I’m going to insert a short note here, interrupting the flow of thoughts about economic matters. This past week’s news was a peak demonstration of why we need a movement or a party of centrists.

On the right, we have the so-called Freedom Caucus of hard-right Republicans, sinking the attempt of Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump to repeal and replace the ACA (aka Obamacare), to fulfill six years worth of campaign pledges. Whether you prefer the current law or liked its proposed replacement, the irresponsible and destructive hard right would not permit sufficient votes to pass the bill in the House. Once the ACA became law,we made a very complex health delivery and insurance situation even more complex. Any change is going to help some people, annoy some people and hurt same people. With 320 million Americans, no bill could please everyone. The Republicans, having won both the Legislative and Executive branches in the 2016 election, had the right to propose a bill more to their liking. But it was not ideologically pure enough for Tea Party Republicans, so rather than accept an improvement, they caused it to fail.

On the left, we see Senator Schumer calling for a filibuster to prevent the seating of Judge Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. And what is their grievance against this jurist? Why, he was nominated by President Trump. Any Republican nominee would by opposed because, well, he’s not a liberal Democrat. And the Republicans will probably vote to change Senate rules to eliminate filibusters against Supreme Court nominees. And of course the Democrats will squawk, and the Republicans will say (with some justification) that when the Democrats had a majority in the Senate, Harry Reid led the charge to eliminate filibusters against Appellate Court judges. Does anyone see a pattern here?

I am writing this brief post, trying to be even handed to show just how destructive the politics of extreme ideologies has become. Only a strong centrist movement or party, with a leader who possesses strong communications skills, can begin to turn the situation around, can begin to sound the voice of reason, of compromise, and of doing what is best for our nation.

8 thoughts on “On Destructive Partisanship

  1. My understanding of why the proposed health care bill failed, was because it wasn’t acceptable to the either the far-right or moderate Republicans, but for different reasons!! After 7 years of complaining about the ACA, that was a pathetic proposal!
    All along the solution was for the GOP to work with the Dems, to improve the flaws in the ACA. Of course that could never happen, because Obama’s name was on the bill.
    I can’t see the GOP ever getting together with a replacement bill that will satisfy their far-right and more moderate factions. As strange as it sounds, Trump may end up forcing both factions and the Dems to work together to improve the ACA. That’s probably wishful thinking on my part, but it would be the right thing to do for the American people.
    I am so grateful my health care is provided by single-payer Medicare!

    There are several reasons why Schumer wants to filibuster Judge Gorsuch.
    1. He has possibly stolen the seat from Judge Garland. Elections do have consequences, so in the end Gorsuch will end up on the court. However the GOP didn’t accept the consequence of Obama’s nominee, and wouldn’t even let the qualified Judge Garland come up for a vote. In fact I recall McConnell stating if Hillary won the election, he would go with just 8 on the court as long as he was leader!! So based on that, I understand Schumer’s point.
    2. Jugde Gorsuch has some extreme far-right views. However he is qualified, and if he is blocked, the next nominee could even be worse. So as I previously stated, elections have consequences, so Gorsuch will end up on the Supreme Court.
    3. Trumps election my be invalidated because of his (or his team) collaborating with the Russians. Perhaps we should wait until the the FBI, and other investigations are complete. On the other hand, I think President Pence would nominate a far more extreme jurist, so Gorsuch seems like the best bet!

    I agree with you that politics have gotten too destructive on both sides of the aisle. We need campaign reform and getting the money and lobbyists out of politics. That and a strong centrist movement is needed, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting!!!

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    1. Sherwin–there is a legitimate question (but not an answer) as to whether the Republicans refused to work with the Democrats to fix the flaws in the ACA, or the Democrats refused to work with the Republicans. There is plenty of evidence to support both sides.

      Your health care is provided by doctors and hospitals. You are insured through the government, whose revenues to make payment are deductions from your Social Security check and general taxes paid by us all. And it is slated to go broke, whatever that means, some time in the 2020s.

      On Gorsuch, I remember (then) Senator Joe Biden, in 1992, saying there was no way the majority Democrats in the Senate would confirm a George H W Bush nomination, with Bill Clinton to assume the Presidency in a matter of months.

