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GOP Senators Who Crossed Over For Children

Barack Obama tried to convince Republicans to cross the aisle and vote for the economic stimulus package by having progressive elements such as investment in infrastructure and family planning removed, while adding right wing items, like the biggest tax cut in history. It didn’t work. Only one Republican voted in favor of the legislation.

Why? By catering to right wing demands, President Obama only encouraged the Republicans to hope that they could hold out for even more. Obama played right into Republican hands by having the Democrats pass legislation a lot more like what the Republicans wanted all along, while allowing the Republicans all to vote against it so that the GOP can say I told you so when the economic stimulus doesn’t work.

Yet, for another important piece of legislation, expanding health care coverage for children (SCHIP), the following Republican senators crossed the aisle:

Susan Collins
Bob Corker
Kay Bailey-Hutchison
Richard Lugar
Mel Martinez
Lisa Murkowski
Olympia Snowe
Arlen Specter

This number represents one out of every five Republicans in the U.S. Senate – a pretty impressive rate of cooperation.

What made the difference? For the SCHIP legislation, the Democrats in Congress didn’t cave in to Republican demands. Instead, Democrats worked to explain why it’s important for America’s children to have health care – a pretty easy point to make – and they shamed Republicans into joining them. The Democrats stuck to principle on the children’s health care legislation, knowing that they didn’t really need Republican, and a number of Republicans decided to come along for the ride anyway. Thanks to them for doing so.

There’s a lesson for President Obama in his legislative stumble. Stick to your principles, and you’ll persuade. Sacrifice your principles in order to score a win, and your opponents will just use that weakness to outmaneuver you.

2 comments to GOP Senators Who Crossed Over For Children

  • Voltaire

    Here you go letting your religious views on charity take control of Government finances again. Remember that there is a strict separation of church and state for a reason. One of them is to keep religious zealots like you from writing checks that we all have to cash.

    • No, that’s really not a reason for the separation of church and state, Voltaire.

      Who’s a religious zealot here, by the way? Where does religion enter into the issue? A bunch of self-declared faithful Christians in Congress just voted against taking care of children.

      The government is what we make of it, V, and the Congress is given by the Constitution the explicit duty of acting in pursuit of the “general welfare”. If giving children health care isn’t in the general welfare, Voltaire, nothing is. Society ends up paying a lot more in the end when children aren’t given proper health care when they’re young. This legislation takes care of kids and saves us money in the long run. A vote against the bill was a vote against the general welfare.

      If your choice is to not give kids health care, then your choice is to create a debt that we all will have to pay off later.

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