Obama And Reid VS Obstruction – More Of This, Please

Dave Johnson

Obstruction as a political strategy is working – so far. It’s also succeeding as a wage-reducing, profit-increasing strategy. How does a country confront a minority opposition strategy of obstructing everything? One way is to try to get the corporate media to inform the public that obstruction is occurring. Then the public can hold the guilty party accountable.

Obstructing Everything And Taking Hostages Along The Way

Currently Republicans are obstructing almost every bill — especially attempts to improve the economy — while using obstruction and hostage-taking to force the austerity that helps Wall Street profits and further enriches the 1% but kills job and growth prospects for middle-class Americans. Republicans are also obstructing nominees to agencies and the courts — especially when it comes to enforcing rules that help regular, working people; the National Labor Relations Board nominees and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee are blocked, keeping their agencies from operating. The Labor Department nominee is blocked, because, well, because it’s the Department of Labor.

Politically this obstruction causes people to give up hope and tune out and turns people against government itself — which advances the Republican cause. Our corporate media encourages people to blame “both sides” and say, “those people in Washington” are acting like children. People come to believe “it doesn’t do any good” to call or write a member of Congress, to vote, to get active … even to win elections. A public saying, “why bother” is a win-win for Republicans. “How’s that hopey-changey thing workin’ out for ya,” they taunt.

Billionaires Gain, Regular People Lose

The billionaires and giant corporations that are backing the opposition gain from this. High unemployment means lower wages. Dysfunctional and defunded government means less regulation and enforcement.

The obstruction is also strategic because it increases a hunger for an occasional “bipartisan” solution. A tuned-out public and a Senate desperate to get anything done are vulnerable to allowing through “bipartisan” but pro-corporate measures like the one-sided trade agreements that enrich the 1% while bankrupting the rest of us. Or the threatened bipartisan “tax reform” efforts that actually cut taxes for the wealthiest and their giant corporations.

Corporate Media Complicit

The corporate-owned news media are complicit, obscuring the facts of the ongoing obstruction. They tell the public that there is “gridlock in Washington,” that bills “fail to pass,” that bills “require 60 votes to pass the Senate” or, worse, they blame the majority for not getting bills through, saying “the President’s bill didn’t make it through the Senate,” or “a Democratic effort was defeated”… But they do not tell the public that Republicans are filibustering and obstructing every attempt to get things moving, as a strategy.

New Attempts To Break The Obstruction

In the past few weeks Senator Reid and President Obama have moved a step beyond threatening to write sternly-worded letters if Republicans continue to obstruct. Reid is hinting he will “revisit” the idea of filibuster reform that he sabotaged early this year. Changing the rules is called a “nuclear strategy” because of the expected “hissy fit” that Republicans will throw if Democrats try to return to the “make them talk” filibuster that the public believes is in place now.

TPM explains the President’s expected effort to get some judicial nominees through: No More Mr. Nice Guy: Obama Squeezes Senate GOP On Filibuster,

The White House intends to send three new nominees to the Senate to fill judicial vacancies on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals … the nominations could come this week or in the next few weeks. … The White House’s aim appears to be to pick relatively non-controversial nominees so Republicans would look bad if they tried to block the confirmations.

This strategy appears to be to force Republicans to filibuster so many nominees at the same time that the press will have to tell the public about the obstruction instead of just fudging this as a “both sides do it” story.

It’s Time To Govern

Let’s have more of this, please, from Obama and Reid. But instead of three nominees at once, how about sending all of the blocked nominees at once. Labor, NLRB, ALL the blocked judges, etc! And while at it, nominate for all the remaining vacancies. And instead of threatening to write sternly-worded letters complaining about the obstruction, how about changing Senate rules to make them talk all night if they want to filibuster. That is what the public already thinks a filibuster is.

Problem, from the TPM story: “The White House’s aim appears to be to pick relatively non-controversial nominees so Republicans would look bad if they tried to block the confirmations.”

What about picking the BEST nominees who will deliver for the people of the country and NOT WORRYING about how it will “look?” What about fixing the Senate so it functions again? That is called governing.

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