Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Myth of Bipartisanship

It is pointless to whine about bipartisanship, as the Washington Post documents here. You will get exactly as much bipartisanship as you have votes. And right now, the one side has the votes.
There is a key, critical point to be made here, but bipartisanship is the wrong word for it.
If this crisis is as bad as the 535 idiot savants in congress would have us believe, then they (we) need to maintain laser-like focus on those things that will set us up best for the future. It's too much to expect these lawyers to treat the situation with the seriousness it deserves. That's not how they roll.
This isn't about the split between tax cuts, pure infrastructure spending, and the other stuff that adds up to $820Billion with a B. The majority gets to make that kind of call. Republicans who vote 'Nay' because there aren't enough tax cuts, or the social spending component is too high, are missing the persuasive argument. You can't win this egregious-spending-line-item by egregious-spending-line-item; you'll whittle the bill down to an $819Billion with a B spending orgy, and look intransigent in the process.
So the countervailing strategy is to ask "do these people even understand what they're voting on"? How do we know that $820B is the answer, rather than $355B? The same GS-15 economists are toiling away in the depths of the Treasury Dept. today that were there last fall. At a high level, does the package make sense? Can you get a sense of the size of the thing? Congress has failed to give me -- and I think most people -- much confidence in that regard.
So, it's up to Mr. Obama. If his idea of bipartisan is leeching a few votes, getting to some magic number of '75', then he'll get exactly what he deserves. If, on the other hand, he doesn't treat this as a political game, and uses his high ground to take out the worst of the fluff, he could be sitting very nicely after the vote.
An adult in charge -- that's the change we need.

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