No compromises in sight between Republicans and Democrats in Washington

November 22, 2010


— Washington began last week to come to grips with the new order of things, a regime in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds as much sway as the president of the United States.

With the additional leverage that six more Republican senators and a new Republican majority in the House has given him, McConnell is challenging President Obama’s agenda for the lame-duck session of Congress and signaling that he is prepared to keep up the fight right into the 2012 election.

Whether it is tax rates, or nuclear arms, Republicans are being assertive about their views and challenging Democrats to step up to the fight. Not one sign has appeared so far of any willingness to compromise.

On the face of it, Democrats hold the high ground rhetorically. When it comes to taxes, Obama is calling for extending the Bush cuts for every family making below $250,000 a year, which he says will take care of 98 percent of the population. Only Republicans are holding out for the millionaires to be included.

But if McConnell and his partners are embarrassed by their roles, they certainly don’t show it. Instead, they are playing chicken with the White House, in effect daring Obama to let rates rise for everyone on Jan. 1, whatever the risk to the fragile economic recovery.

Despite the good news that General Motors, which needed rescue in 2009 from impending bankruptcy, has recovered enough to become a star on Wall Street, the broader economy as this Christmas season opens is still barely limping along. It makes no sense even to be talking about a broad tax increase. Yet that is what could result from the partisan warfare in Washington.

The international counterpart of this fight is the debate over ratification of the New START treaty with Russia on control of nuclear weapons. A central goal of American foreign policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations has been securing our ability to monitor and limit Russian missile development.

Intrusive examination of Russian facilities ended with the expiration last December of the START treaty negotiated by President George W. Bush. A follow-on agreement, reducing the number of missiles on both sides and guaranteeing the inspections will continue, was negotiated and signed by Obama and the Russians earlier this year.

Obama has urged publicly and privately that it be ratified in the lame-duck session, rather than extend the unmonitored period into some point next year, when the new Senate may or may not get around to it.

At an event last week, his call for action was endorsed by former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker III, and by Brent Scowcroft, the former national security adviser.

But those three, representing the Republican foreign policy establishment of the past two administrations, are being countermanded by Jon Kyl, the senator from Arizona who is the No. 2 man to McConnell in the Senate.

McConnell has made it clear that he backs his partner in delaying the treaty, forcing Obama to seek at least nine Republican votes despite the opposition of the GOP leadership.

It is notable that McConnell bases his opposition on the claim that the Senate schedule does not allow sufficient time for debate on the treaty. That is normally a judgment that would be made by the majority leader, Harry Reid, who backs the president in calling for action by the lame-duck session.

It is typical of these Republicans to usurp that role, even if they did not reach their goal of claiming a majority in the Senate elections.

All this signals that they are feeling their oats, and will be hard to deal with.

— David Broder is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. davidbroder@washpost.com


CorkyHundley 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

cowboy 7 years ago

What impact does the health care program have on you Tom ?

Facts not Fox please .

rbwaa 7 years ago

"Not one sign has appeared so far of any willingness to compromise." --- gee, what a surprise...

cowboy 7 years ago

"No Republicans present "

Now I'll admit that my memory isn't what it used to be in my younger years but seems I recall a bevy of republican lawmakers present and each had his/her own negotiating point that stalled this legislation for couple months. These are the same ones who turned around and voted no. Hatch , Coburn , DeMint , Grassley , Howdy Doody McConnell, McCain.

They were quite involved in the process albeit as doorstops.

And honestly , what is Mitch McConnell's problem , did he never get picked at the playground ?

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Perhaps the Republicans haven't forgotten the mope who lives at 1600 Penn. Ave declaring "I won" as a way of ending discussion early in his regime.

monkeyhawk 7 years ago

"Despite the good news that General Motors, which needed rescue in 2009 from impending bankruptcy, has recovered enough to become a star on Wall Street ..."

Gee, thanks for the lousy quarter on the dollar - say the taxpaying suckers. As for the welfare mooches - no sweat off your junk.

