Potomac Fever is the blog of the Hamilton College Semester in Washington Program.
This is a really silly idea. Why attach the label "bipartisan" just to get things done? Would we have waited for a "bipartisan" Voting Rights Act if one wasn't materializing? Of course not. Legislation is good or bad independent of who supports it.
But isn't part of being good or bad (at least under Madisonian democracy) the ability to generate consensus? In Divided We Govern, Mayhew finds that over the last 50 years or so, most major legislation passed with large majorities. Have times changed so that this is no longer possible or desirable?
I don't think it's undesirable, but I also don't think we should spike a bill unless it has broad bipartisan consensus. And I think the arguments about a "partisan presidency" may lend credence to the idea that it's becoming increasingly less possible.And can't a consensus be achieved within a party--and can't a party represent broad views? Today's Democrats basically cover the center (maybe even center-right with Blue Dogs) all the way to the...well, not-very-far left. A much more broad spectrum than today's Republicans.
Spoken as a true unitarian. Woodrow Wilson is smiling.
This dilemna makes me think of the common dispute over whether legislators should act as strict representatives or trustees for the American public. It seems in this case that DEMs think healthcare is a significant enough issue to warrant trusteeship, however I do fear that the lack of support might have reprecussions later, more specifically in the 2010 elections. Because having the majority in Congress makes such a drastic difference in authority or even efficacy at this point in partisan politics, it might be smarter for DEMs to strictly represent American views in order to keep seats in 2010. But, of course,the failure to pass it at this point could make the future just as dismal. Looks like a catch 22...either way if the GOP plays this right, the DEMs could be in a lot of trouble come next Election Day...
The other scary thing for Dems is that taxes, fees, cuts, etc kick in immediately; benefits don't begin for years. They needed to do that to make CBO numbers look better, but it could be a recipe for the sort of rebellion that led to the passage and then repeal of Catastrophic Health Insurance in the 1980's.
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