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Leverage always a player in politics

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By Greg Romberg

It’s disappointing on every level that health care reform, like the stimulus plan before it, will be enacted without bipartisan cooperation. While Democrats have charged Republicans with being obstructionists and Republicans have called Democrats arrogant, the simple fact is that President Obama’s major initiatives will be enacted without Republican support.

I find myself comparing this year to 1981, the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Reagan, like Obama, swept into office with a very charismatic campaign and pushed an agenda to jump-start the economy. Unlike Obama, he faced a Congress controlled by the other party. While Democrats didn’t love the Reagan initiative and the president wasn’t able to get everything he wanted, public support to do something forced them to negotiate. Our own political beliefs are likely to sway our opinion about which side is to blame for the lack of bipartisan compromise in 2009, but it’s still too bad that there was none in either of these important policy debates.

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As distasteful as the concessions extracted by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson to be the final vote to pass health care reform seemed to many people, it is a fact of life that getting votes for hard bills involves such negotiations. When Pennsylvania Congressman Bud Shuster was counting votes for transportation construction in 1998, authorization to improve the intersection of Highways 73 and 74 in Evergreen was among the things requested by Congressman Dan Schaefer before he agreed to vote for the bill.

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Jeffco Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, who is Colorado’s Superintendent of the Year, has been named one of four finalists for national honors. While the district certainly faces many difficult decisions, we are fortunate for the steady hand Stevenson has provided. Whether she ultimately wins the national honor or not, it is a remarkable feat to be one of four national finalists.

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When I couldn’t sleep the other night and was flipping through channels, I found the Flintstones Christmas special. In the story, Santa was unable to fulfill his responsibilities, and Fred and Barney were called to the North Pole to make sure that boys and girls around the world got their presents on Christmas morning. When I told my kids the story the next morning, they told me they didn’t think the story could be true: Because the Flintstones, Rubbles and their Bedrock neighbors all lived before Jesus, they predated Christmas and couldn’t have saved a holiday that was yet to exist. How’s that for deductive reasoning from products of the Jefferson County Public Schools? No wonder Cindy Stevenson is the Superintendent of the Year!

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.