With the Congressional deficit-reduction “super committee” expected to announce its utter failure today, and amid finger-pointing by both sides at the other for their “inflexibility,” it’s worth remembering that Republicans announced more than a year ago they had no intention of working with the Democrats to repair the budget, pass a jobs program or, for that matter, contribute to anything that might be seen as an accomplishment by President Obama.
It was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s who, in a moment of unintended candor, let the cat out of the bag:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” the Kentucky Republican explained to the National Journal in October 2010. “Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”
Not since John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate in 2008 have we witnessed such pure, unadulterated cynicism from a high-ranking member of Congress. There was no pretense here, no suggestion of anything other than a raw political machination.
Which makes you have to shake your head in amazement and disgust when the very same Mitch McConnell rises on the floor of the Senate one year later to say: “Let’s park the campaign bus, put away the talking points and do something to address the jobs crisis.”
There is, however, another side to this odious hypocrisy. Polling suggests that voters are beginning to understand that the Republicans in Washington are, in fact, working against the national interest for their own political gain.
Consider the evidence:
— A Washington Post-ABC News survey found that Americans agree 50-44% that “President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs” compared to the statement “President Obama has not provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job.”
That 50-44% margin is powerful on its own, but in reality it’s even more compelling since the margin was 54-40% among independents and 57-37% among moderates. In other words, it was just Republicans and conservatives who tamped down the overall margin.
— A Suffolk University survey of Florida voters found that by a margin of 49-39% voters agree that “Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump start the economy to ensure that Barack Obama is not re-elected.”
Again, the overall margin was understated by Republicans who rejected the statement. The result (Q27A) was 52-28% among independents and 59-31% among moderates.
— A survey by Public Policy Polling (whose robo-calling we always find worrisome) replicated the Suffolk University question nationwide on behalf of Daily Kos and the SEIU (consider the source) and found voters, by a 50-41% margin, agreed that “Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump start the economy to insure that Barack Obama is not reelected.”
What the surveys suggest is that Obama – far from leaning too much on the “class warfare” argument – is plowing fertile ground by arguing that the Republicans in Washington are doing the bidding of the wealthy and intentionally sabotaging economic recovery. These arguments are beginning to take hold.
And for good reason: they’re true.
Oh, and while he’s at it, how about making a little more out of some data from the Treasury Department that, as one of our adult children put it the other day: “There are so many reasons why this is infuriating.”