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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gatsby goes Hamlet

Having made sure that both the single-payer and public-option variants of health care reform are dead and buried, Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) is now publicly pouting because no one else in the Senate seems to care much for his vision for less radical change. He seems determined to establish that he's an outsider, so that the now-inevitable fizzling of real reform will not be pinned on him.

Will he vote for the Baucus bill? He won't say. He just keeps rattling off the features of his own bill, which went nowhere and apparently never was going anywhere. Heaven forbid he should do something to help the Democrats get the votes they need on the Senate floor. Heaven forbid he should act like he's helping Obama. It's all about Ron, to be or not to be.

He'll probably pull the same stunt on tax reform, which now is not scheduled to happen until next year, an election year, if at all. Wyden's got a tax bill, which has been knocking around Congress for a long time without generating any excitement. Will he join up with the White House and make some strides toward saving the middle class through the tax system? Or will he repeat his "my way or the highway" act, while the Republicans fix it so that nothing serious is achieved? I'm not optimistic.

I remember 25 years ago when Bill Bradley was in the Senate. He'd have his visions, write up his bills, and push for them, but when the time came to stop posturing and get things done, he joined in the fashioning of real reform. He didn't brood in the hallway. Which is why he achieved a lot in his political career.

Comments (7)

Although a great admirer of the former senator, I ask "What did Bill Bradley achieve?"

Strange that you should mention Bradley. It was he who jumped on the '80s tax reform bandwagon championed by none-other than Bob Packwood. At least Wyden marches to his own drummer.

Speaking of the 1986 tax reform, I have a generally favorable impression of that law, despite its sleazy main author. My impression is that it got rid of some complexities in the tax code, and reduced prohibitive levels of taxation at upper incomes to reasonable levels. Admittedly, much of the work it did on both of these fronts has been undone in the past two decades - politicians can't resist jimmying with the tax code.

I would be interested in our blog host's general thoughts on the 1986 tax reform law.

Wyden has been a big disappointment during the health care debate. He could take some lessons from Merkley. Of course Merkley has not been in office long enough to succumb to corporate buyoff. What is more surprising is the kid glove treatment Wyden receives from Oregon progressive Democrats.

What is more surprising is the kid glove treatment Wyden receives from Oregon progressive Democrats.

Or why in two straight elecetions now, the Republican party has failed to muster credible opposition. If he's not going to get challenged from the right or the left, why wouldn't he continue to do his own thing? I'd be doing the same thing, if I were him. His truly is among the safest seats in the Senate, and that's a shame.

the Republican party has failed to muster credible opposition

What would be the point? There's a reason your Blogmeister labels Ron as (R.- NY).

I would be interested in our blog host's general thoughts on the 1986 tax reform law.

It was the best tax law passed during our lifetimes -- one of the few good ones.

And it started with a major tax reform effort undertaken a year or two before by Bradley and Rep. Richard Gephardt. Packwood and Rostenkowski, along with Reagan, got the deal done, but Bradley got the ball rolling. And when his bill foundered, he didn't try to play power broker. He rolled up his sleeves and pitched in.

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