The more things change, the more they stay the same. On the eve of midterms elections that could make him House Speaker, John Boehner announced, "This is not a time for compromise." His lieutenant Mike Pence (R-IN) echoed that line, declaring that with a new Republican majority "there will be no compromise" with President Obama and the Democrats. Of course, with their record-setting use of the filibuster, unprecedented obstruction of presidential nominees, and unified no votes on almost every major piece of legislation, the past performance of Congressional Republicans is a guarantee of future results.
Even before Barack Obama took the oath office, Republicans leaders, conservative think-tanks and right-wing pundits were calling for total obstruction of the new president's agenda. Bill Kristol, who helped block Bill Clinton's health care reform attempt in 1993, called for history to repeat on the Obama stimulus - and everything else. Pointing with pride to the Clinton economic program which received exactly zero GOP votes in either House, Kristol in January 2009 advised:
"That it made, that it made it so much easier to then defeat his health care initiative. So, it's very important for Republicans who think they're going to have to fight later on on health care, fight later on maybe on some of the bank bailout legislation, fight later on on all kinds of issues.."
And so, as the table above reveals, it came to pass.
On issue after issue, even when President Obama extended his hand, Republicans showed him the back of theirs. Despite dedicating 40% of the $787 billion stimulus package to tax cuts (making it, as Steve Benen noted, the "biggest tax cut ever"), Obama got no GOP votes in the House and only three in the Senate. Months of painful concessions to supposedly moderate Senate Republicans only served to produce a watered-down health care bill - and no GOP support.
Time after time, President Obama could count the votes he received from Congressional Republicans on the fingers (usually the middle) of one hand. The expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) to four million more American kids earned the backing of a whopping eight GOP Senators. (One of them, Arlen Specter, later became a Democrat.) Badly needed Wall Street reform eventually overcame GOP filibusters to pass with the support of just three Republicans in the House and Senate, respectively. This summer, it took 50 days for President Obama to get past Republican filibusters of extended unemployment benefits and the Small Business Jobs Act. As for the DISCLOSE Act, legislation designed to limit the torrent of secret campaign cash unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, in September Republican Senators prevented it from ever coming to a vote.
And when they weren't showing up to vote no on President Obama's initiatives, Senate Republicans blocked voting altogether.
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