Dems Put Pragmatism Before Policy

Desperate to pass bills, Congress quick to forgo ideals: Brooks
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 30, 2009 8:56 AM CDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks with reporters during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – The Democrats learned lasting lessons from the Clinton health care battle: Let Congress, not the White House, write the bills; don’t try to fight the corporations; and avoid failure at all costs. As a consequence, writes David Brooks in the New York Times. the party has taken a “Vince Lombardi attitude” to policy, willing to tweak a bill to oblivion in a desperate effort “to cobble together a majority.”

“When the executive branch is dominant you often get coherent proposals that may not pass. When Congress is dominant, as now, you get politically viable mishmashes that don’t necessarily make sense,” Brooks writes. Take the cap-and-trade bill: leaders took a “relatively clean though politically difficult” concept and “transformed it into a morass of corporate giveaways that make the stimulus bill look parsimonious.” Sure, it passed—but “it’s impossible to know” whether it will reduce emissions.