It Is Absurd To Have Republicans In Congress Who Intend to Do Absolutely Nothing

party-of-no

The overriding aspect of conservatism is its adherents’ resistance to change, and since Americans first elected Barack Obama as President, Republicans began their obstructionist ways and since then have dug in their heels to oppose anything the President proposed and spent the past three years taking from the American people. In fact, over the past five years Republicans have proposed absolutely nothing to help the people and worked tirelessly to look for new ways and excuses to take more as well as keep government stagnating in its current state. There were three items in the news this past week that expose the Republican agenda has not changed despite their deplorable approval ratings that should remind Americans that Republicans hate America and its people as much as they hate the African American President.  Subsequently, because there is another scheduled 10 days off for Congress, Republicans will spend February doing what they have done for five years; absolutely nothing.

First, Republicans have come up with every and any reason to reject extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed despite overwhelming public support to help out-of-work Americans. On Thursday, Democrats fell one vote short to overcome Republicans’ filibuster in the Senate to move a three-month extension forward for the long-term unemployed that makes it unlikely Congress will ever approve the measure for the sole purpose of undercutting a key aspect of President Obama’s economic recovery plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “We’ve given them everything they wanted. Paid for,” and pledged that Democrats would keep pushing to extend the benefits which sent 1.3 million Americans into poverty at the end of December that has grown to more than 1.7 million as of Friday, and will reach about 4.9 million by the end of 2014. Doubtless, Republicans are excited that their barbarism will add nearly 5 million families to the poverty ranks just by refusing to help Americans who lost their jobs because Bush-Republicans created the Great Recession, but their real delight is thwarting the President’s economic recovery plan.

Republicans claim Democrats are attempting to help the long-term unemployed as  an election-gimmick. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, “We know it’s a political game. We know they’d like to bring it up every three months and bash Republicans with it.” The White House said, “We cannot allow one vote to stand in the way of supporting these Americans as they struggle to find work. Both sides of the aisle have worked together to prevent this kind of hardship in the past.” However, in the past an African American was not in the White House and like everything driving Republican obstruction and intransigence, race is a primary motivating factor. Even if Senate Republicans found a conscience and decided to help millions of long-term unemployed Americans, House Republicans will not pass an extension because as Oklahoma Republican James Lankford said, even though “‘Times are tough. We should make times tougher on our kids to make it easier on us, and then feel better. That’s just not a philosophy I’m willing to support.” Harry Reid and Senate Democrats paid for an extension relieving Lankford’s “kids” from having it too tough, but the philosophy Republicans are unwilling to support is doing anything President Obama supports to help the people, including staffing the nation’s judiciary.

Republicans obstructed President Obama’s judicial nominees from confirmation votes for nearly five years before Harry Reid and Democrats ended the automatic filibuster against judicial nominees last fall.  However, eliminating the procedural hurdle has not changed recalcitrant Republicans who found a new method to obstruct the President and keep the federal judiciary at a breaking point. As of Friday, there were 96 judicial vacancies around the country, many which are designated “judicial emergencies” because caseloads have surged at short-handed courts. Since December, there has not been one single vote on a district court nominee and the only nominee confirmed thus far is one judge on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that Republicans successfully blocked for months and was only approved after filibuster reform. There are 32 of the President’s nominees ready and waiting for a confirmation vote that is not going to come because Republicans refuse to give their “consent” for nominees to get an up or down vote.

In a normal environment, both parties typically acquiesce to “unanimous consent” to let a batch of nominees receive votes, but Republicans are still angry their obstruction of choice, the filibuster, was changed so they found another tactic to keep “judicial emergencies” clogging up the judicial system indefinitely. Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander said as much when he objected to Harry Reid’s request for consent to let a bloc of nominees get a vote. Alexander said, “The Democratic majority changed the rules of the Senate in a way that creates a Senate without rules, so until I understand better how a United States senator is supposed to operate in a Senate without rules, I object.” Alexander’s objection is not to a rule change, but to the President filling court vacancies. It is unlikely the nominees will get a vote anytime soon because the Senate is only in session for two days next week and in recess the following week so it will be at least until the end of February  until some other Republican senator “objects” to a fully staffed judiciary working for the people.

On Friday Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to congressional leaders that said the “extraordinary measures” the federal government uses to fund the government after the nation has reached the debt ceiling will not “last beyond Thursday, February 27.” House Republicans were allegedly working on a bill that would raise the debt limit until the first quarter of 2015, while fixing the Medicare reimbursement rate for nine months and reversing recent changes to some military retirement benefits. The Republicans would pay for those items with an extra year of cuts to mandatory spending (the sequester) and change public sector employee pension contributions. The President has warned Republicans he is not going to negotiate a debt ceiling increase, but it is unlikely to have any effect on “true conservatives” who are not going to vote to raise the debt limit under any circumstances; even for an extra year of draconian sequester spending cuts and pillaging public sector employee pensions.

House Republicans have very little time to come to grips with raising the debt limit unconditionally like they did during the Bush administration, because they are only in session for two days next week and are in recess the following week. They return from their unwarranted break from doing absolutely nothing two days before the nation begins defaulting on its debt obligations and they were still “working out a deal” amongst themselves as of Friday. Republicans, especially in the House, have spent the past two months passing an anti-woman “rape audit” bill, investigating the Darrell Issa-created IRS  scandal, and planning a lawsuit against the President for issuing executive orders while being African American. What have they done for Americans since the beginning of the year? Nothing whatsoever. It is true they reluctantly passed a farm bill after two years of obstruction, but only because it cut food stamp funding and gave the Kochs and corporate agribusiness incredibly generous subsidies and neutered the EPA’s ability to enforce the Clean Water Act.

It is getting absurd to have Republicans serving in Congress when they have no intention of doing the work the people sent them to Washington to do. They have already squandered a month attacking women’s right to choose and opposing extending unemployment benefits they strongly implied they would address at the beginning of the year, but because it is part of the President’s economic recovery plan, it is not going to happen. What is offensive to the American people is that Republicans claim Americans are lazy sloths, and yet they have accomplished next to nothing and are taking their second “recess” to plot more obstruction on issues the American people support like raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, or passing jobs bills the President all but begged Republicans to address. Nothing has changed for Republicans and although it is part and parcel of being a conservative, they continue to expose their hatred toward the nation and its people for twice electing an African American who is working every day for the people as leader of the Executive Branch.

 

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