by Judy Ferro

I’m getting ancient.

I can remember when parties avoided appearing to be obstructionists. Sure, senators killed a judicial nomination now and then, but they gave reasons—the nominee was not experienced enough or peddled marijuana from his desk or something.

Last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration that Obama shouldn’t even bother submitting a Supreme Court nominee was seconded by several other senators. They flat out said they would not approve anyone. (Since 1900 six Supreme Court nominees have been approved during a president’s final year. I don’t know that any vacancies went unfilled until a new president was elected.)

Not all Republican senators rushed to the obstructionist banner; a couple even suggested nominees they’d accept. Yet, an official of Heritage Action, an arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, advised Republicans to block any appontment. “Republican rhetoric condemning President Obama’s willful disregard for the rule of law will ring hollow if they do confirm a nominee.”

So obstructionism may be a plus for Republicans.

There’s a thin line between opposing an action and obstructing it. As much as I resent paying for Idaho’s court fight against gay marriage, it was about the power of a public vote. This year’s fight over allowing gay couples to file joint income tax returns, however, was pure grandstanding. Not even Reps. Heather Scott and Ron Nate could have believed Idaho could allow same-sex marriages and not allow same-sex tax returns.

Will this help them in May? Or November?

Last year obstructionism led to Idahoans paying for a special session. Failing to pass the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to bring state law in alignment with Federal law, would have cost the state $50 million and hurt many citizens. Yet, even in special session, 21 representatives voted against the bill.

Do constituents consider those 21 stalwart or irresponsible?

Some may see a principle behind legislative opposition to Medicaid expansion. I don’t. What sense is there in extending health insurance to those on welfare but not to low-wage earners? What principle is served by letting a man with two kids making $12 an hour get help paying for insurance while a co-worker with four kids cannot?

Legislators’ claims that they reject the program because the Federal government may go broke are absurd. Idaho is second in the nation for the amount of Federal aid per capita yet legislators haven’t suggested cutting other programs. And arguments for personal responsibility ring hollow when a week’s medical bills can equal a family’s annual income.

I appreciate the legislators who are now standing up for Idaho’s uninsured.

Legislators will also consider retreating from the pointless and expensive obstruction to the Federal Real ID Act. In 2008 legislators passed a law forbidding the Idaho Transportation Department to comply with the act’s requirements to make it harder to forge drivers’ licenses in spite of the fact Idahoans rights to enter certain Federal buildings and to fly in commercial airlines was at stake.

Obama was nowhere in the picture; the Act was created by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president. Still, Idaho Republicans resented an “unpaid mandate.”

What were they thinking?

Could they have imagined the Feds would exempt Idaho indefinitely? That, after the majority of states complied, that they would say, “we really didn’t mean it?” or “Idaho gets in free?” Could they have imagined Idahoans giving up flying or entering Federal buildings?

Now, we are up against a deadline and will have to pay extra for a program that could have been phased in.

Don’t Republican voters get tired of paying for obstructionism?

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *