The GOP's Enduring Obstructionism: There's No Bargaining With These Republicans
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The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
Not to work with the president for the common good. Not to fix the nation's problems. McConnell's top priority was to destroy the Obama presidency. And despite having shut down the president's attempts to create more jobs and further grow the economy, McConnell failed. Because although the Obama stimulus wasn't large enough to fuel a full recovery, it did spark enough of a recovery to stop the economic implosion that the president inherited from his disastrous Republican predecessor, and to plant the seeds for a recovery that is slower than it would have been with a larger stimulus, but that does appear to have genuinely growing roots.
The Republicans, of course, never wanted a real stimulus in the first place, they killed Democratic attempts at enacting a further stimulus, and given McConnell's admission that his top priority was to end the Obama presidency, they never wanted to grow the economy anyway. They wanted people to suffer a lousy economy in the hope that the president would take the blame. But despite their best efforts at imposing their worst intentions, the economy defied them. The voters trust President Obama to make things better, and continue to blame his predecessor for things not already being better.
On election night, McConnell's Republican counterpart in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, at least made the effort to feign civility toward the president, while making clear that he has no intention of negotiating unless negotiation means the president agreeing to let Republicans have their way. Of course, this is the same Boehner who in 2011 walked away from negotiations, just when it appeared a good-faith breakthrough had been made. But there are no breakthroughs with these Republicans, because there is no good faith. In his speech Tuesday night, the president said:
I believe we can seize this future together -- because we are not as divided as our politics suggest; we're not as cynical as the pundits believe; we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions; and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.
And as genuinely inspiring as those words were, for Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and the Republicans, they just aren't true. The Republicans are more cynical than even the most cynical pundits, most of whom prefer to create false equivalencies than to tell the truth about just how cynical the Republicans truly are. The Republicans wallow in their individual ambitions. Even on a night when most of the country, from all political persuasions and from no political persuasions, would have liked to take a respite from antagonism and acrimony, the Republican leader of the Senate remained as petty and divisive as ever:
Now it’s time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office. To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way. That begins by proposing a way for both parties to work together in avoiding the ‘fiscal cliff’ without harming a weak and fragile economy, and when that is behind us work with us to reform the tax code and our broken entitlement system. Republicans are eager to hear the President’s proposals on these and many other pressing issues going forward and to do the work the people sent us here to do.
In reality, McConnell never moved to the center, even as the president spent considerable time and political capital attempting to meet Republicans half way on a host of issues, only to be met every time with nothing but belligerence and obstruction and broken promises. So after an election in which the president won almost every swing state; in which Democrats overcame a tough electoral map that a year ago had everyone assuming they would be lucky to hold their Senate majority, and instead expanded it; in which Democrats closed the gap in the House, despite redistricting that minimized their opportunities, McConnell insists that it's the president's job to make proposals that will meet the approval of the Republicans, and Boehner makes clear that the Republicans will not compromise.