The Washington Post covers the ‘Party of Hell No’ strategy:
…the barrage of “no” votes from the GOP has not abated. Emboldened by sagging approval ratings of the Democratic-controlled Congress, Republicans almost unanimously opposed a bill to overhaul the financial regulatory system that President Obama signed into law; they are against a measure to increase the disclosure of campaign spending by corporations; and they’ve largely eliminated the chance of passing a series of measures Democrats say could help the economy…
…Republicans say polls suggest that they can oppose all of these initiatives by casting them into a broader critique of Democrats increasing the size of government and the budget deficit, even if their bills are individually popular with the public.
“We’re very comfortable where we’re at; we have very few members who feel endangered,” said Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), a veteran Republican and a deputy whip in the House. “We feel like we are reflecting a broader mood of dissatisfaction. Right now, the American people want us saying no.”
The Republicans are forever telling us what the American people want, but polling data paints a complicated picture that cannot be reduced to support for partisan gridlock and inaction on the economy, climate, Wall Street reform, health care, or aid to small businesses.
Republicans say they oppose the substance of nearly every proposal by Democrats or view the GOP alternatives as better. And party strategists argue that voters largely care about one issue this year: the unemployment rate.
Therefore, the number one job for Republicans is to keep the unemployment rate as high as possible, and even to delay or deny people unemployment insurance. It’s not hard to read between the lines.
The opposition has left Democrats fuming. They say Republicans complain that Congress should focus more on the economy but oppose every measure Democrats take up to create jobs. In the Democratic view, the GOP is cynically blocking measures to reduce unemployment so they ensure an angry electorate this fall who will want to vote out incumbents, most of whom are Democrats.
“They want to blame us for failing to get things done that they themselves have blocked us from getting done,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
And, they’re dividing the left in the process, as their obstruction forces progressive legislation to be abandoned or watered down.
In the Senate, the Republicans, joining with a few conservative Democrats, have blocked measures that would offer summer jobs to teenagers, give aid to states to prevent layoffs of teachers and other state employees, and expand funding of Pell grants — arguing that all would raise the budget deficit.
Dulled enthusiasm on the left, coupled with rabid paranoid energy on the right, makes it hard to take credit for an amazing string of accomplishments.
“Legislative accomplishments and political popularity are very different things,” said Cole. “They are racking up victories, but they’re not building up political capital. We know we are going to win seats, they know they are going to lose seats.”
Anyone else sick of playing right into the Republicans’ hands?