Congressional Experts Ornstein And Mann Illustrate How GOP Is To Blame For Political Gridlock

Congressional experts Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman J. Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute appeared on MSNBC's Up w/ Chris Hayes this morning to detail the Republican Party's "all-out war" against President Obama. They explained how the GOP has “been aggressively oppositional in every respect” and how it has succeeded in using parliamentary tools “to deny the majority an opportunity to act.”

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele objected, arguing that President Obama and the Democratic Party deserve just as much blame for the current political gridlock as Republicans.

This notion that it's Obama and the Democrats who refuse to compromise on policy issues is absurd, but it is an oft-repeated claim that media outlets and conservatives fling out to deflect from, and obscure, Republican obstructionism. Indeed, as Ornstein and Mann pointed out, the fault lies entirely with the Republicans.

As Mann explained, Republicans “are the ones that have become much more committed to all-out opposition”:

MANN: You know, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are very much alike -- ideologically and even in terms of procedure and approach to the Republicans. Democrats had their days of extreme movement -- that would be the '60s and early '70s, but once the Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party, the rest of them have stayed on a pretty even keel. The movement has been on the Republican side of the aisle.

You ask where are the moderate Democrats? They're in the White House. They're in the leadership. They are now -- they are a center-left party that would like nothing better than to make deals to preserve the social safety net, to deal with the problems of budget deficits and the rest.


MANN: It's entirely a matter of what the Republican Party is doing because they are the ones that have become much more committed to all-out opposition. Barack Obama's election was the occasion for an explicit statement from the Republicans: We are in this to defeat Barack Obama. We have no interest in passing a welfare reform bill. We're in a war and that's what it boils down to.

To illustrate that fact, Ornstein cited two examples -- the battle over the health care reform law and the stimulus:

ORNSTEIN: You just look at some examples: the health care bill was not just the individual mandate; this was the Republican alternative drafted by [Sen. Chuck] Grassley and [Sen. Orrin] Hatch to the 1993 Clinton bill, which of course they opposed, totally -- not a single vote for it in neither house -- and grafted on to the Romney care bill.

And we went through seven months -- this wasn't Obama saying, take it or leave it, seven months of painful negotiations in the Senate, where Grassley himself, who opposed everything he'd supported before, stood up and said I've been told by the leadership unless we get 70 percent of the Republicans in the Senate, we're not gonna do it.

Look at the stimulus -- 40 percent of it almost was tax cuts. No votes in the House. Three weeks into the presidency, and we know that it was a strategic choice made inaugural eve by leaders.

As much as the media would like to ignore it, Mann and Ornstein are right -- Republicans have repeatedly acknowledged that the “single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has stated.