Politics

The Allure of Bipartisanship

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Could Republicans have avoided the ObamaCare catastrophe if they'd played nice, bought in, and worked with Democrats to pass a smaller, bipartisan bill? That's essentially what former Bush speechwriter David Frum alleges in this piece, which Jake Tapper reports is being distributed to reporters by the White House. It's no surprise that the Obama administration likes Frum's argument: What he says, basically, is that by following the most conservative voices and refusing to cooperate with Democrats, the GOP assured that the most progressive possible bill is what would pass.

A huge part of the blame for today's disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

…Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney's Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

…We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

Frum is concerned with GOP party prospects and I'm not, and that's certainly going to affect how we approach the matter. But here's the problem I have with his argument: RomneyCare may have been developed with Republican establishment support, but if your focus is good policy rather than good politics, it's not worth defending. Neither would any potential compromise along similar lines have been.

Frum doesn't spell out exactly what deal he thinks Republicans should've cut, but the ground that he's implicitly suggesting should've been given up was basically the whole enchilada: the insurance mandate, the subsidies, the government run and regulated marketplaces, the expansion of Medicaid. These are rotten policies that, in just a few years, have already had rotten outcomes. What would have been gained by ObamaCare opponents caving and supporting something along these lines?

The best precedent for a Frum-style strategy of selling out compromise is probably Medicare Part D. That bill picked up support from genuine fiscal conservatives like Rep. Paul Ryan because the understanding was that, if this version doesn't pass, something bigger and worse will. As a political calculation, this makes sense. But the end result wasn't one to be proud of: We still ended up with a poorly designed, unsustainable, potentially disastrous policy. If ObamaCare opponents had compromised, that's all they would have succeeded in passing here. Fine, you might say, but that's what we got anyway! Fair enough. But unlike the current situation, they would have been responsible for those outcomes, would have given liberals political cover, and ultimately put themselves in a far weaker position to push for reforms.

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  1. Frum is an idiot. All I’ve ever heard from him is how team red needs to be more like team blue so they can get more people with R’s behind their name in government. All partisan hackery, no substance.

    1. Is he really an idiot? Or is he a good self-marketer who keeps his material fresh by being a loose cannon on deck, such that you can’t predict where he’ll stop rolling? That’s the impression I’ve had of him, because certainly I can’t figure him out.

      1. I can figure him out. He just kisses liberals’ asses. He claims to be a “conservative” but then spends most of his time telling the world how every other conservative is really an idiot and a fanatic. The whole point is to make his liberal masters feel better about themselves.

        1. Maybe so, but sometimes he does it by saying “conservatives” aren’t conservative enough, and other times by saying they’re too conservative. Maybe both are supposed to make “liberals” feel good by telling them that “liberalism” is better defined than “conservatism”, albeit that “liberalism” is evil.

          1. He is a “conservative” who never has anything good to say about other conservatives. His schtick is always how his side is a bunch of hicks and fanatics. The whole point of giving him a platform is to use him to marginalize conservatives and libertarians by pointing to him and saying “see even one of your own thinks you are crazy”. He has to know that is why he gets a spot on the NYT editorial page. I honestly don’t think he believes in anything beyond a paycheck.

            1. Yep. He learned from John McCain–you want some attention, tell the liberal media how nuts your side is and they’ll fly to you like moths to a flame and hang on your every word. It works–but it’s pathetic.

            2. Yeah, dude. Frum sucks. Totally predictable and pointlessly contentious. I think he fancies himself an independent thinker. He’s all for compromise and appropriating liberal policies for Republicans so that they can squirm their way into office.

              If the right had taken his crap advice, we’d have a public option in addition to the current mess.

            3. You don’t quite have this right. David Frum is very much a conservative, and a genuinely nice person. If he could write policy and put it in place, he would create programs that you would like very much, particularly compared with those of the other side.

              However, he has grown to be more and more like David Brooks in one specific way- Mr. Frum is a non-religious elitist. He believes that social conservatives hurt the Right, and that the dupes in flyoverland should be ruled by their betters who graduate from Ivy League colleges. He just has a different set of leaders in mind. As a Yale Law grad himself, he knows who one of those smart leaders should be. Certainly not, of course, Sarah Palin or Tim Pawlenty. Or Mitch Daniels. Or Rick Perry. Or….

              1. That nails it. And with that in mind it’s ironic how Frum is such a devotee of novels-on-tape. He’s become an expert on the 19th century English novel by listening to them in his car and while on his treadmill. “Thackeray has a surprisingly light touch!” Yeah. I actually read Vanity Fair. Right here in nowheresville. Got it at a bookstore.

        2. So basically he’s the Canadian Andrew Sullivan. What a hosehead.

          1. Ding, Ding!!! Why do you think he’s quoted on Sullivan’s blog so frequently? They were even the same back when they both loved Bush–remember Sullivan’s love of the “Axis of Evil” (a line that Frum wrote).

    2. If your country is going to collapse and you are 36 years old, would you rather see it collapse over a the course of 60 years or 3 years?

      Many of us here have ideas how thigns could be fixed if we were given the power to do whatever we wanted as libertarian super president or if we had a magical brainwash cleansing program to convert 180 million Americans into bonafide Libertian experts overnight…but both of these scenarios are unrealistic.

      This country is filled with idiots and led by idiots/evil jerks. Socialism is popular and fascism(public/private partnerships and such) are seen as wholesome goodness. The country is totally fucked. We need more bad legislation as fast as possible…I’d like to be living in a country on the other side of hell by the time I turn 40. You fuckers trying to string this shit out are idiots.

      1. I’d like to be living in a country on the other side of hell by the time I turn 40.

        Then move to fucking North Korea.

