Last week, the Republicans took a big gamble and lost by lining up on the wrong side of history with their battle against health care reform. After the bill passed in Congress, all we heard from Republicans on the 24 hour news channels was, how can Congress pass a bill without even one Republican vote? The answer is...the same way President Clinton passed his Budget Reconciliation Act in 1993. He had to rely solely on Democrats to win passage after not one Republican voted for either his stimulus plan or his budget. Clinton's economic initiatives ultimately brought us the greatest period of prosperity for our country in modern times by creating 23 million new jobs and projecting a federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969.
Conversely, during the time when Republicans held control of the House, Senate and Presidency, they used their power to pass economic policies that led to the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. Despite this fact, Republicans continue to revise history, accuse Democrats of fiscal irresponsibility and vote in lockstep against President Obama's most important policy initiatives, in their effort to have him fail.
Just this last week, the Senate Banking Committee moved to approve financial reform legislation. Not surprisingly, the panel passed the overhaul bill on a 13-10 vote, without support from one member of the Republican Party. Given that the world economy nearly caved to its knees under Republican stewardship and millions of Americans are still suffering, one would think that at least on this issue, partisanship would not trump good policy.
Health care reform, financial regulation, the economic stimulus, energy policy....the GOP has continually stonewalled legislation to move our country forward. The only victory the GOP can claim after the successful passage of health care legislation is that they stuck together in solidarity to do nothing. The GOP's obsession with seeing the President fail and their refusal to work with the Democrats to better the lives of the American people will come back to haunt them.
The American people are starting to resent the "politics of no" and the Republicans are quickly devolving into the "party of no tolerance." Recently, leading intellectual and former Bush White House aide, David Frum, was fired from his fellowship at the conservative-leaning think tank, American Enterprise Institute, after he was critical of the Republican strategy against President Obama's health-care overhaul. Bruce Bartlett, who was also fired by a right wing think tank in 2005 for writing a book critical of George W. Bush's policies, commented that "rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed."
Republicans need to understand that elections matter -- even when they don't win them. America voted overwhelming for Barack Obama because they wanted big change, and now they are getting it. The President deserves a chance to realize his agenda, and I hope that by the November mid-term election, Americans will see that Democrats are the only ones working to put forth policy initiatives to move our country forward.