It has been said that politics is the art of compromise. Try as they may, Washington leaders hardly ever get absolutely everything they want.
Polls show Americans are worried about the implementation of Obamacare — worried about keeping their current health insurance plans, the new law itself, the exchanges, potential fines, personal privacy, keeping their jobs, their work hours and a host of other issues too numerous to list here. Both the country and the Congress have much to discuss.
Right now, though, President Obama refuses to engage in any debate or discussion. The president is demanding that he get 100 percent of what he wants, and if he doesn’t, he and his Democratic allies in the Senate will keep the government shuttered.
Republicans have offered compromises that might stop or dull some of the negative effects of Obamacare but that would also pass a budget and keep the government functioning. Still, Mr. Obama refuses to budge. He will not even consider compromise.
Republicans are told that the law has already passed and that we’re being obstructionists for attempting to question or modify it. However, since when in this country after a law is passed is it eternally set in stone? When has it ever been true that Congress cannot look at and alter or improve existing law?
The Obama administration announced in August that it sought to reform our current mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. I’ve been speaking out on the need to get rid of these unjust laws for some time and look forward to working with anyone in either party who is serious about doing so.
Some of those mandatory-minimum sentencing laws have been in place since the 1980s. Does anyone think that just because they were once passed into law, that Mr. Obama or I are somehow “extremists” for wanting to change them? Does a bad law have to be decades old before we do anything about it? When Ronald Reagan was elected and the top tax rate was at 70 percent and had been so for 40 years, did he just throw up his hands and accept it? Or did he change the bad laws?
Plenty of people are saying Obamacare is bad law, and not just Republicans. The Teamsters are saying Obamacare has serious problems. Warren Buffett says it’s a problem. Former President Bill Clinton says there are problems.
Even the president himself acknowledges that there are some significant flaws. He has sought to delay portions of Obamacare through executive order, including the employer mandate.
There are still many compromise solutions that would end the government shutdown, like a short-term spending bill while we negotiate. A conference committee with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats is historically how we solved an impasse.
Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is rejecting any compromise. There has to be some middle ground, and Republicans are willing to work with Democrats to get there, but the president refuses to listen.
We, as elected representatives in the House and Senate, are hearing from our constituents that they do not want Obamacare as it currently stands. A recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows that only 12 percent of Americans think Obamacare will have a positive impact on their lives.
We are looking for compromise with Mr. Obama. We are looking for give-and-take solutions.
The president is intransigent. He will not give an inch, yet he expects the entire country to take the whole Obamacare mile. It is his way or the highway.
It was not a good idea to shut down the government. It’s also not a good idea to give Mr. Obama 100 percent of what he wants on Obamacare. Why is the president so opposed to trying to make this law less bad? Why is he continually refusing to compromise?
What are we supposed to do with a president who is completely unwilling to negotiate? Mr. Obama and the Democrats in the Senate would rather shut down our government than work with Republicans on serious amendments and solutions.
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Senator Rand Paul is a Republican senator from Kentucky. This article was also published in the Washington Times.