I am going to preface all of this by saying that I do not consider myself a Democrat. I am definitely liberal, but I dislike being tied to a single party. If I speak about “Republicans” or “Democrats” in this column, I am speaking only of the politicians in Washington D.C. who get caught up in the game of Politics–I’m not trying to generalize beyond that to every Republican or every Democrat in the country.
You have got to be kidding me. Seriously? Suing the President?
Look, I don’t envy John Boehner. The Republican Speaker of the House has had to walk a fine line since being handed the speaker’s gavel in 2011. In order to unify his party (well, as much as that is possible nowadays) he has needed to act as uncooperative as possible to make sure that no major pieces of legislation get passed, while still talking the talk of bipartisanship to make sure his obstructionism can be dismissed by the media as just regular Washington gridlock.
Speaker Boehner, and his Republican counterpart in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, like to say that they have offered to work with President Obama time and time again, and that the President has rejected their offers of help and compromise. According to Boehner and McConnell, Obama has resorted to unconstitutional actions to try to enact his policies, rather than even attempt to work with Congress. But Boehner and McConnell are living in fantasyland.
These two gentlemen have presided over possibly the most obstinate opposition party in at least the last 50 years. In 2010, what do you think McConnell said was “The most important thing we want to achieve” as a party in Congress? The answer wasn’t repairing America’s infrastructure, or making sure more Americans are employed, or bringing our global conflicts to a swift end. No, McConnell said the most important thing for the Republican party to achieve was to make Obama a one-term president.
Playing politics is all that the Republican party has done for the entire 6 years of Obama’s presidency–denying him any legislative victories is more important than actually finding policies that work for those of us who aren’t employed by Wall Street.
The use of the filibuster–a delay tactic that also forces 60 votes instead of 50 for passage–in the Senate skyrocketed after Obama took office. During Bush’s term, nominees for judgeship’s had to wait an average of 43 days before being confirmed. As of November 2013, Obama’s nominees had to wait for 107 days. Many of these nominees have to wait and wait, and then get confirmed unanimously anyway! The Senate had filibustered 27 of Obama’s executive nominees as of November 2013. Before Obama, only 20 executive nominees had been filibustered in the previous 59 years!
Now the House of Representatives is Republican-controlled, so they wouldn’t need to use the filibuster there even if it existed in the House. Speaker Boehner controls the entire agenda. And time and time again, legislation has passed the Senate with Republican votes only to die in the House because Boehner refused to bring it up for a vote. Remember the government shutdown? That might have never happened if Boehner had allowed a vote on a debt ceiling bill, because some Republicans would have voted for it. Same thing with the extension of unemployment, and with the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate. If the full House votes on those, they probably pass. But Boehner knows he could face the wrath of the Tea Party if he does that, and so the stalemate continues. Compromise is a dirty word to the Tea Party, so if they see Boehner has allowed an important bill to pass and has given Obama a victory, Boehner could end up on their political hit list.
So it’s no wonder that President Obama has decided to work around Congress in any way he can. The Republicans in Congress have shown no willingness at all to meet Obama halfway–it’s their way or the highway. And now Speaker Boehner is threatening to sue the President for using executive authority? He’s lucky the Senate has been confirming more judges lately–hopefully his lawsuit will get thrown out faster.