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It’s Time to Nuke Senate Republicans

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There’s been much talk in recent years in the U.S. Senate of “going nuclear,” or of triggering a “nuclear option.” Well, it’s time. No, make that well past time, for President Obama to go nuclear on Senate Republicans. The Senate GOP has steadily ratcheted up its obstruction of very nearly everything to come through the chamber. Not only have they been blocking needed extensions of payroll tax cuts for middle class workers and unemployment benefits for jobless Americans, just this week, Republicans filibustered both an Obama nominee for a federal appeals court as well as the president’s appointee to head up a new financial consumer protection agency.

Soon after Republicans filibustered Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Thursday, the president came out once again to issue another sternly worded complaint about the Republicans’ behavior. The Republicans, the president protested, were not “on the level” by blocking Cordray, a former state attorney general from Ohio. Obama is entirely right, of course, but that doesn’t matter.

The problem is that not only do such presidential scoldings fail to scare Republican senators, they lap them up. Watching Obama moan only emboldens his adversaries to do more to frustrate him, not less. The president promised not to give up on the Cordray nomination, and to take nothing off the table to make it happen. That was supposed to be a veiled threat to circumvent the senators once they leave town by putting Cordray in office through a recess appointment.

The problem is that that is an empty threat. Republicans know how to, in reality, go out on recess while technically keeping the Senate in session. They did it this past summer, specifically to block any recess appointments. They did it once, and will only likely do it again. That means that if he truly is serious about not taking anything off the table, Obama must find some other, sharper stick with which to politically club Republicans into submission.

The president must find something that his opponents truly do care about, some projects back home, some funding for this or that, something, and put his administration in the middle to stop it from happening. Obama must stand up to the GOP bullies, not only with words, but deeds that will make them take notice.

At the very least, the president’s friends across town at the Democratic National Committee need to start writing some checks to pay for some negative ads against those Republican senators most vulnerable to persuasion. These likely would be those Republicans from blue states who have supported the filibusters, including Sen. Mark Kirk, who now holds Obama’s old Illinois Senate seat. These ads, frankly, need to attack the Republican obstructionists in fairly harsh, emotionally driven ways. Then these ads need to be aired long enough, and with enough repetition, that they actually start to move the needle and drive down the senators’ approval ratings. Perhaps if these senators begin to be palpably hated in their own home states, they’ll be a little less quick to jump to a filibuster.

No, it’s not nice or kind, but then, going nuclear seldom is.

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About Scott Nance

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Don’t you think, Scott, that our representatives’ behavior merely reflects the sentiments of their constituents?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    The short answer to your question is “no, they often don’t.”

    A majority of Republican voters support raising taxes on the rich. But you’ll find close to zero support for it among the Republicans in Congress.

    A majority of NRA members support registering of all guns. But you’ll find staunch opposition to it by the NRA, and they’re one of the strongest lobbying groups in Washington.

    And here’s an interesting list of what’s going on within the GOP:

    Nearly six in ten tea party Republicans say that global warming is not a proven fact. Most non-tea party Republicans disagree. Six in ten tea party Republicans say that evolution is wrong. Non-tea party Republicans are split on evolution. Six in ten tea party Republicans say the Department of Education should be abolished, but only one in five of their GOP counterparts holds that same view.

    There is also disagreement on social issues: Tea party Republicans are roughly twice as likely to say that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances and roughly half as likely to support gay marriage. Tea party Republicans are also roughly twice as likely to believe that the Social Security system should be replaced, and although most Republicans on either side disagree with the assertion that Social Security is a lie and a failure, tea party GOPers are much more likely to embrace that view.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right, Glenn. Always blame the politicians and never the people. How do you suppose the politicians keep on getting elected and re-elected if it weren’t for the express will by the people?

    You know what? I really can’t be discussing things with you anymore. You’re so blinded by hatred of the opposition, always falling on your default position “if it weren’t for that, then …,” that as far as I’m concerned, you can’t even see straight. So let’s forget it for the time being.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    You know what? I really can’t be discussing things with you anymore.

    Considering how many times you’ve said things like that, Roger, only to resume just hours or even minutes later, I’m pretty confident this isn’t the last time you and Glenn will lock horns.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m not concerned, Dreadful, with butting horns, neither with you or anyone else. Perhaps that’s your objective here, but certainly not mine. Not do I need BC to hone my arguments, though I admit that in the course of my presence here, through the help of such editors as Clavos or Dave Nalle, my writing and thinking skills have sharpened.

    As to my liberal-minded friend, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I’m no longer baiting them, not nearly as I used to. I’ve done my bit, and the rest will fall into place one way or another. In any case, there’s not much more I can do.

