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  1. #1
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    Bipartisanship? What bipartisanship?

    Schneider: Bipartisanship? What bipartisanship?
    By Bill Schneider
    CNN Senior Political Analyst


    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- "It is time for Congress to act, and I hope they act in a bipartisan fashion," President Obama said when he went to Peoria, Illnois, on Thursday to argue for his economic stimulus plan.
    President Obama didn't find much bipartisanship over the stimulus bill or his pick for commerce secretary.

    Congress acted. But bipartisan? Not so much.

    The plan passed the House of Representatives without a single Republican vote, and got only a token number -- three -- of Republican votes in the Senate.

    "All the talk about bipartisanship that we have heard over the last several months went down the drain," House Republican leader John Boehner complained on Friday.

    Obama also ran into a wall in his effort to build a bipartisan cabinet when his choice for Secretary of Commerce, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, withdrew his name from nomination.

    "I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the census, there are irresolvable conflicts for me," Gregg said on Thursday.

    Why isn't bipartisanship working?

    After all, Obama is a popular president -- he had a 76 percent job approval rating in last week's CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corp. He was elected on a promise to bring the country together. And a sense of urgency certainly exists.

    "When you start seeing an economic crisis of this magnitude, everybody's got to chip in, everybody's got to pull together," the president said on Thursday. "Politics has to stop."

    But it hasn't.

    One reason is that members of Congress don't necessarily share Obama's passion for bipartisanship. Congressional Democrats see a partisan mandate in the last two elections. The voters threw out the Republican Congress in 2006. Then they threw out the Republican White House in 2008. If that is not a mandate for Democrats to govern, what is?

    Republicans saw the stimulus plan as a challenge to their core principles.

    "We aren't interested in growing the size of government," Boehner said on the House floor.

    Ideology was a key factor in Gregg's decision to withdraw his Cabinet nomination.

    "I'm a fiscal conservative -- as everybody knows, a fairly strong one," Gregg said. "And it just became clear to me that it would be very difficult, day in and day out, to serve in this Cabinet or any Cabinet."

    The red-blue divide that has dominated U.S. politics since 1980 is still very much alive in Congress. When Obama allowed House Democrats to shape the initial stimulus plan, it ran right into the buzzsaw of old political divisions.

    "They loaded every big government idea of the last 40 years into this bill," Rep. Jeb Hensaring, R-Texas, complained in a statement. Video Watch Republicans say why their stimulus plan would work »

    Despite Obama's outreach to them, congressional Republicans felt excluded by the Democratic majority. At the same time, some House Democrats balked at the spending cuts made by the Senate in order to get even a modicum of Republican support.

    President Obama did everything he could to drum up a public sense of urgency. And it was there.

    In the CNN poll, a majority of Americans expressed support for the Senate stimulus bill. But it was a fairly narrow majority -- 54 to 45 percent. At the same time, 55 percent felt the bill contained too much government spending.

    One reason for public suspicion: The stimulus plan came only a few months after the deeply unpopular Wall Street bailout. Most Americans resented the fact that the federal government -- indeed, the Bush administration -- was spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the institutions that were responsible for the financial crisis.

    "Where's my bailout?" people wanted to know.

    Moreover, the bailout doesn't appear to have done much to resolve the crisis. Instead, every day there are stories about captains of finance getting million-dollar bonuses.

    In the end, the plan passed. What difference does it make that it got so little Republican support? It's still the law.
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    Republicans will keep up a chorus of complaint and might try to undo pieces of it. If the economic recovery is slow -- and Obama has warned that it may take years, not months -- the plan will be a continuing issue of partisan controversy. On the other hand, if things start to get better, Republicans could face serious political backlash.

    In either case, we will hear those dreaded words, "I told you so."
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/...ref=newssearch

    February 15, 2009
    Stimulus bill was 'a bad beginning' for Obama, says McCain
    Posted: 11:49 AM ET


    CNN's John King sat down with Sen. John McCain in Phoenix, Arizona.

    (CNN) – Arizona Sen. John McCain did not pull any punches in assessing a major milestone in his former rival’s nascent presidency.

    “It was a bad beginning,” McCain said Sunday of the legislative process that resulted in the $787 billion stimulus bill recently passed by Congress. “It was a bad beginning because it wasn’t what we promised the American people, what President Obama promised the American people – that we would sit down together.”

