Steve Benen made a really great point about this segment from Meet the Press yesterday.
The remarks should make it pretty clear that Republicans have no interest in working with Democrats on finding solutions to pressing policy challenges. But here's the thing that so often gets lost in the discourse: Republicans are the minority party, which means it's their job to oppose the majority's agenda.
But if Boehner's right about this -- and I believe he is -- then why in the world is it incumbent on the Democratic majority to work with Republicans to find "bipartisan" answers to every question? If Boehner has no intention of "coming together" with Dems in the middle -- a reasonable, albeit rigid, position -- why must the political establishment maintain the fiction that the governing majority is doing something awful unless they bring the discredited minority on board with every proposal? Read on...
Good question Steve. If Republicans can't even be honest with their arguments and have to continue with this "most liberal Senator" lie and calling compromised positions "leftist" and have made it crystal clear that they aren't going to work with Democrats, why are the Democrats constantly propping up the minority when they don't have to?
Transcript below the fold.
DAVID GREGORY: Well, let's talk about solving problems. This is one of the points that the President made, chastising Republicans in terms of coming together to deal constructively with issues. This is what he said.
PRESIDENT OBAMA ON TAPE: We're not gonna be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as, "Well, you know, that's-- the other party's bein' irresponsible. The other party's trying to-- hurt-- our senior citizens. That the other party is doing x, y, z." That's why I say if we're gonna frame these debates in ways that allow us to solve them, then we can't start off by figurin' out, A) who's to blame, B) how can we make the American People afraid of the other side?
GREGORY: And to that point, I mean, even here, you're talking about-- deficits and debt as far as the eye can see, when you know full well that the President owns a very small percentage, comparatively, of that overall debt as far as the eye can see. Does he have a point?
REP. BOEHNER: No, if you-- if you think about what I said, I was referring to the-- all the President's policies. Wasn't demonizing him. Wasn't demonizing the White House. And I'm usually very careful-- about dealing with the subject at hand. Listen, there aren't that many places where we can come together. The President-- is-- he was the most liberal member of the United States Senate. You don't get there by accident.
And if you look at the policies that we've seen over the course of this year from the Administration and-- his Democratic colleagues in Congress-- there are all these leftist proposals. And the people of Massachusetts, the people of Virginia, the people of New Jersey are sending a pretty loud signal, just like the other 47 states to-- to Washington, saying, "Stop. This is-- this is way more than we ever want-- wanted Washington to do."
DAVID GREGORY: Although the President took on this idea of it being leftist policies on health care, indicating that it was in fact a move to the center and cost containment that cost him-- some of the-- the support among-- within his own party. My question is if you-- you heard the President in the State of the Union that saying no is short term good politics, but it's not leadership. You heard the State of the Union. You heard the President this Friday-- Friday Address. What are you prepared to say yes to? Specifically?
LEADER JOHN BOEHNER: Leadership is about standing on your-- principle. And-- and opposing those policies-- that-- that we believe are bad for the country. But leadership is also standing up and offering what we think is a better solution. And when it comes to issues like health care, the President did his best-- to blur the differences-- agreeing with us on five or six points. But didn't refer to the other 100 commissions, boards, mandates therein of government takeover of health care.
DAVID GREGORY: What are a few things that the President could do, maybe you could convene Republicans and Democrats together on CSPAN, as he said he would initially, and acknowledge that it was a mistake that he did not fulfill that promise during the Friday retreat. Get everybody together. What are a few things that Republicans could say, "Hey, if these could be included, we could vote for this"?
LEADER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, give you an example last year. I told the President, you know, what-- what we can be with you and when we agree with you, we will stand tall with you. As we did on Afghanistan. As we did on Iraq. As we did on things like-- teacher quality. And a number of other areas. But when it comes to-- when it comes to health care-- we could agree on some common sense steps-- to make our health care system work better. But we are not gonna put the government in charge of people's health care. And-- and it-- it's something that-- is a fundamental difference here. And most of America has already said no to this big government takeover--