        I want to have as much liberty as possible, right now, thank you very much.

        1. Dude, he didn’t say “in hell”. Would you really prefer to live most of your life in a slow, agonizing spiral of despair? Or have a few sucky years followed by decades of improvement?

        2. “Then move to fucking North Korea.”

          that is not practical. First off, they would not accept me eve if I wanted to go there. Second, I have no job there but make good money here. Third, there is a better chance that a revolt will break out here and that is the best we can hope for given our trajectory.

          1. The good thing about living in a dying empire filled with idiots is that there really are still a bunch of good jobs for the top 10%. The masses who supported this 100 year descent into chaos will pay for their idiocy, I only hope I live to see it.

  2. David Frumm thinks Romneycare should be the heart of Republican ideas and ideology. That tells you everything you need to know about Frumm. He is a complete phony. There is nothing conservative about him. It is astounding to me that any person who claims to be informed doesn’t realize what a disaster Romneycare has been.

    If the Republicans had caved, they would have gotten a few token changes and a bill that is just as bad as this one. And they would have been just as responsible for it. Worse still, those who objected would have been relegated to the fringe. I mean how could the Republicans claim to want to amend or repeal the thing when they voted for it? Frum is just a fucking liberal concern troll writing in the New York Times.

    1. RomneyCare was not implemented the way Romney wanted it, he was overruled on the critical points by the legislature (coverage mandates, pre-existing conditions). Just as ObamaCare is a disaster, but it isn’t what The Vacuous Garment would have chosen (single gov’t insurer) had he been able to dictate terms.

  3. The Republicans in Congress finally did something right. It is shocking. I still can’t believe at least one or two of them didn’t sell out.

    1. there were a few no votes. but even if they had showed up it wouldn’t have mattered.

  4. Ridiculous. The Democrats had bulletproof majorities in both houses. They knew what they could get away with and fent full throttle. Nothing the Republicans did could change that. All they would do is provide bipartisan cover for the Democrats.

    1. Which is what Frumm wants. Frumm is like David Brooks. He doesn’t like it when he has to take a side against liberals. It makes him uncomfortable. But, he likes being the house conservative. So it really pains him when conservatives stand up to liberals.

  5. Frum should go back where he came frum.

    1. It’s poor grammar to end your sentence with an asshole.

      1. *SNARF*

        Ain’t much to laugh at today, but thanks for that one Alex

      2. Frum should go back where he came frum
        by retracing his runs from his bum or his cum.

      3. Biggest win of the thread, Alex.

  6. Pelosi is still claiming this is bipartisan because there are Republican amendments.

    But I think the new version of bipartisan is that you get two halves of your own party to vote for somethings.

    1. Pelosi’s statements have always been 180 degrees off from reality.

      As especially witnessed by her idiotic comments about the democrats bill being in the spririt of the founding fathers and quoting from the declaration of independence about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

      Only in the mind of a liberal idiot could enacting laws that RESTRICTS the freedom of individuals have anything to do with supporting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

      1. It makes sense if you believe health care is a right. Democrats believe that, and Republicans are too cowardly to publicly refute it.

    2. Pelosi is evil. Anything she says is to be disregarded, in regards to truth, with extreme prejudice.

  7. but if your focus is good policy rather than good politics, it’s not worth defending

    Don’t you mean that if your focus is good *politics* rather than good policy, it’s not worth defending?

    1. The “it” refers to RomneyCare, thus:

      but if your focus is good policy rather than good politics, RomneyCare is not worth defending

  8. See that manure pile with the marichino cherries on the top? *WE* put those cherries there!!

    1. Movie plot: Obama, Pelosi and Reid go to a movie premier of a Michael Moore film that portrays the heroic passing of HealthCare. A disgruntled HitnRun poster who works part time as a projectionist locks the doors and sets the place on fire!

      1. HitnRun posters don’t work.

  9. we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big.

    O RLY?

  10. Frum and Brooks need to start their own party. They can call it the “We Just Wish Liberals Would Maybe Call Us Back The Next Day” party.

    He’s such an embarrassment to anything even remotely anti-liberal it’s pathetic.

    As John stated above, I’m completely shocked that none of the Repubs caved. They must realize what a disaster this bill is, and can see the writing on the wall for November.

    The democrats will be destroyed in November once small businesses have to start closing shop due to these policies. They could not have picked a worse time to add additional overhead costs to already struggling businesses.

    1. I am thinking you’re right; the Dems are going to get slaughtered. And frankly, Frum is retarded if he thinks the GOP didn’t do what was best for itself in this case. Every Republican can now say “I voted no” while campaigning.

      This is why I’m still amazed that the Dems went to the mat. They are going to get annihilated.

      1. and they can propose reforming or repealing it with a straight face. Had even one Republican voted for it, the damn thing would have been bi-partisan and untouchable.

        1. The thing that is really going to hurt the worst is that this legislation is going to prolong the recession. Small business is the engine for reversing the unemployment problems in our country, and they all just got stuck with a big fat tab on top of all of the other useless regulation they deal with. There is no way this disaster of a plan will do anything but exacerbate these problems, and unemployment will continue to linger in the 10% realm.

          Talk about a campaign gold mine.

          1. It should be.

          2. You’re wrong about small business. From CNN today –

            “By no later than 2014, states will have to set up Small Business Health Options Programs, or “SHOP Exchanges,” where small businesses will be able to pool together to buy insurance. (“Small businesses” are defined as those with no more than 100 employees, though states have the option of limiting pools to companies with 50 or fewer employees through 2016; companies that grow beyond the size limit will also be grandfathered in.)

