Human Events Blog

Harry Reid Goes Nuclear to Block Obama Jobs Bill

 

President Obama spends a great deal of time shrieking that Congress should “PASS THIS BILL!” immediately.  He’s referring to his new “stimulus” bill, a $1.5 trillion package of tax increases combined with $450 billion of spending and a $200 billion “infrastructure bank” slush fund.  The President spends a great deal of taxpayer money flying to campaign appearances where he can push for immediate passage of this bill, without any debate or alterations.

This “bill” was never meant as a serious piece of legislation, and Obama’s entire Democrat Party knows it.  It’s a campaign document, designed to give him class warfare talking points during his re-election bid, and provide something he can use as a club against supposedly “obstructionist” Republicans.  Although the bill has exactly zero Democrat sponsors in the House, Obama pretends that evil Republicans are somehow the only obstacle to its passage.  He sometimes even calls them out by name, especially House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. 

Part of this charade involves pretending the GOP has no alternative proposals, which is so obviously untrue that even liberal reporters look nervous when the President says it during press conferences.  A good number of Americans may disagree with various aspects of Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” proposal, but very few of them are willing to forget that it exists. 

A Republican, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, even grabbed the name of President Obama’s bill, the American Jobs Act of 2011.  He applied this name to a vastly superior proposal, which in two pages calls for nothing but the elimination of corporate taxes and the Alternative Minimum Tax.  This would cost the Treasury far less than Obama’s bill, increase no one’s taxes, and generate a massive boost in job creation… but to avoid calling Barack Obama a bald-faced liar, you have to do more than challenge Gohmert’s proposal.  You have to pretend he never made it.

The Obama bill has no Democrat sponsors because every single Democrat seat subject to next year’s elections is “in play.”  They’re all threatened, in what could be one of the most astonishing electoral landslides in history.  They’re absolutely terrified of associating themselves with massive tax increases and a pork-barrel spending bill, when their Party has brought America to the edge of economic collapse.

For the proof of this, we can look to the Senate, where the bill does have one Democrat sponsor: Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to call Reid’s bluff by attaching the Obama “jobs bill” to a China trade bill.  This is a technique often used by the minority party to force the majority to address legislation it would rather ignore.  Both Republican and Democrat minorities have used it many times over the years.  The Senate parliamentarian ruled McConnell’s legislative maneuver to be perfectly acceptable.

Reid is desperate to avoid an actual vote on the Obama bill he allegedly supports, so he tried several techniques to thwart McConnell’s effort to “PASS THIS BILL!”  First, he tried to fill all the amendment “slots” of the China trade bill with meaningless drivel, so McConnell couldn’t get the Pass This Bill Act on the table.

That didn’t work, so Reid changed the rules of the Senate.

You read that right.  Harry Reid just changed the rules of the Senate to block a vote on President Barack Obama’s jobs bill.

The Hill explains what happened, in a move they refer to as “Reid’s coup”:

In a shocking development Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered a rarely used procedural option informally called the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules.

Reid and 50 members of his caucus voted to change Senate rules unilaterally to prevent Republicans from forcing votes on uncomfortable amendments after the chamber has voted to move to final passage of a bill.

This heavy-handed tactic of changing the Senate rules is widely described as the “nuclear option.”  The Democrat Party used to be very strongly opposed to the “nuclear option,” back when they were in the minority, and using filibuster tactics to block President Bush’s appellate court nominees.  A celebrated bipartisan “Gang of 14” was eventually created to defuse the nuclear threat.

One of the Democrats most stridently opposed to the “nuclear option” was, of course, Harry Reid.  Investors.com sets the Wayback Machine to 2008, which is not exactly ancient history:

When Harry Reid was hawking his book “The Good Fight” on C-Span’s “Book Notes” in 2008, he described how he had vehemently opposed GOP plans for the “nuclear option,” changing the rules to break a Democratic filibuster on President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. Only 51 votes would be needed to move them along.

“What the Republicans came up with was a way to change our country forever,” Reid stated. “We would in fact have a unicameral legislature where a simple majority would determine everything that happens … the Senate was set up to be different. That was the genius, the vision, of our Founding Fathers.”

Harry Reid, three years later: “Screw the genius of the Founding Fathers!  We’ve got to stop a vote on Obama’s jobs bill before it ruins the Democrat Party!”

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) appeared on Mark Levin’s radio show to discuss this astonishing development:

Meanwhile, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) described Reid’s move in one word, via Twitter: “Tyranny.”

Consider the timing of what just happened.  Just hours before Reid blocked his jobs bill, President Obama gave a very long press conference in which he made a point of whining about “Republican obstructionism.”  Harry Reid just made an utter fool of President Obama.

And if that’s not astounding enough, think of the long-term ramifications.  Reid will almost certainly reverse his “coup” under intense political and popular pressure – the Senate is currently “cooling off” and is supposed to return Tuesday, so he was really just playing for time.  However, it will become very difficult for Democrats to complain about the “nuclear option” when they lose the Senate next year, which is highly likely.  Do you suppose the Democrats might want to have a say in Republican legislation come 2013… perhaps something to do with health care, let’s say?

If President Obama wants to keep moaning about “obstructionism” without sounding like a lunatic, he should strongly consider switching parties.

 


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