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Dale Hansen Headshot

Republicans Kill Compromise, Continue to Offer Nothing

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Republicans are adamant: The shutdown is all the Democrats' fault. The only reason the government is shut down -- which Republicans love, except when it politically convenient to hate it -- is because the Democrats won't negotiate or compromise.

This is a great talking point -- except that it isn't true. John Boehner and Harry Reid agreed to a compromise weeks ago to keep the government open and reduce spending. Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn -- who govtrack.us ranks as "a far-right Republican" based on the bills he has sponsored -- said, "it is a concession, I acknowledge that" and "I was glad to see that lower number."

And what did John Boehner do with this compromise -- the compromise that far right Republicans acknowledge is Democrats reaching across the aisle? They said, "I know we agreed to not shut down the government in exchange for cuts to spending but we've changed our minds. Now you must repeal the ACA if you want to keep the government open."

It's hard to compromise with someone who won't honor his commitment. So the whining from John Boehner claiming that Democrats are saying it's "my way or the highway" seems brazenly hypocritical given Boehner's "I'm taking my ball and going home if Democrats don't play by my ever-changing rules" attitude.

The problem for Democrats is that they continue to be Charlie Brown to the Republicans' Lucy. At some point you just can't work with someone who continues to yank the ball away after promising this time will be different.

But even if Democrats were to fall for the Republicans' guerrilla tactics again, what compromise are the Republicans actually offering? They claim it is unfair that certain groups get to avoid the ACA for a year while others do not. They are asking that the law be delayed for everyone for that same time period.

Which sounds perfectly reasonable, until you consider that Republicans will not be offering anything in return. Will they agree to stop their feeble attempts to repeal and defund the ACA as a condition for this delay? No. Will they agree to abide by a super-committee decision for how to improve the ACA? No. Will they agree to raise taxes or close tax loopholes to help some of the people who will struggle to pay for health care? No.

No, the Republicans only offer is to reopen the government and debate this topic again next year. And who doesn't want the threat of another government shutdown hanging over our fragile economic recovery for yet another year? Will Republicans suddenly like the ACA in a year? Beyond that, since when did funding a functioning government become a Democrat only principle? Having a working government that protects the people is not something you win in negotiations. It is a baseline expectation. Acting like each side is getting something with this offer is asinine and insulting.

We have the most expensive health care system in the world and we cover less of the population than any other industrialized nation. Are we really supposed to believe that between the 279 Republicans in Congress they can't offer one improvement? They can't provide even one tweak to the ACA that keeps all of the things people like but makes it better? The only possible option is a complete repeal? Talk about uncompromising.

But if John Boehner really wants a compromise how about we just agree that the Senate votes on the House's funding bill and the House votes and the Senate's funding bill. Best man wins. Deal?

Previously published in the Detroit News.