Fox & Friends repeatedly claimed that Republicans in Congress have not attempted to block President Obama's policy priorities, asking "what has he not gotten?" In fact, Republicans in Congress have blocked numerous major pieces of legislation supported by President Obama, as well as his nominees.
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Fox & Friends Claims GOP Not Standing Between Obama And "His Vision For America"
Briggs: "What Has [Obama] Not Gotten? ... He Has Gotten Most Of His Big Goals In The White House." On the December 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed Obama's recent remarks during an interview on 60 Minutes. After the show aired a clip of Obama saying "Republicans ... [have] made a political strategic decision that says anything Obama is for, we're against," guest host Dave Briggs responded:
BRIGGS: Clearly, he sets up how he's going to campaign. "The Republicans aren't letting me do what I need to do." But what has he not gotten? He got the stimulus. He got health care. He has gotten most of his big goals in the White House. So unless they fail to pass this payroll tax cut, which we think they will this week, what will the case be that he brings to the American voters? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11, via Media Matters]
Doocy: "[Are] The Republicans ... Standing Between [Obama] And His Vision For America?" Varney: "I Would Disagree With That." From the December 12 broadcast:
DOOCY: Well, he also says, you know, essentially, blame Bush, you know, he inherited this big, fat mess when he came into office, but he also says it's politics. At the end of the day, the Republicans are standing between him and his vision for America.
VARNEY: I would disagree with that. I'd say it's the failure of his policies. The stimulus plan, record spending did not work. Did not bring unemployment down as much as he said it was going to. Did not stimulate the economy. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11]
But GOP Has Indeed Obstructed Obama's Proposals, Bills, And Nominees
THE AMERICAN JOBS ACT
Obama's Jobs Bill Introduced In The Senate. In a September 14 article in The Hill, Pete Kasperowicz outlined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's introduction of Obama's American Jobs Act. From The Hill:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday introduced President Obama's American Jobs Act in the Senate.
Reid's bill, S. 1549, is the text of the proposal that Obama has implored Congress to pass, but which Republicans say has no chance in the House because Obama has proposed to pay for the $447 billion jobs plan with new taxes.
Reid did not make any written statement upon introduction of Obama's bill, but the legislation is likely to be taken up in the Senate in order to pressure House Republicans to act. The bill is described as a measure to "provide tax relief for American workers and businesses, to put workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing America and to provide pathways back to work for Americans looking for jobs." [The Hill, 9/14/11]
CBS News: Senate Republicans Filibuster Jobs Bill In Vote Of 50 To 48. In an October 11 CBS News article titled, "Senate Republicans block Obama's jobs package," Stephanie Condon wrote:
Senate Republicans blocked President Obama's $447 billion jobs package on Tuesday, putting the brakes on a bill Mr. Obama has been vigorously promoting over the past month.
By around 7 p.m., the vote tally was 50 to 48, giving Republicans more than the 40 votes needed to filibuster the bill. Voting was kept open for another few hours to allow one more senator -- Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire -- to get back to Washington to cast a vote in favor of the legislation. With Shaheen's vote, Mr. Obama can at least claim a symbolic victory with a simple majority voting in favor of his legislation.
The final vote tally was 50 to 49, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to "no" for technical reasons -- under Senate rules, casting his vote with the majority allows Reid to revive the bill at a later date if he wants. [CBS News, 11/11/11]
UPI: "GOP Blocks Jobs Bill In The Senate." A November 3 UPI article titled, "GOP blocks jobs bill in Senate," detailed Republican efforts in the Senate to block the president's American Jobs Act. From the article:
U.S. Senate Republicans, joined by one Democrat and one Independent, Thursday blocked a proposal President Barack Obama said would "put Americans back to work."
The Senate voted 51-49 in favor of a procedural motion on the bill, which would spend $60 billion on transportation and infrastructure. However, 60 votes were required to break a GOP filibuster on the bill.
