" ‘Tis known by
the name of perseverance in a good cause and of obstinacy in a bad
There is much legislative debate nowadays at both the federal and the state levels. The party out of power in both cases is unified in blocking the programs of the majority. Some would call it obstinacy while others would call it obstruction. What I call it is healthy debate.
The current issue in Washington is the president’s jobs bill, "The American Jobs Act". Democrats have been saying that jobs in America are in jeopardy due to Republican "obstructionism." But last Tuesday, the senate had a procedural vote on the bill and, although the Democrats have a majority in that body, they could not get a favorable vote.
No Democratic jobs bill has been passed in either body. The senate has not even brought one to the floor. On Thursday,the Republican "Jobs Through Growth Act" was presented in the senate featuring a fresh call for tax reform and cuts, as well as a number of components previously proposed, but stalled in the Democratic-led Senate.
House Republicans put forward their jobs plan, the "Plan for America's Job Creators," back in May. That bill passed in the house but has been stalled in the senate. Obstructionism is refusing to allow a debate.
While debate is always healthy, the issues must come to the floor. The Republican house plan is being obstructed in the Democratic senate and the Democratic senate plan is also stuck in the Democratic senate. Debate cannot begin in the house until the senate sends the bill there. So, who is obstructing? In my admittedly partisan view, it is the Democrats.
Here in New Hampshire, the political rolls are somewhat reversed. Republicans have control of both bodies of the General Court, the house and the senate. The Finance Committee, the author of the budget, is composed of both Democrats and Republicans, apportioned approximately the same as their totals in the full house.
During the debate on the budget, the Democrats introduced 15 floor amendments. All went down to defeat. Many Republicans felt that this lost cause was an unnecessary delay of the inevitable and an abuse of the process. I disagree. Painful as it was, the minority party has not only the right, but the obligation, to get their objections out to the public and a matter of record. They performed that task admirably.
Congressional Rules, Mason’s Rules (which we use in the legislature), and even Robert’s Rules that are used in many other organizations, make it clear that the rights of the minority shall never be abridged. The Democrats were afforded their right to debate and be heard in a fair manner.
The Republicans however, stuck to their guns and voted as they saw their mandate from the voters. That is, to lower spending and thus taxes and to transparently create a balanced budget without new or increased taxes, without borrowing, and without "slight of hand accounting" tricks. We accomplished that.
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