Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to block the nomination of Tom Perez, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Labor.
And, just days after that decision, Senate Republicans also decided to delay a confirmation vote on President Obama’s nominee to head the EPA, Gina McCarthy.
Of course, this obstruction of presidential nominees is nothing new.
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Senate Republicans, since the day Obama took office, have had one strategy: Sabotage the Obama presidency by blocking the people he selected to work in his administration, and by filibustering any sort of legislation that he supports.
For example, with Obama’s cabinet nominations, Senate Republicans killed the nomination of Susan Rice to be Secretary of State, delayed the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, delayed the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA Director, and delayed the nomination of Jacob Lew for Treasury Secretary.
And, right now, thanks to Republican blocking efforts, there are currently 82 vacancies for federal judgeships around the United States. One of the most important is four vacancies on the highly influential U.S Court of Appeals D.C Circuit, leaving that court, which ultimately decides things like labor laws and EPA laws, in the hands of a one-vote Republican majority – which would become a Democratic majority if the Republicans in the Senate allowed Obama’s nominees to be confirmed.
Then there are the hundreds of bills that Republicans have blocked since Obama took office in 2008.
Just last year, Republicans blocked bills to increase the federal minimum wage, put transparency back into politics, set a minimum tax on millionaires and billionaires, prohibit discrimination in the workplace, protect the equal rights of the disabled, and to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
Yet, despite all of the blocked appointments, and all of the filibustered legislation, President Obama still says he’s intent on working with Republicans.
The President apparently still believes he can reach a so-called “grand budget bargain” with Republicans, despite their absolute refusal to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
He continually invites Republicans to sit down with him, and help him make the decisions that are needed to get our economy turned around, but Republicans just reply by bashing his every move.
Earlier this year, despite knowing that it would damage his own party, President Obama proposed a reduction in the cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, in hopes that this would make Republicans happy enough to support a small tax increase on the rich.
Instead, Republicans, who have wanted cuts to social safety net programs for years, skewered President Obama, calling the cuts to Social Security “draconian” and “a shocking attack on seniors.”
In 2005, when President Bush tried to privatize Social Security, Democrats blocked him and Republicans were largely all in favor of cutting benefits and handing the whole thing over to Wall Street.
The bottom-line here is that Republican lawmakers in Washington have only one mission, and that’s to obstruct and sabotage the Obama presidency at every chance possible, regardless of how much damage this obstruction does to the American people.
And make no mistake about it, President Obama realizes this.
He realizes that Republicans only care about making him look bad.
After all, if this wasn’t the Republicans’ only goal, then they wouldn’t be all over manufactured conspiracies like Benghazi and floating around impeachment talk, and would instead be dealing with the pressing issues that our nation faces, like a broken economy, jobs crisis, climate change, and gun violence.
Tragically, unlike Democratic presidents of the past, President Obama refuses to tell the American people what Republicans really stand for.
Back in 1936, Franklin Roosevelt gave a speech at the Democratic State Convention in New York, where he called out the Republicans.
Roosevelt warned the nation against the, “smooth evasion which says, ‘Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.'”
If there is any hope of Congress being productive in the next 3 years, and of tackling the most pressing issues that our nation faces head-on, President Obama must tell Americans about the modern-day “smooth evasion” – and outright obstruction – that’s brought Washington to a standstill.
It’s time for President Obama to stop trying to make nice with Republicans, accept the fact that they’re never going to like him or honestly work with him, and tell the American people the truth about how they’re trying to ruin this country just so they can blame it on him.
If he doesn’t, then when things really fall apart, the American people will figure that he deserves the blame.