Not that Al Franken is so bad as a senator (or not just that), but it allowed the Democrats to arrogantly assume they didn’t even need to bother with the Republicans; they already had their critical sixty senate votes. What they didn’t count on was all of the coddling of Democrats it would take to get those sixty votes.
The result has been health care bills that are loaded down with special interest perks and bloated with many new levels of bureaucracy. Americans are not pleased. Any good these bills could do is not sufficient to offset the pain and damage they would cause.
While the Democrats appeared willing to approve almost any special perk which a Democrat requested, they refused to even throw a bone the Republicans’ way. The inclusion of tort reform may have been sufficient to attract a few Republican votes. Americans approve of it. Republican continually requested it. But the Democrats are too beholden to attorneys for their campaign financing to even consider it. In a recent New York Times article, David Leonhardt had this to say about it:
Don’t you think Mr. Obama would have gladly taken some heat from trial lawyers in exchange for passing health reform with bipartisan support and making himself look like a transformational leader?
I think since he did not, we can definitively answer, No.
Every amendment to the health care bills which Republicans proposed has been summarily rejected by the Democrats. They apparently don’t need no stinkin’ ideas from the fillibuster-challenged minority.
Many have claimed that Republicans are just as stubborn and in lockstep in voting against the bills. While that may be true to some extent, they have been given no reason to vote for them. Republicans don’t support government takeover of the insurance industry and most of the country doesn’t either.
The majority party has the responsibility to concede somewhat to the demands of the minority in order to obtain some of their votes. The Republicans were almost as arrogant when they were in the majority, but they did not have the sixty votes necessary to allow them to completely ignore the Democrats.
The best thing to happen to the Democrats in 2010 may actually turn out to be Scott Brown’s victory. It may have pulled them back from the precipice over which they were sprinting. It has the potential to get some of them to realize that the minority in Congress and the views of the majority of Americans really do matter.
Having that key 60th vote was the worst thing that happened to the Democrats last year. Without it, they may have already been trying for a bipartisan approach to reform. With it, in less than a year, they have allowed Republicans to become palatable again. Palatable enough to earn shocking wins in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, all states which Obama won by large margins last year.
We hate him, but thank goodness for Al Franken.