03 November 2011

SABOTAGE

UPDATED: 03/15/2015
It's not really what you think it is. This is not Obama-phobia, as many often like to call it. It is instead a systematic attack on the president's potential to bring about change. It is bought and paid for by special interests who are protecting the status quo. And in the U.S. Senate, the Republican minority, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have been engaged in a particularly effective strategy to keep things stalled: They have threatened to use the filibuster (or refused to allow a "cloture" vote to wrap up debate on bills) to the nth degree, killing virtually all bills... bills that should have been given majority votes on the floor.

[This post was updated, 09/02/2014] Constitutionally speaking, a simple majority passes a bill in the Senate. Prior to the Obama Age, the filibuster could be seen as a negotiating tool. Senators would threaten a filibuster (or actually go through with one) to demand attention, with an end goal of improving a bill for passage. Under this president, however, the Republican senate minority has been using the threat of a filibuster as a way to stop important bills from passing outright, even those Republicans had once supported or even wrote. This included recurring bills that had otherwise won passage - under white male presidents, mind you - on majority vote. As a result of this obstructionism, well over a hundred bills of the Obama Agenda (including even simple 'housekeeping' bills) were stalled or outright killed from 2009 through early 2011.

The following two charts (courtesy) illustrate my point.

FACT: Under President Obama, the use of filibuster virtually doubled.

Finally, in November 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) invoked a rare power and "reset" senate rules and, in doing so, outlawed the use of the filibuster on Executive Branch appointments that require Senate confirmation. This chart shows precisely why Senator Reid had to take this drastic measure, which is known as 'the nuclear option.'

"Blocked under all other presidents." 

FACT: By the time the nuclear option was enacted in late 2013, 82 Obama nominees had been blocked by Senator McConnell's minority since 2009. This number is almost as big as the total number of blocked nominees of every other U.S. President before him. It was so in-your-face blatant, and mostly, it hurt the country.

In early 2011, the House Republicans - who sabotaged in their own special way, with their generally unanimous inaction - gave Senate Republicans a bit of a filibuster respite when collective "we" put them in the majority with the 2010 midterms.

Any way you look at it, though, sabotage is sabotage is sabotage. And voters must look closely. This is the set-fire-to-Richmond-as-we-leave, if-we-can't-win-no-one-wins (aka "scorched earth") strategy that has plagued the GOP since getting spooked by this president.

In the United States Senate from 2009 through 2011, however, the strategy was specifically in the hands of Senator McConnell who, as you'll recall, had publicly stated that his sole objective was to make Barack Obama "a one-term president."
"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 04/11/2010, the National Journal
While he failed to achieve that objective, his filibuster strategy (circa 2009-11) was a cold and shrewd move on his part. Now, it's up to Kentucky voters (in 2014) to determine if that move will go unpunished.

Meanwhile, voters, in general, ought to be asking themselves why - in a body where a majority vote passes a bill - is the threshold now suddenly 60-votes? 

I use the term "sabotage," because that's what this is. In a nutshell, we've got a president who entered the White House (twice!) with a solid mandate; but - due to this abuse of the filibuster (and inaction by the House) - has been unable to govern as he was elected to.

Understand your vote!
Tuesday, November 4, 2014!

UPDATED: 03/15/15 - A new documentary was just released, "The Merchants of Doubt," that captures the 'smoke-and-mirrors' sentiment of this post. A sentiment that helps Republicans maintain this disgusting do-nothing approach. It's a must see. Here is the trailer: