Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Mad about Max

The Moose suggests a relationship between the debate over social and homeland security.

Back in the early '80s, a bi-partisan group was able to forge a compromise fix to secure solvency for the social security system. Even though a conservative Republican occupied the White House and liberal Democrats controlled the Hill, it was still possible to forge a significant agreement with support from both parties.

Since the '80s. political relationships have steadily devolved to the point that Capitol Hill suffers from a toxic partisan environment. The air is unsafe to breathe. Social Security, like any government program, could benefit form creative reforms. And something must be done to ensure the solvency of the system. But, alas, there is no trust between the two parties.

The Moose observes that the roots for the current partisan bitterness lie in the debate over the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. To recap, President Bush initially opposed the proposal to create the Department which was advanced by Senator Lieberman. Then, when a groundswell of support developed for the idea, the President embraced it, with a significant caveat.

That Republican addition to the legislation was essentially a poison pill, anti-labor provision that Democrats could not swallow. The President then cynically campaigned against Democrats such as Max Cleland who supported the Department, but opposed the anti-labor add-on. Republicans viciously attacked Cleland suggesting that the disabled war hero was vaguely pro-Osama. They have no shame, and Cleland lost.

The bitterness from that Georgia race lingers in the mouths of many Democrats. Democrats understandably see no advantage in working with this Administration on domestic issues. The Medicare drug debate only exacerbated this attitude, particularly when the House Republicans kept the vote open for several hours to ram through the legislation. The revelations about the Administrations' willful mendacity about the cost of the bill does not help matters either.

The Bushies ultimately take the position of "my way or the highway." Often, the President will take the "high road" and his operatives will launch the load road attacks as they have done as recently as this week at the very time Senator Reid was breaking bread at the White House. And the Administration will exploit any opening to opportunistically and cynically score a cheap political point even against those who cooperate with them.

The Bushies view the social security debate as a mechanism to enlarge their partisan advantage. Democrats will not assist in their own demise.

Just ask Max.
-- Posted at 8:36 AM | Link to this post | Email this post