            * For the next four years, until the SHOP Exchanges are set up, businesses with 10 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees earning less than $25,000 a year on average will be eligible for a tax credit of 35% of health insurance costs. (Companies with between 11 and 25 workers and an average wage of up to $50,000 are eligible for partial credits.)”

            Small business will benefit from this bill early on.

            Facts are facts. I don’t listen to redneck radio for news. (Fat Rush)

            1. Yes and no. That sets up the glass ceiling of 10 employees. Things will be okay as long as they have ten or fewer employees. But the marginal cost of hiring number 11 and losing the subsidy will be huge. Small businesses create jobs by becoming large and medium sized ones. This set up makes that harder.

              1. This is a goldmine for small business. Small accounting shops all over the country are already showing a flood of clients how to change 1, 30 person firm into 3 10 person firms….this will help make the recovery even more robust! We need more accountants and lawyers!

                1. Think of all the accounting and adminsitrative jobs that will be created by this!

            2. Here are some other facts that you didn’t list:

              *Starting in 2014, businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to either offer healthcare coverage or pay a penalty of $750 a year per full-time worker. The coverage offered will also have to meet minimum benefits — covering both a specific set of services and 60% of employee health costs overall — or else employers will face additional penalties.

              * Part-time employees would be counted toward the 50-employee minimum on pro-rated basis based on hours worked, bringing more small businesses into the group required to provide coverage.

              * The $750-per-employee penalty for not providing insurance would rise to $2,000.

              How is small business going to benefit from a law that requires them to spend more money on employee benefits?

      2. Great!! You mean we get the privilege of having fewer big government democrats fuck us over, only to have them replaced by equally ass-backwards big government republicans.

        Awesome! It’s going to be just like 2001-2009 all over again.

        1. It’s going to be just like 2001-2009 all over again.

          Why, with a Democratic President and Republican Congress, would the example not be 1995-2000?

          1. Point taken. But was that really any better in the grand scheme? Sure the economy was in the midst of an artificial bubble where people were making money and we were at relative peace, unless you count NATO action in Kosovo, but we were still being screwed.

  11. “Look, if you sign this agreement, you only have to suffer in Hell for *half* an eternity.”

  12. It’s not a horrible argument. If the Republican leadership had said, “Fine, you get this stuff, but we need stuff we want too (like maybe making it harder to sue doctors for malpractice) before we will vote for it”, the Dems might very well have bit. Look at the legislative gymnastics it took to pass the bill-Pelosi, Reid, and Obama might have been willing to deal with some Republican additions if they got what they want too (Obama basically said this directly).

    Now, this still results in a bill closely resembling the one that passed being passed. For those who consider that a negative, not much would change. But by shutting themselves out of the process, the Republicans were unable to change any of the language of the bill-what was changed was due to what moderate Democrats wanted.

    1. Had the Republicans done that, they would have allowed the Democrats to avoid responsibility for this mess in exchange for a few minor improvements. No way. If the improvements the Republicans would have gotten are so self-evident, why didn’t the Democrats put them in the bill themselves? They have the majority. Democrats wanted this, let them have it. And leave no doubt who is responsible for it. Good luck with that.

      1. True, if you think that this is electoral poison, the position the Republicans took is the correct one.

        But I’m not convinced that that is the case. How many people will switch their vote to Republican from Democratic in swing districts due to the health care vote (minus any switching their vote the other way)? It’s probably not a huge number.

        True, the Democrats will lose seats in both houses of Congress this November. But how much of that will be tied to the health care vote, as opposed to the economy or the traditional drubbing the party of the President takes during the first off year election after a party switch in the White House? IMHO, not much.

        That is, the number of votes gained might be so small that some Republicans might think having “Republican stuff” in the bill is a better deal for them.

        1. The bill has always polled badly. You are fucking with people’s healthcare. And doing it in a way that most of them don’t want.

          I am sure that when the Democrats get destroyed in November that will be the spin, that it was because people loved healthcare reform so much but were mad about the economy. But that won’t make it true.

          1. It doesn’t poll quite as badly as one might think (it certainly doesn’t poll great, of course). Also, if the Republican leadership were on board, it would poll better, since there would be less people on the teevee saying it’s a bad thing.

            Plus, look at this polling which directly asked the electoral question:

            NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). March 11, 13-14, 2010. N=1,000 adults nationwide. MoE ? 3.1.

            “If you knew that your representative in Congress voted with the Republicans to defeat the current health care bill, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for him or her, or would it make no difference to you either way in your vote?” Among registered voters. Half sample (Form A).

            More
            Likely Less
            Likely No
            Difference Unsure
            % % % %
            3/11, 13-14/10
            31 34 34 1

            “If you knew that your representative in Congress voted with the Democrats to pass the current health care bill, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for him or her, or would it make no difference to you either way in your vote?” Among registered voters. Half sample (Form B).

            More
            Likely Less
            Likely No
            Difference Unsure
            % % % %
            3/11, 13-14/10
            28 36 34 2

            Very well done polling here, splitting it in two parts like that. If they were asked “If your congresscritter voted with the Dems, would you be more or less likely to vote for them?”, more said less likely. But if they were asked “If your congresscritter voted with the Reps, would you be more or less likely to vote for them?”, more ALSO said less likely.

            Net result: People fucking hate Congress in general. I can’t see either side using that to their advantage, except for maybe for turnover for turnover’s sake. Maybe Congress will whipsaw between the parties every two years.

            1. First, this is one poll. Second, it is a poll of “adults” not “likely voters”. Since less than 50% of adults vote in an off year election, polling adults really doesn’t mean anything. And even by that poll there is a two point swing, which is enough to swing a lot of close races.

