Obstructionism

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Democrats refused to cooperate with Republicans from 2009-10 while crafting major legislation such as the Stimulus, Obamacare, and Omnibus, which they designed in back rooms among themselves, contrary to Obama's promises of bipartisanship. In September 2009 they even changed the locks on the committee room doors to prevent Republicans from attending. Democrats lied about Republicans saying from the beginning they wanted to make Obama a one-term president, that was not said until 2010 after Republicans, angry at having been excluded from the legislative process for two years, decided that once they had control of the House back they would retaliate by refusing to cooperate with Democrats the way Democrats had refused to cooperate with them. Democrats from 2009-10 repeatedly ignored overtures by GOP lawmakers such as Jason Chaffetz to work bipartisanly on healthcare. Democrats further lied that Republicans did not have any healthcare bills of their own.

Democrat Lies[edit]

Obama and Bipartisanship[edit]

Obama lied about bipartisanship on the campaign trail, claiming he would bring both parties together in setting an agenda.[1] Obviously this was a completely dishonest lie.

The McConnell One-Term President Lie[edit]

The claim by Barack Obama and Harry Reid that McConnell said he wanted to make Obama a one-term president from day one is an outright lie. As pointed out by the Washington Post Fact Checker McConnell said that two years into Obama's presidency in late 2010, after two years of Democrats excluding Republicans from the legislative process.[2]

History[edit]

The Democrat Supermajority[edit]

Contrary to Obama's claims of GOP obstructionism, an examination of 2009 history reveals that it was Democrats who originally refused to include Republicans in bill creation and who rejected cooperation. Democrats ran Congress from 2007 to 2010. The Democratic Party had such complete control of Congress from 2009-10 that they passed the Stimulus with only three Republican votes (Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter).[3] The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, passed the House with just one Republican vote in November 2009 (Joseph Cao) and the Senate without any Republican votes in December 2009. The two bills were reconciled in March 2010 without any Republican votes.

From July 8th, 2009 with the swearing-in of Minnesota Senator Al Franken until February 4th, 2010 when Scott Brown was sworn in to replace deceased Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, Obama presided over the first Democrat Supermajority since 1958.[4] A Supermajority is where a political party has control of the House, Senate, and Presidency, allowing the party to pass any bills regardless of opposition from the opposing party. Democrats were immune to filibusters during this time; every single Republican could vote No and if all Democrats voted Yes a bill would still pass.

The Stimulus[edit]

During Obama’s first two years Democrats refused to cooperate with Republicans entirely, excluding them from the creation of all legislation. Democrats had come off a historic 2008 win, picking up 21 seats in the House and 8 Senate giving them clear control of Congress and the presidency.[5] They decided this was a clear mandate from the American people to do as they wished as evidenced by Nancy Pelosi’s comments to Republicans concerning the Stimulus: “Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election.”[6]

Obama replied similarly when accused in January 2009 of breaking his promise of bipartisanship with “I won.”[7] Bloomberg's Kevin Hassett presciently predicted on January 26th, “Civility begins at the beginning. In the next month, Obama will set a tone for Washington that will likely endure as long as he does. If he fails to live up to his rhetoric now, he will fail just as Bush did... He should advise his own staff to begin returning the phone calls of senior Republican aides.”[8]

Newsweek on January 29th, 2009, just eight days after Obama's inauguration, reported that Obama and Rahm Emanuel planned to push their agenda while labeling Republicans the party of no: “’Rahm told the president that he can take care of Congress,' a senior Republican reported to me. 'He said, ‘these guys will roll over, they're afraid of being called the party of No. Believe me, I know them. They'll be easy.’”[9]

John Boehner gave voice to the disenfranchisement of the GOP on the Stimulus, “It appears that the House Democrats are going to continue to barrel ahead without any bipartisan support. We’re trying to understand how their plan is really going to stimulate the economy. How is it going to create more jobs in America and preserve existing jobs in America? And so I believe that my colleagues on the Republican side need to be heard in this process.”[10] As Republican Mike Pence of Indiana complained at the time in January 2009, “Republicans have had no input whatsoever in the development of this so-called stimulus bill.”[11]

