As I have said many times before, the best way to address the [deficit] crisis is the Conrad-Gregg proposal. . . . It deserves support from both sides of the aisle. … So I urge the administration, once again, to support the Conrad-Gregg proposal. This proposal is our best hope for addressing the out-of-control spending and debt levels that are threatening our Nation's fiscal future.
So President Obama agreed to it. At which point Senate Republicans filibustered it. The Senate failed to overcome the filibuster by a 53 to 46 vote. It would have passed if seven Republican co-sponsors and McConnell had voted to break the filibuster. They didn't just vote against it. They voted to filibuster it -- a parliamentary maneuver that used to be reserved for extraordinary matters like denying civil rights to black people but now used to obstruct anything and everything that comes before the Senate. If they had only allowed it to come to a fair "up or down vote" they could have still voted against it and it would have passed. But they voted to filibuster the very same bill they co-sponsored and demanded that President Obama support.
Do you really have any doubt these guys are nihilists?
Then there is the increasingly common Republican practice of filibustering a bill ... until if it manages to survive their procedural attacks, then they turn around and vote for it ... because they really don't have a principled reason to oppose it. Like when Senate Republicans spent several weeks obstructing a vote on a bill extending unemployment benefits, requiring that it survive three cloture votes to overcome their filibusters. But once it became clear they were eventually going to lose, Republicans all voted for the bill and it passed 98-0. Weeks of obstruction of a bill they voted for. Now common practice among Senate Republicans. Because they know most Americans generally don't follow all this procedural maneuvering and will blame Democrats for the failure to enact legislation to help the American people at a time of national distress. But they don't want to be held accountable for actually voting against it.
Which brings us to tomorrow's televised health care summit.
You might recall Congressional Republicans demanding that President Obama agree to televise negotiations over health care reform legislation. Here is House Minority leader Boehner:
[E]very issue of national import should be debated by the people's elected representatives in full public view, but this is especially true with something as personal and important as health care. Clocking in at a combined 4,765 pages, the House and Senate health care bills propose drastic and expensive changes in the way Americans live. [RD note: Nice touch -- combining the page totals of both the House and Senate bills.] Dozens of differences between the two bills have been identified, including fundamental changes to the patient-doctor relationship.
Hard-working families won't stand for having the future of their health care decided behind closed doors. These secret deliberations are a breeding ground for more of the kickbacks, shady deals and special-interest provisions that have become business as usual in Washington. Too much is at stake to have a final bill built on payoffs and pork-barrel spending.
So ... you know where this is going. President Obama agrees to debate these issues in a televised forum in full view of the American people. Boehner is totally psyched, right?
Just kidding, of course.
Boehner equivocates over whether Republicans will even attend the health care summit. Fox News' Greta Van Susteren asks Boehner what he thinks about the fact that it's going to be televised and she adds, "the American people are probably delighted that we're getting this televised:"
Boehner responded: "I think that's fine, but you know, is this a political event or is this going to be a real conversation?"Van Susteren didn't let that slide: "Well, except that we've been hammering them about the transparency. The president said, you know, he was going to put everything on C-SPAN, so we can't criticize him now for when he finally does put it on C-SPAN."Boehner said "well, that's fine," but he doesn't "want to walk into some set-up."How dare President Obama televise the discussions we demanded that he televise.
Oh, and remember that bit above about the House and Senate bills combined "[c]locking in at a combined 4,765 pages"? Another big Republican theme: The health care bills are too long. Here is Boehner again:
“The best way to get a sense of what Speaker Pelosi’s takeover of health care looks like is to actually look at it. Just shy of 2,000 pages, it runs more than 620 pages longer than the government-run plan Hillary Clinton proposed in 1993. This 1,990 pages of bureaucracy will centralize health care decision making in Washington, DC. "
So President Obama agrees to post on-line at least 72 hours prior to the televised bipartisan health care discussion his summary of the Democratic proposal. Republicans refuse to come up with any proposals of their own. And how does Boehner react to President Obama's public proposal? It's not long enough. Seriously. Here is Boehner's spokesman:
The White House's 'plan' consists of an 11-page outline, which has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office or posted online as legislative text. So they want to reorganize one-sixth of the United States' economy with a document shorter than a comic book ...
Goldilocks is easier to please than these guys.
They think they win if our government -- and the country -- fails. And they think we are stupid enough to blame it on President Obama.
I just hope they're not right about that.