Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lessons from GOP obstructionism

On Friday, several Americans who have dealt with long-term unemployment learned that their unemployment benefits would run out on Monday (which was yesterday). They have one person to thank for what will be another wreck in their financial life--- baseball player turned Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky. As a baseball fan, I respect the man as a baseball player because he had one hell of a career (although not in my lifetime). However he’s a nasty old man who needs to get the hell out of politics (and will when his term is up this year.) Maybe he’s bitter that he did not play baseball in the modern era, where players are multi-millionaires (his talent alone would have fetched him a hot contract). Such is life and here he is imposing his misery on the rest of the country.

I will be the first person to admit that I am no expert on Senate procedures. In fact a whole bunch of them make absolutely no sense to me and I’m seeing the consequences of them now. Two procedures in particular baffle me. The first is the filibuster. The procedure is clearly being abused by the Republicans (I’ll post a chart and accompanying blog entry depicting the number of filibusters over the years when I get my regular computer back up and running) to block President Obama and the Democratic Party’s agenda (290 bills have passed the House and are being held up in the Senate by obstructionism). The second is Senate Holds, where one Senator can hold up a bill or nominee. The latter is where I have a problem with Jim Bunning in particular.

Senator Bunning had reasons for holding up this spending bill—he was worried about the national debt. Like most members of his party, he only worries about the national debt when there’s a Democrat in office and the government money is being spent on the working class (as opposed to on war or tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans). His record indicates votes for the Bush tax cuts and all funding related to the Iraq war, both of which are going to be paid for by my generation and younger, not his generation. He obviously had no problem with Bush looting the treasury to give the money to the wealthiest Americans and his friends in the military industrial complex.

However Bunning is not alone in his obstructionism. Rather he is the latest of several Republican Senators to play politics with the safety and (in this case) financial security of the American people. The party is the party of no. The Democrats have been handed political gold from Senator Bunning and really have to use it in campaign ads this fall if they would like to hold onto Congress. It’s time for the Democrats to stop rolling over and playing dead every time a Republican (or 41) obstructs. Put the gloves on and time to fight back.

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