Even if every single House Republican refuses once again to vote for the bill when it reports out of Conference, I will still consider it a bipartisan piece of legislation. Republican leaders said they were originally promised 40% of the bill would be (those damn fool) tax cuts and complained when the number was 33%; well, now it’s 45%. This bill contains many of the provisions the Republican asked for, whether they’re actually willing to vote for it or not.
What more could you want from the Senate and White House Democrats, short of becoming Republicans themselves? Bipartisanship doesn’t mean giving up on your goals and passing your opponent’s wish list; it means seeking out areas of compromise within that legislation. Example: “Look, the voters put me in charge, not you, so we’re going to pass health care reform. End of story. BUT, I will work with you on whether or not it’s wholesale or piecemeal, single or multiple-payer, mandatory or not, paper or electronic, etc.” That’s bipartisanship. Demanding the Democrats not fight for universal reform at all because Republicans don’t support it isn’t bipartisanship, it’s just partisanship in the other direction. So it is with the economic recovery plan. The Republicans have decided they’re not going to vote for a Democratic bill no matter what, but are going to scream bloody murder if they don’t get their provisions anyway: You give us what we want and we give you nothing! We’re still the bosses, never mind the losses!
No, I’m afraid the administration has done its part. Not only has the amount of foolish Republican tax cuts in the bill been jacked way up, but Congressional leaders of both parties have been invited to the White House, several Republican senators have had private Oval Office meetings, the President has hosted bipartisan social events like his Super Bowl party, and perhaps most impressively, he visited a meeting of the House Republican Caucus, something I can’t remember George W. Bush or Bill Clinton ever doing with their opponents. It’s also worth noting that many Republican Governors support this bill. Unlike their Congressional counterparts, they don’t pee in marble bathrooms (I mean that quite literally – ever visited a Senate office building?) and understand the situation on the ground. They’re also more representative of real America, as they don’t come from gerrymandered districts.
Finally, let’s remember that party-breakdown aside, 61 Senators voted for this. That’s a big number. The fact is, the American people didn’t elect very many Republicans this time around, but 61% of the people they did elect voted for the stimulus in the Senate and 56% in the House. The minority must be heard, but the smaller the minority, the smaller its designated megaphone.