On Wednesday Senate Republicans vowed, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to block any and all legislation until there is resolution on the continuation of the Bush era tax cuts. From The New York Times article, here are some of the things that won't get done until the tax cut issue is resolved:
- The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
- The continuation of jobless benefits for millions of still unemployed Americans, with benefits set to expire (wait for it) on Christmas day
- The ratification of the New START Treaty
- Passage of the DREAM Act, giving illegal immigrants brought here as children the opportunity to become U.S. citizens
- Passage of the previously passed (but parliamentary fumbled) food safety bill
Very seriously, 2 out of 5 of those might reflexively raise the ire of Republicans. They could even be considered part of a "liberal wishlist" but 3 out of 5 seem largely mundane. But of course, in the Republican economic policy, tax cuts are supreme. It would appear literally nothing else matters. Sen. Mitch McConnell seems to suggest the legislative work the Democrats are trying to accomplish runs counter to the outcome of the election. I think he misreads the situation.
You see, the Republicans don't actually take power until next month, but I think in the minds of many Americans the transfer of power happens on election night. Republicans are in a strengthened position and I believe those that voted for them, by and large, expected that they would govern, not obstruct. I think the failure to pass some of these things will fall at the feet of Republicans. I'm a poor prognosticator so take that prediction for what it's worth, but after the holidays, if millions of people no longer receive unemployment benefits, if all Americans see the tax cuts sunset, they will also see a Republican Speaker of the House and a strengthened Senate Minority Leader. Sure, President Obama will get some blame, but he doesn't cast a vote.
I think people will see this as the Republican party, extorting Democrats and throwing a tantrum like a child that wants two scoops of ice cream, but only got one. I wonder what Republicans will do in January. Is the Republican party capable, with its current membership, of governing at all?