‘They’ve turned the world inside out’

We may see a Senate vote as early as tonight on the pending jobs measure, though it will be on the motion to proceed, not the final bill. In other words, Republicans aren’t just prepared to filibuster job-creation efforts, they’re also going to filibuster the Senate’s ability to discuss job-creation efforts.

The outcome is, alas, a foregone conclusion. The Democratic effort to save or create 400,000 jobs for teachers, police officers, and firefighters will die at the hands of GOP obstructionism. Why? Publicly, it’s because Dems intend to pay for the jobs with a 0.5% surtax on millionaires and billionaires. Privately, it’s possibly because Republicans just don’t want to create jobs anyway.

It doesn’t matter if Americans overwhelmingly love the idea. It doesn’t even matter that Republican voters love the idea. The GOP doesn’t care.

Michael Tomasky explains today how this would have worked “in normal times.”

In an earlier time, in normal times, when legislators used to behave the way legislators are supposed to behave, the minority’s leaders would have brought the price tag down, made the majority and the White House agree to something they wanted — peeling back one of those EPA regulations the Republicans hate — and we’d have had a deal. The minority would never have confronted the very premise. It was a priority of the president, which used to matter, at least sometimes, and more persuasively than that, the minority would have actually paid a bit of attention to those polls showing the American people backed this.

Poof — all that is long gone. The Republican Party’s posture to the American people is this. Your opinion on issues like teachers and taxes doesn’t matter a whit to us. True, if you happened to agree with us, we’d use that to our advantage, but since you don’t, we really don’t care.

What Tomasky is describing is the traditional congressional process. If there was a jobs crisis and Americans were demanding action, Dems would present a plan, Republicans would haggle the price down, wavering members would get a new highway expansion or some comparable sweetner, and leaders would cobble together a simple majority in an up-or-down vote.

The very idea that the minority would filibuster the debate itself, then filibuster the bill, then reject any effort at compromises, then refuse to offer a credible alternative, then rule out the possibility of creating any jobs at all during a jobs crisis would have seemed genuinely insane for much of American history. And yet, in 2011, the entire political world finds this routine and unsurprising. It won’t be front-page news tomorrow morning, and we’d be lucky if most the public heard about the developments at all.

Tomasky concluded, “I have trouble keeping lunch down when I read these jeremiads about how sad and mysterious it is that our institutions of government are failing. It’s not a mystery. One side wants them to fail. And there’s very little the other side can do about it, besides point it out, which the president has started doing — and now he’s the one being divisive! They’ve turned the world inside out.”

Yes, they have. If Americans aren’t satisfied with this, they’re going to have to speak up about it.