Jonathan Cohn had a wonderful piece on February 18th that did an excellent job of highlighting the hypocrisy–and often blatant promotion of falsehoods–that constitute the lovely game of politics. Basically, he outlined every criticism the right has leveled at the left–all things to do not so much with policy content as the political process–and countered these criticisms with the right’s own committal of the same offenses during the passage of Medicare Part D. For anyone who cares to connect the dots, each time the right accuses the left of improprieties, it amounts to self-incrimination. Here are some excerpts:
“Everything that the Republicans accuse Democrats of doing now, the Republicans actually did then [in 2003]. And they did it brazen, shameless fashion.
You’re upset that the Democrats cut a deal with the drug industry? You should be: They gave the industry a more favorable arrangement than it deserved….[but] the drug industry arguably got a much better deal out of the Medicare drug benefit, known today as Medicare Part D. The Republicans (and, yes, some Democrats) working on Part D shelved every major provision that might have threatened the industry…Even some Republicans were aghast: One told 60 Minutes that “the pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill.” And it wasn’t just the drug industry that fared so well. The insurance industry did even better. Not only did the insurers win the right to administer the new benefit; the Republicans graciously agreed to give them huge subsidies that, in the years since, numerous experts and government authorities have ruled unjustified.
What about all the ways the Democrats are manipulating the legislative process? Yes, let’s talk about those manipulations. There haven’t been any. The Democrats put health care reform through five separate sets of committee hearings, which stretched out for weeks. At every step of the process, they posted legislation online so that members, their staffs, and other interested parties had time to read it before votes. They made arrangements to consider health care reform through the reconciliation process if necessary–an option Republicans have used repeatedly in the past, one that would merely allow a majority of senators to pass a bill. But Democrats also decided to pursue legislation through the regular order first.
If you want to see true manipulation of the legislative process, you have to go back to late 2003–and the push to get the Medicare drug bill through the House of Representatives. The Republicans famously waited until the last minute to release a bill and…did not bother to post a version online. When it came time to vote, the Republicans discovered they didn’t have enough support to pass the bill. Their solution? Hold the voting open past the usual fifteen minutes, until they could persuade enough members to switch their votes. An hour went by, then another, and then another.
At one point, then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay approached Nick Smith, a Republican congressman from Michigan, and offered to endorse his son’s congressional candidacy if Smith would vote “aye.” Smith would later allege that he was offered more than endorsement. Specifically, he said that somebody offered to dump $100,000 into his son’s campaign funds–a promise that might have constituted bribery….“
And that’s just the start, folks.