What Is A Bipartisan Bill?

If you think it’s a bill that includes ideas from both parties, you are wrong:

… bipartisanship doesn’t mean what Democrats think it means. A “bipartisan bill” isn’t a bill that includes ideas from both parties. It’s a bill that includes votes from both parties. That’s what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell means when he says “President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit.” A bill that includes ideas from both parties won’t be bipartisan, because Republicans won’t vote for it. A bill that only includes Republican ideas can be bipartisan, because Republicans will vote for it.

But after writing this morning’s post on the Republican report that recommended the exact deficit-reduction package that the Republican leadership ultimately walked out on, I realized that even that definition of “bipartisan” doesn’t quite get it right. Rather, a “bipartisan” bill is a bill that the opposing party treats as bipartisan, while a partisan bill is a bill that the opposing party treats as partisan. That puts the agency where it belongs: on the minority party. The idea that the president can “be bipartisan” is dead wrong. He can be partisan, designing bills that the opposing party would never want to vote for, but he can’t be bipartisan unless the opposing party lets him. And knowing that any reputation he gets for bipartisanship will be used in his reelection campaign, why would they do that?

Read the whole thing. It’s well worth it.

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