    Why do I still stay here? Well, it is a community, sort of. I’ve got a feel for most of the people here, even if they’re “only” pixels. Just as important, I’ve had and continue to have meaningful exchanges here — with Anarcissie, Cindy and Mark Eden. And that alone is important enough to me and makes it worthwhile.

    So no, I’m no longer concerned about changing Glenn or Zingzing or Handy. Any change that will come, it’ll have to come of their own accord. I’ve done my bit.

  • Igor

    I’m afraid that the republicans have taken to routine lying, just inventing convenience lies that are plausible but unsupported. For example, now they say they are against the surtax on millionaires (which almost everyone, including rep voters are in favor of), yet they offer no proofs and no examples. So someone else went out looking for such evidence:

    Surtax on millionaires?


    For the second week in a row, the Senate on Thursday voted down proposals to extend the payroll tax holiday through next year. In the case of the Democrats’ proposal, Republicans objected to the “millionaires surtax” that would be used to pay for it.

    Ever since the idea of the surtax was introduced weeks ago, Republicans in Congress have railed against it, arguing that it is a direct hit on small-business owners and other job creators.

    The argument is that many small-business owners report company profits on their individual taxes because of the way their businesses are structured. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., says the surtax would hurt their ability to hire.

    Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota says the “millionaires surtax” would hurt small-business owners’ ability to hire new workers.
    “It’s just intuitive that, you know, if you’re somebody who’s in business and you get hit with a tax increase, it’s going to be that much harder, I think, to make investments that are going to lead to job creation,” says Thune.

    We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So, NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.

    So we went to the business groups that have been lobbying against the surtax. Again, three days after putting in a request, none of them was able to find someone for us to talk to. A group called the Tax Relief Coalition said the problem was finding someone willing to talk about their personal taxes on national radio.

    So next we put a query on Facebook. And several business owners who said they would be affected by the “millionaires surtax” responded.

    “It’s not in the top 20 things that we think about when we’re making a business hire,” said Ian Yankwitt, who owns Tortoise Investment Management.

    Tortoise is a boutique investment firm in White Plains, N.Y. Yankwitt has 10 employees and in recent years has done a lot of hiring.

    As a result, Yankwitt says he’s had many conversations about hiring, “both with respect to specific people, with respect to whether we should hire one junior person or two, whether we should hire a senior person.”

    He says his ultimate marginal tax rate “didn’t even make it on the agenda.”

    Yankwitt says deciding to bring on another employee is all about return on investment. Will adding another person to the payroll make his company more successful?

    For Jason Burger, the motivation is similar.

    “If my taxes go up, I have slightly less disposable income, yes,” said Burger, co-owner of CSS International Holdings, a global infrastructure contractor. “But that has nothing to do with what my business does. What my business does is based on the contracts that it wins and the demand for its services.”

    Burger says his Michigan-based company is hiring like crazy, and he’d be perfectly willing to pay the surtax.

    “It’s only fair that I put back into the system that is the entire reason for my success,” said Burger.

    For the record, both Burger and Yankwitt have made campaign contributions to Democrats in the past, but they say their views on the surtax are about the economics of their businesses and not their politics.

    And they’re not alone.

    “I, like any other American, especially a business owner, I want to make as much money as I can and I want to keep as much money in my pocket as I can, but I also believe in the greater good,” says Deborah Schwarz, who owns LAC Group, an information management firm with offices nationwide and in London.

    Surtax or no, Schwarz says she hopes to keep hiring.

    “We’re going to keep on writing proposals, going after contracts, hopefully winning them, and when we do we’re going to continue to hire people,” says Schwarz.

    All of this contradicts the arguments about job creators being made by Republicans in Congress.

    “Those I would say were exceptions to the rule,” responds Thune. “I think most small-business owners who are out there right now would argue that raising their taxes has the opposite effect that we would want to have in a down economy.”

    But those small-business owners apparently don’t want to talk.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I’m blinded by hatred of the opposition!

    Never mind that I’ve repeatedly said Reagan was one of our top five greatest presidents.

    Never mind that I’ve never said a single bad word about the presidency of Bush 41, and have praised his courage more than once.

    Never mind that I’ve said that I wouldn’t worry too much if Huntsman were president.

    It has been OFFICIALLY DECLARED that I am blinded by my HATRED – not dislike, but HATRED – of the “other side”. Well, I guess that’s all part and parcel of being The Greatest Threat To Democracy….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oh yeah – and I must bear in mind that it has been OFFICIALLY DECLARED that all I talk about is race, too. Oh, silly me….

  • Igor

    Glenn, don’t worry about getting the approval of the rightists: they will never approve anyone or anything that is not slavishly devoted to Norquist or some other extremist. Being fair-handed is not good enough, you must bend the knee and swear fealty just as they do to their masters.

    If you would be independent then you must suffer.

    Toughen up.