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You’re Not Crazy, They Really Are Trying To Make Things Worse

Updated on July 13, 2015
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Jeff is a computer professional who takes a great interest in politics and tries to always distinguish fact from opinion.

If you've been thinking that nothing ever gets done in Congress and that many of our problems only get worse, it’s not your imagination.

The truth is, many members of Congress have been dedicated to making sure that nothing gets done and our problems don’t get better - all for the purpose of winning the next election.

Take High Gas Prices

Here’s an example. Back when the Democrats had a majority in both houses of Congress, the Republicans blamed the Democrats for not doing anything to address high gas prices - which were around $3.85 a gallon. Democrats offered a bill to speed up oil production on 65 million acres of U.S. land that oil companies already have leases for, but are not drilling on. It would also open new leases for producing oil.

Republicans filibustered the bill and prevented it from coming up for a vote.

Senate Republicans
Senate Republicans

Political Sabotage as a Substitute for Governing

  • Democrats wrote a bill to stop price gouging and profiteering by oil speculators, which is currently one of the biggest factors in driving up oil prices. The Republicans filibustered the bill and never allowed a vote.
  • Democrats offered legislation that would require oil companies to invest a little bit of their massive profits to develop clean alternative energy. Republicans filibustered it and never let it come up for a vote.
  • Democrats drafted a bill to give tax incentives to the private sector which encourage innovation, research and production of alternative energies from solar, wind, geothermal and other sources as well as tax breaks for buying hybrid cars.
  • The Republicans filibustered all these bills and refused to even offer their own ideas about how to address the issue of high energy prices. But they did accomplish one thing, they successfully blamed the Democrats for doing nothing about high gas prices.

Senator Ted Cruz famously used the Senate filibuster rule to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Senator Ted Cruz famously used the Senate filibuster rule to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Congressional Dirty Tricks

The most effective way to make sure nothing gets done in Congress is to relentlessly use the Senate Filibuster rule as often as possible. The original purpose of the filibuster was to allow a senator to prolong debate, hold the floor and delay a vote on a bill so they could try to persuade other senators to vote their way. But once the filibuster was over, the bill would still need a simple majority of votes, 51% to get passed into law.

The Filibuster Was Never Intended for Political Trickery

There is nothing in the Constitution about the filibuster. It is just an obscure Senate rule that has been misused in a manner for which it was never intended.

The way it has been used in recent years, the filibuster goes against the very concept of a Constitutional Democracy. It is invoked when as few as 41% of Senators want to kill legislation that they know would otherwise easily pass into law by a simple majority vote. This, in effect, forces every bill to require 60 votes in order to become law.

So this rule, which was originally intended to promote more debate about a bill in the Senate, is now being misused to prevent legislation from ever getting voted on.

Yes, Democrats Use the Filibuster Too

In case you’re wondering, both parties have misused the filibuster in this way. Democrats also use the filibuster - to a much lesser degree - when they are in the minority. In fact they filibustered about 10% of George W. Bush’s judicial nominees.

But during Obama's presidency, Republicans filibustered virtually every bill in the Senate including bills that they themselves co-sponsored just to make sure nothing would get done.

In 2009, shortly after President Obama first took office, Senator Mitch McConnell stated that their number one objective was to make certain that Obama would be a one term president.
In 2009, shortly after President Obama first took office, Senator Mitch McConnell stated that their number one objective was to make certain that Obama would be a one term president.

Why Do Things Have To Get Worse?

Republicans never hid the fact that they would do anything to make Obama's presidency fail in order to guarantee he would be a one-term president.

  • In February of 2010, they filibustered a jobs bill for several weeks, but when one senator changed his mind and broke the filibuster, allowing an actual vote on the bill, it easily passed with 74 “yes” votes. That means at least 15 Republicans had voted to filibuster (or kill) the bill but actually voted for the bill when they finally allowed a vote. So they didn't vote against the bill on its merits, they just wanted to stop the Democrats from passing any bill at all.
  • In 2010, Democrats tried to pass a bill to end tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs, thus keeping more jobs here in America. Republicans used the filibuster to kill it.
  • In 2009, Republicans filibustered President Obama’s appointment of judge Barbara Milano Keenan to the U.S. Circuit Court. They held up the nomination until March of 2010. When they finally ended the filibuster and allowed an up or down vote, the appointment was approved, 99 to 0. Ninety nine to zero! Not one senator had a legitimate reason to oppose the nominee, but they filibustered the appointment anyway just because they wanted to block everything.

Obstructionism is Just a Nice Word for Treason

Republicans have demonstrated that they weren't filibustering bills based on a philosophical difference of opinion. Rather they were just trying to create gridlock so nothing at all would get done. This is not the action of a loyal opposition party, this is the definition of obstructionism.

Republicans used the filibuster rule a record 505 times in just six years to prevent anything from getting done when they were in the minority. They successfully prevented many job creation bills - which would have easily passed with a simple majority vote - from even being voted on. This slowed the pace of the economic recovery which allowed them to blame President Obama and the Democrats. And they were duly rewarded for this treacherous behavior in the 2010 and 2014 congressional elections.

Yes, They Hurt The American People and Yes It Was Deliberate

It is indisputable that during the first six years of the Obama presidency, Republicans did everything they could to slow down the economic recovery, stifle job creation and generally try to make America fail. This unparalleled level of obstructionism was not due to philosophical differences. It was an act of treachery that can only be compared to treason.


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