POTUS THROWS AN ELBOW AT THE SENATE, GOP IN WEEKLY ADDRESS…. The Senate this week rejected extended aid to the unemployed, some popular middle-class tax credits, and state assistance intended to prevent massive layoffs. A day later, the Senate rejected it again. I was pleased, then, to see President Obama use this opportunity to throw a few elbows in his weekly address.
Specifically, the president described himself as “disappointed” to see “a dreary and familiar politics get in the way of our ability to move forward on a series of critical issues that have a direct impact on people’s lives.”
He added, “Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate won’t even allow this legislation to come up for a vote. And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home. All we ask for is a simple up or down vote. That’s what the American people deserve.”
Better yet, the address tied this into the larger problem of scandalous Republican obstructionism, noting that the GOP also recently refused to allow the Senate to vote on oil company liability, and continues to refuse votes on 136 qualified pending administration nominees.
“Look, the nature of our democracy is that we’ll always have disagreements and debates — even heated ones. That’s healthy and it’s important. But let’s argue over genuine differences — over ideas and policies. And let’s go into those debates with an open mind — a willingness to find common ground and a conviction that, in the end, one way or another, we will have a vote to decide them. Next week, I’ll be meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators to discuss how we can transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels and embrace a clean energy future. I don’t expect that we’ll agree on a solution right away. In fact, I know that there will be plenty of disagreement and different ideas. But at least it shows that Republicans and Democrats can still sit down together in an attempt to tackle the big challenges facing our nation.”
Well, it would show that if the parties could sit down together in an attempt to tackle the big challenges facing our nation. I’m fairly certain, however, that when next week’s meeting on energy policy takes place, the president (and the rest of us) will find that Republicans are about as interested in serious problem-solving on this as they’ve been on every other issue of late — which is to say, not at all.
Still, it’s a systemic flaw in our political system in desperate need of additional attention. I have no idea how much attention a weekly address in mid-June is going to generate, but this seems worthwhile anyway.