            2. http://www.realclearpolitics.c…..e-901.html

              I would also point you to the Rasmussen “likely voter” poll that has Republicans up +10 in the generic congressional ballet poll. Likely voters is the poll that matters.

              1. And note that Republicans are rarely even slightly ahead on the generic ballot question, even before elections in which they do well.

            3. The poll that says it all was the poll taken in Massachusetts.

        2. “True, the Democrats will lose seats in both houses of Congress this November. But how much of that will be tied to the health care vote, as opposed to the economy or the traditional drubbing the party of the President takes during the first off year election after a party switch in the White House?”

          And given what this steaming turd is going to do to the economy, that goes double.

    2. How many Democratic votes would have been lost had Democratic leadership attempted to put anything even remotely ‘Republican’ in the bill. They had enough trouble getting it passed when only Democrats had a hand in authoring it…

      1. If the Republican leadership was on board, the number of Democratic losses would almost certainly be less than the number of Republican gains (depending on exactly what said “Republican stuff” was).

    3. Please, after bad-mouthing Wall Street for 15 straight months, the ATLA and the SAG are the only two reliable Dem constituencies with money.

      1. Actually the big money for the Democrats comes from the government employees unions, including NEA, SEIU and AFSCME. They contribute massively more money to the Democrats than all of Hollywood.

    4. Hey, maybe if Hilary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards and Joe Biden had said they would support Bush’s Iraq war, they could have gotten some input! And maybe it would have helped John Kerry get elected in 2004!

      Too bad the Democrats did not have David Frum working for them,

  13. Devoted party hacks frame reality based upon the false dichotomy of our political system. Frumm is more bi-polar than bipartisan.

    {Obviously I’m a deep thinker: who but deep thinkers use words like dichotomy?}

    1. Hit and Run posters.

  14. This is an FDR moment.

    Both parties are flawed but the Democrats just entrenched a HUGE entitlement program that will never be removed.

    I don’t want to hear “Yeah… but Republicans suck too…”

    Bush and his War is will not be around for 100 years like this thing will be.

    1. And we will have troops out of Korea any day now.

    2. “Our” military stations across the globe beg to differ.

      1. Stationing troops in Germany is not quite the same as fighting a war.

        1. It still ain’t cheap, which is the point.

          1. It was cheaper than the alternative of allowing the Soviets to overrun all of Western Europe. Think of all the money we made trading with a free and stable Western Europe and Japan. None of that would have happened if they had been part of the Soviet Block, which they would have been had we not defended them.

        2. Stationing troops in Germany is not quite the same as fighting a war.

          But we need those troops to deter a Soviet invasion and Hitler rising from the dead.

          And to feed and clothe German prostitutes, of course.

          1. Up until 1989, the Soviets had 55 divisions sitting in the Fulda Gap. I think the threat of invasion was pretty credible.

            1. 21 years John. People born then can legally drink. What is the excuse now? Zombie Hitler seems the only reasonable possibility and I think the Germans can take care of that themselves.

              1. Then bring them home now. I was talking about the past.

                1. We don’t bring the troops home from Germany for two reasons. A small number provide very useful services for units stationed in the Mideast. The rest are there to bribe Germany into liking us. When Bush talked about pulling them out, the German gov’t had a cow.

                  As for Korea, well, what we need to do in the Middle East is avoid getting into a conventional war with China supporting the other side with a lot of divisions. Hm. I think we have that covered.

                  Besides, didn’t you see ‘Blood Snow’? Nazi zombies everywhere, man. They’re coming!

    3. Yes, the Dems pretty much blew whatever credibility Clinton gained them as fiscally responsible.

      The “Tax and spend liberal” is back with a vengance. Nobody can deny it.

      1. To be fair, if we’re going to have “tax and spend” anything (which is a shame that we must sit around with all of this shit), I’d rather have tax-n-spend demotards telling me what I must do/buy, than tax-n-spend republinuts telling me what I absolutely must not do/buy.

  15. 1) as a near life-long fanboy of Team L, I am completely unqualified to make intelligent political strategy.

    2) I care little for what would have done well for either brand of Redonkeycan, since neither can be taken seriously.

    3) That said, the only worthwhile trade-off would have been gov’t covering catastrophic health care (like, more than 40% of your income in a year), with a push toward markets for everything else, including health care or health insurance vouchers.

    Maybe this would never have political viability. It certainly didn’t in February 2009, when this train wreck left the station. By the time the Dems realized the Reps would have so much depth in obstruction, the two camps were too deeply entrenched to compromise.

    1. That said, the only worthwhile trade-off would have been gov’t covering catastrophic health care (like, more than 40% of your income in a year), with a push toward markets for everything else, including health care or health insurance vouchers.

      Ah, so you are in favor of the Medicare Part D strategy, since the one trade-off in it was expanded HSAs?

    2. That said, the only worthwhile trade-off would have been gov’t covering catastrophic health care (like, more than 40% of your income in a year),

      They actually are making it harder to itemize catastrophic health care costs. Currently, you can deduct health care costs over 7.5% of your income. It’s going to 10%.

  16. If the Republican leadership had said, “Fine, you get this stuff, but we need stuff we want too (like maybe making it harder to sue doctors for malpractice) before we will vote for it”, the Dems might very well have bit.

    No. And no “if.” It happened. Republicans offered counterproposals and amendments, Democrats said Republicans were trying to “sabotage health care” and shit-canned it all.

    Stop believing the news.

  17. I agree with Frum. The GOP misplayed its hand. It never recovered its credibility after the “death panel” talk early on.

