Let’s stop this talk about Democrats refusing to negotiate and compromise. It’s a lie.
[Photo credit: Chris Savage | Eclectablog]
I am continuously astonished by how well Republicans are able to shape reality and perceptions. Honestly, with enough focus group work by Pete Luntz and poll-testing of messaging, they can convince Americans of nearly anything. The fact that our media let’s them get away with it is one of the surest signs that democracy is in bad shape in this country; our watchdogs are asleep.
The most recent example of this is obviously their current effort to convince American that President Obama and the Democrats “won’t negotiate” and “won’t compromise”. Senator Rand Paul all but admitted that they have poll-tested this language in a conversation with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this week, caught on a live microphone:
Rand Paul: Do you have a second?
Mitch McConnel: I’m all wired up here.
Rand Paul: I just did CNN, and I go over and over again: “We’re willing to compromise. We’re willing to negotiate.” I don’t think they’ve poll-tested “We won’t negotiate.” I think it’s awful for them to say that over and over again. [...] I think if we keep on saying we wanted to defund it, we fought for that, but now we’re willing to compromise on this, I think—well, I know we don’t want to be hear—but we’re going to win this, I think.
John Boehner’s version of it was to claim, “All we want is to sit down and have a discussion.” It’s as if, despite Ted Cruz’s 21-hour speech and the hours and hours and hours of taped rhetoric from Republicans about how this about repealing the Affordable Care Act, that it’s just about coming to some cordial, reasonable agreements.
As continuously amazed as a I am about the Republicans’ ability to do this, I’m equally amazed by Democrats’ INABILITY to set the record straight. Because, in this instance, the negotiating and compromising has actually already occurred. It happened when the Senate stripped all attacks on Obamacare and women’s access to contraception from the ridiculous continuing resolution to fund the government and sent it back to them to be passed. Here’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid explaining how he had a deal with John Boehner and then Boehner backed out in a cowardly appeasement of his tea partarian masters:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reneged on a deal they hashed out in private earlier this year to pass a “clean” stopgap bill funding the government.
Reid said Boehner never wanted to wage a protracted battle over ObamaCare as part of the negotiations to keep the government running.
“I know that that’s not the path he preferred,” Reid said. “I know that because we met the first week we came back in September and he told me that what he wanted was a clean CR and the $988 [billion] number.
“We didn’t like the 988 number. We didn’t like it but we negotiated. That was our compromise,” Reid added. “The exact bill that he now refuses to let the House vote on. That was our negotiation.” [...]
Reid said he didn’t have to twist Boehner’s arm to get a preliminary deal on a clean stopgap.
“He twisted mine a little bit to get that number,” Reid said.
“Now he refused to let his own party vote because he’s afraid to stand up to something he originally agreed to,” he added.
Here’s how that looks graphically:
Chart by Michael Linden and Harry Stein.
President Obama’s opening bid was a $1.2 trillion budget. The much-reviled Ryan austerity budget was $967 billion. The sequester spending which is preserved in the “clean” Senate continuing resolution is essentially the same at $986 billion.
In other words, as Michael Linden, managing director for tax policy at the Center for American Progress, puts it, “We’ve already essentially adopted that Ryan budget, and obviously that was not seen at the time as a moderate approach to government spending.”
So enough of this BS that Democrats aren’t negotiating and haven’t compromised. We are suffering through yet another slowdown in our economy thanks to austerity spending under the sequester. To suggest that Democrats have to give up MORE is just more Republican chutzpah, fueled by past successes at bullying Democrats, including the president, in the past.
The fact is, President Obama doesn’t need to “poll-test” his message, not when 72% of the country thinks it’s wrong to down major activities of the federal government as a way to stop the Affordable Care Act from being put into place.
It would be nice, however, if Democrats could get this message out more effectively and it would be truly a gift to democracy in our country if the mainstream media organizations would report this truth instead of running around interviewing Republicans at Washington, D.C. war memorials. Please, people, for the sake of our democracy: do your jobs.