It was the third time in recent weeks Republicans were able to block measures that had been components of the American Jobs Act, initially proposed by the administration as a comprehensive, $447 billion package intended to boost hiring and give money to states to hire teachers and public safety workers. [UPI, 11/3/11]
RAISING TAXES ON THE WEALTHY, TAX CUTS FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS
Obama Proposes Tax Cuts For Middle Class. In a September 29, 2010, article, The New York Times outlined Obama's plan to decrease taxes for middle-class Americans while allowing Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2.5 percent of taxpayers to expire. [The New York Times, 9/29/10]
TPM: "Senate Republicans Block Middle Class Tax Cut." In a December 4, 2010, Talking Points Memo post titled, "Senate Republicans Block Middle Class Tax Cut," Brian Beutler wrote:
Senate Republicans today successfully filibustered two Democratic tax cut bills that would have allowed Bush-era tax cuts benefiting only the wealthiest sliver of the country to expire. The party-line votes were intended by Democratic leaders to put Republicans on the record blocking the extension of tax cuts that would have benefited all Americans in order to secure additional tax cuts for the highest-income earners in America.
Today's result was never in doubt. At a press conference yesterday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who masterminded the votes, characterized today's exercise as part of a long-running argument between Democrats and Republicans -- one that voters will judge on election day in 2012. "This is going to be a winning argument not just for the next one to two weeks, but for the next two years," he said.
The two bills that failed were similar, but served very different purposes. The first, to preserve the Bush-era tax cuts for income up to $250,000, was passed by the House earlier this week, and would have represented a fulfillment of President Obama's campaign pledge to allow taxes to increase for income above that level. The second would have raised that threshold to $1,000,000. Its purpose was meant to emphasize the lengths Republicans will go to to protect the interests of millionaires. [TPM, 12/4/10]
ENDING OIL INUDUSTRY TAX SUBSIDIES
USA Today: "Obama To Congressional Leaders: End Oil Subsidies." An April 26 USA Today article reported that Obama urged congressional leaders to end tax subsidies for oil and gas companies. From USA Today:
President Obama pounced Tuesday on comments from Republican House Speaker John Boehner that he was open to ending tax subsidies for oil and gas companies.
The president wasted no time writing Boehner and other top congressional leaders, urging that they agree to do away with the subsidies immediately and invest the new tax revenue in clean energy sources.
"I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry," Obama said in his letter to Boehner and fellow congressional leaders Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi. "Our political system has for too long avoided and ignored this important step, and I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to get it done." [USA Today, 4/26/11]
TPM: "House GOP Blocks Vote On Oil Subsidies." From a May 5 post to Talking Points Memo:
Republicans on Thursday unanimously voted down a motion from Democrats to consider legislation to end subsidies to oil companies.
Democrats sought to attach the measure, which failed in a 241-171 vote that saw seven Democrats defect, to a bill that would allow oil companies to more easily secure drilling permits off the Gulf Coast. That bill passed. [TPM, 5/5/11]
Obama Supported DREAM Act To Provide Path To Citizenship For Immigrants Brought To U.S. By Parents. A November 16, 2010, article in The Hill outlined Obama's support for the DREAM Act, a bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to America by their parents. From The Hill:
The White House readout of the meeting said Obama wants to see passage of the DREAM Act during the lame-duck session.
"This legislation has traditionally enjoyed support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and would give young people who were brought as minors to the United States by their parents the opportunity to earn their citizenship by pursuing a college degree or through military service," the White House said. [The Hill, 11/16/10]
ABC News: Senate Republicans Block DREAM Act For Illegal Immigrants." ABC News reported on December 18, 2010, that Senate Republicans blocked the DREAM Act from reaching the floor of the Senate. From ABC News:
Senate Republicans today blocked a controversial immigration measure that would have provided a conditional path to legal residency for hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants first brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
By a vote of 55 to 41, the bill -- the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act -- failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster, even though the measure passed the House last week. [ABC News, 12/18/10]
NOMINATIONS AND APPOINTEES
CAP: "Judicial Confirmation Rates Have Nosedived In The Obama Presidency" Due To Republican Opposition. In a July 30, 2010, memo, the Center for American Progress wrote:
Judicial confirmations slowed to a trickle on the day President Barack Obama took office. Filibusters, anonymous holds, and other obstructionary tactics have become the rule. Uncontroversial nominees wait months for a floor vote, and even district court nominees--low-ranking judges whose confirmations have never been controversial in the past--are routinely filibustered into oblivion. Nominations grind to a halt in many cases even after the Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously endorsed a nominee.