    While McCain said he appreciated the fact that Obama came to Capitol Hill to speak with House Republicans about the stimulus bill. But, “that’s not how you negotiate a result.” Instead, “you sit down in a room with competing proposals” and “almost all of our proposals went down on a party-line vote”

    “I hope the next time we will sit down together and conduct truly bipartisan negotiations. This was not a bipartisan bill.”

    But the former Republican presidential nominee was also critical of how his own party had conducted itself in the past when it came to bipartisanship.

    “Republicans were guilty of this kind of behavior,” McCain said. “I’m not saying that we did things different. But Americans want us to do things differently and they want us to work together.”

    The stimulus bill which Obama will sign Tuesday is “incredibly expensive,” McCain also said. “It has hundreds of billions of dollars in projects which will not yield in jobs,” McCain told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “This was supposed to be a package that was going to create jobs.”

    McCain also spoke about the potential long-term effects of the stimulus bill.

    “We are committing generational theft,” McCain said. “We are laying a huge deficit on future generations of Americans.”

    Failure to bring the federal government’s spending back in line with its revenue once the economy improves could lead to inflation and debasement of the dollar down the road, McCain also told King.

    McCain, who has represented the border state of Arizona in the Senate for more than two decades, also discussed illegal immigration on State of the Union.
    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com...a-says-mccain/

  2. #2
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    The fatal flaw of the two party system.

  3. #3
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    Yea, what happened to all that bi-partisanship indeed. Obama extended a hand across the aisle and it got slapped by the "born again" fiscal conservative John Boehner (insert theatrics here).

    House and Senate Dems compromised a ton on the stimulus bill -- even while the rest of us (liberals) were calling for less in tax cuts and more in actual stimulus. But, a large portion of this "spending" bill is tax cuts.

    Pelosi was right -- you can either have bi-partisanship or you can have a stimulus bill.
    Last edited by SmthBluCitrus; 02-15-2009 at 12:40 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Bipartisanship would have included negotiations. Not a bill that was rushed.

    You can't call one guy saying "hey guys, you are the other party, this is what we want to do. Ok great" bipartisanship.

  5. #5
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    Negotiations? Is your accusation that the Democratic Party didn't invite the Republicans to the table? Did Obama not meet with Republican leadership?

    The House met and voted on a basic construct of a bill -- Republicans didn't cast a single vote in favor. The Senate met and voted on a basic construct of the bill -- Republican support was crap.

    Afterwards, a ten person committee of senior fiscal leadership from the House and the Senate met (six Dems and four Republicans, Chuck Grassley included -- that is the basic breakdown in Washington, so that seems fair) to hash out a compromise between the House and the Senate.

    The legislation was finally fully constructed and put through the House and the Senate (where two Republicans voted "yes" mind you -- beating a filibuster) on Friday.

    There isn't real Republican outrage over this. It was a chance to draw a line in the sand so they can "be against it" while it still passes. The GOP leadership (Boehner and McConnell) doesn't want bi-partisanship. They're hedging on 2010 and this is the legislation they want to target. This is nothing more than a campaign move. They worked to strip key elements from the package in hopes that it doesn't work and they regain seats in the next cycle. The GOP is already unpopular -- so they didn't have a lot to lose by being in opposition.
    Когда́ де́ньги говоря́т, тогда́ пра́вда молчи́т

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmthBluCitrus View Post
    Negotiations? Is your accusation that the Democratic Party didn't invite the Republicans to the table? Did Obama not meet with Republican leadership?

    The House met and voted on a basic construct of a bill -- Republicans didn't cast a single vote in favor. The Senate met and voted on a basic construct of the bill -- Republican support was crap.

    Afterwards, a ten person committee of senior fiscal leadership from the House and the Senate met (six Dems and four Republicans, Chuck Grassley included -- that is the basic breakdown in Washington, so that seems fair) to hash out a compromise between the House and the Senate.

    The legislation was finally fully constructed and put through the House and the Senate (where two Republicans voted "yes" mind you -- beating a filibuster) on Friday.

    There isn't real Republican outrage over this. It was a chance to draw a line in the sand so they can "be against it" while it still passes. The GOP leadership (Boehner and McConnell) doesn't want bi-partisanship. They're hedging on 2010 and this is the legislation they want to target. This is nothing more than a campaign move. They worked to strip key elements from the package in hopes that it doesn't work and they regain seats in the next cycle. The GOP is already unpopular -- so they didn't have a lot to lose by being in opposition.
    Anyone know how Doomsday the conspiracy guy got sbc's password?

