Republicans are refusing to do their part in governing the country. They say “do it our way or we won’t let anything get done at all.” Their agenda is all ideology, all the time (and of course helping the wealthy). As a result We the People are on our own. We get no jobs programs, and no infrastructure: no dams, roads, bridges, high-speed rail or even highways. It’s “My way and no highways.”
Republicans Took House In 2010
Since taking the House in 2010, “Tea Party” Republicans have passed a flurry of bills that are not about governing, but about destroying government. They have continually held important items hostage – the budget, the debt ceiling, etc. The House keeps passing bills designed not to get through the Senate, but to make supposedly ideological points, while Senate Republicans continue to filibuster pretty much everything the Senate has before it.
(Note that many of these House bills appear at first glance to be “ideological” but are actually bills that help specific industries and companies at the expense of other companies. For example, several bills help oil and coal companies fight companies that want to introduce innovative alternatives.)
Now, in order to keep the Congress non-functional, Republicans are even refusing to let the House and Senate set up a conference committee to work out differences in budget bills. The Hill explains, in “GOP blocks Reid from creating conference committee on budget”:
Senate Republicans on Tuesday prevented Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from setting up a budget conference. [. . .] A Republican aide said there was no reason to create a conference because President Obama won’t drop his demand for tax increases.
Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo has his own take on why Republicans are blocking budget negotiations, in “Republicans Are Blocking Budget Negotiations Because The Debt Limit Is Too Far Away”:
… What’s left after you strip away all that obfuscation is that Republicans don’t want to go to conference unconditionally because they’re concerned their position won’t hold politically and they’ll ultimately be forced to swallow a compromise that includes tax increases — unless the whole process gets swallowed by another debt limit fight.
No Serious Legislation
Republicans have passed very few bills — only nine bills have become law so far in this session of Congress, according to GovTrack – and the ones they are offering and passing are not about solving the country’s problems. They are ideological, designed to score points. (Unless you really think tax cuts and deregulation will solve the country’s problems…) Here is Eric Cantor’s list of bills in the “House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators.” (“Job creators” in Republican jargon means really, really rich people.) Here is a summary of the list:
- Bills to cut tax cuts for rich people and giant corporations
- Bills to cut regulations that protect working people and the environment,
- Bills that help certain huge companies at the expense of other companies (disapproving of Net Neutrality, killing regulation on Wall Street and oil & coal),
- Bills that keep government from doing its job to protect working people (gutting NLRB, etc.)
- Trade agreements that help giant multinationals and Wall Street at the expense of American companies and workers
In December 2011, The Washington Post summed up the first year of the Republican-controlled House: In 2011, fewer bills, fewer laws and plenty of blame:
Congress is close to wrapping up one of its least productive sessions in recent memory, as the House and Senate have passed a scant number of bills compared with other non-election years, and President Obama has signed the fewest measures into law in at least two decades.
Through Nov. 30, the House had passed 326 bills, the fewest in at least 10 non-election years … By comparison, the House approved 970 bills in 2009 and 1,127 in 2007.
Then for 2012, USA Today wraps up this 2-year stint of the Congress: This Congress could be least productive since 1947,
Just 61 bills have become law to date in 2012 out of 3,914 bills that have been introduced by lawmakers, or less than 2% of all proposed laws, according to a USA TODAY analysis of records since 1947 kept by the U.S. House Clerk’s office.
In 2011, after Republicans took control of the U.S. House, Congress passed just 90 bills into law. The only other year in which Congress failed to pass at least 125 laws was 1995.
Keep The Congress Non-Functional
Republicans understand that they gain from keeping government dysfunctional. In 2011 Mike Lofgren, a former Republican Senate staffer, spilled the beans, writing in “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult”:
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
Repeat: the more they make government look bad and dysfunctional, the more they gain politically. Lofgren goes on to explain that “low-information” voters don’t know who to blame, so they turn to the anti-government Republican party, and the media is complicit, doing little to help voters understand what is going on.
Lofgren’s entire piece is a must-read for people who want to understand what has been happening to our government. It gives the inside story from someone who was involved in the day-to-day decision-making that led to the current dysfunctional state of government.
Public Wants Government Functioning
The American electorate wants these things worked out. Even with our misinforming media the public has figured enough of it out. They reelected President Obama, they increased the number of Democrats in the Senate and they voted for a Democratic House by a 1.4-million-vote majority. Only gerrymandering kept the House in Republican control.
The public wants the country to move forward. Republicans are not interested, and are holding everything back.
Until the voting public is able to express its will it will be “my way and no highways.”