Selective dithering

SELECTIVE DITHERING…. When it comes to health care policy, congressional Republicans believe it’s critically important to slow down, think things through, and put off a final decision indefinitely. Rushing into a reform plan is the worst possible approach, they say.

The same goes for energy and climate change policy. Dems are ready to move forward on a modest, bipartisan bill, and Senate Republicans want to hit the brakes. “Why are we trying to jam down this legislation now?” Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) asked during a hearing last week. “Wouldn’t it be smarter to take our time and do it right?”

The same is also true on financial regulation, where Republicans believe it’s imperative to … you guessed it … slow down. “The more time we [take], the more intelligent regulatory process we’ll have,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said, “and I hope we’ll take until the first quarter of 2010 to actually put something into law.”

Tim Fernholz responded, “What in the world does he want to talk about? It’s not like Corker is pushing some specific agenda or has offered any major ideas, at least publicly. These issues have been at the forefront of the policy debate for a year now, and certainly have been bubbling underneath for a long time. If he doesn’t have any specific concerns, it’s hard to conceive of this as anything but a delaying tactic that simply substitutes vague delays for substantive engagement.”

This has broad applicability. Republicans want to slow the health care reform process down, not to achieve some specific goal or to wait for some relevant information, but because more time means more chances to kill the bill. They want to slow climate legislation for the same reason.

But God forbid the Commander in Chief takes a few weeks to settle on a U.S. policy/strategy for the future of Afghanistan.

President Obama’s decision on a new strategy for Afghanistan will not be accelerated by Monday’s news that Abdullah Abdullah’s will not participate in a run-off against President Hamid Karzai, according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs said that it is helpful to know that Karzai is officially the president, but the president is “looking at the next few weeks” before making a decisions.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday that Obama needs to make a decision immediately on a strategy for Afghanistan now that that country’s runoff election has been canceled. “There are no more excuses,” Boehner said.

A couple of angles to consider here. First, George W. Bush took months to ponder the “surge” policy in Iraq. I don’t recall leading Republicans demanding immediate decisions at the time.

Second, how do GOP leaders, with a straight face, demand thoughtful, endless deliberations on domestic policies they’ve already decided to oppose, but insist on war escalation decisions based on an arbitrary timetable of their own making?