Monday, September 12, 2016

A Walk Down Memory Lane on Republican Obstruction

I'm posting this because a Facebook friend expressed total ignorance of the way Republicans blocked President Obama's efforts to speed economic recovery. Judging by her Facebook posts, she gets her "news" from right-wing sources.

I'm also using this for my own repository for this information, so I have included a variety of sources, and there is some repetition.

by Nancy LeTourneau
February 1, 2015

For some of us its pretty galling to hear Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggest that the way to end dysfunction in Washington is for President Obama to move to the “middle,” or to have to listen to a Republican presidential candidate opine about the lack of “adult conversations” in D.C.

For the record, here’s a little walk down memory lane of Republicans talking publicly about their strategy for obstruction:

1993 – Bill Kristol writes a memo outlining a strategy for Republicans on President Clinton’s health care reform proposal.

Faced with forceful objections in the past, the [Clinton] Administration has generally preferred to bargain and compromise with Congress so as to achieve any victory it can. But health care is not, in fact, just another Clinton domestic policy. And the conventional political strategies Republicans have used in the past are inadequate to the task of defeating the Clinton plan outright. That must be our goal…

Simple, green-eyeshades criticism of the plan…is fine so far as it goes. But in the current climate, such opposition only wins concessions, not surrender…

Any Republican urge to negotiate a “least bad” compromise with the Democrats, and thereby gain momentary public credit for helping the president “do something” about health care, should also be resisted.

2003 – Governor Deval Patrick recalls Grover Norquist’s comments on plans for a “permanent Republican majority.”


During his presentation, Norquist explained why he believed that there would be a permanent Republican majority in America.

One person interrupted, as I recall, and said, “C’mon, Grover, surely one day a Democrat will win the White House.”

Norquist immediately replied: “We will make it so that a Democrat cannot govern as a Democrat.”

2009 – As Michael Grunwald reported, these two ideas coalesced into a Republican plan on how to respond to the election of President Barack Obama.

…the Republican plot to obstruct President Obama before he even took office, including secret meetings led by House GOP whip Eric Cantor (in December 2008) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (in early January 2009) in which they laid out their daring (though cynical and political) no-honeymoon strategy of all-out resistance to a popular President-elect during an economic emergency. “If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.”

2010 – Having implemented that plan in response to President Obama’s proposal to reform health care, former speech-writer for President George W. Bush – David Frum – is ejected from the party for writing this:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994…


2011 – Former Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren explains the strategy.

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.


Inside Obama's Presidency
The Republicans’ Plan for the New President

January 15, 2013 /
by Azmat Khan

On the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration, a group of top GOP luminaries quietly gathered in a Washington steakhouse to lick their wounds and ultimately create the outline of a plan for how to deal with the incoming administration.

“The room was filled. It was a who’s who of ranking members who had at one point been committee chairmen, or in the majority, who now wondered out loud whether they were in the permanent minority,” Frank Luntz, who organized the event, told FRONTLINE.

Among them were Senate power brokers Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn, and conservative congressmen Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan.

After three hours of strategizing, they decided they needed to fight Obama on everything. The new president had no idea what the Republicans were planning.

Tonight’s film, Inside Obama’s Presidency, explores the behind-the-scenes story of his first four years. With inside accounts from his battles with his Republican opponents over health care and the economy to his dramatic expansion of targeted killings of enemies, FRONTLINE examines the president’s key decisions and the experiences that will inform his second term.

Watch the film online


Republicans had it in for Obama before Day 1

By Jonathan Capehart August 10, 2012

Thanks to a new book by Michael Grunwald, we know with certainty that what Krauthammer argues is a load of bunk. Republicans are complicit in the failures they rail against.

At first, we thought organized Republican recalcitrance against the president started in October 2010 after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) famously said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Then came Robert Draper’s book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives,” this spring. As the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reported in April, the book reports on a dinner of leading Republicans held the night of Obama’s inauguration.

For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.

"If you act like you're the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority,” Draper quotes [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy [R-Calif.] as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

And Stein highlights this useful passage from Draper’s book:

The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward:

Go after Geithner. (And indeed Kyl did, the next day: ‘Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it — please?’)

Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.)

Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would run in less than two months.)

Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and the Senate in 2012.

Now Greg Sargent at The Plum Line is sounding the alarm over a revelation in “The New New Deal” by Grunwald. Vice President Joe Biden told the author that during the transition, “seven different Republican Senators” told him that “McConnell had demanded unified resistance.” This was after the 2008 election but before Obama and Biden took office.

“The way it was characterized to me was: `For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’ ” Biden says.

Nevermind the nation was falling off the fiscal cliff. Nevermind the global economic system was hanging in the balance. Nevermind we were on the verge of another Great Depression. When the nation needed single-minded focus, the Republican political establishment put power over the national interest.

So, the next time you hear Republicans and conservatives bloviating about the “failures” of the Obama presidency, remember the role they played in them. And remember how their resistance hurt the country they are elected to help govern.


Biden: Mitch McConnell vowed no cooperation with the Obama administration from the get-go

Aug. 10, 2016

I downloaded Michael Grunwald's The New New Deal earlier this week, but I haven't yet fired up the Kindle to start reading it. Greg Sargent, on the other hand, has found some tidbits already. One of which is confirmation of the Republican move to ensure exactly what the party's shadow leader, Rush Limbaugh, started saying he wanted back in January 2009—Obama's failure. Rush's foot-soldiers enlisted in the cause.

