Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently accused the Obama Administration of “explicitly” trying to “make people believe that Congress can’t get anything done” by pushing legislation the president knows won’t receive the Republican support needed for passage.
In yet another spot-on critique, the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen analyzes the “chutzpah” of McConnell’s claim by citing examples when the Kentucky Republican himself has shamelessly confessed to employing a strategy of unified Republican opposition to essentially every policy Democrats and President Obama have proposed.
Beyond blatantly admitting that making Obama a one-term president is the No. 1 goal of the Republican Party, McConnell has given further explanation of the GOP’s strategy not only to unseat the president, but to rally Americans against the Democratic Party. It calls for unified opposition to any and every policy Obama proposes – including those the party has previously supported – because unified Republican opposition, even if it is only symbolic, has the effect of “shifting American public opinion” against the Democratic agenda and “necessarily mak(ing) Democratic ideas less popular,” as Benen puts it.
“McConnell’s willingness to blame the president for McConnell’s own deliberate strategy is plainly insane,” Benen states.
I would add that the long list of partisan bills Republicans have pushed in the last 10 months is a far greater factor in shaping public sentiments about how “Congress can’t get anything done” than any policy the president has proposed.
This sort of partisan, obstructionist politicking isn’t entirely new, of course, but it is a rather daring confession for the leader of Senate Republicans to make given that America is still battling the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression – and particularly considering that the specific bill McConnell objects to (The American Jobs Act) is one that independent economists, economic analysts and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office have found would spur economic growth, create 1.9 million jobs, and reduce the federal deficit by $3 billion, all of which were centerpieces of the party’s midterm campaign platform in 2010, and all of which are the main concerns of the today’s American populace. It appears long-term policy goals come second to the party’s short-term political goals.
Adding to the hypocrisy of McConnell’s blatant admission that he and the Republican Party care more about elections than economic solutions is the long list of partisan policy proposals in the House that Republicans pushed only for their symbolic value.
McConnell can claim that Obama’s “explicit strategy” is to “make people believe that Congress can’t get anything done” by pushing “legislation (he knows) the other side won’t support,” essentially dooming such legislation to immediate failure in the Republican-controlled House, but McConnell can’t honestly expect anyone to take him seriously when it’s been the Republican-controlled House that has pushed countless bills that every other Republican in Congress knew “the other side won’t support.”
The repeal of Obama’s health care reform law is the most obvious example of Republicans advocating legislation that had no bipartisan support, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Other bills Republicans pushed despite knowing that they would fail to the garner the Democratic support needed for passage include:
• The “force of law” bill in April, which would have made H.R. 1 (already defeated in the Senate) the law of the land in the event the Senate failed to pass a budget appropriations bill.
• Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, “Path to Prosperity,” which would have turned Medicare into a voucher program and cut trillions in spending. This bill passed in the GOP-controlled House despite overwhelming Democratic opposition.
• The House passed an amendment to the health care repeal bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood, and another that would have cut funding to public broadcasting.
• A proposal that Republicans never voted on but which was introduced nonetheless would have abolished the IRS.
• Yet another dead-end proposal called for eliminating the income tax.
If anyone is guilty of making the American people “believe that Congress can’t get anything done,” it’s the Republicans in Congress, who have repeatedly made a mockery of the lawmaking process by pushing legislation they knew would be defeated by the Democratic majority in the Senate.
As Benen concludes, “McConnell has taken chutzpah to levels that are hard to believe.”
Indeed. Even compared to past Republican Congresses, today’s GOP would easily take the gold if political double-standards ever became an Olympic sport.