Tag Archives: gridlock

McConnell pledges more judicial gridlock

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid it out there.

Talking to conservative radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, McConnell said the Senate “likely” won’t approve any more high-level circuit court or Supreme Court judges during the Obama administration.

So … if I understand it correctly, if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs, say, in the next 24 hours — and it can happen, given the ages of some of the court’s senior justices — the Senate won’t confirm anyone appointed by President Obama, even though Obama has another 18 months to go before he leaves office.

That’s what the Kentucky Republican senator said, right?


I surely understand the politics of these appointments. The highest court in America comprises a slim conservative majority. Should one of the court’s conservative justices suddenly no longer be on the court, that would send the Republican majority in the Senate into sheer apoplexy. GOP senators would go ballistic at the knowledge that the “socialist/Marxist/terrorist-appeaser” president would be empowered to appoint a justice who would swing the balance of power on the court.

And oh yes, the reverse would be true if we had a conservative president appointing a justice who then might have to face confirmation by a Democratic-majority Senate.

But that’s what we have.

McConnell seemed to offer himself some cover in his radio interview by noting the “bipartisan” votes the Senate has had and the bills it has approved with bipartisan majorities. So, it’s OK then to stall these appointments because, as McConnell said, the Senate is up and running like a well-oiled machine.

What a crock!

It’s fair to remind everyone — the Senate majority leader included — that Barack Obama has been elected twice by clear majorities of American voters. Part of the president’s authority rests with his ability to appoint federal judges with whom he feels comfortable. It’s in the Constitution. He can do that!

Yes, the Constitution also gives the Senate the power to “advise and consent” to the appointments. But is it truly within the Senate’s purview to obstruct qualified jurists to these posts purely on political grounds, because senators can’t stomach the notion of the high court comprising judges with whom they are uncomfortable?

Before you accuse me of being a partisan hack, I’ve noted this very thing when we’ve had GOP presidents’ high court appointments stymied by Democrats employing the same logic in seeking to block qualified judicial appointees.

I happen to be a strong believer in “presidential prerogative,” and that belief swings in both directions.

Welcome back, gridlock.

Obama rising; GOP standing firm

Do you kind of get a sense that a huge political struggle is going to become the hallmark of Barack Obama’s final two presidential years?

The president’s poll numbers are up significantly in recent weeks. Congressional Republicans — feeling pretty flush themselves with their takeover of the Senate after the 2014 mid term election — are going to dig in their heels.


Get ready for the fight.

So many fronts. So many battles. So many hassles.

Ah, politics. Ain’t it noble?

Polling suggests Obama is scoring better with some key demographic groups. Hispanics and young voters are approving of the president once again. Hispanics particularly are buoyed by the president’s executive action on immigration.

But as GOP strategists are quick to point out, as noted in The Hill article attached, the president’s base is holding firm right along with the impenetrable ceiling that keeps him from soaring even higher. That ceiling is put there by stubborn Republican resistance to almost every initiative he proposes.

That’s where the GOP thinks it will win the day.

Well, what happens then will be — dare I say it — more gridlock and more “do-nothingness.”

Obama is planning to reveal a $4 trillion budget that will seek tax breaks for middle- and low-income Americans while asking wealthier Americans to pay more. There will be other areas of the budget that are certain to draw a sharp line between the White House and Congress.

The president believes the wind is behind him. Then again, Republicans believe they have the advantage.

All that talk about “working together” is likely to give way — rapidly — to more of what we’ve witnessed for the past, oh, six years.

Get ready for a rough ride, my fellow Americans.


GOP saying 'yes' to Obama

Hey, what gives here?

Congressional Republicans, those guys and gals who made it their mission to make Barack Obama a “one-term president,” are starting to sound accommodating to the president.


They’re set to extend the Ex-Im Bank charter, approve a budget next year without a fight and they appear ready to approve a request to authorize U.S. air strikes while arming and training rebels in Syria, according to Politico.

It might be that Republicans are sensing they’re going to win control of the Senate after the mid-term election. So perhaps they’re feeling a big magnanimous toward their foes on the other side of the aisle.

I’m not holding my breath that the GOP will start to actually govern rather than obstruct the president’s efforts at crafting an agenda.

Here’s how Politico reports it:

“The forthcoming deals represent a big swing on Capitol Hill. Just a year ago, House Republicans were locked in a bitter battle with Obama over repealing his signature health care law, leading to a 16-day government shutdown that left both sides bruised.

“Now — with less than 50 days until the midterms — Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise want nothing to do with Washington and its potential drag on Republicans’ sunny electoral fortunes.”

So it appears to be a pragmatic turn. Whatever the case might be, Republicans seem to grasp the political risk associated with continuing the gridlock that shuts down the government that is supposed to serve the people who send them to Capitol Hill.

Worst Congress ever?

Great day in the morning! I think we have an area where congressional Democrats and Republicans actually agree.

They all seem to agree that this is the worst-performing Congress in history.


Of course, that’s where the consensus ends. They’re blaming each other for the dysfunction that that ails the legislative branch of the federal government.

I’ve long been a good-government kind of guy. I like government to work for the country and believe government has a role to play in helping those who need a hand. Thus, I tend to lean to the left. No surprise, probably.

The Republicans who have run the House of Representatives since 2011 have a different view. Many of them believe Congress shouldn’t do nearly as much as it’s allowed to do. So, when the president has proposed legislation and ideas to help folks, Congress has been prone to resist disposing of those ideas.

“I tell people, we’re not getting anything done and that’s good,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who intends to leave the Senate at the end of 2014.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who has served in Congress since The Flood, recently announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. He said the place no longer is fun, no longer productive and no longer worth his time and effort.

Dingell is not alone.

Does the president deserve some of the blame for this dysfunction? Sure. Governing is a shared responsibility, which is why I get so annoyed at those who blame the president for all that ails the nation’s political system. Barack Obama promised to break the gridlock loose. He hasn’t delivered on that promise. One of the common criticisms of the president is that he isn’t fond of schmoozing with legislators the way, oh, Lyndon Johnson would do. Thus, when he proposes an idea, Obama prefers to let the merits of the idea win the day, without actually working with legislators to persuade them to push the idea into law.

It seems, though, that whenever he reaches out, his “friends” on the other side slap his hand away.

Therein lies the crux of the problem.

Republicans blame Democrats for Congress’s failure to deliver … and vice versa.

At least they agree that the legislative branch is a loser.

Dr. Coburn is right about shutdown effect

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is an Oklahoma Republican who joins his GOP colleagues in hating the Affordable Care Act.

But the man also understands the consequences of shutting down the federal government to make a political point about ending what’s known as Obamacare.

Don’t do it, Sen. Coburn warns.


A government shutdown would destroy the Republican Party, he told the Washington Examiner.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has this idea to quit operating the federal government if it results in getting rid of Obamacare. He’s been joined by some of the party firebrands, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Such a shutdown could occur later this year as the White House and congressional Republicans lock horns in their ongoing battle over federal spending.

Someone ought to remind Lee, Cruz and some of the other political pistols on the right that Congress enacted the ACA, which then withstood a challenge in the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled in June 2012 that the law is constitutional and it should stand.

Yet the foes persist time and again trying to get rid of a law they contend constitutes a federal overreach.

And now they’re threatening to shut the government down to make their point?

Quick. Put out a call to former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who also led a government shutdown in the 1990s. The shutdown helped doom Gingrich’s speakership.

What’s that saying about the consequences of ignoring the lessons of history?