Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Bipartanship: Two Charts that Republicans Hope You’ll Never See

By Nathan Rothwell

I hope everyone stateside enjoyed their Labor Day weekend. I know Bill Maher did.

Last week’s episode of Real Time gave Maher a chance to confront writer/filmmaker/Republican hack Dinesh D’Souza over D’Souza’s role in Maher being fired from his own ABC show for comments made following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Far more interesting, however, was the confrontation between Maher and D’Souza over D’Souza’s film cinematic hit piece entitled 2016: Obama’s America.

The film attempts to paint President Obama as an angry anti-colonialist who intends to impose his agenda on the American people at all costs, and absolutely refuses to compromise with Republican lawmakers. However, when pressed in their interview by Maher to cite examples of Obama’s single-minded rage, D’Souza cited two examples, both of which amounted to flat-out lies.

Lie #1:
“Healthcare. Obama had a plan, and Republicans had a summit with Obama and they offered a lot of ideas. Obama could have taken one or two Republican ideas and he would have had a bipartisan plan.”

D’Souza is referring to a meeting Obama had with House Republicans in 2010, which the White House posted on its YouTube channel for all to see. I guess we can assume that D’Souza is only aware of this summit but did not watch it; had he watched it, he would have found that the following components of Obamacare were all suggested by Republicans and implemented into the PPACA:

  • A mandate for all citizens to purchase health insurance if they can afford it, to prevent freeloaders
  • Allowing dependent children to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26.
  • Allowing health insurance premiums to vary based on participation in proven employer wellness programs
  •  Providing grants to states to evaluate promising medical liability reform ideas
  • Allowing employers to automatically enroll employees in health insurance programs, and allowing employees to opt out if they wish
  •  Strengthening standards for community mental health centers to ensure they provide appropriate care and not take advantage of Medicare patients or taxpayers.
Is that more than one or two ideas, Dinesh? No? Then I guess we’ll move on to Lie #2:
“Going back to the 1950s we have not had a major social program that did not get a single vote from the other party… Clinton’s tax hike got some Republican votes. Obama’s plan did not get a single Republican vote. He could have gotten some votes, but he didn’t care, because to him the Republicans are the bad guys.”
This is actually several lies jammed into one poorly-argued point, so let’s examine them all. First, the so-called “Clinton tax hike,” also known as the the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, did not receive a single Republican vote in either the House or Senate. Next, Obamacare did in fact receive a single Republican vote: from Joseph Cao (LA-2).

And finally, it is completely disingenuous to suggest that the near-complete opposition to Obamacare from Republicans is because “to him, the Republicans are the bad guys.” While D’Souza lacks any clear evidence of President Obama treating the entire GOP with disdain, Republicans have proudly gone on the record time and again to say that the single most important thing Republicans want to achieve is limiting Obama to a one-term presidency. To that end, Congressional Republicans have employed the use of the filibuster to prevent a record number of bills from ever reaching the floor for a true vote, all but completely blocking the efforts of the president's party.

Proof of this can be found in Chart #1, which is better illustrated by Chart #2, pictured above (regrettably the second chart does not include statistics from the most recent Congress, but still hammers home the truth). Many like to claim that both major political parties in this country play dirty pool, but Republicans have been far more brazen about it. Yet when confronted, party hacks like D’Souza claim their unwillingness to compromise is borne out of President Obama’s own unwillingness to do the same.

I can only hope I’ve sufficiently illustrated that this just is not the case. Our elections should be based on honest debate over varying ideas, rather than films devoted to carefully constructed narratives based on clear falsehoods and conscious deceit.

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