Trust and Good Faith

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22 Responses

  1. I’m curious as to what your diagnosis is for the Democratic obstruction of social security reform under Bush? Was that also bad faith, or principled opposition?Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      Something can be principled and argued in bad faith. If people’s principles lead them to be against health care reform do they have to aggressively lie about killing grandma. If R’s are fundamentally against everybody having health care then say it directly. Some certainly do, but most won’t because it isn’t popular. I wish more R’s would just come out publicly and loudly say they want to end medicare. It might clarify things.

      Are you referring to the SS reform bill that was massively unpopular and never got out of committee? The bill that would have put more retirement money into wall street, because the stock market always goes up? The stock market that will do so much better with our money the mean ol’gov?Report

      • Avatar Kyle in reply to greginak says:

        I think you’re making the classic liberal mistake, if I can use that word, here in conflating motive, support, policy preference into a nice tidy package that just isn’t the case.

        Republican opposition to particular methods of expanding coverage or creating universal coverage isn’t the same as opposition to the goal. Especially a goal as nondescript as everybody having health care. Your characterization makes it sound as though R’s would actively make it harder to achieve that goal if it became possible to achieve through private means alone or the states/communities.

        This isn’t really a healthcare post so I won’t keep going but it seems to me that there are goals and methods of achieving goals. Disagreement on the latter isn’t always the same as disagreement on the former and whether it’s the left or the right conflating the two it leads to division, misunderstanding and most of all less opportunity for cooperation or success.Report

    • Avatar Ryan in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      Given that it might not have even had majority support in the President’s own party – and certainly didn’t have majority support in either house of Congress – I’d say the idea itself was just laughably bad. What the Democrats did from there is sort of irrelevant.Report

    • Avatar Bob in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      And to be perfectly clear, the Republicans controlled the government both legislative bodies in 2005 when Bush fell off the SS reform cliff.Report

  2. On the stimulus, I have to beg to differ: the way in which that stimulus package was structured made very little sense even if you accept a Keynesian view of economics (and of course, lots of Republicans don’t). Yet the administration’s attitude (really, the Dem Congressional leadership’s attitude since the administration seemed to take more of a hands off approach on the details) was that the only thing that could get negotiated was the size of the stimulus.

    Yglesias’ argument that there is plenty of room for negotiation on health care runs into the same sort of problem. The areas for negotiation that he sees are areas of compromise on degree rather than kind, when the entire argument against this particular set of reforms is that they’re problems of kind rather than degree (although obviously the cost side of the issue presents an added problem). Wyden-Bennett, on the other hand, represents a set of compromises of kind rather than degree.

    In fact, the kinds of compromises Yglesias is proposing are the sorts of compromises that usually (justifiably) result in complaints from both sides about the evils of bipartisanship – making legislation less ambitious and watering it down to get a few swing votes rather than trying to find a compromise that is ideologically palatable (if imperfect) to competing philosophies and thus potentially more ambitious. In other words, the compromises Yglesias is proposing don’t take seriously even the legitimate arguments against this particular set of reforms – they’re tone deaf.

    The thing about Wyden-Bennett is that it forces Republicans to put their votes where their mouth is – if they oppose it, then they really do look like hypocrites because it takes seriously right-of-center arguments about health care while obviously emphasizing liberal health care goals.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Part of the disconnect on the discussion of health reform is that Lib’s are coming from a place where health care has been a major issue for many years. We have been waiting and pushing and waiting. O campaigned on it. Various wonks, advocates and policy groups have been working on how to reform health care for decades. The R’s have been avoiding the issue for the large part and trying to avoid any reform. Republican desire for debating W-B sounds a bit late. I wish our political space allowed for more discussion of alternatives but that doesn’t seem to be how we make sausage.

      And the congress and O did change the stim package to try to make R’s happy. They actually did that. Did that lead to more cooperation and working together.Report

  3. Avatar Dan Summers says:

    *clap, clap, clap*

    Hear, hear.Report

  4. Avatar Ryan says:

    This post is pretty fantastic.

    What I think a lot of conservatives don’t seem to get is that attributing the worst possible motives to your opponents isn’t really unfair when your opponents do, in fact, have the worst possible motives. Welcome to the GOP.Report

  5. Avatar mike farmer says:

    I don’t think the public gives a damn about making sausage when government is proposing to take over so much of our economy — it might be true that a lot of people want reform, but the Democrats won’t try to push anything through unless eash representative is sure he/she will get reelected, so the sausage makers might have to slowdown and look at alternatives, regardless of what either party has done in the past — the only thing that matters now is getting something done — both sides, now, want to get something done, and I doubt the Democrats want to stand alone without cover. The Democrats don’t have as much power in this issue as some of the paritsans think. On something this big, the public will have the last say, and both sides will try to please them. Wyden-Bennett has a chance. It always amazes me when one party whines because the other party is doing what they both do all the time, depending on which one is in power.Report

  6. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    Why do you think there’s so much public opposition to this health insurance plan? Are these people deceived, confused, stupid?Report

  7. Avatar Kyle says:

    Mark basically said what I would’ve about the stimulus. Though I would add that the politics there were pretty heavy-handed on the part of Obey and Pelosi in the house and, ironically enough, the nays were more bipartisan than the yays on that bill.

