Archive for March 3, 2010
Voices: Senator Grassley Leads GOP Obstructionism
by Dave Hunt
Valley Voices project is a citizen response to state Representative
Jeff Kaufmann’s column in the West Branch Times during the
George W. Bush came to office in 2000 inheriting a budget surplus and a
nation at peace. Eight years later budget busting tax cuts for the
rich, rapidly rising health care costs, two wars (including one of
choice) and an economic nosedive fueled by banking deregulation and
excessive speculation have created major challenges for the new Obama
In solving these problems, President Obama has attempted in both word
and deed to pursue a policy of bipartisanship. Republicans, however,
have adopted a policy of opposing everything that Obama does. While this
may seem to be short-sighted and dangerous, this policy appears to be
To confront the economic meltdown, President Obama proposed a stimulus
bill. He limited the size of this bill and inserted tax cuts in order
to win support from Republicans such as our own Chuck Grassley. Despite
weakening the bill in this way, there was no GOP support.
Republicans have fought health care reform every step of the way. “We
must defeat Obama on health care. This will break him.” This quote was
from Senator Jim DeMint. Despite this, Senator Baucus worked hard to
fashion a bipartisan health reform bill which included all demands that
Republicans made. And again the Republicans refused to support this
bill, led by our own Chuck Grassley’s opposition. Obama and the
Democrats even gave up on the public option. The public option is still
desired by a large majority of Americans.
Other Republican ideas that Obama has taken up include a Deficit
Commission, Pay as You Go, and Cap and Trade as a form of handling
pollution. Once Obama supported these policies, Republicans did an
immediate about face and opposed them.
In foreign policy, John McCain campaigned on closing the prison at
Guantanimo Bay. When Obama pursued this policy, Republicans made loud
noise against it. When the underwear bomber was caught and plans for a
trial were made, Republicans howled despite this being an almost exactly
similar circumstance to the shoe bomber. Richard Reed was tried and
convicted in civilian court.
This intransigence to anything Obama and Democrats try to do, is most
evident in the Senate. Using the filibuster, a solid Republican
minority has been able to frustrate nearly all legislation. In 2006 when
Democrats took over the Senate, the use of the filibuster to stop
legislation by the minority rose to a record level and continues to soar
into unprecedented territory. Now, everything needs 60 votes to pass.
Plus many of Obama’s appointments are stalled by the practice of Senate
‘holds’ which allows one senator to stop any appointment. No other
democracy allows the will of the majority to be so subverted.
Republicans are the party of NO. And their effort is aided by a media
that is more concerned about profit than doing its job. The major
networks would rather discuss Michael Jackson’s doctor than analyze
Beyond the quiescent media is the media that seems to act as a public
relations arm of the Republican Party. Recently, they have promoted
stories that there were no terrorist attacks in the US during the Bush
Administration (they forgot at least one). Also they have continued to
give a forum to those who claim Obama is a fascist and a communist who
was not born in this country. In short they act to undermine anything
our President attempts.
In order to move this country forward, citizens need to be well
informed and engaged. Only then will we be able to overcome the forces
of cynicism, obstruction and short term political gain.
Dave Hunt is a retired
social studies teacher who lives in Tipton. He is a former Iowa Teacher
of the Year who taught at North Cedar High School.