For an incredible, unprecedented six hours Thursday President Obama presided over a much ballyhooed health-care forum with Republican rivals who have as much intention of helping him pass his reform bill as I have of slicing off my own lips with a box-cutter. So why the effort then? Because for some apparently deeply-psychologically-rooted reason, Obama and the Democrats are on an embarrassing, futile quest for bi-partisanship that's starting to make them look about as emotionally needy as an insecure 5-year-old relentlessly seeking parental adulation and approval. But with Republicans, it's never going to come. Ever. Period. The only thing they are going to help him do is fail. So to the president and Democratic leaders I have three words: stop...kissing...ass. Just drop the nuclear option -- reconciliation -- on 'em and get this damned health-care bill passed already. Enough's enough.
Reconciliation is a parliamentary tactic which in essence allows the majority party to pass certain legislation -- that which impacts the federal budget -- with just 51 Senate votes instead of the filibuster-proof 60. With Democrats in control and threatening to use this weapon to ultimately pass reform, Republicans are outraged and crying foul. Yet 16 of the 22 bills passed this way since its adoption in 1974 came under Republican majorities, including former President Bush's tax cuts. Reconciliation is so popular among Republicans that New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg said in 2005, "Is there something wrong with 'majority rules'? I don't think so." He was referring to his support of the GOP using reconciliation to pass legislation allowing drilling in Alaska's Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
But Sen. Gregg now sings a different tune over health-care reform: "The purpose of the Senate on something this complex and this comprehensive is to be a place where you have debate and you have amendments. And if you have a decent bill you shouldn't fear them." Sorry pal, can't have it both ways. If reconciliation was acceptable under Republican majorities, then so shall it be under Harry Reid's Democratic Senate. Can you say, colossal hypocrite?
Obama needs to stop pussyfooting around with The Party of No. He needs to stop seeking the Republicans' approval on everything he campaigned on and believes in. He needs to stop wasting precious time trying to convince the unconvincable that they should partner with him on his historic health-care legislation. He needs to grow some balls, quite frankly, and just get the job done, one way or another.
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