"Congressional historians said Mr. Boehner's move was unprecedented." A month before Senate Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s popular jobs bill, that’s how the New York Times described Speaker John Boehner's refusal to grant the President's request for a September 7 address to joint session of Congress to present the American Jobs Act. As it turns out, "unprecedented" is apt description for almost every boulder in the stone wall of Republican obstructionism Barack Obama has faced from the moment he took the oath of office. From the GOP's record-setting use of the filibuster and its united front against Obama's legislative agenda to blocking judicial nominees and its admitted hostage-taking of the U.S. debt ceiling, the Republican Party has broken new ground in its perpetual quest to ensure that Barack Obama will be a one-term president.
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 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 chart above reveals, it came to pass.
Time after time, President Obama could count the votes he received from Congressional Republicans on the fingers (usually the middle one) 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. Last 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.
The one-way street that is bipartisanship in Washington was most clearly on display during each party's attempts to pass tax cuts and economic stimulus. While some turncoat Democrats (like debt super committee member Max Baucus) helped Reagan and Bush sell their supply-side snake oil, Republicans were determined to torpedo new Democratic presidents: