‘Bipartisan’ goalposts are on the move

‘BIPARTISAN’ GOALPOSTS ARE ON THE MOVE…. You might think that legislation with Democratic votes and Republican votes is “bipartisan.” Throw in some independents, and we might even have “tripartisan.”

But when it comes to health care reform, the bar is apparently on the move. It started about a month ago when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he thinks reform ought to get 80 votes in the Senate.

Apparently, this is starting to catch on.

Speaking on Fox News last night, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claimed that health care reform should not happen because it doesn’t enjoy “bipartisan” support, adding that a bill cannot be bipartisan unless it garners “somewhere between 75 and 80 votes.” […]

Hatch is hardly the only conservative senator to float a 75-80 vote supermajority requirement for health reform. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who is currently blocking attempts to fix the health care system, told the Washington Post that “[w]e ought to be focusing on getting 80 votes.” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) demanded “a bill that 75 or 80 senators can support.”

There are a few angles to keep in mind here. First, it’s fascinating to hear partisan Republicans suggest it’s incumbent on Democrats to aim for 80-vote majorities on major pieces of legislation. Funny, Hatch, Grassley, and Enzi didn’t feel this way when they were in charge.

Second, I can’t help but wonder if Hatch, Grassley, and Enzi, among others, believe that when push comes to shove, and reform heads to the House and Senate floors, a few Republicans — Snowe in the Senate, Coh in the House — will break ranks and vote with Democrats. This sounds like pre-emptive spin: “It was a bipartisan majority, but it wasn’t really a bipartisan majority based on our standards, so this doesn’t count.”

And third, aiming for 75 or 80 votes is obviously ridiculous. Republicans don’t support health care reform. They never have. Grassley says he’s likely to vote against his own compromise; Kyl says the party won’t accept a bill no matter how many concessions Dems make; Voinovich says half the GOP caucus opposes reform for purely partisan reasons; Inhofe says Republicans have to look at reform while keeping the 2010 midterms in mind; and DeMint wants to make reform the president’s “Waterloo,” so he can “break” Obama.

I don’t blame Republicans for trying to move the goalposts here, but where, pray tell, are Dems supposed to find these other 20 votes in a Republican caucus with two relative moderates?