In case Broder didn't notice - a vast majority smashed the dems a few weeks ago. They don't want compromise and they don't want deals. Just like the ballerina Emanuel:

"Rahm: I never believed in bipartisanship

In a new book, Rahm claims he privately argued to Obama that he shouldn't pursue bipartisan support for health reform, because it would take too much time, instead insisting that the lesson of Clinton's failure to pass reform was that it was imperative to put a premium on getting it done quickly.

Unlike his boss, Emanuel wasn't interested in looking reasonable with Republicans; he wanted to look victorious."


handley 7 years ago

What happened to congress working for the good of Americans instead of their own pocketbook.

Olympics 7 years ago

"The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation—cooperation that won’t be forthcoming. Elite opinion has been slow to recognize this reality. Thus on the same day that Mr. Simpson rejoiced in the prospect of chaos, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, appealed for help in confronting mass unemployment. He asked for “a fiscal program that combines near-term measures to enhance growth with strong, confidence-inducing steps to reduce longer-term structural deficits.”

My immediate thought was, why not ask for a pony, too? After all, the G.O.P. isn’t interested in helping the economy as long as a Democrat is in the White House. Indeed, far from being willing to help Mr. Bernanke’s efforts, Republicans are trying to bully the Fed itself into giving up completely on trying to reduce unemployment.... My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/22/opinion/22krugman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion Krugman

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

Washington D.C. models much of the rest of the country, particularly as it's played out on blogs like these............the junior high school locker room comes to mind. Those newly elected have ideas and responsibilities. Let us see how it works out. Anyone who believes that the budget fix does not involve tax and fee hikes and benefit cuts for all involved is not thinking clearly.

Centerville 7 years ago

Broder only mentions that Obama made a "follow-on agreement" and, being a good little toady, doesn't go into any of the new details. Then he whines that the Republicans won't hold their nose and vote for it.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

This new generation of republicans which arrived with Reagan/Bush are quite different from their previous generation and the Eisenhower generation.

This repub party is all about imperialism which can lead to a dictatorship. Do I think it could happen? Considering the number of congress members and voters who do ask for hard evidence before invading and occupying other nations.

Absolutely considering the number of voters who refuse to vote and considering the number of voters/citizens who forget:

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Savings and Loan Heist( millions out of work) "There are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and were part of the Bush Jr. administration.

Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this was about one quarter of our national debt").

The Reagan/Bush savings and loan heist was considered the largest theft in history at the time. George Herbert Walker Bush then took $1.4 trillion of taxpayers money to cover the theft. http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  1. The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers(millions out of work) Yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities(Bush admin) ignoring their regulatory responsibilities." http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  2. Only 3 major Financial Institutions were at risk in spite of what we’re told ? "There were just a handful of institutions that were terribly weakened. AIG the insurer, Bank of America and Citigroup, Those three were clearly in very weakened form. Many of the other big banks simply were not. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  3. Bush was lying about Social Security. We do know it is a good thing Social Security was not under Wall Street control during the Bush/Cheney years. In fact Wall Street has a consistent history for losing money...Yep!

Privatizing Social Security Would Place the Nations Economy at Risk "Social Security privatization will raise the size of the government's deficit to nearly $700 billion per year for the next 20 years, almost tripling the size of the national debt.

Put simply, moving to a system of private accounts would not only put retirement income at risk--it would likely put the entire economy at risk."


  1. Reagan/Bush Iran Contra Illegal sale of Weapons

  2. Nixons Watergate aka wiretapping democratic headquarters

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

What is imperialism?

Bringing republicans back to power brings back this imperialistic foreign policy position that which has existed at least since Reagan/Bush:

"Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens OUR freedoms and the nations security) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities.

Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global
responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.

Who is PNAC?

Elliott Abrams / Gary Bauer / William J. Bennett / Jeb Bush /

Dick Cheney / Eliot A. Cohen / Midge Decter / Paula Dobriansky / Steve Forbes /

Aaron Friedberg / Francis Fukuyama / Frank Gaffney / Fred C. Ikle /

Donald Kagan / Zalmay Khalilzad / I. Lewis Libby / Norman Podhoretz /

Dan Quayle / Peter W. Rodman / Stephen P. Rosen / Henry S. Rowen /

Donald Rumsfeld / Vin Weber / George Weigel / Paul Wolfowitz /

Behind the scene:

Newt Gingrich / George Herbert Walker Bush / James Baker / Vice Adm John Poindexter

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Why doesn't David Broder do some investigative journalism on PNAC?

