinson advises.... "Obama and the Democrats have public opinion on their side and the wolf at the door. Republicans need to get out of the way -- or get run over."

Hear! Hear!

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