The Obama era has been marked by unprecedented obstruction – and even in some cases outright sabotage – from the Republican members of Congress. In looking at Obama’s nearly eight years in office, it is pretty evident to all but the most bitterly partisan Republican, that the Republicans in Congress had no intention of working with the President and cooperating with him even when the country faced it’s gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
It all started out when influential right wing entertainer Rush Limbaugh said even before the inauguration that he hoped that Obama “failed” and that he wanted the stimulus blll to “prolong the recession.”
On the evening of President Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009, the Republican House leaders met at an upscale restaurant in Washington, D.C. and began to plot their strategy of all out obstruction. At that meeting, then House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy said that Republicans had to “challenge Obama on every bill” and show “united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies.”
It wasn’t any different on the Senate side in the early days of the Obama Administration. Mitch McConnell schemed to prevent any Republican Senators from entering into any deals with the Democrats. In early 2009, several Republican Senators revealed McConnell’s cynical strategy to Vice President Biden: “The way it was characterized to me was: `For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back.” Biden said.
At two critical junctures, the Republicans in Congress resorted to the outright sabotage of the economy in an effort to destroy the Obama Presidency. In 2011, the GOP in Congress threatened to default on the debts of the U.S. unless President Obama agreed to cut Social Security and Medicare. This phony default crisis engineered by the Republicans crushed consumer confidence and cut job creation in half for nearly two years.
The Republicans in Congress were equally reckless when they shutdown the government for nearly three weeks in 2013 in an effort to prevent millions of uninsured Americans from obtaining health insurance. This shutdown cost the economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs.
The Republicans’ destructive obstruction also killed promising jobs creation legislation proposed by President Obama in 2011. The American Jobs Act would’ve created 2 million jobs and boosted GDP by 1.5%. The Republicans in the Congress refused to allow an up or down vote on this bill because they believed it would help President Obama get re-elected. Apparently, the GOP preferred to have the American people suffer in the hopes of winning a political victory.
In light of her lead in the polls, the Republicans are already plotting behind the scenes to continue their destructive scorched earth strategy during a prospective Hillary Clinton Presidency. As one well placed Republican said: “If she wins, her four years will look a lot like the last six years of Obama. She’s talking about things the president couldn’t get done; why does she think she will have more luck?” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and National Review are even talking about impeachment!
We can end the job killing GOP gridlock and dysfunction by electing more Democrats to the Congress. Already, Clinton and Kaine are campaigning for Democrats up and down the ticket. They are being joined in that effort by a team of super surrogates that includes President Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. In contrast, while most prominent GOP elected officials still back Trump they aren’t campaigning with him due to his cratering popularity.
We Democrats can make a huge difference if we can regain control of the House and the Senate. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, a Democratic Congress will pave the way for jobs legislation, improvements to Obama Care and the confirmation of judges. A Democratic Congress would build on President Obama’s impressive record.
Confirming additional justices to the Supreme Court is also important because it would contribute to the cause of limiting CO2 emissions and fighting global warming. At the present time, President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is embroiled in litigation in the federal courts. This initiative would reduce the emissions of CO2 from electric power plans. At the present time due to the GOP’s blockade of Judge Merrick Garland, the Supreme Court is deadlocked 4-4 on the Clean Power Plan. The confirmation of additional Clinton appointed justices would go a long way towards winning the fight against climate change.
A Democratic victory would allow a President Clinton to implement the Paris Climate agreement which requires significant emissions reductions from all of the world’s major economies. Trump has contended that man made global warming is a “hoax” and he has promised to tear up this important international commitment aimed at saving the planet.
Nebraska’s Republican members of Congress have been party to the GOP’s scorched earth tactics. Every Republican member of our current Congressional delegation supported the 2013 shutdown. (Candidate Sasse supported the shutdown and came out against the bill that re-opened the government.) Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry and Smith all supported shutting down the Department of Homeland Security in 2015 when terrorists were threatening to attack the Mall of America in Minnesota. In addition, Fischer and Sasse are presently holding open a Supreme Court seat for Donald Trump rather than allow an up or down vote on Merrick Garland.
It is absolutely critical for the Democrats to regain control of the Congress. At the present time, the Democrats are favored to regain the Senate but the House is still considered to be a bit of a long shot. However, if a wave election should develop in the last two weeks, the Democrats could regain a majority in the House.
As Nebraska Democrats, we need to do whatever we can to help Brad Ashford and Dan Wik. Ashford has already built an exemplary record of bi-partisanship with an emphasis on assisting America’s veterans. Dan Wik is running against Jeff Fortenberry in CD01 as a “fiscal conservative physician with a solution.” I’m excited about our prospects on November 8 but we can take nothing for granted. Now let’s get out there and win one for the American people!