Matt Mackowiak, FloydReports.com
Last week, President Obama blasted Congress for refusing to “act.” He’s right; it won’t. But Obama ought to focus the blame where it really belongs: on his own party. Because it’s the Democrats in Congress who are causing gridlock — intentionally — especially those in the Senate, which has been in Democratic hands for nearly five years now.
Expect them to keep it up. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid survived his re-election last year with a scorched-earth campaign and is shielded from voters through 2016, when he’ll be 77 and unlikely to seek re-election. He’s hell-bent on making sure the Senate does nothing — at least until after 2012. Why? Politics.
Following the 2010 election wave, which saw Republicans pick up a net 67 seats in the House and seven in the Senate, Reid faced a choice: Compromise for the good of the country by allowing bills to come to the floor with open debate and amendments or cynically begin plotting for the next election.
Guess which he chose? As Roll Call reported, citing Democratic operatives, “Reid has been effective in protecting his members from taking votes with potentially damaging political consequences.” With 22 incumbent Dems facing re-election next year, he’s determined to skirt any action that might threaten his caucus — and his slim majority. Public policy comes second.
The result: The only significant legislation the Senate has passed this year is so-called “must pass” bills (debt-ceiling hike, continuing resolutions to prevent a government shutdown, etc.). No legislation has passed to counter the unemployment crisis. None.
Fact is, Reid has single-handedly made 2011 the least productive year in the Senate since before 1989, the earliest year for which statistics are available. How bad is it? Consider….