The Obama legislative agenda was built around an "advancing tide" theory.January. As in "within days after Obama was sworn into office." They never figured it out.
Democrats would start with bills that targeted relatively narrow problems, such as expanding health care for low-income children, reforming Pentagon contracting practices and curbing abuses by credit-card companies. Republicans would see the victories stack up and would want to take credit alongside a popular president. As momentum built, larger bipartisan coalitions would form to tackle more ambitious initiatives.
The president stacked his administration with Capitol Hill veterans to help get the job done. Vice President Biden had served in the Senate since 1972. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had been a rising star in the House. Senior advisers Pete Rouse and Jim Messina, budget director Peter Orszag and legislative affairs director Phil Schiliro had close ties to key lawmakers.
By the end of June, Congress had sent 10 major bills to Obama, including tougher tobacco regulations, a new public service initiative, and recession-related efforts to provide mortgage relief and curb predatory banking practices.
But Republican votes never materialized -- at least not in meaningful form that the White House had in mind. The first hint of GOP obstruction had emerged in January, when Obama made an early trip to Capitol Hill to urge support for his stimulus bill.
Standing at the microphones in the Ohio Clock corridor after the closed-door meeting with House Republicans, Obama expressed hope that his adversaries could "put politics aside" and support the bill.As I said for months now, the GOP long ago decided that there was no additional downside to unilaterally obstructing every single piece of Obama's legislation, knowing that if nothing got done and Americans saw the country was going to hell, Democrats would get the blame. The GOP would simply play the victim card. They never had any intent at bipartisanship. Ever. They were never going to come around. They were never going to work with the President on anything. Let America burn. Let them all go to hell. But let them blame the Democrats when they get there.
But even as he spoke, House GOP leaders were urging their rank-and-file to vote against the rescue package. Obama had just departed when House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) issued a statement calling the plan a "wasteful and unfocused package."
The bill received zero Republican votes in the House. Eight months later, by the time bipartisan health-care talks collapsed in September, the GOP outreach effort was effectively dead.
And at every turn the Democrats relented so that the resulting legislation was toothless and ineffective. It assured that the Dems couldn't take credit for what did pass. The GOP had the Dems figured out before Obama was ever sworn in, and the Dems were in the trap from day one.
They got played for fools. And now America will pay the price for their staggering stupidity.