The most effective Republican arguments about health care reform lately have been about procedure, not policy. Over and over again, Republicans have accused Democrats of making shady backroom deals, of twisting the legislative process, and of trying to foist a secret plan on the country. From the looks of things, the attacks are working. In December and January, Scott Brown made many of these allegations in his successful run for the U.S. Senate.
INHERIT THE WIND Billy Tauzin of Louisiana was one of the most venal politicians ever to sully Capitol Hill. As Michelle Cottle chronicled in these pages ("Cajun Dressing," October 6, 2003), the Republican representative used his perch on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to shill for almost every big business in America--until a business broke enough laws to spark public outrage, at which point Tauzin would hold showboat hearings and recast himself as a consumer champion.
Last summer, President Bush and the Republican congressional leadership had a problem. The legislative linchpin of the president's reelection effort, a bill to add prescription-drug coverage to Medicare, lacked the votes in Congress, where conservative Republicans were chafing at the expense. GOP leaders finally secured a bare majority by consenting to the demands of 13 Republican House members, who agreed to vote yes if the cost would not exceed $400 billion over ten years.
Fire Away It seemed like a good idea at the time. After a spate of bitter investigations in the mid-‘90s, House Democrats and Republicans forged a “truce,” agreeing not to use flimsy ethics charges as political tools against their opponents. But the case of Nick Smith shows that truce may now be doing more harm than good.