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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

 
Six years in, Obama finally realizes that Republicans cannot be worked with

by David Atkins

Republicans have lost their leverage, at long last, as even compromise-obsessed President Obama realizes they simply cannot be dealt with:

It’s become clear in recent weeks that President Obama and congressional Republicans are reading from very different scripts. The notion that the two institutional forces are butting heads is plainly wrong – they are two trains on separate tracks moving in completely different directions.

GOP lawmakers are now fully invested in fake “scandals” and an upcoming lawsuit/campaign stunt, the point of which they’re still trying to figure out. Obama, clearly tired of waiting for a Congress that will not govern, has become more enthusiastic about using his executive authority on everything from climate to discrimination to the minimum wage.

Clearly, the president’s willingness to keep governing without them has only enraged congressional Republicans – who were already livid. But it’s now obvious that the president simply does not care. Not even a little. The more GOP lawmaker scream, “No more executive actions!” the more Obama thinks to himself, “I wonder what other executive actions I can take.”
The Republicans may have stymied any legislative action by being the most obstructionist Congress in history.

But in so doing they've also eliminated their leverage over a seemingly newly liberated president. Steven Benen puts it perfectly:

Some pundits have suggested the president giving up on Republicans who refuse to govern will only make things worse, but I’m not sure how that’s even possible. If Congress is doing nothing, what’s worse than nothing?

Obama added, “We’re not always going to be able to get things through Congress, at least this Congress, the way we want to. But we sure as heck can make sure that the folks back home know that we’re pushing their agenda and that we’re working hard on their behalf and we’re doing every single thing we can do to make a difference in their lives. So I want to make sure that we emphasize not what we can’t do, but what we can do in the coming months.”

If congressional Republicans find this outrageous – and we know they do – their remedy couldn’t be simpler: try working on meaningful legislation that’s intended to pass. Obama has said repeatedly, including today, that he’d prefer to sign some actual bills, if only Congress would pass some.

But in the meantime, this is a president who no longer cares whether his unhinged critics are unhappy. It’s a welcome shift in posture, which is arguably overdue.
In the meantime it's a very long shot, but if the differences are stark enough and obvious enough to the public, it might even help provide a more pliable Congress during the final two years of the President's term.


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