07.12.2013 1

Obstruction is a good thing

U.S. Capitol at NightBy Rick Manning

Obstructing policies that dramatically expand the size and scope of government is not only the right thing to do, it is the duty of elected officials who swear an oath to protect our nation and uphold the Constitution.

Our entire constitutional system of government depends upon a minority vigorously using every tool at their disposal to prevent laws that they believe are bad for the country from taking hold.

This is also the reason that the framers chose to give U.S. Senators the solemn responsibility to decide if a presidential appointee is suitable for service.  It is one of the few brakes the minority party in the Senate can put on a runaway executive branch.

Yet, just this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to invoke the so-called nuclear option in the Senate which would strip minority rights to stop particularly egregious presidential nominees.

The people whose views fell short in the past election always have an operating assumption that those elected officials who are in the minority will use every bit of power at their disposal to defeat nominees or policies that they believe are harmful to the nation.  While not efficient, this is the way our government has been set up, based upon the concept of majority rule fettered by a very strong set of minority rights.

Due to their perceived unwillingness to exercise their minority rights to their fullest on issues and nominations that are critical to the future of the nation, Republicans in Congress face a frustrated party base.  It is exactly this type of perceived unwillingness to exercise their minority rights to their fullest on issues and nominations that have Republicans reeling.

House Republicans have voted ad nauseum to repeal Obamacare, yet they have consistently yielded without a struggle when it comes to funding its component parts.  Back home, their constituents who sent many of them to Washington to clean up the Obamacare mess, rightfully wonder why their elected champions have shied away from using the basic power of the purse to rein in the implementation of the ill-conceived law that is truly dangerous to the public health.

On the global warming front, Republicans have railed against Obama’s radical environmental agenda and have successfully stymied his attempts to pass legislation empowering agencies like the EPA to implement his full scale attack on coal and other fossil fuels that power our economy.

All the while, the same EPA has engaged in a wholesale regulatory assault on the energy sector of the economy unfettered by any significant, targeted budget cuts that undermines their efforts to put a regulatory regime in place that is bad for the economy, costly for consumers, disastrous for job creation and dubious in its environmental value.

Many EPA critics viewed the upcoming confirmation “battle” over a new EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, as being the perfect opportunity for the Senate minority to make a stand against the Obama/Sierra Club global warming plan.

The politics made sense as private sector unions in the mining and construction trades have begun to break from the traditional Democrat support due to the EPA’s activity.

There was also the opportunity to make the case to low wage workers with a particular emphasis on the African American and Hispanic communities that the EPA was killing good paying jobs, putting a higher emphasis on owls, toads and bait fish than the dignity of having a job and taking care of your own business.

Incredibly none of this occurred, and any hope to stop the nomination was officially killed when a number of Republicans decided for their own reasons not to stop the nomination using the filibuster process.  In fact, the minority party’s questions of the nominee during her confirmation hearing centered primarily around inside the beltway concerns about email accounts, rather than the red meat issues where the nominee was vulnerable.

Hardly a rallying cry that will bring together diverse constituencies and reshape the political map.

The meteoric rise of Senator Ted Cruz as a rock star amongst the conservative base is proof of just how hungry outside the beltway Republicans are for its congressional leadership to go on the offensive against Obama’s big government bullies.

150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln struggled as he shifted generals trying to find one who was willing to fight.  Finally, he found Ulysses S. Grant, who believed in attacking his opponent mercilessly until they submitted.

It is time that Republican congressional leaders begin to defend limited government principles with the same uncompromising grit that Grant displayed at Vicksburg and beyond as he led the Union forces to victory.

It is time to use every tool in the legislative toolbox to fight for individual liberties against an Obama Administration that presses ever onward in its attack on economic and personal freedoms, while castrating the military that defends us.

It is time to start fighting for what they said they believed when asking for the votes of their constituents.

If they lose, at least they will have tried, but if they fail to try, they are guaranteed to lose.  And our nation will have been transformed into the failed European socialist state that Obama envisions.

Rick Manning is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government.  You can follow Rick on twitter @rmanning957.

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