  7. #7
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    It's no conspiracy. It's the way the game is played.
    Когда́ де́ньги говоря́т, тогда́ пра́вда молчи́т

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmthBluCitrus View Post
    It's no conspiracy. It's the way the game is played.
    Agreed. This will undoubtedly be ignored, but this doesn't need to be the way the game is played. The flaw is in the adversarial two party system. Parties in parliamentary democracies don't have the luxury of sabotaging the opposition in an attempt to regain power. They would quickly fall to third place in the party standings. They have far more incentive to collaborate.

  9. #9
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    The only problem with that is that in an American-style republic democracy, it functions best as a two-party system. It's really tough for a third option to enter into the system and stay viable. And, if it does, it generally eliminates the party that exists closest to it's ideology. That's been our history and it will be our future.

    I don't have a problem with the two-party system. Naturally, it doesn't appeal to every voter (nothing will), but the bases are generally covered.
    Когда́ де́ньги говоря́т, тогда́ пра́вда молчи́т

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmthBluCitrus View Post
    The only problem with that is that in an American-style republic democracy, it functions best as a two-party system. It's really tough for a third option to enter into the system and stay viable. And, if it does, it generally eliminates the party that exists closest to it's ideology. That's been our history and it will be our future.

    I don't have a problem with the two-party system. Naturally, it doesn't appeal to every voter (nothing will), but the bases are generally covered.
    Ideologically it may cover everything, but practically it under-achieves because it leads to deadlock. The dialogue is often black and white, wrong or right. Look at the two sides in this case: they're immediately pointing fingers and blaming the other side. It requires almost heroic leadership to overcome the flaw. There is no third, fourth or fifth party power to turn up the heat on the top 2 parties to get their **** together.

  11. #11
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    I won't disagree that the system certainly has it's drawbacks. But, there's almost never any question as to who is in control. In a parliamentary system -- although it does require cooperation -- you can often end up with the minority party in power because they have the final decisive vote that puts the vote over 50%. I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing -- but it exists.

    Of course, with the way the filibuster is utilized in the Senate now, the American-style democracy now must rely on a Super-Majority in order to pass any legislation.

    Now, I have to go to the grocery store.
    Когда́ де́ньги говоря́т, тогда́ пра́вда молчи́т

  12. #12
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    Reading McCain's comments show what a joke he really is... Republicans should want no part of this bipartisanship bs that Obama is feeding us... this is merely his way of adding the Republicans as a scape goat to this awful plan. McCain needs to get over the fact that Obama and Pelosi aren't going to take the Republicans requests seriously and adding tax cuts to a bill with an immense amount of government spending does not make it any more bipartisan than it would have been otherwise.

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    Hey lets not take a couple weeks or a month and figure out a good plan. Let's just rush a crappy one through as fast as possible.

    It's the least we can do for the American people
    Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.-Theodore Roosevelt


    There's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.
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    I thought the first article gave a pretty good, and fair report of what is happening.

    All of the "Obama tried, but Republicans pissed on his face" stuff is bogus.

    Republicans felt they weren't included, and that the final bill went against some of their conservative values. Opponents are quick to point out that they didn't have this stance when they were the party in power, but hey....as a conservative I'm happy about the new development.

    Obama trying to reach across the aisle was a nice gesture, but it wasn't backed by any substance. Just because you're polite to someone, doesn't mean they have to agree with you.

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    Bipartisanship is not forcing the other party to agree with everything you want, and then blaming them for not doing that.

    Obama's bipartisanship was a laughable joke. Yeah he talked to Republican leaders, but did he do anything besides remind them, yet again, that he won, and elections have consequences?? And now he's going to defend it by playing the "Well, I tried!" card?? This is why politics makes me sick, and Obama's no different or better than any partisan politican who's come before him.

    Thanks to Speaker Pelosi, Republicans can not write their own amendments, or their own versions of bills, and bring the bills back into debate. The Democrats enjoyed that luxury for the entire duration of the Bush Administration. Now the Dems have the same partisan majority (in terms of which party controls the House, Senate & White House, not numbers) that the Republicans had from 2000-2006, and while talking all about bipartisanship and how politics has to end, the Dems have also changed the rules to make these the most hyper-partisan times in my lifetime. The Republicans are not allowed to have any legitimate voice in the debate AT ALL! Is that the "Change We Can Believe In"????

    Bipartisanship is not a one-party system, but that's what Democrats apparently want, or their whine/spin machine cranks into high gear. Because of all that, now 3 Congresspeople can have all the control over if something gets passed or not. Way to go guys.
    Last edited by DodgersFan28; 02-15-2009 at 07:30 PM.

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