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How Bipartisanship Hurts the Country

When politicians compromise with each other in the spirit of so-called bipartisanship, what they're really saying is, "You go from the right, I'll go from the left and I'll meet you at K Street."
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We have the worst media in the world. They almost never tell you what's really going on, especially in politics. They have been pushing this idea that bipartisanship is a great thing to be sought after. Of course, they are aided and abetted by President Obama and the Democratic Party. But it's not their job to parrot people in power. The reality is so-called bipartisanship is the worst possible thing for the American people.

Why do I say that? Is it because I'm a radical who believes the best solutions are always found at the extremes of the political spectrum? Nothing could be further from the truth; I think generally speaking you find clowns and madmen at the end of a political spectrum (see Glenn Beck).

And I'm sure there was a time in this country when Democrats and Republicans came together in moderate positions. That when they compromised it was a true compromise of ideology that led to some balance that helped the country. We are not in those times.

Now, when politicians compromise with each other in the spirit of so-called bipartisanship what they're really saying is, "You go from the right, I'll go from the left and I'll meet you at K Street." These compromises are stagecraft used to disguise capitulation to corporate lobbyists with the veneer of moderation.

What happened when Democrats compromised with Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee and conservatives in their own caucus on health care? They got rid of the public option. And Medicare buy-in. And drug re-importation. And the ability to negotiate with the drug companies. Every one of these measures was supported by progressives and every one of them would have saved hundreds of billions of dollars from the budget and hence should have been supported by the conservatives.

Conservatives would attack health care as adding to the deficit and then fight like hell to make sure it included no measures to reduce the deficit. That's partly because they wanted to make the bill worse, so they could fight against it later if it passed. But it was mainly because their corporate sponsors told them to take out those provisions.

Every one of these so-called compromises wound up helping corporate America. There was never a compromise that was against corporate interests and there never will be. You can use this as a measuring stick from now on. Whenever there is a bipartisan agreement in Congress from now on, look to see who benefits from it -- I guarantee you that ninety-nine out of one hundred times it will be corporate America.

And the Democrats are perfectly happy to do this because they take the same, if not more, amount of money from those same corporate lobbyists. Except they have the meddlesome problem of pretending to be for the people. Republicans are not burdened with this; everyone expects them to help the rich and the powerful. But the Democrats need cover, and they have the perfect excuse in the mantle of bipartisanship. What could they do, the Republicans made them do it! And aren't they so reasonable for compromising?

Notice the Republicans never pushed for bipartisanship when they were in office. They didn't need the cover. Yet when the Democrats are in office there is an unending quest for bipartisanship. Why? Do you think it's just because the Democrats are more reasonable? No, they need the political cover more when they give the lobbyists what they want.

If the politicians actually split the difference between progressive and conservative positions, I might disagree from time to time, but I could live with it. Abortion is a great example. Although I hate the Stupak Amendment attached to the health care bill in the House, I think it was the least objectionable part of the process for me. Why?

Because that appeared to be a real ideological compromise. There were no corporate interests involved. I'm completely pro-choice but I understand that there are many people in this country who are pro-life. And if you don't like that they won on that issue, then vote the other way. But as long as they are acting in good faith, there is nothing wrong with ideological differences and political compromise.

The problem is selling out to corporate America in the guise of settling political differences. And here it comes again in financial reform. Here is what a staffer at Senator Dodd's office said recently according to the Financial Times (see correction below):

"Chris is retiring so he wants to end his career with an important regulatory reform bill and he wants to make the bill bipartisan. He is not going to risk bipartisan support to make the White House happy."


"Chris is retiring and would like to get a high paying job on K Street, and hence, he will pretend to be bipartisan and reach convenient compromises with the Republicans in his committee to gut this bill and protect the corporate interests he will soon be serving."

And guess what, it turns out that compromises that Sen. Dodd (D) and Sen. Shelby (R) have been working on wind up reducing consumer protection, allowing the banks to take more risks and make more money at taxpayer expense. Who could have seen that coming? I guess that's another lucky break for corporate America! How can a small group of people keep getting so lucky?

Political bipartisanship is a fraud. It's meant to cover up bipartisan crime. The media and the Democrats aren't telling you the truth. The only thing they're compromising away is your interests. The people who sell out the most are the ones that are revered the most as centrists and moderates. It's all a sham. They're not centrists, they're corporatists. Don't believe the hype. Bipartisanship doesn't help you, it helps the lobbyists.

Correction: Senator Dodd's office reached out to me to say that the Financial Times quote was not an official statement from his office. That is true. I should have attributed it to a staffer as I have corrected now. Here is the statement from Kirstin Brost, the Communications Director in Dodd's office:

"Dodd strongly supports the Volcker rule. I don't know who Deal Reporter spoke to, but I speak for Chairman Dodd and Dodd is going to fight for the strongest bill he can get. He is giving the Volcker proposal careful consideration. We are having two major hearings this week with Chairman Volker and the Treasury Department to do just that."

I don't want people to misunderstand my correction. The only thing being corrected is the source of the quote. I do not believe the official statement from Dodd's office. Every report I have read indicates that they are not going to push strongly for the Volcker Rule. I hope they prove all those reports wrong, but I highly doubt it.

One more thing that should be noted, I had very high praise for the initial reform package that Senator Dodd introduced a couple of months ago. I explained on our show how it was stronger than the House or White House version and that it was a real reform package. Furthermore, I supported Chris Dodd in the 2008 presidential primaries over Barack Obama. So, I have absolutely nothing against Senator Dodd or his original proposal for reform. What I have a problem with is selling out that proposal to get a so-called bipartisan deal with the Republicans and to make corporate lobbyists happy, and in the process, making financial reform much, much weaker.

I will be the first one to give Senator Dodd tremendous credit if he does not do this and sticks to his original strong reform proposal. We'll be watching to see who was right after all.

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