Sargent points us to the relevant passage, page 207:

Biden says that during the transition, he was warned not to expect any cooperation on many votes. “I spoke to seven different Republican Senators, who said, `Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything,’ he recalls. His informants said [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell had demanded unified resistance. “The way it was characterized to me was: `For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’” Biden says.

The vice president says he hasn’t even told Obama who his sources were, but Bob Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania both confirmed they had conversations with Biden along these lines.

Grunwald goes on to cite former Sen. George Voinovich:

“He wanted everyone to hold the fort. All he cared about was making sure Obama could never have a clean victory.”

And there was the insider:

“People were pretty demoralized, and there were two totally opposite thoughts on how to approach the situation,” a McConnell aide recalls. “One was, `we don't like the president, we ought to pop him early.’ The other was, `he’s really popular, we should work with him, because that’s what people want us to do.’ The boss’s take was: Neither." McConnell realized that it would be much easier to fight Obama if Republicans first made a public show of wanting to work with him.

Sargent cautions that Biden has been known to exaggerate. But Grunwald has a lot of corroborative evidence here. And there's plenty of other evidence that this is not just loose talk. Republicans have thrown up blockades every step along the way since Jan. 21, 2009. From repairing the economy to protecting consumers against predatory financial institutions, from bolstering the nation's clean energy infrastructure to cooperating on the federal budget, Republicans have stood in the way.

What they haven't been able to stop outright, they've diluted. All focused on making the president fail. Even past Republican ideas were shot down. It hasn't mattered to them how much damage their strategy caused to the country, to the American people. Everything was focused on undermining Barack Obama. Patriotism, modern GOP style.

And the fruits of their efforts? Barack Obama on the verge of becoming a two-term president.


GOP refused to negotiate with Team Obama - even in bed!

By Zachary Roth
08/22/12 07:36 PM—Updated 09/06/13

Republicans’ obsession with thwarting President Obama—even at the cost of hurting the country—was so all-consuming that it even became a point of contention between the sheets. When one Obama staffer asked his Republican girlfriend for a deal on stimulus—economic, that is—she stiffed him, one journalist recounted on PoliticsNation Wednesday

For his book, The New New Deal, Time’s Michael Grunwald interviewed an Obama aide who was having a relationship with a Republican Senate staffer.

“He said, ‘hey, what’s our deal gonna be with the stimulus?,’” Grunwald told Rev. Al. “And she told him, in bed, she said: ‘Baby, there is no deal.‘ “

Inter-party romance aside, that kind of utter refusal to negotiate characterized the GOP strategy from the very start of Obama’s presidency, Grunwald said.

“This was the strategy from day one,” he put it.

Grunwald explained that when Obama first came to office, in the midst of an economic crisis, Republicans were expected to go along with him.

Instead, he said, they chose a different course: ”They had these meetings where they said ‘no, our way back is to fight.‘ “

“I quote Republican senators like George Voinovich saying that if Obama was for it, we had to be against it,” Grunwald added. “Mike Castle of Delaware saying that from the beginning, the caucus decided that we couldn’t give Obama a bipartisan victory.”


If Obama Was For It, We Had To Be Against It

Do you think Republicans would set aside their political desires in order to help working class households with the struggles they face because of the recession? If so, then think again:

Biden: McConnell decided to withhold all cooperation even before we took office, by Greg Sargent, Washington Post: I’ve got my copy of Michael Grunwald’s new book on the making of stimulus, The New New Deal, and ... it may shed new light on the degree to which Republicans may have decided to deny Obama all cooperation for the explicit purpose of rendering his presidency a failure — making it easier for them to mount a political comeback after their disastrous 2008 losses.

Grunwald has Joe Biden on the record making a striking charge. Biden says that during the transition, a number of Republican Senators privately confided to him that Mitch McConnell had given them the directive that there was to be no cooperation with the new administration — because he had decided that “we can’t let you succeed.” ...

Biden, of course, has a history of outsized comments. But two former Republican Senators [Bob Bennett and Arlen Specter] are confirming the gist of the charges... Meanwhile, former Senator George Voinovich also goes on record telling Grunwald that Republican marching orders were to oppose everything the Obama administration proposed.

“If he was for it, we had to be against it,” Voinovich tells Grunwald. ... “He wanted everyone to hold the fort. All he cared about was making sure Obama could never have a clean victory.”

A Republican aide sheds some more light on McConnell’s strategizing just after the 2008 election. Page 148:

“People were pretty demoralized, and there were two totally opposite thoughts on how to approach the situation,” a McConnell aide recalls. “One was, `we don't like the president, we ought to pop him early.’ The other was, `he’s really popular, we should work with him, because that’s what people want us to do.’ The boss’s take was: Neither." McConnell realized that it would be much easier to fight Obama if Republicans first made a public show of wanting to work with him.

... It seems pretty newsworthy for the Vice President of the United States to charge that seven members of the opposition confided to him that their party had adopted a comprehensive strategy to oppose literally everything the new President did — with the explicit purpose of denying him any successes of any kind for their own political purposes — even before he took office.

Unless you have enough money to help them with their campaigns or in other ways, Republicans in Congress don't really care about you and the struggles you face. That the rich might pay another dollar in taxes is far more important than a struggling household facing another day without a job.


tags: Republican obstructionism, Republicans obstructed Obama,

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