This is what real overreach looks like

Remember in 2010, when the Republican line was that Democrats, given control of both the White House and Congress in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles had overreached? Somehow the fact that President Obama campaigned on health care reform, then worked hard to deliver a comprehensive plan based largely on conservative, market-based approaches to reform, was transformed into “the biggest single dose of leftist, governmental overreach seen in decades.” Democrats, conservatives said, mistook electoral dissatisfaction with President Bush and the Republicans during the ’06 and ’08 election cycles as a mandate to advance a radical, liberal agenda.

If I bought into that theory – which overlooks the fact that, smears from the right-wing echo machine aside, Obama has very much governed as a pragmatic moderate (to the point where many on the left are nearly as irritated with him as conservatives) – I would say history is repeating itself.

In 2010, voters were dissatisfied with the pace of recovery. They didn’t like health care reform much – but as many thought it didn’t go far enough as thought it went too far, a dynamic that continues to this day. Combined with an unprecedented ocean of cash from special interests freed from constraints by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, that voter dissatisfaction resulted in the shellacking handed Democrats in 2010.

But even as voters handed control over to the GOP, polls showed that Republicans were not actually more popular or trusted than Democrats. This was a housecleaning, a repudiation of Democrats not an embrace of a Republican agenda – not that Republicans even presented much of an agenda.

So what happened when they took control of the House in January? They focused on a radical anti-abortion agenda that, for a time, even included redefining statutory rape. The House wasted time on bills – like one to repeal health care reform – they knew would never pass the Senate, much less be signed by the president. They defeated a resolution affirming the broad scientific consensus on global warming. They’ve proposed deep – and deeply unpopular – cuts to important government programs.

Now they come out with plans to gut Medicare and Medicaid.

Overreach of historic proportions.

This is what Americans should have expected following the 2010 elections, but I don’t think it’s what they wanted.


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