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The Deepening Partisan Divide

January 8th, 2010

by

This piece was originally published in National Journal.

Want to see bipartisanship? Look at the congressional votes in 1935 to establish Social Security. The measure got almost unanimous support from Democrats: 95 percent of House Democrats and 98 percent of Senate Democrats voted to create the safety net for the elderly. Republican support was also overwhelming: 84 percent of House Republicans and 76 percent of Senate Republicans voted for the new program.

Want to see bipartisanship again? Look at the Medicare votes of 1965. Once again, Democrats were nearly unanimously supportive (83 percent in the House, 89 percent in the Senate). This time, Republicans were more closely divided but still delivered significant support: 70 GOP House members (51 percent) and 13 Republican senators (43 percent) voted for Medicare.

Want to see bipartisanship vanish? Look at the 2009 votes on health care reform. The House measure passed in November with the support of 85 percent of Democrats but only one of 177 Republicans. Last month’s Senate vote on health care reform was totally polarized: All 60 Democrats voted yea; all 39 Republicans present voted nay.

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