Sunday, February 08, 2009

Is bipartisan politics DOA in Obama's "new" Washington?

Barack Obama was chosen by Americans to be their next president based on an apparently sincere desire to bring "change" to Washington. He claimed that he was going to eliminate the "same old games." He claimed that he would reach across the aisle in a truly bipartisan spirit. He claimed to be devoutly anti-lobbyist. I do believe that he is sincere in these commitments, but some of them will simply take time and never should have been considered as "Day One" slam-dunks.

The case in front of us is the fiscal stimulus bill currently soldiering down the partisan political gauntlet known as Congress. As traditional Washington legislation goes, this bill is actually doing quite well, but as a centerpiece of the "new politics" bipartisan spirit that Candidate Obama seemed to be espousing, it is essentially DOA (dead on arrival.) Its one success is that it does not have any true "earmarks", but it is chock full of pet hobbyhorses of innumerous subgroups of congressional factions of every stripe and flavor.

One other semi-success is that the original "plan" from the White House economic team did have one bipartisan twist, namely a significant dose of tax cuts and breaks that were clearly designed to appeal to Republicans. That was a wise choice, but President Obama is essentially credited with no points for that wisdom since liberal Democrats hate it and Republicans were denied the right to a "pride of authorship" participation in the drafting of the plan.

The net result is that just about everybody hates the bill for some reason or another. Maybe that is why it will pass: each faction knows that no other faction got what it really wanted. There is an old saying that the only truly successful and lasting settlement is one in which each party to the negotiation gives up something very dear to them.

That is essentially the proposition before us: Do we "blame" President Obama for this ugly duckling of a bill, or do we praise him for setting idealism and ideology aside and being so pragmatic as our Community-Organizer-in-Chief?

Us centrists and pragmatists will praise him, but the idealists (progressives) and ideologues (conservative Republicans) will vilify him.

Essentially this comes down to an all-out battle (war?) between those who believe that compromise (bipartisanship) is a force of good and those for whom it represents pure evil.

This is not the end of bipartisanship, but it will be a long war as the right wing conservatives seek to protect their dwindling legacy and the left wing progressives seek to recover that which they believe was stolen from them and otherwise denigrated in past years (vengeance?).

-- Jack Krupansky


At 9:02 AM , Anonymous said...

I do not understand why people are having diffculty understanding. The number of unemployed people (11.6 million) and the unemployment rate (7.6 percent) rose in January. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 4.1 million. The Department of Labor reported today that nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply in January (-598,000) and the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent. Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007, .... most of this mess happening only in past three months! And some wonder Obama is pushing so hard for a stimulus package. Is the Herbert Hoover approach, do nothing, all we need, leading us to a twelve year depression ??


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