    1. Really? I think the death panel talk gave them credibility. If the Republicans have no credibility why are the Democrats polling so badly? Why was this bill never popular. They did the right thing and stayed out of the way while the Democrats gave the finger to 60% of the country. And they also didn’t sell out and actually stood for something.

      1. Yep, and another why? Why did it have to pass on a sunday night during the tourney?

        If the GOP had misplayed its hand, this would have played out midweek.

      2. @John: When I heard “death panels” I cringed and thought to myself “the GOP just lost this fight”. It sounded to me like the same old manufactured culture war BS we heard for 8 years. That’s just my impression.

        As for “staying out of the way while the Democrats give the country the finger”, I’ve already stated that I believe leadership doesn’t mean f*cking over the country to score political points.

        1. Giving the Democrats political cover and preventing the country from knowing who to hold responsible for this bill is not doing what is right for the country. Whatever advantage they could have achieved and it wouldn’t have been much, would have been greatly outweighed by the disadvantage of preventing the country from being able to hold one party responsible.

          1. I think the idea of “holding a party accountable” isn’t a good idea. The GOP’s whole angle was to let the country get f*cked so that they could blame the Democrats, but it would only take a few gay sex scandals before the next election for the whole scheme to backfire. That’s not leadership. That’s playing chicken with somebody else’s car.

            1. No it is not. If you like this bill vote Democrat. If you don’t, vote Republican. Give people a choice. Selling out and voting for some watered down BS version that you think is just as bad only makes things worse. Where is there any evidence the Democrats would have made any meaningful changes? Obama said up front nationalizing the insurance industry and real tort reform were off the table.

              Why on earth would anyone of good conscience want to be a part of this?

              1. “Why on earth would anyone of good conscience want to be a part of this?”

                Two words: harm reduction.

                1. And when you make it bi-partisan and allow the Democrats to pass this and face no political consequences for it, you have reduced the harm how?

                  Jesus tap dancing Christ Lamar. All people ever do around here is talk about Republicans are just big government aids of Democrats. And then the one time they actually do stand up, you bitch that they should have sold out. What the hell are you, some kind of liberal concern troll?

                  1. “And when you make it bi-partisan and allow the Democrats to pass this and face no political consequences for it, you have reduced the harm how?”

                    The scope of a disastrous bill would be smaller, thereby reducing the harm from a larger disaster. I’m not talking about political harm, I’m talking about economic harm.

                    1. But when they come back unchastened after the next election, they will do much more harm long term.

                  2. It’s not so much that they should have sold out, it’s that they’re not really standing up. Maybe a couple of the reps stood against it on pure principle, but overwhelmingly they were just trying to make this as big of a scandal as possible. You call it “making sure that the public knows who to hold accountable.” The Republicans call it “making sure the public knows which party to vote for.”
                    Ultimately, if it had been McCain in office pushing for this bill, most of the republicans would have been all over it. They’re not taking a stand against big government, just democratic policies.

                  3. It’s not so much a “liberal concern troll” thing as it is a “what we really need is for all of those fuckers in DC to look bad” thing so that perhaps we can wake the fuck up as a citizenry and vote these ass-clowns out. All of them.

                    All we get now by republicans “taking a stand” (and by taking a stand I really mean going against democrats, not standing for something as a fundamental part of their platform) is demotards being replaced by republinuts who will fuck something else up royally as the dems did with HCR, who will be replaced by demotards who will fuck something else up ad infinitum.

                    This case of “taking a stand” on perpetuates the BS in DC.

              2. Why would anyone of good conscience be in Congress?

                Oh, that’s right- they’re not

        2. When I heard “death panels” I cringed and thought to myself “the GOP just lost this fight”. It sounded to me like the same old manufactured culture war BS we heard for 8 years. That’s just my impression.

          Unfortunately, most people don’t think like you, and the media doesn’t. Paul Ryan and others made sensible critiques of the bills for months. It got no media coverage and had no effects in the polls.

          “Death panels,” now that got the media in action and the polls moving.

          Responsible, sensible comments? Totally ignored.

          1. Sensible critiques are not proposed amendments.

    2. The death panels which we were assured were never in the legislation, but which were (partially) removed shortly afterward?

      1. “Former Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin defended her claim that the Democratic health care proposal would create “death panels” in a statement Wednesday night slamming President Barack Obama.”

        This is an instant credibility killer. If the evil is actually called “rationed care”, then call it “rationed care”, not some made up hyperbole. This is the same garbage the GOP has been pulling for years. Remember the estate tax aka death tax? Or the marriage penalty? While there might be a kernal of truth in these rebrandings, the death panel frame just too far removed from “rationed care”, especially since a free market is essentially rationed care.

        1. The death tax is exactly that, a tax on dying. You are just pissed that the Republicans have come up with effective rhetoric.

          1. I agree that the “death tax” was effective rhetoric, though it is the estate that pays the tax, not the death (which doesn’t even make sense). But the GOP went from effective rhetoric to what I view as self-damaging rhetoric. I’m pissed off that the GOP got cutesy.

            1. Income doesnt pay the tax either. Neither do sales.

              Income and sales are the events that trigger the paying of the tax, hence death tax instead of estate tax is following the pattern.

              1. No, income and sales are the money transfers that are taxed. When someone dies the tax is on the transfer of the estate, not the death. You don’t pay estate taxes if you don’t have an estate. If it were a tax on dying, even people without any money would be taxed on death.
                Not that I like the estate tax or any of the other policies to which the Republicans gave cute names, but just call it what it is, that is bad enough.

                1. Thanks for picking up the slack.

                2. It is not the income tax…it is the revenue tax. Corporation pay a tax on Income….Individuals pay a tax on revenue. That is the private/public partnership….work together to enslave the individual.

