Shockingly, caving to right-wing interests does not achieve progressive goals.

Obama pressured Dems to cut a provision of the stimulus package that would have made it easier for states to use Medicaid to cover birth control for low-income women. The reasoning? It would foster bipartisanship and get Republicans on board with the stimulus as a whole.

The outcome? Not a single Republican voted for the BC-free stimulus package.

The problem with bipartisanship as a goal is that both sides have to want it. I don’t have a problem with making politican compromises or with genuine bipartisan cooperation, but you’d better make sure that the people you’re “compromising” with are going to give something in return before you start scaling back your own plan.

Plus what Katha says. Birth control belongs in the stimulus package.

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22 comments for “Shockingly, caving to right-wing interests does not achieve progressive goals.

  1. ripley
    January 29, 2009 at 11:47 am

    YES. this is a perfect example of why some bipartisanship is a waste of time. Because sometimes there simply isn’t good faith on the other side. so you sell out your principles (or the part of your constituents who can least afford to switch sides), and you still don’t get their cooperation. I hope Obama learns from this… I really hope so.

  2. January 29, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Yeah. I’m definitely not opposed to bipartisanship, even if it means compromising certain progressive goals in the short-term. I am opposed to compromising certain progressive goals for absolutely nothing.

  3. Kristin
    January 29, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Yeah, Jill, I agree with you. I am surprised, however, that you have not likewised mentioned the bankruptcy provisions that were dropped as a nod to bipartisanship. I think it’s less easy to make the argument about why these did not belong in an economic stimulus package.

    Personally, I disagree with it, but I guess I get that there’s an argument to be made about birth control not being directly related to economic stimulus. wrt bankruptcy provisions, not so much.

  4. Kristin
    January 29, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    oopps, typos, meant “likewise,” of course.

  5. January 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Definitely Kristin, the bankruptcy provision was more related to the stimulus package than BC. I didn’t mention it because I’ve honestly had a crazy week and I haven’t been following the stimulus package back-and-forths as much as I would have liked — I pretty much read the links from various feminist listserves I’m on and called it a day, so I don’t know much about the bankruptcy provision.

  6. January 29, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Sigh. This whole bipartisan crap has to go. It’s like trying to belong to a club that doesn’t want you as a member. I didn’t see any republicans worrying about how we might feel when they were in charge. Birth control absolutely belonged in the stimulus package, and we can see now that it made absolutely no sense to remove it.

  7. January 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    The democrats are trying so hard for bipartisanship because otherwise, the Republiscum whine about them not being bipartisan. (Well, they do anyway.) I just want Pelosi or Obama to stand up and say, “You know what? We are partisan, because your side is a bunch of homophobic, mysoganistic (sp?), poor-hating freaks that should have been tied up in a sack and drowned before you ever had a chance to ruin this country.”

    I’m a little angry about the economy, in case you didn’t notice.

  8. sly civilian
    January 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    fuckin’ headdesk. i mean, i’m all for singing kumbaya and such, but losing several key priorities in order to gain zero votes?

    that math just doesn’t work. the objections of many house republicans went much deeper than these two provisions…so why try to play ball?

    i hope these are some opening difficulties, and the admin will get their stride back.

  9. norbizness
    January 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I have no idea whether it will re-appear in the Senate or conference versions, or whether the House concession was not so much aimed at House Republicans (many of whom are in safe districts) as the 2-3 moderate Republicans in the Senate who will get the vote to over cloture.

    Although I would like to see whether the Senate GOP would actually try filibustering as new job reports come out.

  10. Mike
    January 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    To add to the chorus:
    Drafting any bill should have a few simple steps – if a bit crude:

    1 Draft the bill you believe is best designed to solve the substantive problem.
    2 Find out what you must surrender to pass it.
    3 Decide whether what it takes to pass it is acceptable, worth it, etc.

    Instead, Obama seems to be willing to make concessions in advance of any horse trading. That doesn’t seem like bipartisanship to me. If you want to be respectful of opposition and work together with them when you can, that doesn’t mean “throwing in tax cuts” before negotiations begin, cutting out reproductive health services without getting anything in return, and still not getting the job done.

    It’s annoying.

