EDI­TO­RI­ALS: Are Christie’s words on bi­par­ti­san­ship only empty prom­ises? More edi­to­ri­als and opin­ion at READ mod­ern­health­care.com/edi­to­ri­als

Christie’s com­ments on bi­par­ti­san­ship sound more like empty prom­ises

Modern Healthcare - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID MAY

So the Repub­li­can Party had its time in the sun last week in Tampa, Fla. Once Isaac left town, that is. The GOP’s na­tional con­ven­tion didn’t dis­ap­point when it came to large help­ings of rhetor­i­cal red meat to feed the party’s base. Speaker af­ter speaker took whacks at the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s han­dling of just about ev­ery­thing, no­tably the econ­omy, bud­get deficits, ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy, for­eign re­la­tions—and, sur­prise!—health­care.

The choic­est in­vec­tive seemed to be held in re­serve for sav­aging Obama care (does any­body call it the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act any­more?).

Vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Paul Ryan served us a litany of the law’s al­leged sins—“More than 2,000 pages of rules, man­dates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free coun­try,” adding that the law is also the big­gest threat to the fu­ture of Medi­care. Those words were pre­ceded the night be­fore by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s vow that the Republicans would re­peal the re­form law, end­ing “the de­ba­cle of putting the world’s great­est health­care sys­tem in the hands of fed­eral bu­reau­crats.”

Maybe be­cause of all the care­fully chore­ographed stage­craft of the con­ven­tion, much of that con­tent seemed quite pre­dictable and overly tele-prompted. A lot of it has been heard be­fore in stump speeches or as part of in­ter­views with the talk­ing heads.

But there ac­tu­ally were a few parts of Christie’s ad­dress dur­ing the first evening of the gath­er­ing that were some­what sur­pris­ing. Mul­ti­ple times dur­ing his re­marks he em­ployed the words “com­pro­mise” and “bi­par­ti­san,” and ac­tu­ally seemed to cite them as good things his party should be striv­ing for.

Did we re­ally hear it right? Was he re­ally speak­ing for the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment? For Mitt Rom­ney’s cam­paign? For the House ma­jor­ity? Af­ter all, he was giv­ing the key­note ad­dress.

For ex­am­ple, at one point he was con­trast­ing what “we” be­lieve— “we” be­ing the con­ser­va­tive GOP good guys—with what “they” be­lieve, “they” be­ing the lib­eral Democrats wear­ing black hats. Christie said this: “We be­lieve it’s pos­si­ble to forge bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise and stick to con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples.” Mo­ments later: “When there are peo­ple in the room who care more about do­ing the job they were elected to do than about win­ning re-elec­tion, then it’s pos­si­ble to work to­gether to achieve prin­ci­pled com­pro­mise and get re­sults for the peo­ple who gave us these jobs in the first place.”

Well said, gover­nor. But for­give us if we still have doubts, es­pe­cially based on the track record of the cur­rent Congress.

And we’re also re­minded that Christie rep­re­sents the party of Richard Mour­dock, In­di­ana’s Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for the U.S. Se­nate seat be­ing va­cated by Richard Lu­gar.

Soon af­ter Mour­dock’s pri­mary vic­tory this spring, he noted: “I cer­tainly think bi­par­ti­san­ship ought to con­sist of Democrats com­ing to the Repub­li­can point of view. If we (win the House, Se­nate and White House), bi­par­ti­san­ship means they have to come our way.”

It’s also the party of Grover Norquist, who is on record as see­ing the role of a Pres­i­dent Rom­ney as some­one “with enough work­ing dig­its to han­dle a pen” so he will au­to­mat­i­cally sign any leg­is­la­tion com­ing out of a GOP-led Congress. No ques­tions, no com­pro­mises.

A few ques­tions for Gov. Christie: Will you ac­tively push for a more con­cil­ia­tory ap­proach? Is this em­brace of bi­par­ti­san­ship and com­pro­mise con­di­tional? Is it in ef­fect im­me­di­ately, so there might be move­ment be­fore the Novem­ber elec­tion to­ward solv­ing some loom­ing crises, such as that nasty ‘fis­cal cliff’ dead head?

Any­way, now the ta­ble is set for the Democrats’ gath­er­ing in North Carolina this week. And, just like with the GOP, it’s a sure thing that the rhetor­i­cal fare there will not be veg­e­tar­ian.

As­sis­tant Manag­ing

Ed­i­tor/Fea­tures

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