                3. When someone dies the tax is on the transfer of the estate, not the death.

                  No, because the estate tax doesn’t trigger if someone transfers their estate while alive. Gift taxes can trigger, but there are ways to evade them and transfer your estate if you do so before dying.

                  1. A probate estate doesn’t exist until you die. Therefore, it is the transfer of the probate estate that triggers the tax. Dying merely triggers the creation of the probate estate. So you can call it the Probate Estate Tax or the Estate Tax.

        2. Death panel is genius marketing, a good way to frame the thicket of agencies and rulings that will be limiting care covered by this abomination.

        3. especially since a free market is essentially rationed care

          *Sigh.* This has been hashed over before, but no, they’re not the same. I can’t afford a Rolls Royce; that doesn’t mean they are “rationed.”

          1. It has the same effect as rationing, but only if you assume that there is a “right” to health care or some such.

    3. Yeah, that death panel talk was the straw that broke Scott Browns back.

      1. It may or may not have been good political strategy, but it is still stupid. Everyone dies. There is a difference between deciding who will die and who will live and deciding who is worth spending money on to try to keep alive for a little bit longer. The government certainly shouldn’t be doing either, but it is still not the same thing.

  18. Frum is an intellectual lightweight. Any ink spent on analyzing his ideas is wasted. More useful to discuss the price of eggs in Siberia.

    1. So how much are eggs going for in Siberia these days?

      1. In Soviet Russia, eggs go for you.

  19. “If the Republican leadership had said… we need stuff we want too (like maybe making it harder to sue doctors for malpractice) before we will vote for it”, the Dems might very well have bit.”

    If your attention span was a bit longer (though to be fair, this was a 9 month argument), you might recall that this DID happen and Republicans DID push for this, and opening the insurance market.

    Obama said tort reform and deregulation were “off the table.” The reasoning was the same “forces of reaction are trying to sabotage progress” and “the American people have chosen” boilerplate.

    But don’t worry, as long as you keep telling yourself that Republicans and Democrats are just as bad because Republicans like Jesus, everything will be A-OK and we won’t go bankrupt.

  20. Can somebody explain to me why people like Frum, Gergen and Brooks get so much media attention? What segment of the population do they represent? And hasn’t their political philosophy of compromise led us to decades of out-of-control government spending and growth?

    1. They are a tool of the other liberals in the media. They are given a voice so that they can use that voice and criticize libertarians and conservatives as “one of them”. That allows liberals to marginalize all libertarians and conservatives by pointing to Frum and Brooks as examples of reasonable people from the right and everyone else as fringe lunatics.

      1. Which has me thinking: Who are the Team Blue counterpoints to Brooks and Frum? Is Dick Morris even a Democrat these days? Anyone else?

        1. Morris would be the Fox News equivalent of Brooks and Frum. But, as you point out, I am not sure anyone considers him a Democrat anymore.

      2. uh oh….we have one that can see… get him!

        1. John,
          You are a conspiracy nut. Please back away from the internet.

          1. What, the internet suddenly isn’t appropriate for “conspiracy nuts”?

            Seriously, John’s right. To the left Frum and Brooks are “safe” and “sane” conservatives, who are careful to never say anything too provocative towards the left, unlike the evil troglodyte fire-breathers (Rush, Coulter, Malkin, etc.).

            1. Rush, Coulter and Malkin are evil troglodyte shit stains. But there are actual conservative voices out there who are not just alternate flavors of establishment liberals or insane bigoted ideologues.

              1. “But there are actual conservative voices out there who are not just alternate flavors of establishment liberals or insane bigoted ideologues.”

                but they are not serious voices, they are gadflys and often even conspiracy nuts. I only listen to serious intellectuals.

    2. They are the “reasonable” opposition. It helps the pro-gov media paint anyone who disagrees with them as “dangerous” right-wingers. Otherwise the people might start arguing about something more substantive than whether they prefer the red puppet or the blue puppet.

    3. Overton window.

  21. @Danno: They’re conservative, of course.

    The segment of the population they represent is nearly 100% of the conservatives in the country.

    At least if you define “the country” as “the social circle of the legacy media”.

  22. Lewis Black may be a self-proclaimed socialist, but he still can be funny as hell. E.g.:

    “Our two-party system is a bowl of shit looking in the mirror at itself. … Basically, the last eight years, I feel, the Republicans stood around farting and the Democrats went, ‘Ooh, let me smell it.'”

    “Allow me to explain how our federal government works. To begin with, by the federal government I mean Democrats and Republicans working together. And the only thing dumber than a Democrat and a Republican is when those pricks work together. You see, in our two-party system, the Democrats are the party of no ideas and the Republicans are the party of bad ideas. It usually goes something like this: A Republican will stand up in Congress and say, “I’ve got a really bad idea!” And a Democrat will immediately jump to his feet and declare, “And I’m gonna make it shittier!”

  23. The only “bipartisan” vote was for the “nays”, 34 democrats joining all the Republicans.

  24. The health care reform deal in MA is a microcosm of what happened in DC; Romneycare mirrors Obamacare because the two efforts demonstrate the acme of government effectiveness.

    Instead of chastising Repubs for not ‘going along to get along,’ perhaps Frum should be questioning Democrats’ total unwillingness to seriously entertain any of the many ideas emanating from the other side of the aisle, those that would have given individuals more choice/freedom/responsibility.

    As I posted previously, Dems’ had enough trouble getting this passed when it was authored exclusively by Dems.

    It’s hard to overstate the level of snobbery and arrogance that allows a partisan majority in government thumb its nose at a bipartisan majority among the public.

