The Compromise Canard
Barack Obama and many Democrats routinely accuse Republicans of being incapable of compromise. Journalists follow their orders and spread the message. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
In fact, Tea Party members often object that Republicans compromise on too many issues. A big tent leads to such disputation; it is called liberty. Valid arguments can be made to support a variety of positions. But it is a myth propagated by liberals that refusal to compromise is built into the DNA of conservatives. Call it projection or call it propaganda, but liberals -- led by the president -- have been the ones who have repeatedly refused to compromise. They do not respect the will of the American people and have made a mockery of our Constitution.
Barack Obama set the tone and revealed his agenda early in his presidency. A mere three days after his first inauguration, he gathered Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House to discuss the proposed stimulus plan. When presented a list of modest Republican proposals, he told (off) the Republicans that “elections have consequences” and “I won”. As Marc Thiessen wrote in the Washington Post:
Backed by the largest congressional majorities in decades, the president was not terribly interested in giving ground to his vanquished adversaries.
That was an understatement.
What followed was an orgy of spending and debt accumulation unrivaled in history. The regulatory agencies became growth industries, as did crony capitalist boondoggles. The hangover will last decades and has undoubtedly made this recovery weaker than it otherwise would have been. Obama and his Democratic overlords in both Houses of Congress rammed through measures that Republicans could do very little to stop. Not that Democrats cared.
When Scott Brown, a Republican, won the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s senatorial seat after Kennedy died, Democrats faced the prospect of losing their ability to pass Obamacare in the form they designed. They refused to listen to any talk of compromise or listen to warnings from Republicans that a disaster was in the making. They resorted to extreme actions by passing the bill through an unprecedented “budget reconciliation” tactic. Even then they had to in essence bribe reluctant Democrats through favors granted to them (“Cornhusker Kickback,” “Louisiana Purchase”) to garner their votes. No rewrite, no delay, and certainly no comprise with Republicans. Compromise did not exist in the Democrats’ lexicon.
In the wake of the 2010 Republican takeover of the House, Democrats in the Senate and Barack Obama faced the first real obstacle to their agenda. Rule by decree became the norm. After a history on the campaign trail of castigating George Bush for issuing signing statements when affixing his signature to laws passed by Congress, Obama made liberal use of them to avoid enforcing aspects of the law he considered, in his regalness, to be infringements of his power. Recess appointments were made to work around Republican opposition to his more radical nominations (relative to his merely radical nominations). ObamaCare has been so disfigured by Obama’s waivers, delays, enforcement discretion, obfuscation, twisting of the plain meaning of the law and twisting of regulations, that it taken on aspects of a Rube Goldberg device ready to collapse at any time.
Republicans have made innumerable offers to work with Democrats to repair and “reform this reform” or scrap the whole misbegotten mess so healthcare reform actually works; and they have been met with…no compromise offers in return. Instead this jury-rigged power grab has been so distorted by patches and ploys by Obama and his lackeys that even the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has cried uncle. It is literally impossible for them to assess the fiscal impact of the law. Instead of compromising and working across the aisle, President Obama rewrites laws to decide what they will be. Immigration laws are meant to be ignored, right? Washington has become a banana republic, complete with the humidity.
A lawless president has created an imperial presidency, yet Republicans are tarred for their adamant refusal to compromise with (i.e., submit to) such a leader. Obama announced he intends to circumvent Congress, gutting the second branch of government-and declares he will rule by his pen and his phone, and the media’s position is what? Supine -- when not depicting Republicans as obstructionists who refuse to compromise.
Barack Obama barely deigns to meet with Republicans to discuss policy, despite numerous entreaties by the Republicans that he do so, preferring to discuss his favorite type of peppers with a New Mexican disk jockey; chat with the Pimp with The Limp; pick NCAA Tournament winners on TV; josh with David Letterman; play hoops with NBA superstars; golf with Tiger Woods and his newest BFF, former football great Alanzo Mourning; be serenaded by Paul McCartney and other music legends; humored by Jerry Seinfeld; and make numerous visits to donors in Tinseltown. Has there been any interest in meeting with Republicans despite veritable pleas by them that he do so to formulate policy? Where is the willingness to compromise?
After winning reelection in 2012, Obama did agree to meet with Speaker of the House Boehner to discuss the “fiscal cliff.” Boehner wanted something in return if he agreed to raise income taxes on those earning more than $1 million a year. How did Obama handle that offer to compromise? The Wall Street Journal reported:
Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.
At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”
“You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”
How about that for “compromise”?
When journalists accuse Republicans of being incapable of compromise, do they ever question Obama about his rhetoric? Obama routinely taunts and denigrates those who do not follow his orders. Skeptics about climate change are members of the “Flat Earth Society” who think that the moon is made of cheese. Republicans make “stinkburgers” and “meanwhiches” (this from the man who was declared the world’s greatest orator). Republicans want to build moats on the border of Mexico and fill it with alligators to eat Hispanics. Republicans are “hostage-takers” and bomb throwers. Even should Republicans should agree to follow his decrees well…in Obama’s words, “We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for a ride, but they gotta sit in back." When frustrated by congressional and constitutional roadblocks to his agenda, he refuses to “triangulate” a la Bill Clinton and instead muses about going full Bulworth in his second term. Does anything in that rhetoric sound like an invitation to engage with Republicans, to compromise?
