“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” said Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell when President Obama was elected. This, he said, is the Republican Party’s top priority. Not the economy, not jobs — but to make sure that President Obama had no success during his first term in office.
You have to give them credit; they’ve never strayed from their goal. As of October 2011 they had blocked 375 Democratic-sponsored bills, some of which would have created jobs, reduced taxes on 95 percent of Americans, helped small businesses and reduced the deficit.
Republicans claim Democrats held the majority for almost two years. Actually, they held a supermajority, or what is needed to get bills through the Senate, only between April 2009 and January 2010. During that time they managed to pass the Affordable Care Act which, among other things, prevents health insurance companies from dropping people who get sick and from denying people insurance if they have a pre-existing condition. But, in 2010 Democrats lost their supermajority and since then any attempt to move an important bill through the Senate has been futile.
It takes 60 of 100 Senate votes to end debate and vote on a bill. Even though the Democrats had the majority, they didn’t have the required 60 votes to overcome the threat of a filibuster. Since President Obama was elected, the Republicans used this threat more than 200 times to block bills, many of which would have encouraged economic growth. Why would they do that? Because if the economy significantly improved under President Obama he would likely be re-elected. In other words, they put their own selfish political aspirations before the prosperity of the American people. They may get away with it.
In January 2011, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. In October they killed the American Jobs Act, a bill that would have helped 98 percent of small businesses by cutting their payroll taxes, reducing regulations to help them raise capital and giving them a credit for hiring new employees. It also would have provided a tax credit for 95 percent of working families, created more than one million jobs, and helped thousands of construction workers who would have been needed for infrastructure projects the bill supported.
Steve Benen, in a Sept. 9, 2011 article in Washington Monthly, quotes Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics in which Zandi estimated “the president’s plan would boost economic growth by 2 percentage points, add 2 million more jobs and reduce unemployment.” The Congressional Budget Office projected it would have reduced the deficit by $6 billion over 10 years. Every one of the Republican senators approved the filibuster and prevented the bill from coming to a vote.
They also killed at least four bills that would have assisted unemployed veterans — including wounded veterans — with job training, employment counseling and financial support.
This July they killed the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would have eliminated tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. It would have given companies a 20 percent tax break on moving expenses if they brought jobs home. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — notorious Republican backers — opposed the act, saying it would “...threaten economic growth.” Whose economic growth?
Also in July they blocked the Disclose Act, which would have required disclosure of the identity of anyone who contributed more than $10,000 to independent groups that support candidates. Sen. McConnell called it “un-American” and “a suppression of speech,” although he had supported the same reform during the Bush administration. Many of the organizations that fear disclosure are designated as social welfare non-profits even though they support only one political party. What’s worse – contributors to such groups can deduct their contributions.
The Romney campaign continues to attack President Obama for not accomplishing his goals, hoping nobody will notice they’ve done everything in their power to prevent him from doing so. They’ve stated what their top priority is, and it has nothing to do with supporting the U.S. economy. Remember that when you vote.
Pat Nash has worked as a freelance writer, farmer, human resource manager, customer service supervisor, and educator. Originally from Ohio, Nash has lived in the Baraboo area, off and on, for over 30 years. Contact her at email@example.com
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article was corrected to reflect the correct leadership title for Sen. Mitch McConnell.