    However, as to your larger point, I’m a bit stuck on how it’s unfair to presume bad faith yet somehow good faith has to be earned. So should one start out as an argumentative agnostic?

    I think it makes a lot of movement sense to cast opposition arguments as in bad faith because it makes it easier to cast your opposition as bad people, which by default makes you good people. Good people means captive donors. Which is why so many of our issues devolve down to pro-family, pro-life, pro-union, anti-crime, as if the opposition measures were actually anti-family, anti-life, anti-union, or pro-crime. It’s easier for organizing and winning.

    What kills me is how many otherwise really intelligent people actually believe the opposition are bad people arguing in bad faith, even though it’s apparent their representatives don’t actually think so or there’s very little evidence to support such a position besides, “it makes me feel better about the side I’ve chosen. ” Which, as you may note, is less evidence than a feeling.

    (i.e. Ted Stevens was a terrible anti-human corruptocrat until he lost his seat and then everyone had nothing but kind words for him.)Report

    • Avatar EngineerScotty in reply to Kyle says:

      The line at which bad faith may be fairly assumed is not a bright one. On the other hand, when a leading member of the opposition suggests opposition to a proposed reform, and explicitly does so to inflict political damage rather than based on the policy’s merits; that, to me, is an act of bad faith.Report

      • Avatar Kyle in reply to EngineerScotty says:

        fair point but as far as I know the only person to make such a statement is Jim “Saving Freedom” DeMint, who is neither a leading member of the opposition or for that matter a terribly interesting politician beyond his extremism.

        So far as I’ve seen none of the Senate Republicans on the talk show circuit have followed suit, Graham, Cornyn, McConnell, all dodged or hedged and Grassley’s talking. Bennett’s co-sponsored a reasonably respectable bill, Crapo, Gregg, and Alexander are on record for supporting W-B.

        It’s not that I think Republicans are innocent legislators shut out of the process by mean old dems, but I do tire of the political left cherry picking inflammatory quotes and saying they’re representative of the party and movement conservatism as a whole, then turning around and challenging the right to prove they aren’t by repudiating them. It’s an effective political framing gambit but it’s not based on a terribly accurate perception of reality nor for that matter an honourable thing to do.

        I would totally grant you that Republican leadership on say Sotomayor’s confirmation was rather transparently bad faith. If not both predictable and understandable.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Kyle says:

          This is exactly what I’ve been trying to convey. Just because some – maybe even most – Republicans may properly be assumed to be acting in bad faith because of their political incentives does not mean that all Republicans not residing in Maine have the same political incentives. Yet this debate too often treats Republicans as monolithic rather than figuring out ways of taking advantage of those divergent interests. This would, I suppose, be fine if the Dems were truly unified on all this, but they’re not, which means they either have to cut deals with their own party that truly water down legislation to the point of meaninglessness or they can look outside their party to make compromises of kind rather than degree that actually do quite a bit to achieve Dems’ legislative goals.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kyle says:

          Grassley’s really talking…

          Out of both sides of his mouth, evidently.Report

          • Avatar Kyle in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            What’s so ironic about that Grassley quote – which is set up to imply he’s talking about shady democrats is it describes almost to a T Republican actions during the Terri Schiavo case. Which is something, now that I think about it, I’d be curious to hear health care reform advocates address…what happens when/if their precious majorities are taken over by ideological opponents? How would the Terri Schiavo Congressional Intervention Attempt play out post reform? Or down the slippery slope road…with a single payer system?Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to Kyle says:

      However, as to your larger point, I’m a bit stuck on how it’s unfair to presume bad faith yet somehow good faith has to be earned. So should one start out as an argumentative agnostic?

      In a situation arising out of no prior context – if you put a group of people who didn’t know each other in a room and they had to work together on something – bad faith should not be presumed. It’s fair enough to presume bad faith on the Republicans’ part because they have repeatedly, consistently displayed bad faith.Report

      • Avatar Kyle in reply to Katherine says:

        But which Republicans? Nor for that matter are the Republicans the only ones playing political games and arguing in bad faith so should we just presume everyone is arguing in bad faith?Report