The Wall Street Journal covered this week’s vote on a budget proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives. We are going to take a moment to deconstruct this story.
This was the headline for the story: House Votes Down Bipartisan Budget Proposal.
This headline might lead an observant reader to wonder how the House could vote down a bipartisan budget proposal, since a bipartisan proposal would seem to have broad support in both parties and thus stand a pretty good chance of passing. But then the reader might remember that in the language of political news coverage bipartisan means support by a lot of Democrats and one or two Republican. So the reader would then expect to find in this story that the vote was generally along party lines, and that Republicans are being held responsible for voting down this bipartisan proposal.
But the reader would be wrong. Here is the first sentence of the story: “The House overwhelmingly voted down a bipartisan budget proposal Wednesday that would have directed lawmakers to reduce the federal deficit by more than $4 trillion over 10 years through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.”
Now we read that the proposal was voted down overwhelmingly, and we note that the next sentence tells us the vote was 382-38. How could that be if this was a “bipartisan” proposal?.
Let’s read on: “The vote on the budget resolution, which was defeated 382-38, shows how far apart Republicans and Democrats remain in Congress over how to address the growing U.S. debt. The measure was pushed by Reps. Jim Cooper (D., Tenn.) and Steve LaTourette (R., Ohio), who had urged their colleagues to begin work on a bipartisan deal.”
So we see that this really wasn’t a bipartisan proposal, merely a proposal supported by a few House members. But the reporter adds something new to the story, which raises the question, How could a combination of 382 Republicans and Democrats voting together on a bill be far apart?
Well, they can’t. At least not when it comes to their opinion on this bill. But taking near unanimity and turning it into a broad partisan divide is par for the course in political reporting.
Though Texas has its partisan challenges, there is still more opportunity to work with both sides of the aisle when promoting good policy in the Texas Legislature. So even when you read political reporting in Texas that makes it look like there is no way forward because of the political divide, don’t give up hope. Texas has plenty of opportunities to move forward with free-market policies that have bipartisan support.