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No Safe Haven for Obstructionists

By       Message Walter Brasch       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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From flickr.com/photos/22007612@N05/12987797035/: Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell
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by Walter Brasch

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Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate minority leader, is not a happy man.

He didn't like it when Barack Obama was elected president. Just about the first thing McConnell said was that his main responsibility was to make sure Mr. Obama was a one-term president.

That vow drove McConnell's and the Tea Party's politics. They didn't worry about the nation or the people. They worried about how to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

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They failed.

But, in the past six years, McConnell managed to block almost all constructive legislation in the Senate. And it's not even a fair fight. McConnell manipulated and wheeled and dealed so that the majority no longer can do anything. It now takes 60 votes to pass almost anything in the Senate. That's because the Republican obstructionists have threatened to filibuster anything of substance. Important bipartisan legislation that would normally pass with a majority of 51 to 59 votes out of the 100 possible are now scuttled by backroom politics and the blind hatreds that some have for this nation's president who was elected by the people and by the Electoral College--twice.

And now comes Mitch McConnell to again obstruct the people and the government. He vows if the Republicans win the Senate in November, he will shut down the government if President Obama doesn't agree with the Republicans.

McConnell told the alternative media site, Politico, if he becomes majority leader, he plans to attach riders or block legislation from coming to the floor on critical legislation that protects the environment--unlike almost every scientist, he denies the existence of climate change and opposes broader regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. He says he will bring riders or block legislation on health care improvements if any are proposed by the President. He will add riders or block legislation to bills improving the nation's infrastructure, housing, unemployment. Name a bill, and if McConnell and his Tea Party faithful don't support it, they will, if they are in the majority, continue to obstruct moving the nation forward. If they are in the minority, they will continue to threaten to filibuster any bill they don't like, disregarding the will of the majority.

Either the President goes along with McConnell or he'll shut down government. Take the game ball and leave. Kick some dirt on the way out. Maybe curse the Democrats.

Remember last October? The House Republicans didn't get their way, so they shut down government. Closed the national parks and forests. Stopped assistance to families on military bases. The action blocked imports of steel and lumber, and slowed construction. It caused layoffs of more than two million federal workers, including those who provide needed social services to everyone from infants to the elderly. Not laid off were members of Congress who continued to draw their salaries and benefits.

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The two week shutdown cost American taxpayers more than $20 billion. Apparently, those who screeched the loudest about reducing the deficit--President Obama's policies, not those of the Tea Party, led to a reduction of the deficit from $1.5 trillion to about $500 billion--had no problem charging that $20 billion expense because it was done to make a political statement.

On their report cards, the American people gave the Tea Party wing that caused the shutdown a terse statement--"does not play well with others," and gave Congress an overall 15 percent approval rating, lower than any previous Congress. With only slightly more than 100 bills passed into law, this is the least productive Congress in history. The House Republicans have blocked meaningful legislation. The Senate Republicans have consistently blocked the majority will.

During the summer, Congress, by its own inaction, essentially told President Obama to deal with ISIS, that he has the authority to send American forces against the terrorist threat. It was a marked contrast to previous claims that Congress needed to have a say if the President used military forces anywhere. But this is an election year, and members of Congress didn't want to lose any votes. They put their fingers in the wind, saw that anything they did could have consequences, and punted to the President. The President, within his Constitutional authority, launched air strikes against ISIS.

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Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)
 

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