Democrats pile on whenever Republicans don’t sit in the back of the bus. Reid called Tea Partiers anarchists who are taking America hostage; Democrats, including their leaders who should but don’t remain civil, call Republicans jihadists, arsonists and terrorists regularly (videos cued up here) and, of course, are racists. Harry Reid again: “I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK. Do I need to say more?" ; Republicans are “servants of Satan” (okay, I made the last one up but it sounds like something Harry Reid might say about Republicans in hock to the satanic Koch brothers -- all the while protected from lawsuits by spewing such nonsense from the floor of the Senate).
Does insulting language encourage a meeting of the minds?
Harry Reid has been a faithful servant to Obama, as well as to cronies who have made him a rich man (see Harry Reid's Long, Steady Accretion of Power & Wealth). As Majority Leader of the Senate he has yielded dictatorial powers. What for centuries has been acclaimed as the world’s greatest deliberative body has become a rubber stamp for Obama and the Democrats; a rubber stamp held by Reid. As John Hinderaker wrote at the estimable Powerline, “ Harry Reid is destroying the Senate”
He controls the agenda of the Senate-what comes up for a vote and what doesn’t. What budget is passed and what is shot down. The Do-Nothing Congress critics harp on is really a Do Nothing Senate as the House passes a stream of bills that die at the hands of Dirty Harry. John Boehner, flawed as we all are, was correct when he declared in late 2013 "To date, the House has passed nearly 150 bills that the United States Senate has failed to act on. The Senate (and) the President continue to stand in the way of the people's priorities."
Harry Reid has also ignores Republican senators, when not insulting them. He limits the number of amendments Republicans can attach to Senate bills by engaging in a maneuver called “filling the amendment tree”.
As Brian Darling wrote in “Tyranny in the United States Senate”:
Majority Leader Harry Reid has regularly used a procedural tactic called “filling the amendment tree” to restrict Senators’ right to debate and offer amendments. While previous Majority Leaders have occasionally used this tactic, Senator Reid has used this tactic often—more than all of his predecessors combined.
The world’s greatest deliberative body has been severely damaged because Senators’ right to debate and offer amendments has been severely restricted by Reid. (He has also employed a more arcane tactic to block motions to suspend the rules after debate is completed, further diminishing the ability of Republicans to offer amendments to bills he forces through the Senate).
Does that sound like compromise?
Reid has also abolished the filibuster for certain nominations, exercising even more tyranny.
The filibuster has been an age-old custom that has protected the rights of the minority in the Senate. The filibuster is a procedure where debate is extended. In practice, it has meant most legislation and presidential nominations need a 60% vote to bring a bill or nominee to the floor for a vote. Defenders have called the filibuster ‘The Soul of the Senate.”
When Republicans were in the Senate majority, Reid, then-Senator Obama and many other Democrats hailed the filibuster as playing a crucial role in our democracy and all but demonized Republicans who dared think about abolishing it. Filibusters have been used to ensure radical nominees are not confirmed by the Senate. It has been a tool to encourage compromise.
That was then; this is now. When confronted with GOP opposition to various Obama nominees, Reid pulled the trigger on the “nuclear option” and abolished the filibuster for most nominees chosen by Obama. There went the Soul of the Senate. Since the Democrats control the Senate, Obama has a clear path for his nominees to be confirmed –regardless of Republican resistance. These include federal judges with lifetime appointments, meaning Obama’s agenda will live on through the courts long after he leaves the Oval Office.
Does the abolition by Reid of the filibuster sound like “compromise”?
Has Barack Obama shown any willingness to compromise? Yes -- but with America’s adversaries and enemies. He does keep promises occasionally, such as the one when he promised sotto voce (this from the most transparent administration in history) to Putin’s puppet president that should Obama win a second term he would show more flexibility to Russia’s ruler. Flexibility has certainly followed; or appeasement, if not preemptive surrender.
Crimea has followed, as has the hollowing out of our military. Russia violates arms treaties with America: ho hum. Iran violates agreements regarding its oil exports and sanctions-look away as Obama compromises to mullahs. Obama extends warm greetings not just to the mullahs in Iran (far warmer than anything he has ever said to Republicans) and supported the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt and the terror group Hamas unifying with the Palestinian Authority, compromising American law prohibiting financial support for terror groups. The red line against Syria’s use of chemical weapons was compromised away (Obama wants us to believe he never even set one.) And “Assad must go” becomes “Assad must stay” at the behest of Putin. He is compromising away: Iraq and Afghanistan --to some combination of Al Qaeda, the sequel; Iranian mullahs; and the Taliban. He compromised our military honor by trading five Taliban murderers for a deserter (at best) and celebrated the happy occasion in the Rose Garden. He compromises away our allies to succor and comfort our enemies. The bow to the Saudi King was a metaphor of things to come.
Will the media ever report that the Democrats are the party that refuses to compromise?
A Republican takeover of the Senate will topple Harry Reid (hopefully once and for all and return him to the Ritz) so he can no longer serve as Obama’s enforcer and smother Republicans. Taking over the Senate will indeed, as Charles Cooke writes, do Republicans a lot of good -- as it will America. A GOP Senate could do significant damage to Obamacare and Obama’s agenda for America. A Republican Congress will make clear to the American people, despite the media firewall, that Obama and the Democrats are the ones who refuse to compromise. After all, why would they compromise on Obama’s dream to “fundamentally transform America” unless compelled to do so by voters?
A man with a plan that is wantonly reckless does not want to compromise with his political foes. America should bend Barack Obama to their will by electing a Republican Senate come November. Then Obama will be taught some lessons about the art of compromise.