Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Republican-Democrat coalition?

Perhaps a promising new model of bipartisanship is developing right under our noses.

It has occurred nationally and in Michigan, pretty much as a byproduct of what appears to be a growing split in the Republican Party.

What happened is simple in both instances. 

A majority of House Democrats joined a minority of Republicans in approving the tax increase on the upper 2 percent of wage earners in Congress in January. Republicans control the House so their part was for the leadership to not only allow the measure to come to a vote, but to support it.

The same thing occurred in the Michigan legislature. A minority of Republicans in both chambers last month joined a majority of Democrats in approving an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.

Republicans control both chambers in Michigan while Democrats in the nation’s capital control the U.S. Senate.

Bitter acrimony among Republicans has followed these votes, with opponents of the Tea Party “just say no” strategy branded as traitors to the party.

Macomb Daily columnist Chad Selweski made use of  Rich Studley’s definition of the dispute within the GOP. Studley, chief executive officer of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce,  sent a tweet recently in which he said: “There is a big difference between supporting limited government and being anti-government.”

That about sums it up. Many non-libertarian Republicans are increasingly uncomfortable with the hard lines taken by such  figures as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who they see as too rigid. Libertarians tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach regardless of the issue, and in some cases some Republicans would rather be identified with Democrats who appear to be taking a common-sense stance on things that simply shouldn’t be issues.

In Michigan, for instance, Republican Medicaid expansion supporters  could not see the logic of turning down billions of dollars of federal money that will pay for currently uncompensated health care and take pressure off private insurance policy holders. 

These differences are likely to play out in the coming weeks as Republicans devise strategies to handle budgetary and debt issues in Washington D.C.


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