In Rove's Alternate Reality, GOP Obstructionism Doesn't Exist

Wall Street Journal columnist Karl Rove created a dishonest alternate reality in order to portray President Obama as an impediment to achieving compromise and enacting legislation. In the real world, Republican obstructionism is responsible for the failure to reach compromise on the issues Rove identified.

Republican Obstruction Blocked Immigration Reform. In his column, Rove dishonestly suggested Obama was to blame for not “passing immigration reform.” But Obama has tried to pass immigration reform, while Republicans have repeatedly blocked such attempts. In 2007, the Senate voted on comprehensive immigration reform. Obama, who was a senator at the time, voted for the measure. But Republicans blocked it. Reuters explained:

[T]he president was unable to overcome fierce opposition from fellow Republicans who said it was an amnesty that rewarded illegal immigrants. A majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives also opposed the Senate bill.

The GOP continued this anti-immigration reform obstruction after Obama became president. In 2010, Senate Republicans blocked Obama's attempt to pass the DREAM Act -- which would allow certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to stay. The DREAM Act passed the House. But as ABC News reported, the Republicans killed the DREAM Act in the Senate when it “failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster.” 

Republicans Refused To Negotiate On The Federal Deficit. Rove dishonestly suggested Obama was to blame for not crafting a bipartisan agreement on spending, taxes, and the federal deficit, by endorsing Bowles-Simpson fiscal policy recommendations and working with “that bright young Republican budget wizard from Wisconsin, [Rep.] Paul Ryan [R-WI]” to get the recommendations passed. In reality, the attempt to reach a compromise on fiscal policies fell victim to Republican obstruction.

In fact Bloomberg noted that GOP vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan “was a pivotal figure in killing” Bowles-Simpson. In a January 7, 2011, blog post, The Economist wrote that “the opposition by Mr Ryan and his two fellow House Republicans more or less guaranteed the plan would die.” According to Bloomberg Businessweek, one of the commission members, former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg speculated that the objection by House Republicans was based on the revenue generating parts of the plan that were, in their minds, “tantamount to a tax increase.”  

Republican candidates for president cheered on these refusals to compromise on fiscal policy. Indeed, during the August 11, 2011, Republican presidential debate, all the participating candidates opposed any measure that would raise taxes, as a way to close the deficit, even if for every one dollar in new revenue collected ten dollars was cut from the federal budget.   

Republicans Forced A Confrontation Over The Debt Ceiling. Rove also dishonestly suggested Obama was to blame for not passing a “debt ceiling increase while [he] had the votes in Congress.” In fact, Democrats actually did raise it in 2009 and in 2010. But when Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, the party decided to try to force a confrontation on the issue.

Shortly after the 2012 mid-term election CBS News reported that many Republicans wanted a “big showdown” over raising the debt-ceiling. This big showdown manifested itself in months of debate, with the GOP using the specter of catastrophe to extract concessions from Democrats before agreeing to increase the debt ceiling mere hours before the United State would have defaulted on its obligations.   

When It Comes To Attempts To Compromise, “Republicans Are The Problem.” Contrary to Rove's alternate reality, immigration, fiscal policy, and the debt ceiling are not outlying issues on which Republicans have refused to compromise with Democrats and the Obama administration. Congressional experts Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman J. Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute have explained that the GOP has “been aggressively oppositional in every respect,” and that the GOP used parliamentary tools to “deny the majority an opportunity to act.”

If Rove wanted to create an honest alternate reality in which the parties compromised on immigration, fiscal policy and the debt ceiling, he would've created a universe in which Republicans did not oppose and obstruct Obama at virtually every turn.