  11. HMS Nerd
    January 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    The press in the states won’t get down to business and just say what everyone’s thinking about the GOP right now: They hold their moderate constituents hostage to crazy economic agendas by scaring them with the specter of “weird” sex acts being taught in school and other social hyperbole. The British, however, seem to have a grasp on the situation:
    “…it should be no surprise that kowtowing to a group of blowhards with whom 15-25% of the public identifies on any given issue makes absolutely no sense. Are there still sensible Republicans out there? Absolutely (recent evidence, notwithstanding).” – at about 1:15 of this:

  12. January 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I’ll repeat what I said last time: Obama has not yet figured out that he cannot get the Republicans to take any ownership of anything that helps the country, because unless he is an abject failure, they are in the wilderness for the rest of their careers. He should just do what’s good for the country over their vociferous objections, blame them for obstruction when they succeed in blocking something and claim the credit for all the good done by what he gets through over their objections. They will not help him; they need him to fail.

  13. Phrone
    January 29, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I was reading earlier (can’t find the link though) that a lot of the Democrats were going to use this as a talking point in campaigns in those Republican’s districts. I hope that, at least, is successful. I really don’t want the birth control provisions — and the bankruptcy laws? Haven’t seen those mentioned before, I’ll look into them — dropped for nothing. D<

    But I think Thomas is right; the Republicans might be too interested in their partisan careers than helping Obama. :|

  14. GallingGalla
    January 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Seconding Thomas.

    Fuck “bipartisanship”. It’s time for the Democratic Party, including Obama, to get a spine, return to its progressive positions of decades past, and completely sideline and marginalize the Rethuglicans.

  15. Turf Toe
    January 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I think we ought to give Obama a break here – he didn’t run as a candidate that would re-assert “progressive positions of decades past,” but rather to “do what works for the future.” Furthermore, he wasn’t elected by progressives, nor can progressives re-elect him – he needs the great but fickle center. My recollection is that Obama promised to rebuild physical infrastructure to generate jobs – this is something that most people consider rationally related to economic stimulus, and in a worst case scenario they’ll have a useful road or bridge at the end. Whatever you think about birth control, its inclusion in a stimulus bill can only be defended from the progressive worldview.

    He’s also astute enough to know that Southern and Western Democrats – which account for the Democratic majority – will have to defend their votes in two years. Obama took the birth control out for his own purposes, and it is unfair to consider the same a failure on his part.

  16. Rob
    January 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Remember California, where 99% of incumbents are re-elected due to gerrymandering? That’s a lot of safe seats. Since people running in safe seats do not really have to appeal to the whole spectrum, they are pretty likely to be partisan hacks. And then there was a budget crisis because partisan hacks suck at compromise and bipartisanship? How is this different from the House of Representatives, where most seats are safe due to gerrymandering? Since most representatives would therefore be partisan hacks, any attempt at bipartisanship would likely fail simply because partisan hacks don’t compromise. Hence the reason why no Republicans voted for the stimulus, despite making a fuss and getting what they wanted. In other words, the attempt at bipartisanship was doomed from the start and including birth control coverage would have made no difference.

  17. January 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Right on GG. While the Republican name-calling still has some residual effect, progressive economic policies are popular and getting more popular by the day. If Dems would actually do what they should do and than run on what they did, the Republican party would wither to the rump of core warmongers, crony-capitalists, conservatarians and social reactionaries — the David Addison, Dick Cheney, Dick Armey and Pat Robertson, and the people willing to stay on their bus until it goes over the cliff.

  18. Turf Toe
    January 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm


    I think it depends upon your definition of “bipartisan.” Most people would accept, and indeed want government generally and in this case a bill which is narrowly tailored to meet the problem or issue it addresses. A bill funding infrastructure alone probably would have passed with a great deal of Republican support.

    And what is stopping the Democrats from passing another non-stimulus Bill expending birth control coverage? They have the votes – isn’t that what progressives should expect them to do?

  19. January 29, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I didn’t foster bipartisanship, obviously. It just reinforced that women’s reproductive rights are a contrived political third rail.

  20. Axiomatic
    January 30, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Presumably, it will teach Obama not to make concessions in the future, since aparently they buy nothing. I’m actually kind of glad the Republicans didn’t vote for it, because it might lead Obama to simply not offer them anything in the future, and I can certainly live with that.

  21. William
    January 30, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Drafting any bill should have a few simple steps – if a bit crude:

    1 Draft the bill you believe is best designed to solve the substantive problem.
    2 Find out what you must surrender to pass it.
    3 Decide whether what it takes to pass it is acceptable, worth it, etc.

    You left out the most important step.

    1a: Determine whether or not you have the power to “solve” the “problem” and if the solution you’ve designed violates the rights of others.

  22. Melissa
    January 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    No Republicans voted for the House stimulus bill, several Democrats voted against it. Doesn’t that mean that the opposition to the bill was bipartisan? Saying to the minority party- “go along with what I want because I won” isn’t bipartisanship, that is George W. Bush.

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