Why hasn't David Broder kept the nation informed on matters such as?

Social Security Q&A Separating Fact from Fiction


This article is from the May/June 2005 issue of Dollars and Sense: The Magazine of Economic Justice available at http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

The president(Bush) just completed his 60-day, 35-state tour to spread fear over the financial solvency of the Social Security system and promote his plan to allow workers to divert nearly a third of the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax into private investment accounts.

At a stump speech in West Virginia in early April, Bush pointed to a filing cabinet stuffed with paper representing government IOUs and said, "A lot of people in America think there is a trust--that we take your money in payroll taxes and then we hold it for you and then when you retire, we give it back to you. But that's not the way it works. There is no trust ‘fund'--just IOUs.…" On April 28, Bush proposed indexing high-income workers' benefits to inflation, a move he described as "progressive." If these and other administration statements about Social Security leave you scratching your head, you're not alone.

Has the president(Bush) actually lied to the public about Social Security?

Yes. President Bush repeatedly said that those who put their money in private accounts are "guaranteed" a better return than they'll receive from the current Social Security system. But every sale of stock on the stock market includes the disclaimer: "the return on this investment is not guaranteed and may be negative"--for good reason.

During the 20th century, there were several periods lasting more than 10 years where the return on stocks was negative. After the Dow Jones stock index went down by over 75% between 1929 and 1933, the Dow did not return to its 1929 level until 1953.

In claiming that the rate of return on a stock investment is guaranteed to be greater than the return on any other asset, Bush was lying. If an investment-firm broker made this claim to his clients, he would be arrested and charged with stock fraud. Michael Milken went to jail for several years for making just this type of promise about financial investments.

Where was David Broder?

Carol Bowen 7 years ago

STOP. Enough bickering, name-calling, and one-upsmanship. Congress reflects what they hear from us. Where is the thoughtful dialog? Or, do we really want D.C. messing up the future?

MrRighty 7 years ago

Good Lord Merrill. If you have that much to say, an original letter to the Editor is more appropriate...hence the 3000 character limit on comments. LOL. We all know I have the same problem. Now, on to the topic.

jafs 7 years ago

According to a recent article, independents do not want gridlock and will almost certainly turn against Republicans in 2012 if they make sure nothing gets done.

That's been my feeling all along.

MrRighty 7 years ago

Republicans this, Democrats that....phooey. Enough. Public servants at all levels of government and in all three branches are shockingly out of touch. They have COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN that they work for US, not the other way around. Hell, even the Court is off in progressive, judicial constructionist la-la land; and they don't even answer directly to us. 60% of Americans oppose the health care bill and yet it gets rammed through because "they know whats good for us better than we do." Most people think body scanners at airports are going way too far and (I would guess if asked) see them as a violation of their 4th Amendment rights but "government knows better." None of these issues serves America as a whole; they cater to a minority and make Washington's friends money. Both parties do it. They run on, "we'll spend less" but that really translates to "we'll spend the same or more..it'll just be on things we want to spend it on (eachother) and pay staffers to make it look like we're spending it on you." It is an establishment that has its own set of informal rules outside the Constitution. Why do you think experienced staff is assigned to freshman legislators? To show them how the "scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" game is played. If you don't conform, you're marginalized immediately and then, when its time to run again, your national party organization (talk about an oligarchical institution) decides to fund another candidate, denies you the funds to run a successful campaign, and you're pretty much done. So people tow the line and become part of the establishment. If people continue to analyze the activities of Washington through the lens of "in the interest of the public good" they will go crazy. Instead, begin to analyze government's activities by "following the money" and you'll see that the way it works makes perfect sense...just not for us. People don't vote real policy. Most of us aren't that smart or don't pay enough attention to have a real, informed opinion. Most of us vote single-issue (I'll vote for any one-armed, blind monkey as long as he's pro-choice), media slant (the way we're conditioned to vote by journalism), or we vote pocketbook (should require no explanation). No matter how someone tells us money spent here is right and money spent there is wrong or vice versa.....the fact is that America is tired of spending more and more and more and getting less and less and less.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.