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GOP Leader Accuses Democrats of Damaging Public Trust

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) on Tuesday said Democrats have mishandled the health care reform debate and said he doubts Congress will have much luck enacting sweeping legislative reforms in the future because the majority party has damaged the public trust in government.“While health care is the principal subject on peoples’ mind … the larger message is that there don’t seem to be any checks and balances on the big government in Washington. … They’re scaring the country half to death,— Alexander said in a conference call with reporters.“We’ve proved we don’t do well with comprehensive in the Congress,— Alexander added, pointing to failed efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws and energy policies.Alexander said that while Congress should consider targeting specific policy issues — such as the creation of new small-business health insurance plans — he predicted that Republicans would be wary of even taking that approach. The No. 3 Senate Republican echoed complaints by Senate GOP Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.), who last week warned that Republicans may not embrace an incremental approach out of fear that Democrats will use the conference committee process to reassert their priorities.“I think Sen. Thune is exactly right, which is why you have to have a bipartisan approach and the president has to involved … and give [GOP leaders] assurances— on what will be in the final legislation, Alexander said.Alexander went on to argue that increased involvement by President Barack Obama is likely the only way significant legislative changes would be made on a host of issues. “I’m not just talking about health care here,— he said.But like Thune and other GOP leaders, Alexander complained that thus far Republicans have not seen much bipartisanship from Democrats. “So far, the White House has shown no inclination to do that. They either don’t know how or don’t want to do that,— he said.

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