Lee Samelson: Will Republicans get away with their economic sabotage?


Since Barack Obama took office, Senate Republicans have used over 440 filibusters to block or kill even some of the most routine legislation. Come on Mainstream media, call it what it is: Republican economic sabotage and obstruction!

This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

An example was in January, when they filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits which John Boehner refused to let the House of Representatives even take a vote on.

Of course it is far more ideal for people to be successfully employed in work rather than living off of unemployment insurance or off of “government welfare”. However the Republicans routinely vote against jobs bills and infrastructure projects that would actually enable those jobs to become available. The Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act would have boosted employment by almost 2.3 million jobs in 2012 and almost 3.1 million jobs in 2013 if Republicans in Congress had not blocked it! Fixing the nation’s highways, railroads, river reservoir levees, water supply systems, electric grid could provide millions of jobs with spending that circulates through the whole economy. Here are more examples of what could have been:

  • The Veterans Job Corps Act to put tens of thousands of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan back to work…Killed by Republicans! 
  • A bill (S. 1723). to put thousands of police, firefighters and school teachers back to work- Killed by Republicans!
  • A bill to fund health care for 9/11 responders. (H.R. 847) repeatedly filibustered by Republicans!
  • The bill (S. 3816) to keep more jobs in the U.S. by stopping tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas- filibustered by Republicans!
  • The Rebuild American Jobs Act (S. 1769) which would have created 2 – 3 million jobs- Filibustered!
  • They the Paycheck Fairness Act (s.3220) which would allow women to be paid the same as men for doing the same work- Filibustered!
  • Every attempt to raise the minimum wage which would enable working people to lift themselves by their bootstraps out of poverty- Blocked!

These huge stacks of “No!” votes on jobs bills and infrastructure projects indicate that the Republican’s core motivation for denying unemployment benefits is something other than actually putting jobs in the hands of those who currently need social safety net generosity to get by.

Their motivation is out of a petty vindictive political desire to obstruct any and every economic populist progressive accomplishment from which Obama could build his legacy or (horror of horrors to them) win a committed 21st century New Deal voting base for decades to come. In doing so, they have denied the Democrats any substantive achievements from which they could have enthusiastically campaigned upon this year.

The Republicans are not fazed by how much economic misery and unemployment their filibusters cause, as long as they are not the ones who get blamed for it and as long as the disaffected who have to rely upon food stamps (which they are trying to cut by the way) do not stampede in unison to the voting booth against them.

Of course the most toxic side effect of Republican Sabotage is rampant political cynicism has taken a hefty toll on voting turnout overall.

The Republican’s economic sabotage and the terrible suffering they are willing to inflict to meet that strategic goal will only be channeled to their electoral advantage if the corporate media refuses to make it clear to the public on the story of exactly who is actually doing the filibustering and obstructing of legislative efforts that a large consensus of economists agreed would have provided crucial help in lowering American unemployment.

These moves to intentionally keep unemployment higher than it could be dives up worker insecurity and causes an overall a downward pressure on employee pay wages, worker safety and worker’s rights. Helping the unemployed with insurance enables them to eat and pay rent while they are searching for their next employment gig and has the bonus benefit of stimulating the economy. But because lending a helping hand out to the unemployed prevents wages from falling down even further so that is the reason why the “Club for Growth urged a ‘no’ vote on extension of jobless benefits.”

A valid fiscal conservative argument can be made for cutting government spending on food stamps if it is coupled with a hike in the minimum wage so that food stamps would be all the more unnecessary in the first place. But if someone both wants to cut food stamps AND opposes a hike in the minimum wage then it is pretty clear they have a nakedly transparent class warfare agenda.

This whole spectrum of economic sabotage and political obstruction is all done so the GOP could turn around this mid-term election and run against Democrats in general on the duplicitous complaints that the economy is not better than it is under Obama! The GOP campaigners want to be able to beat their chests in front of the US electorate and accuse “Obama’s policies” for being what is holding the economy back from its rightful potential greatness when it is actually them who block the bulk of Obama’s policies. The Republicans can only snatch election opportunity from down numbers on economy, jobs and wages if they are not the ones blamed for it.

The Republicans are hedging their bets that a vast bulk of the public who may only pay attention to politics for 5 minutes out of the year will automatically blame the party in power of the Presidency. They are placing a bet that the same mainstream media they opportunistically and baselessly lambaste as being liberally biased will not make it clear to the public the unprecedented number of Republican filibusters in the Senate that have kept President Obama’s so called “policies” from even getting a vote.  Instead the Media has shown their biases by making Obama’s 42% approval rating the defining issue of the midterms when it is congress that is actually up for election.

Because Obama is the chief executive of a nation that is basically being run on Republican economic policies by default, Obama gets the blame for the negative outcome of those Republican economic policies. As a result we are seeing Presidential approval ratings in the low 40’s. This makes it easy for the GOP to convince these disapprove voters to “Vote GOP for congress to reject the White House!” What the Republican campaigners will not say is “by the way please do not take notice what we have virtually nothing to offer in the way of actual solutions on issues voters actually care about.”

Speaker Boehner may claim to have passed 40 different “jobs” bills which he accuses Harry Reid and the senate of blocking. This is attempt at political ju-jit-su is projection of blame. However the Republican House will pass tax breaks and gifts for the oil, coal, and natural gas industries and then simplistically label it as a “jobs” bill. They pass regulatory repeal for big business and call that a “jobs” bill. This is not what most people think of as actual job creation that puts people to work. They cut taxes for the wealthy and merely it a jobs bill under the assumption that trickle down will actually work!

The Republican campaigners work their black magic on the electorate only if the public does not know the basic truth about the 440 filibusters in service of economic sabotage, can. If the media tells about the obstruction that is taking place plainly and clearly with a straight face and with no “both sides are to blame” qualifiers, then it would knock the legs out from under the Republican’s ongoing campaign strategy.