Republican Strategy: Obstruct, Blame Democrats For Obstruction’s Damage

Republicans are beginning to harvest the fruits of their obstruction.

The strategy is to set the stage for the election by obstructing everything that could help the economy get better, as well as anything that might make our lives better. They understand that they just will not be held accountable for their obstruction. Then they campaign against Democrats because things are not getting better.

The current example is the Veterans Administration “scandal.” Republicans obstructed every bill to improve the situation for veterans. Then they drummed up a “scandal” based on things not getting better for veterans. Republicans are already running this ad telling Alaskans to vote against Senator Mark Begich because of problems at the VA.

Strategy Phase 1: Obstruct Everything

In February Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would have increased the VA budget by $21 billion, improved veterans’ health and dental care, authorized 27 new veterans’ clinics and medical facilities, added to veteran education programs and repealed a provision of the Murray-Ryan budget deal that slashed military pensions.

Filibustered. Obstructed. Killed off.

Reuters in February posted “U.S. Senate Republicans block veterans’ health bill on budget worry“:

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.

Even though the legislation cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote, the measure quickly got bogged down in partisan fighting.

Supporters said the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans’ programs. For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. [...]

Referring to recent budget deals that aim to bring down federal deficits, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said: “This bill would spend more than we agreed to spend. The ink is hardly dry and here we have another bill to raise that spending again.”

Watch this video from Senator Bernie Sanders’ office:

Every VA Bill Obstructed

Thom Hartmann, writing in his post “The Mitch McConnell VA Scandal,” said:

And it wasn’t like this anti-veteran Republican filibuster was some radical break from the past either. Time and time again during the Obama presidency Republicans have either blocked or opposed bills that would have helped out the veterans they’re now claiming to care so much about.

Back in 2012, for example, GOP senators blocked a $1 billion jobs bill would have helped millions of unemployed veterans find work. And in that same year, Republican opposition also blocked a bill – the so-called Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act – that would have kept veterans’ benefits on par with rising expenses.

The list goes on. Before that, GOP lawmakers killed the Wounded Veteran Job Security Act, the Veterans Retraining Act of 2009, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, the Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009, the Veterans Business Center Act of 2009, and the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009.

Every single one of these bills would have helped veterans and every single one was killed exclusively by Republican opposition.

Here is an October, 2013 Daily Kos diary that lists several more instances of Republican obstruction of help for veterans, “GOP’s actual track record on supporting veterans.”

Killed With A Media Assist

If the public is told someone is obstructing the things they want, they can hold them accountable.

If the public is told things like “both sides do it” or “the Senate failed” they will decide not to bother to vote.

Republicans are certain they will not be held accountable for their obstruction, and they have good reason to be. Our news media and even many Democrats refuse to tell the public who did and who didn’t obstruct these bills.

Does the public get information that enables them to make informed decisions about who to hold accountable from headlines and news reports like these?

The Washington Post reported that “Senate rejects far-reaching Veterans Affairs bill“:

A broad Department of Veterans Affairs bill that would have expanded benefits for former service members and repealed a military pension cut for future troops was rejected in the Senate on Thursday.

CBS: Veterans’ benefits bill blocked in Senate

CNN: Vets bill fails in Senate, victim of election-year gridlock

AP: Senate blocks Dems’ bill boosting vets’ benefits,

A divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education and job-training benefits for the nation’s veterans.

USA Today: Senate rejects bill on veterans benefits

The largest piece of veterans legislation in decades — aimed at expanding health care, education and other benefits — was rejected Thursday by the Senate on a procedural issue after proponents failed to obtain 60 votes to keep the bill alive.

Military Times: Senate blocks huge vets benefits bill

Here is a personal favorite – outrage with no accountability from the American Legion: Legion: Senate vote on veterans bill ‘inexcusable’ ,

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger expressed frustration and disappointment with Thursday’s Senate debate that effectively killed S. 1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.

The Senate voted 56-41 to waive an extra budget point of order made against the bill – four votes short of what was needed to move the legislation onto a full Senate vote – ending floor consideration of the measure.

“Today, the Senate had a chance to put aside partisan politics and do what was right for the men and women who have sacrificed so much while wearing our nation’s uniform,” Dellinger said. “Instead, we saw the same political gamesmanship that led our federal government to a shutdown last fall. There was a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote today, and 41 senators chose the wrong way. That’s inexcusable.”

Who Did It?

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

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