Ranking Republicans continued criticizing Obama over broken campaign promises on bipartisanship into February and March of 2009.[12] Senator Lindsey Graham accused Obama of ramming the bill through Congress, and Obama's 2008 presidential opponent John McCain told CNN “It was a bad beginning because it wasn't what we promised the American people, what President Obama promised the American people, that we would sit down together.”[13] Nancy Pelosi airily dismissed GOP criticisms of partisanship, and told her House members to “sell, sell, sell” the Stimulus to their districts to sway public opinion.[14]

Reuters on February 9th candidly observed that “President Barack Obama showed he is willing to cast aside talk of bipartisanship and flex Democratic muscle to push opposition Republicans out of the way in the battle over a U.S. economic stimulus.”[15] On February 14th the New York Times wrote “The lesson, Democrats said, is that it is not so important to win bipartisan support as long as Mr. Obama is seen by the public as trying.”[16] In late March, McCain said that he had been consulted only once since Inauguration Day by the Obama administration, and then by a lawyer for the White House on the closing of Guantanamo Bay.[17]

Mitch McConnell expressed similar sentiment. “After two months, the president has not governed in the middle as I had hoped he would. But it's not too late. He's only been in office a couple of months. Still before him are the opportunities to deal with us on a truly bipartisan basis.” McConnell further predicted Obama's administration “is going to be the furthest to the left of any government...certainly in my lifetime. I’m not sure that’s what people voted for. I mean they were angry with President Bush. They were not happy with the economy...Whether they intended to see America turned into a Western European country as a result of an explosion of spending and debt and regulation is an-other matter.”[18]

Democrat Supermajority[edit]

On April 28, 2009, the 2008 Wall Street Journal's prediction of a 'Liberal Supermajority'[19] proved correct; as the defection of Senator Arlen Specter from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party put the Democrats on the verge of one of the rarest blessings in politics, a Supermajority - complete control of the House, Senate, and Presidency so that they wouldn't need a single Republican vote to pass bills.[20] Senator Bernie Sanders then urged the Democrat party to pursue single-payer healthcare reform.[21] On May 16, 2009, Barack Obama urged Congress to pass health care reform within the year, stating, "Our businesses will not be able to compete; our families will not be able to save or spend; our budgets will remain unsustainable unless we get health care costs under control".[22] On July 1, 2009, Al Franken was finally declared the winner of his election (narrowly winning by 312 votes[23]), giving the Democrats their desired Supermajority, and a clear path towards healthcare reform which Republicans would be powerless to stop.[24] Nevertheless, sickness of Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd along with several other factors led to question marks about the supermajority's strength.[25] Democrats maintained this Supermajority until February 5, 2010, when Republican Scott Brown was sworn in to replace deceased Senator Edward Kennedy.[26]

Locking Out Republicans, Literally[edit]

Democrats were so confident that the 2008 elections displayed American backing for the Democratic Party that in October 2009 they even changed the door locks for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to keep Republicans from meeting when Democrats weren't present.[27] The debacle occurred because Republicans were trying to launch an investigation into corruption by Democrat Senators Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd for receiving special VIP loans from Countrywide Financial.[28] Democrats canceled the meeting by secretly leaving before the meeting was to begin, and a GOP staffer caught this on videotape, set it to the tune of "Hit the Road, Jack", and posted it on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s minority webpage for the press. Committee Chairman Sen. Edolphus Towns and the Democrats then had the locks changed in retaliation.[29]

Obamacare[edit]

See also Obamacare

On February 24th, 2009, Obama began urging Congress to pass healthcare reform, and on March 5th, he held a healthcare summit.[30] Contrary to his earlier promises of bipartisanship he did not even meet with Republicans until January 27th, 2010, eleven months later.[31] Despite national protests against the bill Obama and the Democrats tried to force the bill through Congress without examination or bipartisanship. Nancy Pelosi famously argued at the time, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”[32]

