Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Bipartisanship’s Over

President Obama came out swinging yesterday in promoting the Democrats’ proposal for health care reform. He didn’t say outright that he was going to leave the Republicans behind in the process — there are 160 Republican amendments in the bill — but he also made it pretty clear that he’s done with trying to go the extra mile to get them on board.

And why should he? After six months of trying to be accommodating to the minority party — something his predecessor didn’t even fake — all he’s gotten is nothing, unless you call the usual right-wing vitriol and victimhood “something.” With the new proposal, the GOP has been reduced to scare tactics (“tax hikes!” “rationing!” “socialized medicine!”) and whining about not being part of the process (although they clearly had their chance) or the bill being too complicated, and offering nothing but the same old tired ideas about how to fix a broken system with a Band-Aid: tax credits and subsidies for their Big Pharma buddies. The Republicans never had any intention of supporting health care reform no matter who proposed it, and especially anything put forward by President Obama, so why should he bother even trying to make nice?

Of course there’s a political element to this. The president knows he gets this one shot at it before the 2010 campaign starts next month. The unpredictable element is Congress; the bill you see today will bear scant resemblance to what they may produce in their version of the sausage factory, but at least they can get to work without having to put up with the pretense that they need to work across the aisle any longer.