Bye Bipartisanship
While scanning headlines on the Politico website last night, I was genuinely surprised to come across an item with the title, Cantor Calls for Bipartisanship. My surprise was not simply a function of the fact that it was House Minority Whip Eric Cantor doing the calling, but also a reaction to the idea that bipartisanship is still an operative goal for anyone involved in the policy process at this point. I was under the impression that any pretense of bipartisanship pretty much went out the window with the stimulus package.
In a rare exception, President Obama recently signed into law a major expansion of AmeriCorps and other national service programs, from a bill championed by both Senate Democrat Ted Kennedy and Republican Orrin Hatch. But that’s about the only mention of a legitimate bipartisan legislative outcome I’ve come across in some time, which is why the Cantor headline actually startled me.
More typical are the discussions among Democrats about using legislative procedure to essentially bypass Republican opposition on health care legislation. And the intense partisan rancor being generated by the torture/enhanced interrogation techniques debate threatens to swamp the possibility of any bipartisan legislative comity for the foreseeable future. So, Cantor may be correct in his assessment that cutting federal spending is one area for potential bipartisan compromise, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is much in the mood for that anymore.

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