So much has been going on lately in Washington politics that I've been immobilized by indecision about what to say.
In President Obama's State of the Union Address on January 27, the political divide was embarrassingly obvious. Nearly every point the President made that was not supportive of big business or the banking industry was met with stony-faced silence by the Republican side of Congress. Almost without exception, Republicans showed their dislike for this President by refusing to applaud any of the measures accomplished this past year, including reducing taxes for the majority of Americans and putting a freeze on Federal spending beginning in 2011. The freeze actually elicited snickers of amusement from the Right, who apparently don't understand that budgets are correctly set for a year at a time, and that it would be unconscionable - if not impossible - to impose a freeze on a current year's budget.
Then, just two days later, Obama was an invited guest to the Republican retreat, where he gave a speech and then took questions and gave answers, spending almost two hours with the Republican legislators. Several of the questions - as the President correctly noted - were thinly veiled "talking points," laden with untruths, half-truths, and mis-characterizations of current issues. Pres. Obama wasn't shy about calling these questioners out, particularly Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. He acknowledged that partisanship exists on both sides of the aisle, but also pointed out that Democrats made several concessions, especially in the health care bill, in an attempt to gain bipartisan support. He also chided the Republicans for taking such rigid positions on issues that they leave themselves no room to negotiate. As he said, bipartisanship means that neither side gets everything it wants; each side has to participate in give-and-take. And he also told them that many of the ideas they proposed did not pass the test of feasibility from any credible budgetary standpoint. Interestingly, the President was so effective in his refutation of Republican leaders that FOX News stopped broadcasting the event some 20 minutes before it ended.
Additionally, the Senate recently passed a "Pay-Go" bill that was originally supported by Senators Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), McCain (AZ), and Voinovich (OH). The bill was passed despite "no" votes from each of these Senators, when, in fact, each of them voted for this same bill in 2004-2005.
As if all of this isn't enough, President Obama has invited Republican leaders to the White House for an open and televised discussion about the health care bill. Despite repeated calls by these same Republican leaders for the President to include them in televised discussions, they are now backpedaling on both their participation in talks, and on the public aspect of those talks.
And so it would seem that the Republican Party is not just the "Party of No," but increasingly the "Party Against Anything Obama Supports." There are too many sitting in Washington, DC at our expense who do not have our best interests at heart. They care only for the money in their campaign coffers and will work hard to defeat the will of the people as long as they can keep the goodwill of Big Business, Big Banks, and Big Insurance.
Quite frankly, the Democrats need to grow a pair and stop letting the minority party run roughshod over the principles that this country was founded upon. If they want to filibuster, I say let them do it. Let's have nonstop, televised coverage of Republican Senators reading from the telephone book and show the taxpayers what their elected officials think of Democratic Process.
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