2012-01-10 / Editorial

The party of no vote

OTHER VOICES

Nothing illustrates the dysfunctional nature of Washington-level politics better than the tripe we are hearing over President Obama’s decision to appoint Richard Cordray the new consumer watchdog, bypassing stubborn GOP opposition.

Also fully in the spotlight are the tactics Republicans have employed in tying up Congress whenever they can’t get their way, or when they see an opportunity to bash the president or gain a political advantage.

The president, however, made this “recess appointment” on his own while Congress is out of session, after waiting and waiting and waiting for minority Republicans in the Senate to allow a vote on Cordray’s nomination. He was first proposed this summer for the post, which in part would assist citizens with complaints against financial institutions.

Republicans aren’t in favor of more tightly regulating the institutions that were at the center of the financial meltdown of 2008-09, and therefore they oppose this nomination. In what has become standard operating procedure for thwarting the president’s every nomination to virtually any post, they simply prevented a vote in the Senate, using the dubious filibuster rules available to a minority party.

Republicans have been relentless in using this tactic to block nominations and many other proposals offered by the president, setting alltime records for filibuster politics and ensuring gridlock in Washington.

The situation is most acute, of course, when it comes to federal court appointments, which Republicans have routinely stalled and blocked to historic levels.

That is not, of course, how the system should work. Nominees are supposed to be approved in the Senate based on their qualifications to serve. At any rate, they deserve a vote, not a filibuster threat.

The biggest laugh last week was in the pseudo outrage of Republicans in Congress. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the president has “arrogantly circumvented the American people,” and House Speaker John Boehner called it “an unprecedented power grab” by Obama.

Instead, what they are seeing is a president who, after years of trying to find compromises with bitterly partisan Republicans in Congress, has had enough.

The recess appointment is a perfectly legal, constitutional and precedented manner of filling a key post when Congress is not in session. And flimsy GOP efforts to pretend the Senate was in session — banging a gavel for a few minutes in an empty chamber — were contemptible.

The only reason Republicans have not had their say on this appointment is because they have pointedly refused to vote on it.

They have played hardball all the way with President Obama, from Day One of his presidency. They should not be surprised whenever he throws the high inside heater at their hard heads.

— Bennington (Vt.) Banner

letters@timesrecord.com

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