On the cover of Time Magazine this week are the words "A Blueprint for Bipartisanship by Newt Gingrich." I hope you weren't drinking something when you read that, because it's hard to dry off a keyboard and screen. Gingrich, you may recall, is one of the founding fathers of rabid partisanship.
Not surprisingly, his piece is straight out of the current Republican playbook. His "blueprint for bipartisanship" is to do exactly what John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have been calling for. He's talking about the upcoming health care summit, and his advice? Scrap the health care plan and start over. Sounds exactly like what the right wingers have been saying since the health care debate got started.
The Republicans have a very effective echo chamber in this country, and it lets them get away with creating these fictions. Because they have a "news" network of their own, plus newspapers like the Washington Times and the New York Post, as well as stridently vocal websites, they can put out the story that Congress is trying to push a liberal/socialist health care plan through. The facts, of course, are very different. The plan most progressives would like to see, a single payer plan, was off the table before the discussion even began. Along the way, the Senate Democrats spent months in a room with Senate Republicans, crafting a more conservative plan than the House passed.
Republicans today are apt to repeat the claim that most Americans are opposed to the Senate plan. This may be true, but polls also show that a significant majority of Americans support a public option, real cost controls and premium controls. When those things were in the proposal, it was overwhelmingly popular. As those were stripped out--at the same time as the right wing was trumpeting imaginary "death panels" and socialism--the plan lost popularity. No Democrat or progressive should be on a talk show with conservatives without being prepared to point out the essential dishonesty in their claims. The Senate plan is unpopular today because it doesn't go far enough, and because those who believe the echo chamber don't have honest and accurate knowledge about what's in it. Every time they say "the American people don't want the plan," remind yourself that they want a better, stronger plan.
Scrapping it and starting over is just code for "let's leave the health insurance corporations alone and let them determine what health care any American can get." Newt's version of bipartisanship is "do whatever the Republicans want, and never mind the fact that the voters elected a Democratic president and congress."