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Partisan vitriol, bipartisan corporate ass-kissing

From the NYT, reporting on the Senate’s health care deliberations:

The votes also marked something else: the culmination of more than a generation of partisan polarization of the American political system, and a precipitous decline in collegiality and collaboration in governing that seemed to move in inverse proportion to a rising influence of lobbying, money, the 24-hour news cycle and hostilities on talk shows and in the blogosphere.

Interesting that of the “rising influences” cited, “policy differences” isn’t one of them.

I’m inclined to thing that the two parties are becoming virtual mirror images of one another, at least when it comes to policy.  Their rhetoric is different, but their policy positions aren’t.  Think about it — on foreign policy, both support continued military involvement in the middle east, even when it’s far from clear what’s at stake.  Financial policy?  Neither party is stepping up to offer any substantive changes to the way we regulate the banks.  On unemployment, both parties mumble a lot but don’t seem to really be saying much other than “tough it out.”  I could go on.

Even in health care policy, the arguments between Republicans and Democrats over current legislation obscures their general agreement on the big ideas.  Both parties reject single-payer.  Both parties reject serious proposals to make patients pay their own medical bills out of HSAs or similar mechanisms.  Sure, the Republicans will give you good sound bites about how they’ve always been in favor of this, but how serious can they be when all they did during their reign over Washington during the Bush years was pass Medicare Part D?

Despite the differences in rhetoric, an American voter who opposes the increasingly corporatist policies of the federal government has no good options in either party.  This is what should be making headlines, not the partisan bitching over rhetoric.

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