Following an initial pretense at bipartisanship the election of Al Franken was upheld on June 30th, 2009 by the Minnesota Supreme Court, giving Democrats a supermajority that allowed them to pass bills without any Republican votes in both the House and Senate.[33] Word of what would happen had leaked the week before however, for on June 25th Republican Paul Ryan told ABC News “Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it will be bipartisan health care reform. Democrats have the votes, and they've told us they're not interested in sincere bipartisanship.”[34]

In early August John McCain accused Democrats of locking Republicans out of the bill creation process, telling CNN “Unfortunately there was no input by Republicans in writing the bill in the HELP Committee. It was all a Democratic proposal. That's not the way you want to begin if you're really interested in a true bipartisan result. Maybe we can go back and all of us – and I'd be glad to play a role. I have been playing a small role on the committee. I'd be glad to try and help. But it's got to be a true sit down, OK, what are you going to concede? What are you going to concede? How can we come together? Not, here's the plan; how can we fix it so it satisfies enough of you to call it, quote, 'bipartisan.'”[36]

A Democrat Embargo on Reporting GOP Legislation[edit]

Byron York of the Washington Examiner reported in September that media bias was preventing coverage of Republican healthcare bills, and that a search of the Lexis-Nexis database of media reports found 3,000 mentions of the major House Democrat bill, H.R. 3200 over the past 6 months, but GOP bills were mentioned far fewer times. H.R. 3400, introduced by Tom Price, got only 60 mentions. Paul Ryan's bill, H.R. 2520, had been mentioned just 12 times. And H.R. 3217 and 3218, both by John Shadegg, had only a combined 20 mentions by the media.

Democrat Lies About Including GOP Amendments[edit]

Barack Obama claimed at the time that the healthcare bill creation process was bipartisan, and that Democrats had included 160 Republican amendments in the bill.[38] However, PolitiFact debunked this claim as “Mostly False.”[39] In essence, Republicans proposed hundreds of amendments to Obamacare after Obama accused them of not having ideas, but Democrats took only the minor ones that did not substantially alter the core of the bill, including the abortion agenda generating such opposition, so that they could then make a pretense of bipartisanship without ever working with Republicans or including Republicans in the bill creation process. The bill creation itself was made behind closed doors solely by Democrats without Republican input.

Democrats Cut Off Communication with GOP[edit]

In October 2009, Eric Cantor said Obama had cut off all communication with Republican leaders, and John Boehner confirmed GOP leaders hadn’t been invited to the White House since late April.[41] As of November, the Obama administration was continuing to outright ignore Republicans.[40] Democratic leadership pointedly ignored Republicans for nearly a year while the health care bill was being created and even famously changed the locks on committee room doors in October 2009 to keep Republicans from holding a vote on the corruption of Democrats Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad.[42]

The election of Senator Scott Brown in the January 19th election meant that Democrats would soon lose their seven-month supermajority which had allowed them to pass bills without any Republican votes.[43] Brown was officially sworn into office on February 4th, ending the Democrat supermajority. As observed by CNN at the time, “Democrats huddled to try to figure out a way to get their health care bill passed before Brown is seated and ends their 60-seat filibuster-proof ‘supermajority’ in the Senate.”[44] Republican Senator Lamar Alexander optimistically speculated “Now that we have 41 votes maybe the administration will decide it wants to sit down and work with us in the middle rather than trying to say 'We won the election, we'll write the bill.'"[45]

Now that Republicans finally had the ability to filibuster legislation again, Obama met with a frustrated GOP caucus on January 29th, 2010 for the first time.[47] Mike Pence accused Obama of smearing Republicans, declaring that “Republicans are going to continue to stand on the principles that we were elected to advance. We're going to remind him that despite the 'party of no' smear of the last year; we've offered substantive alternatives on every single major issue facing the economy, facing the country.”[48] Obama's pretense at bipartisanship was met with skeptical criticism from Republicans, particularly Jason Chaffetz.[49]

At every stage, Democrats refused to remove their controversial abortion agenda, to compromise with Republicans, designed the bill in back rooms contrary to Obama's campaign promises, and ultimately passed Obamacare without a single Republican vote.

Sources[edit]

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