Senate Republicans: Avoid Cooperation At All Costs

by Lyman Stone
Columnist

Having secured the House of Representatives, Republicans should continue to show the party discipline that they demonstrated as the minority. Regardless of whether the election truly demonstrates public support for the policies of the Republican Party, it is wisest for House Republicans to pass a multitude of bills and loudly criticize the President, while Senate Republicans should avoid cooperation at all costs.

Republicans will benefit from this, as they can deliver on campaign promises to repeal health care, lower taxes or do anything else by voting in the House, while Democrats can easily stop any measure in the Senate. Thus, Republicans will be poised to portray Senate Democrats as standing in the way of the will of the people — regardless of the fact that this is, in fact, precisely the purpose of the Senate.

Constitutional ironies aside, this situation which benefits the Republicans will, strangely, benefit President Barack Obama as well. He can fly off to India, leaving Congress to do as it will, and posture himself as pro-growth and pro-business and let congressional deadlock kill the measures for which he professes support.

Indeed, this exact scenario is ongoing at present. For the past two years the Democratic congress and President Obama have left free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to wallow in the nebulous “table” wherein politically inconvenient bills go to be forgotten. Quite suddenly, however, in the past week President Obama has become a free-trade crusader. This despite his tariff last year on Chinese tires and the tariff authorization on China that he has overseen without complaint.

And now he goes to South Korea and will likely make some statements in favor of the free-trade agreement that was the brainchild of the Bush administration (though naturally opposed by congressional Democrats) and talk about “improving relations,” while the agreement itself is left unimplemented and incompletely ratified. But perhaps Obama will turn over a new leaf, and perhaps congressional Democrats will demonstrate a commitment to free trade, economic growth and international cooperation.

If they do so, and thereby work to implement free trade agreements, Republicans ought to be louder than they presently are. So nearly as I can tell, they have given Obama’s words to India and concerning South Korea a bit of a golf clap; they should, instead, clap and cheer loudly and obnoxiously and congratulate him on signing Bush’s free-trade agreements, and do so very publicly. Whether Republicans will have the courage to so publicly endorse free trade, however, remains unclear.

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