    I, as I’m sure many of us do, await the result of gravity’s influence on the remainder of the footwear…

  25. Funny thing, when I read the post my first thought was “Frum is an idiot”. That was the first sentence in the first comment.

  26. Frum is an Uber Schmuck ….

  27. Frumming: The act of lamenting that your allies didn’t become their enemies fast enough.

    1. I like where you are going with that!

  28. David Frum is just this generations version of Kevin Phillips.

    Frum is the tool, in every sense of the word, that liberals use to portray mainstream conservative ideas as radical and the ideas that Frum promotes as the only reasonable, moderate alternative.

    There is only one thing that you can count on from him…. he will always counsel conservative surrender of principle as the only possible route for conservative victory at the polls. As a result, he will always be the NY Times favorite Republican.

    1. No, /Dead Right said the opposite.

  29. Frum is an idiot.

  30. Jesus Christ, am I ever in the minority on this one. Is there nobody here who thinks the GOP should have put a comprehensive proposal on the table?

    1. So what if they had? With 41 votes in the Senate and 80 down in the House it would have gone nowhere. And don’t forget Obama said they were “sabotaging health care reform” when they actually did propose productive amendments.

    2. they DID propose free market alternatives. there was Comprehensive Health Care Reform Act of 2009 H.R. 1495, as well as H.R. 2629 and H.R. 3217. there were alternatives all along from republicans but no one wanted to listen. I guess no one could hear them from the drowning, droning noise of lies which shouted THE REPUBLICANS HAVEN’T OFFERED ANY ALTERNATIVES.

      1. Bills with some deregulation and throwing a few tax credits around were never going to compete with the Obama mega-reform.

        1. Lamar:

          You keep moving the goal posts. “Why didn’t they offer amendments?” They did. “Well, Why didn’t they put their own bill on the table?” They did. “Why wasn’t it comprehensive?” Because if they wanted to that they would just amend the comprehensive bill. Are you a sock-puppet of Frum?

          1. “You keep moving the goal posts.”

            The GOP made it clear early on that they weren’t going to play ball no matter where the goal posts were positioned. While its easy to say “they deserve what they get”, the truth is that we’ll all have to pay for their failed game of chicken.

    3. So you’re a Medicare Part D supporter?

  31. why would anyone take advice on health care (or anything for that matter) from someone involved in the Bush administration?
    the democrats wouldn’t have conceded anything substantial to the republicans because they had the numbers. there were real free market health care reforms proposed but no one listened.

  32. “So what if they had? With 41 votes in the Senate and 80 down in the House it would have gone nowhere.”

    Maybe, maybe not. I always like to have an alternative choice rather than a yes or no on a single choice.

    1. The did. See Hacha Ca’s comment at 2:13. You are just concern trolling Lamar. Give me a break. Just admit you love the damned bill and get it over with.

      1. John: I did see Hacha Ca’s comment. Have you asked yourself why the GOP’s own news organization didn’t push the GOP’s alternatives? Maybe they weren’t much more than a random set of tweaks. And really, if you think I’m a troll then don’t respond. I’ve only been “trolling” here for 5 years.

        1. I would take those tweeks over this bill any day. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the answer to every problem is not some mega history making government action?

          1. That almost never occurs to anybody. Every next moment in your life is the defining moment of your generation and your nation. Unless you are a (R), in which case that was and will always be 9/11.

          2. It appears that you are under the misconception that I’ve supported this bill. I’m merely explaining why I have advocated engagement rather than a standoff. I’m not a risk taker.

            1. Right, you’re a Medicare Part D supporter.

              You’ve officially lost all credibility in complaining about the Republicans from 2000-09, as you’ve just endorsed GWB’s bipartisan strategy.

              1. You’re a quasi-murderer, you know, as long as we’re just making stuff up.

  33. David Frum is exactly the sort of Republcan that Malcom Wallop was talking about when he said that if the Democrats put forth a bill to burn down the Capitol, the Republicans would counter with one that phased it in in three years.

    Same road, same destination, different velocity.

    1. Hell I’d favor retroactively burning down the capitol.

  34. I think, for once, the GOP deserves credit for not compromising and reaching for the bipartisan pipe. Sometimes, compromise isn’t possible. This was one of those times.

  35. Its only worth it if the streets are awash in Democratic blood in November. That’s the key now for anyone unhappy with this.

    Beat. The. Democrats.

    This is 100% theirs. Unless they are brutally traumatized in November, the kind of lessons we want to teach will not be learned by anyone likely to be near the levers of power in the next decade.

    Every single Democrat that returns to Washington in November will know that they can this, and worse, and not lose their job. If those Democrats aren’t in a minority, then we expect worse to come.

    1. Exactly. The only hope for the country is a complete bloodbath for them. One so bad that they will feel like they are going to be a permanent minority. Anything less and they will conclude that they can get away with anything.

      1. I would like to see a strong push from states to have this struck down in the SC, since then the message will be heard by both parties.

        Obama has demonstrated that he will play ball with the war hawks, and the Republicans have shown their propensity toward attaching whatever domestic spending the liberals want, as long as they vote for the wars. As much as I approve of gridlock, I am not sure that a “conservative” majority will solve anything and actually risks more personal liberty violation patriotism.

        I’m certainly not trying to imply that the Dems=good and Reps=bad, but let’s not forget what a conservative majority in Congress was like and realize that we absolutely have the potential for a worst-of-both-worlds scenario.

        1. As much as I approve of gridlock, I am not sure that a “conservative” majority will solve anything and actually risks more personal liberty violation patriotism.

          Compared to what’s coming a the government manages your “lifestyle” under the rubric of “controlling healthcare costs”, you ain’t seen “personal liberty violations” yet.

