Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The truth about Republicans (and health-care reform)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's often edifying when Republicans show their true colours, even if they're not exactly "beautiful like a rainbow."

On health-care reform specifically, Republicans on Capitol Hill have for the most part either been obstructionists or outright opponents, hurling their lies and propaganda about "socialism" and "death panels" with all the strength they could muster, much of it latching on with an irresponsible media establishment that emphasizes not the facts, not the truth, but the partisan battle, thereby giving credence to Republican dishonesty, as well as with the public, much of which lacks the capacity to be able to make an informed decision.

And the whole bipartisanship angle has been, from the start, a charade -- and a farce. Republicans simply aren't serious compromise, about making a deal. Most are against reform altogether, preferring the status quo, or more of it, to fixing what is a broken and costly system that leaves tens of millions of Americans without adequate care or without coverage altogether, on the outside looking in. A few, including the three in the so-called "Gang of Six" on the Senate Finance committee, supposedly seek compromise -- meaning, concessions from Democrats -- but what they really want, at most, is to water down the legislation to such a point that reform is meaningless.

But, let's face it, even those supposed compromisers, the supposed moderates, don't really want reform at all, as we've suspected -- indeed, as we've known -- all along.

As Ezra Klein reports, for example, Charles Grassley, the leading Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has actually been fundraising against reform back home in Iowa. Furthermore, as Brian Beutler notes, Mike Enzi, another GOP Gang of Six member, has "trashed Democratic reform ideas," even picking up on the "death panel" lie. The White House, apparently, has had enough. Elsewhere, RNC Chair Michael Steele said that Republicans won't be "guilted" into reform, as if this is what Democrats are trying to do, as if the only way Republicans will do reform is out of guilt. And now we learn that Republicans would actually repeal health-care reform if they won in 2010.

Joe Klein is right. The charade is over:

It is not impossible that other Republicans who are not Senators from Maine can be located to support health care reform. But it's also entirely possible that the Republicans will continue their kamikaze ways and oppose a reform that is likely to prove very popular with the American public when it's enacted (which is why, in truth, the GOP nihilists oppose it).

Which is why the Democrats should, as I and many others have argued many times, go it alone. Which won't, of course, be easy, given Democratic opposition to the so-called "public option," not least from the Blue Dogs. But what is the alternative? To continue to negotiate with an opposition party that has no interest negotiating in good faith? To continue to seek compromise with an opposition party that has no interest in compromise? To continue to work for a bipartisan solution with an opposition party that is unwaveringly partisan and that puts party before all else, including the good of the country?

Simply put, it's time to move on, and to do what is right, which is health-care reform with a robust public option. Republicans have had their say. It's with the Democrats now, the Democrats alone, and they, and Obama, must take charge.

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