How quickly they forget

HOW QUICKLY THEY FORGET…. This past week saw the first anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which generated some discussion on “Fox News Sunday.” Brit Hume, for example, took the opportunity to revisit some old talking points. (Heather at C&L posted the video.)

“Well, what I would say about this is, think how different this would be now had the president and the Democrats in Congress been willing to incorporate some Republican ideas, a serious attempt at tort reform, for example. He would have gotten, I think, not only much of what he, the president, wanted, the Republicans would have gotten some of what they wanted. A bunch of them would have voted for it. This notion that it’s a partisan bill would be gone, and the whole picture would look different right now from the way it does.

“I actually in my life have never seen anything like this. I’ve never seen a bill with this much consequence rammed through by one party alone.

“And it raised questions about the legitimacy of the measure from the start. And those questions persist today.”

I’d hoped we were past all of this, but as long as Hume wants to repeat nonsense to a national television audience, we might as well set the record straight.

First, the bill wasn’t “rammed through.” It took a year of painfully-slow hearings, discussions, summits, debates, and votes. It was completed with the support of one party because Republicans refused to participate, and moderates who wavered were told by GOP leaders they were forbidden from playing a constructive role.

Second, the notion that Dems refused to “incorporate some Republican ideas” is very silly. Digby had a good post on this yesterday, explaining that the bulk of the legislation itself was based on Republican ideas — remember, it mirrored a plan floated by GOP moderates in 1993 — and that center-right Democrats ensured that the most progressive elements weren’t included in the final package. Indeed, the individual mandate itself, now the most controversial element of the law, originated as a Republican idea.

But of particular interest is a meeting that has been largely forgotten. In April 2009, as the reform process was just getting underway, President Obama sat down with congressional Republican leaders in the hopes of finding some common ground on health care. Obama said he’d be willing to strike a deal that included medical malpractice reform, for example, and asked what areas the GOP would be willing to give ground on in return. Nothing, they said.

In other words, Brit Hume has it exactly backwards. He argued yesterday that the whole effort would have gone so much better if only Dems had been willing to compromise and embrace Republican goals. Except, in Grown Up Land, that’s exactly what happened, and Republicans refused to take “Yes” for an answer.

Fox News personalities may not like this history, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true, and Republican media figures shouldn’t lie about it.