      I’m not saying the Democrats are evil, or the Republicans, for that matter. I’m just saying that without a strong centrist force, things will not get better.

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  2. On the Gorsuch comment, I thought the op ed in the LA Times today titled “why we can’t back Gorsuch” was thought provoking. It acknowledged the “significant deference” due the sitting president in making court appointments” and condemned the the politicicizing of the process. “The judicial system works best when justices are neither rigidly ideological nor biased along partisan lines”. However, referring to the Garland debacle, the Times pointed out: “…for the moment, though, it is imperative to stay focused on what the GOP did. “The republicans took partisan obstructionism to an extraordinary new level and that must not be ignored as if it never happened. President Obama’s nominee was robbed of his right to a hearing, and Senate democrats have no obligation to be complicit in the theft.

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    1. Jeff–thanks for the comment. I agree with you that the Republicans should have allowed Judge Garland’s nomination to go to a vote. But don’t forget, as I mentioned in reply to a comment to Sherwin Chasen, no lesser Democratic luminary than Joe Biden, then a Senator, who said the 1992 election of Bill Clinton said the Senate did not owe a confirmation hearing to a candidate proposed by President George H W Bush. The Los Angeles Times must use reporters and editors who are very young, or have selective memory.

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  3. Spot on. The Freedom Caucus didn’t kill the ACA repeal. Republican leadership on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue killed it when they tried to ram it down everyone’s throat in two weeks without a single effort to make it a bipartisan bill. And why? Because the Democrats did the same thing when they passed the ACA in the first place, so Republicans wanted payback.

    Orrin Hatch’s editorial in this morning’s Wall St. Journal is great on the Gorsuch point. It’s one thing to vote against someone out of the mainstream. Gorsuch has proven not to be that kind of judge. The Senate Democrats are still reeling from the Republican’s nasty failure to consider Merrick Garland for the Court, so they are picking the counterfight over Gorsuch. It will be interesting to see if Schumer et al can prevail with a filibuster. My guess is no. This one seems to be the wrong fight.

    It takes two parties to destroy the government.

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    1. In response to the comments on the March 26, posts, I would like to commend two of those commenting for being able to memorize and repeat the Democrat talking points re: Judge Gorsuch. The Republican talking heads will tell you that no Supreme has been approved during the last 12 -18 months of a Presidential term when an election was coming up so that the electorate can weigh in. The nomination was a big selling point for the Republicans. To say that Gorsuch will be stealing Garland’s seat on the one side is like those saying that Garland would have been stealing Scalia’s seat. So the political destructive divide will go on.

      As far as the repeal and replace fiasco, I was surprised at its failure and at first thought that freedom caucus had made a big mistake. Then it dawned on me that what should have been done for the good of the country was to repeal the ACA cleanly rather than taking a junk heap and trying to replace some of it’s junk with other junk. Once repealed with a defined term limit on its end, I believe there was a chance that a more sensible approach to health care would have been possible. I believe having no ACA or replacement on the table would have forced both the Dems and the GOP to sit down and try to work together to get something that does the most good for the most people without breaking the bank. Oh well, hope springs eternal but I do remember the times when both parties did work together for the good of the country, but I am old and my memory may be faulty.

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      1. Hi, Steve. Good to hear from you and thanks for your comments. I think the Republicans were wrong in not giving Garland a hearing. But the partisan politics were not started there. You can go back to the nomination of Robert Bork, to the 1992 Democrats refusing to consider a George HW Bush nomination when Clinton would be taking office in months, to the treatment of Justice Thomas. Both sides have something to answer for.

        On the ACA, it would be the height of irresponsibility to repeal, with no replacement in view. As a former company CEO, I can tell you that no issue caused as much anxiety among employees as a change in health insurance. The delivery and insurance of health services in this county was extremely complex before the ACA, that increased the complexity significantly, and it is a very tough problem on where to go from here. Whether the bill that was just pulled would help the situation (I believe so, but am far from certain), been neutral or made it worse, merely repealing without a replacement would be a disaster.

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    2. Thanks for the comment, Matt. I agree the Administration rushed the health care bill through, needlessly. When you elect a President with absolutely zero political experience, that is what you can expect. I’m a bit more surprised at Speaker Ryan, who should have known better.

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