Such tactics are completely unprecedented, and so are their results. Fewer than 43 percent of President Obama's judicial nominees have so far been confirmed, while past presidents have enjoyed confirmation rates as high as 93 percent. And President Obama's nominees have been confirmed at a much slower rate than those of his predecessor--nearly 87 percent of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees were confirmed.
The post included this graph comparing the percentage of judicial nominees confirmed under Obama with the previous five presidents:
[Center for American Progress, 7/30/10]
Republican Opposition To Warren Candidacy Reportedly Led Obama To Drop Her As Potential Nominee. Multiple media reports said that Obama did not nominate Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a consumer rights agency that Warren helped create, due to strong Republican opposition to her potential nomination. A July 27 article in The Hill stated: "Warren was a strong candidate to lead the new bureau after having worked for months to establish it under last year's Dodd-Frank financial reform law. But Republican opposition ultimately led the Obama administration to nominate Richard Cordray to head the bureau." A July 21 column on ABC News' website stated, "Conventional wisdom is that Republican opposition to the Warren nomination was sufficiently potent and monolithic so as to create yet another difficult situation for a President already beleaguered by a well-organized, fractious and relentlessly partisan pushback." [The Hill, 7/27/11; ABC News, 7/21/11]
GOP Senators Opposed Cordray Nomination Over "Structure And Scope" Of Consumer Protection Agency. On December 8, Senate Republicans blocked Obama's nomination of Richard Cordray to be the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As Politico reported: "Republicans made clear they had no qualms with Cordray himself, and they insisted they back 'strong and effective oversight.' But they were peeved that Obama had ignored concerns they raised seven months ago about the structure and scope of the agency."
In a December 7 interview with PBS, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said that he asked a Senate historian: "Has this ever happened, where one political party has opposed a nominee solely because they don't like the agency over which he -- which he will run?" Brown said that Senate historian told him "that has never happened." [Politico, 12/8/11; PBS.org, 12/7/11]
GOP Officials Currently Opposing Nomination Of El Salvador Ambassador Over 20-Year-Old Romance. In her December 9 column in The New York Times, Gail Collins highlighted Senator Jim DeMint's objections to Mari Carmen Aponte, the current ambassador to El Salvador whose recess appointment ends soon. Collins wrote:
New unnerving development in Congress: Some senators are claiming that a woman nominated to be ambassador to El Salvador can't have the job because they don't like a boyfriend she lived with almost 20 years ago.
The debate involves Mari Carmen Aponte, who has been functioning as ambassador under a recess appointment by President Obama that runs out soon. The Democrats plan to make a last-ditch attempt to approve the nomination, but the Senate Republicans seem determined to block it.
"All of us think we should have an ambassador in El Salvador, but all of us are concerned that we get people who we know are the right people," said Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint claimed the Republicans needed more information on Aponte's relationship with Roberto Tamayo, a Cuban-American insurance salesman with whom she lived in Washington long ago.
A defecting Cuban intelligence agent claimed in 1993 that Fidel Castro's spies were trying to recruit Aponte through Tamayo, who had friends at the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington. However, a retired U.S. counterintelligence agent told The Washington Times that Tamayo was, in fact, an informant for the F.B.I.
This sounds like a complicated boyfriend. However, who of us does not have a difficult significant other in the distant past? There has to be a statute of limitations on this sort of thing, and my vote would be for a decade, max.
The government checked Aponte and found no nefarious Cuban connection. She broke up with Tamayo in 1994 and has received several top-secret security clearances since. She has many supporters who say she's terrific, including Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who is second to none in his sensitivity on Cuban-related issues. Her supporters cite a list of achievements during her brief tenure as ambassador, one of which was getting El Salvador to send troops to Afghanistan. (Who knew?) [The New York Times, 12/9/11]