For the past year, Americans have heard quite a bit about post-partisanship and the promise of a new kind of politics. During the 2008 campaign season, the rhetoric soared, as did expectations.
Now, as 2010 begins, and we take account of 2009, it is abundantly clear that word has not been met with deed. In fact, the only thing new in Washington is the sheer magnitude of the partisanship, pork-barrelling, and promise-breaking.
Nowhere has this sad state of affairs been more evident than with the healthcare reform bill moving through Congress. And while we hope [the] election of Scott Brown to the Senate from Massachusetts changes the political calculus, final passage still seems probable given the fact that the White House and Democratic congressional leaders are already looking for procedural loopholes to push this public policy disaster through.
Throughout this debate prominent Democrats in Georgia have had the power to insist on a different outcome, an outcome more favorable to our state. Unfortunately for the citizens of this state, their voices have been silent.
Never in American history has legislation with such enormous implications for every American been approved on a party-line basis, in the face of overwhelming public opposition.
As Congress has worked out the details of this bill, individual senators have been bought off behind closed doors with sweetheart deals for their home states. Whether it’s the “Louisiana Purchase” of Senator Mary Landrieu, or the “Cornhusker Kickback” for Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, or most recently a $60 billion deal for union members, what all these arrangements have in common is the fact that Americans from other states — states like Georgia — will be left holding the bag.
Even if the 49 other states were not going to be paying Nebraska’s Medicaid bills in exchange for Ben Nelson’s vote, the healthcare reform legislation was going to burden states like Georgia with what has been referred to as the “mother of all unfunded mandates.”
As members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee meet this week to begin working on balancing a state budget that is already stretched beyond the limit, these new federal requirements will have the effect of crippling our state’s ability to fund essential services. Georgia will have even less money to spend on education, transportation, and public safety.
In this new era of promised post-partisanship, Republicans and Independents alike have been denied a seat at the negotiating table. Neither have they the means of derailing the healthcare “reform” bill.
The best hope lies with influential Democrats outside the Washington Beltway echo chamber. They have the ear of the President and the congressional leadership, and the attention of the Democratic grassroots that constitutes the national party’s political base. They also have the opportunity to put their state, and their country, first, and their party second.
If prominent Democrats in the 50 states voiced their objections to this bill, and to the sordid tactics that have been employed throughout the process, it would halt the advance of this deeply unpopular legislation.
Throughout this debate, Governor Perdue, Republican members of the House and Senate, local elected officials and the citizens of Georgia, in huge numbers, have all spoken out in recognition of what these proposals will mean to our state and its taxpayers.
However, the people that are in the best position to affect the outcome of this legislation, the leaders of the Democratic Party here in Georgia and other states, have been overwhelmingly silent.
Where has the outcry been from Roy Barnes, Thurbert Baker, Dubose Porter and other Georgia Democratic party leaders?
These individuals are clearly hoping they can stay on the sidelines of this debate and later claim innocence after this is passed by throwing up their hands and saying, “I’m not Washington, I didn’t have anything to do with the bill.”
Unfortunately for them, the voters of this state are smarter than that and will understand that by remaining silent these Georgia Democrats have put the interests of their party’s liberal ideology ahead of the interests of their fellow Georgians.
Leaders like Roy Barnes, Thurbert Baker, Michael Thurmond and Dubose Porter have it in their power not only to force a reconsideration of this misguided effort by the powers that be. They have it in their power to show that we are Republicans and Democrats second, and Georgians and Americans first.
That would be change we could all believe in.
Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City)
Jeff May (R-Monroe)
Melvin Everson (R-Snellville)
Michael Harden (R-Toccoa)
Clay Cox (R-Lilburn)