          If the Dems hold their majority and get some kind of dumbass global warming bill through, that Audi commercial will look like a documentary.

          Snap out of it, man. The biggest threat to your personal liberties isn’t Republicans maundering on about teaching evolution, its Democrats building a Total State right before your eyes.

          1. Listen guys, that is democracy calling. This is your choice! Do you want a punch in the face or a kick in your nuts?

            You can have anything you want!

  36. Could Republicans have avoided the ObamaCare catastrophe if they’d played nice, bought in, and worked with Democrats to pass a smaller, bipartisan bill?

    No, they’d have wound up with a slightly watered down “bipartisan” bill that would have taken the edge off the electoral asskicking the Democrats now likely face.

  37. It’s not a horrible argument. If the Republican leadership had said, “Fine, you get this stuff, but we need stuff we want too (like maybe making it harder to sue doctors for malpractice) before we will vote for it”, the Dems might very well have bit.

    Trial lawyers fund the Democratic party. No fucking way they would have turned on their donor base like that, in particular when they had the votes.

    Trial lawyers and unions get a pass (yeah, yeah, the Cadillac benefits tax — that got delayed 5 years, and will get cut out completely before then).

  38. You have to understand that David Frum, David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, et. al. are the exact analogs of “Lord Haw Haw” and “Tokyo Rose” in WW II. They are agents of the nation’s enemies who pretend to be concerned about the future of America.

    Once you get that, their babblings make sense in a larger context and can be taken for their true worth.

    Subotai Bahadur

  39. Frum is a useful idiot with his head up his rear. His infantile acceptance of the reasonableness of the Democrat Party is pathetic to behold. He needs to go back to Canada and join the liberal party where his family belongs.

  40. Frum is a gunlsinger… a paid political “expert”, like Karl Rove but even LESS principled. Although he never stands for office it is imperative that Frum and his process-driven ilk be purged from the Republican party as a pre-existing condition necessary to excising the brand of Republicans he claims to speak for. Yes, the calculations are more or less correct but they put the imperative of short term electoral success above the national interest even the Constitution. No more Frum or Frumians. He is yesterday and we know what happened yesterday.

    1. There is not and never has been a real strain of actual free market small government Republicans. There were a few guys in the 40s and 50s, and there is Ron Paul and a couple other guys now. The Republican party is an ally of convenience here, not an ally on principal. That’s fine, punish the donkeys all you want in November, but the Republican party won’t do anything but slightly slow the march toward the total state as envisioned by the dems, since many of the things the dems propose can be used in crafting the Republican total state.

  41. Frum is not only wrong, he is dishonest. In fact, he is a malevolent compulsive liar. Hugh Hewitt covered this, and in fact skewered him in an interview over Frum deliberately implying that Hewitt was a hypocrite about 3rd party candidates when in fact Frum knew he was not.

    Not only does Frum need to be driven from the GOP, but all the GOP candidates for President need to be made aware that they will not get our votes if they associate themselves with this traitor.

    Parting shot: just WHAT was the relationship between the effeminate Ahmed Chalabi and David Frum, whose marriage seems cold and distant, and who speaks of Chalabi as if in love with him? And since Chalabi is now known to have been an agent of the Iranian government, perhaps Bush had a very good reason for cutting Frum loose.

  42. Another little fun fact about Frum: when patriots took to the street to protest Obamacare, some of them armed themselves for self-defense against SEIU thugs.

    Even OBAMA admitted they had the right to do so.

    Yet Frum said they didn’t.

    Frum is to the left of Obama on the 2nd Amendment and the right to self-defense.

  43. The “early Frum” was pretty libertarianish. Then he was corrupted by the Straussianized neocons at AEI. Now, like them, he’s a fan of “benevolent hegemony” in foreign affairs and watered-down socialism on domestic policy.

    Bottom line: He should banned to the Democratic Party and told never to come back.

  44. When you go gunning for the king, better make sure to get him. Now that the Republicans have failed, they’re in a pickle, at least for a while.

    For the past year, they’ve allowed the Tea Party to set their agenda. Now the screamin’ wingnuts are demanding that Republicans call for repeal. I think that’s an electoral loser. The polls showing opposition to “health care reform” reflected public distaste for the messy battle. When it comes to the specific provisions, the public supports them. Moreover, once the “Ts” have been crossed and the “Is” have been dotted, most people are going to want their politicians to calm down and try to make it work.

    But not the Tea Party. They’ll continue to scream their heads off, and because the Republicans depend on them for votes, they will have to keep calling for repeal. I think that’ll be a losing tactic this fall, and in 2012. But internal political realities will force the Republicans to stay in that corner.

    Forgive me for feeling a little like the Japanese feudal leader in the James Clavell novel, Shogun, who meditated for a couple nights on the screams of the English sailor being boiled alive. Tea Party, keep wailing. Has anyone told you how beautiful you sound?

  45. Is Frum’s main argument even true? Did the republicans just refuse to work with the democrats? I think that is also important. I tend to think Frum is wrong btw. The democrats noticed their super majority and started pushing for things that were too far out there for republicans to support.

  46. Wow. Frum’s brain-dead simple observation is that if you insist on all-or-nothing, you can end up with nothing. And what’s worse: now that the bill is law, Republicans and Conservatives will be forced to acknowledge the huge gap between the hyperbole of the plan’s critique and the reality of its implementation. You guys are so frakked.

  47. He learned from John McCain–you want some attention, tell the liberal media how nuts your side is and they’ll fly to you like moths to a flame and hang on your every word.There is only one thing that you can count on from him…. he will always counsel conservative surrender of principle as the only possible route for conservative victory at the polls.

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