The Republican Obstructionist Tactic

Recently I’ve been reading about how the Republicans in the houses are using obstructionist tactics and basically shooting down everything whether they even think it is warranted or not. The assumption is that this is done to undermine Obama and the Democratic party, show that they are unable to govern, or whatever. Here’s my question though:

How dare they?

Surely they realise this is a two-edged sword. In order for the political body to function there must be a modicum of respect for the other side. Deals must be honored, as must votes. Without any social capital, these things won’t function. If I were a Republican, even if I didn’t respect my opponent or the process, I’d still not use these tactics because I would be fearful of them being used on me. Mutually Assured Destruction. If Reps obstruct everything when Dems are in power, they’re opening the door for Dems to obstruct everything when the Reps take back the house.

This only makes sense if you believe two things:

  1. The reps will win back the houses, and never lose them again. Social capital, respect etc won’t be needed because you will always be in power and have no need to compromise or make deals to further your goals.

  2. The Democrats won’t use the same tactics against them after the Republicans win. Because the Dems are weak, disorganised, squeamish or whatnot.

What am I missing here?

Nothing. You got it in two.

Agreed. The Republicans feel free to act as if they will never face serious opposition or retaliation, because the Democrats have repeatedly demonstrated they lack the will to offer any. The only response the Democrats have to abuse is “grovel harder!”

But they’re kinda cute when they grovel. I can’t wait to watch them cry when they lose seats and possibly the House this fall.

< shrug > Assuming that happens, will that even make a difference? It’s not like the Democrats appear capable of actually doing anything with a majority or without one.

Or maybe the truth is that they aren’t as obstructionist as you think, but are being portrayed that way by the Democrats for tactical advantage, and the spin is being repeated uncritically by partisans.

If you don’t believe me, Look at the Votes at OpenCongress.Org. Looks to me like Republicans are voting with Democrats on plenty of things.

In fact, if you go to that link right now, you’ll see the results of the latest four votes. Three of them passed with either unanimous or near-unanimous support from Republicans. The one that failed was a bill to re-establish anti-trust laws for health insurance providers to encourage more competition. It failed because it only got 6 votes from Democrats - 246 of them voted against it. So were the Democrats being obstructionist?

Jeeze. I’ve already agreed with Czarcasm in a GD thread today, and now I’m agreeing with Der Trihs. The Dems blew it, big time. A year ago, they had momentum, fresh off victory in an historic election, control of both sides of the Hill and the White House, and they’ve accomplished…almost nothing.

I’m sure we will disagree as to the reasons for the failure. I lay much of the blame on Obama for tackling healthcare first. He should have started small, built up a string of legislative victories while establishing a track record of demonstrable achievement. Instead, he’s been spinning his wheels in the muck, going nowhere, and he’s lost whatever momentum he once had.

Pretty much the entire target, given that the Republicans are NOT using obstructionist tactics. Far too many of them are voting with the Dems for that to be happening.

Oppose legislation they don’t believe in? The nerve of some people.

Yeah, damn right. When the pubs sponsored a bill to “pay as you go” how were they to know that conditions would change? The conditions, of course, being that the dems would end up supporting it.

Funny thing is, though, most of those House bills (I wonder why there aren’t any S.B. instead of H.R. listed) you link to go on to be filibustered in the Senate, where the charges of obstructionism are aimed. The House Republicans aren’t the obstructionists. The Senate Republicans are.

I’m sure you knew all that already, though.

And did anyone notice that the Republicans just helped pass the 15 billion dollar ‘jobs’ bill?

I think you’re misreading the votes. The most recent four votes were on three bills…two of the bills were simple House resolutions that weren’t substantive…one of them to recognize the accomplishments of African Americans in transportation, and one of them to be opposed to violence against minorities in Iraq. Both of those passed almost unanimously, which you’d expect, because they sound nice and don’t do anything.

The other two votes were both on HR 4626, which as you said, is “a bill to re-establish anti-trust laws for health insurance providers to encourage more competition”.

The first vote, the one that failed when 246 Democrats voted against , was a motion to recommit the bill with instructions. That would have sent the bill back to the committee to consider a Republican amendment that would have limited the repeal of the anti-trust exemption.

That failed, and then the House voted on the bill itself, which passed almost unanimously, with 19 Republicans and no Democrats voting against it.

That being said, the main Republican obstructionism that people are complaining about is happening in the Senate, not the House, because Senate rules mean that a minority can successfully block actions on bills by not allowing them to come to a vote… That’s been happening with some regularity in the Senate, where the Republicans are keeping a number of President Obama’s appointees, as well as a number of controversial bills from coming to a vote.

No they didn’t. The fact that there weren’t enough Republican votes to block cloture is not the same as helping pass a bill.

The question is how to distinguish between good faith opposition and obstruction for political gain. There’s nothing wrong with voting against bills the GOP believes are bad for the country. There is something wrong with voting against bills just because the GOP believes they will reap some political benefit, regardless of the merits of the bill.

I can think of at least three simple ways to make this distinction: (1) If the ideas were supported by the GOP in the past, unified opposition now is probably just obstruction; (2) If the bill somehow survives a close cloture vote, and goes on to receive many more GOP votes, the vote on cloture was probably just obstruction; and (3) If members of the GOP actually declare that the opposition is not on the merits, but is rather to achieve some political end.

If we apply those criteria, I think we find a significant amount of obstruction. Many of the close votes on cloture go on to receive significantly more votes on the actual bill. That was even true of the jobs bill that Sam Stone appears to tout as an example of non-obstruction. Similarly, much of the obstruction on political nominees is self-admitted to have nothing to do with the merits. See, e.g., Sen. Shelby’s shenanigans. And there are a number of bills or nominations that previously received GOP support, but then that support swapped when the political winds shifted (e.g. nomination of Becker). Perhaps the granddaddy of all of this is parts of the health care bill that were GOP ideas - like Medicare paying doctors to review end-of-life choices - that are now universally opposed by the GOP.

At least in the Senate, the GOP has clearly been obstructionist for political gain.

Ditto the OP point number 2, with the provision that “this only makes sense if you believe EITHER OF two things”.

I’m disgusted with the lying- which I see as coming mostly from the conservative side. (Death panels! Socialism! Muslims!).

Today (on another MB I frequent), I saw someone complaining about how at the HC meeting, the Republican’s weren’t allowed to speak as much as the Dem’s. The claim was:

“DEMOCRATS 233 minutes.
REPUBLICANS 110 minutes.
OBAMA solo 119 minutes”

The meeting was approximately 360 minutes. Those numbers add up to 462 minutes. That’s two hours “extra”.

But what will most likely happen is that this “fact” will get spread around and so many people will just accept it without question.

Lying pay, I guess.

Frustrating and disappointing.

Yes, the last time the Republicans had power was so fruitful, for Blackwater. Other then it distracting from raping goats, why do Republicans feel the need to cry and piss their pants like little babies when they don’t get their way?

Cite that any Senate Republican has been convicted of raping goats?

No, bought off. Both parties have that problem.