Think for a minute about the agenda that is being articulated by Republicans these days. And then, given the fact that they now control both houses of Congress, think about what they aren’t doing about it. For example:
* They say that we need to fight ISIS more aggressively (whatever that means). But President Obama has been asking Congress to pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS for months now. Nada.
* They say that we need to secure our borders. Most of them think we should build an impenetrable wall on our border with Mexico. Some of them even say that we should deport all 10 million undocumented immigrants. Have we seen a bill on any of that in Congress? No.
* They say that they want to repeal Obamacare. OK, they actually passed a bill to do that. But they’ve also said that they want to replace it. Anyone seen that plan floating around anywhere? Not so much.
* They say that the problem with gun violence is that we don’t do enough to provide mental health treatment. Congress could do something about that. Have they? No.
* We’ve heard a lot about criminal justice reform. And some bills even passed out of committees. But so far – nothing has actually come up for a vote.
* I don’t know about you, but I haven’t even heard any rumblings from Congress on anything we can do about jobs or wages.
* Of course, most Republicans deny that climate change even exists, so they’re not interested in doing anything about that.
That is the backdrop on which President Obama has stepped forward to take executive actions where he can. Here’s how Ed Kilgore described it:
If you look back at Obama’s record on big executive actions — on guns, climate change, and immigration — you see the same situation. It’s not that he’s fought for “liberal” as opposed to “conservative” policies in these areas. It’s that congressional Republicans, pressured by conservative opinion-leaders and interest groups, have refused to do anything at all…So there’s literally no one to hold bipartisan negotiations with on these issues, and no way to reach common ground.
Even if we simply look at the issues Republicans themselves have identified, none of them are stagnant. There is no such thing as a neutral position. Choosing to do nothing has consequences.
Republicans can shout all they want about how President Obama is by-passing Congress with his executive actions. But until they quit shouting and actually demonstrate that they can do something, it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing.